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Priorat's Little Brother

Date: Monday 18th of August
Address: Szity Wine Cellar, 312 Jinzhou St, Zhongshan District, Taipei
Tasting Subject: Monsant D.O, Catalunya, North East Spain

This concentrated crop, coupled with the cherry/berry flavours and faded flowers aroma of the dominant varieties, Garnacha (Grenache) and its downy-leaved sibling Garnacha Peluda, can create wines with an intoxicating perfume. A supporting cast of Carinena (Carignan) and Cabernet Sauvignon provide some muscle and grip to Garnacha’s more ethereal qualities.

It is worth mentioning the possible role that Garnacha Peluda plays in some of these wines. Garnacha by nature is rich in sugar, relatively thin skinned and if cropped with more than moderate yields produces two-dimensional wines that are all fruit and alcohol but with no guts or soul to speak of. Chateauneuf du Pape aside, some of my favourite Garnacha/Grenache has often featured high levels of the hairy leaved variant (Peluda). Domaine la Colombette, close to Beziers in Southern France produce a fine varietal version and my favourite Priorat wine, Terroir al Limit’s Manyes, includes a portion of Peluda in the blend. Why might this be a positive addition to the blend? Because it is smaller berried and thicker skinned and therefore provides some grip and acidity that helps balance and freshen the wines.

The wines tasted are listed below with brief notes, scores and the price from the excellent Szity Wine Cellar. Six of the seven wines tasted were from the Co-operative ‘Celler des Capçanes’

Vinyes D’En Gabriel, ‘L’Heravi’ 2013, 14% Monsant D.O
60% Garnacha, 20% Carinena, 20% Syrah
Wine – making: 100% Stainless steel
Note: Red berry fruit, bright, simple but pleasurable. Soft tannins will suit beef noodle soup and dishes with some chili heat. Good value.
Price: NTD 650
Score: 14/20.

All the wines that follow are Celler de Capçanes, Monsant D.O:

Mas Picosa de Flor en Flor 2012, Monsant, 14%, organic
80% Garnacha, 15% Syrah, 5% Merlot
Wine-making: 100% Stainless steel but 5 months on lees
Note: Again simple but with more weight than L’ Heravi. Both red and black fruit, some grippy tannins, and a touch of spice . Alcoholic but the weight of the wine carries it.
Price: NTD 890
Score: 14.5/20

Mas Doñis Barrica 2012, Monsant 14%
85% Garnacha (of which two thirds is ‘regular’ and a third is Garnacha Peluda) 15% Syrah
Wine-making: 9 months in French oak.
Note: Some dried fruit, kirsch and wild berry. Also some herbal character, like the smell of a Chinese medicine shop. Grip from the ripe tannins but not palate fatiguing. Supported well by moderate acid and the alcohol does not impinge on the pleasure.
Price: NTD 1050
Score: 15/20

Mas Collet Barrica 2011, Monsant 14%
30% Garnacha, 30% Carinena, 20% Tempranillo, 20%Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine-making: Nine months in oak.
Note: Slightly smoky, earthy nose almost machine oil like. Ripe and expressive with less obvious grip than it’s sister before it (the Mas Donis). Well balanced, touch of spice from the judicious use of oak. Tasty. More masculine/gutsy than the Mas Donis.
Price: NTD 1050
Score: 15/20

Cabrida 2010, Monsant, 14.5%
100% Garnacha (70% ‘regular’ 30% Peluda).
Wine-making: 13 months in new and one year old oak. Old vine.
Note: Elegant nose of cherries and red berries with dried flowers and a spiced butter character derived from some new French oak. Relatively firm tannic structure for Garnacha but this is a function of these old vines, all of which are more than 80 years old. Alcohol is evident but not distracting and their is a freshess with a touch of minerality that adds interest. Very good.
Price: NTD 2800
Score: 16.5/20

Peraj Ha’abib 2012, (Kosher wine) Monsant, 14.5%
40% Garnacha, 40% Cabernet, 20% Carinena.
Wine-making: 14 months in new and one year old French oak. Old vine.
Note: Floral character, faded flowers, dried rose. Cherry, berry and mineral. Dry with still some unresolved tannins that point to further development to come. Fine seam of supporting acidity. Well integrated oak that lends weight and spice. Very good, elegant, fresh and pure.
Price: NTD 2200
Score: 16.5/20

Costers del Gravet 2010, Monsant, 14%
50% Cabernet, 30% Garnacha, 20% Carinena.
Wine-making: 14 months in new to two year old French oak.
Note: A Touch balsamic, powerful, concentrated and persistent with a savoury and sweet but dark fruit character coupled with a spiced butter finish. Ripe and still chunky tannins (Cabernet) Very good.
Price: NTD 1400
Score: 17/20

D2 Priorat's little brother bottles NL-01