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By Robert Parker Priorat was an historic but largely defunct Spanish wine region until about 20 years ago. That's when a new generation of winemakers began to resurrect these steep hillside vineyards near Barcelona. Now, Priorat wines are considered world-class, especially the 2004 and 2005 vintages. The following notes are based on tastings by my colleague, Jay Miller.
Cellers Pasanau 2005 Pasanau Ceps Nous91 points. This purple-colored wine exhibits a fragrant bouquet of smoked meat, lead pencil, blueberry, blackberry, and licorice. Full-bodied, the wine is layered and packed with mouth-filling black fruits intertwined with ripe tannins. Enjoy it now and over the next six to eight years. $22
Clos Galena 2004 Galena92 points. The organically farmed estate contains a mix of both old vines and new plantings. Its 2004 Galena is dark ruby in color, with spicy red currant and black cherry aromas and a touch of vanilla. Medium- to full-bodied, it has a supple texture, layers of sweet, ripe fruit, and a long, heady finish. Allow another two to four years for aging in the bottle, and drink it over the following 10 years. $24
Celler de l'Encastell 2005 Marge90 points. This blend of 60% garnacha, 14% syrah, 13% merlot, and 13% cabernet sauvignon spends eight months in French and American oak. It reveals a lovely perfume of pepper, spice box, black cherry, and black currants. It's ready to drink now but will also age nicely for six to eight years. $25
Conreria d'Scala Dei 2006 Les Brugueres90 points. This white wine, a rarity in Priorat, is made entirely from garnacha blanca grapes. It comes from a single vineyard with century-old vines planted on the schist soil for which Priorat is famous. A light gold, it emits pleasant aromas of minerals and melon. This is followed by a full-bodied taste with good ripeness, balanced acidity, and medium length. Drink it over the next two years. $28
Celler Cal Pla 2004 Mas d'En Compte Tinto95 points. The 2004 is 50% garnacha, 40% Cariñena, and 10% cabernet sauvignon, aged 14 months in new French and American oak. Purple/black in color, the wine offers aromas of scorched earth, espresso, kirsch, and wild blackberries. It is full-bodied, with intense, spicy flavors and terrific balance. Enjoy this bottle over the next 8 to 10 years. $40
Viticultors Mas d'En Gil 2001 Coma Vella94 points. This full-bodied wine was aged 12 months in French oak. It is opaque purple in color with seductive notes of smoke, meat, and game, as well as black cherry, licorice, and minerals. Opulent, thick, and rich, it will drink well for six to eight years. $40-$49
Clos Mogador 200496+ points. This tour de force of winemaking has an expressive perfume of mocha, coffee, and violets in addition to notes of toasty oak, earth, and blue and black fruits. It demands a decade of cellaring and should drink well for an additional 20 years. $65-$110Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good. Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit www.eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.