Sao del Costers vineyards

Organic Wine Tour to Priorat, Spain

A wine tour to Priorat exploring some fantastic organic wines could not been better. That was possible thanks to Catalunya Wine and their recommendation of SweetEasy wine tours, so I have had a pleasure of visiting a few amazing wineries in Priorat this July.

Yet let’s take it step by step, I will focus more on the wine tour and a trip, so you will can get a teaster of the wines and also get some more information what kind of tours you can order from SweetEasy in Catalunya.

This trip was tailor-made just for me with my organic wine requirements, but I then also discovered that the styles of the properties were also quite different – from a boutique yet mid-sized Sao del Coster, to one of the smaller ones – Celler Clos 93, to a somewhat larger and remote property at Celler Burgos Porta.

We did not stop at the larger and more commercial properties like Torres or Alvaro Palacios or even Scala Dei for that matter; yet the beauty of the 13th century Carthusian monastery was tempting, so we did a quick stop at the surroundings of Scala Dei.

It is a full day of wine discoveries, talking to winemakers and owners, exploring either vineyards and also full cycle of production facilities, so let’s crack on!

Sao del Coster

Sao del Costers vineyards wine tourBeautiful licorella (slate that is specific to Priorat and believed to be a reason for the incredible minerality of the wines ) soil and a story of buying some abandoned vineyards a decade back was definitely backed with a passionate commitment to biodynamic and organic viticulture from the very beginning of their winemaking journey.

Sao del Costers cellar wine tourA tour to an organic vineyard that has some old Carignan vines then followed to their facility, where you can see how they process the grapes, and mature some of them in casks and barrels. 

Special thanks to a winemaker who presented the wines and gave insights on what kind of style they wanted to achieve and how the whole range suits to a everyday drinking to special occasions.

Being a small company they basically have one person in the vineyard and three in total. They employ 2 mules to help in the vineyards and hire additional 5 guys for a harvest – that’s all basically.

X Sao del Costers AlbarinoX 2012 is not produced from the grapes grown in Priorat. Being small also means being agile, which is good in my opinion, so they also have another vineyard in Rias Baixas, where they grow 100% Albariño. This wine shows serious mineralogy and also apple, lemon and hints of straw. The wine is of balanced acidity and a fuller body with some creamy finish. It is a really good wine.

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Sao del Costers Pim Pam Poom organic PrioratPim Pam Poom 2014 is made of 100% organic Grenache in Priorat and was designed to be young and spicy, with a character, but also easy to drink. This is definitely a more modern style in Priorat and they have achieved it brilliantly. The winemaking includes a bit (up to 30%) of stems and that gives you a bit of tingle on gums, which says ‘I am quite a young and tannic wine’. Indeed, the tannins are ripe and noticeable as they also give a bit of bitterness to the wine. Fruit flavours are of mostly strawberry and raspberry with a lot of spicy and earthy notes. The production also was made with just 10 ml of sulphur – so the sulphites’  contents is very low, which is good for you.

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S Sao del Costers Priorat organicS 2013 is a blend of two organic grape varieties: 70% is Garnacha and the rest is Carignan from the vineyard visited just before (so exciting!). 

The wine is very perfumed and more fruity than the previous one with a generous touch of woodiness. It has an amazing deep colour, black fruit and vanilla. 

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sao_04O4 is the older (10 years old) wine they also do in Priorat. It is old, but still tannic, silky and earthy. Garnacha performs beautifully with the perfumed strawberry flavours. It is a really nice wine and aged well to integrate both acidity and earthy. I cannot help but comment again on its tannins – how together they are. It has this woody-vanilla-strawberry mix that is so enticing. They are already out of stock, so maybe you can find it somewhere very exclusive. 

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A short visit to Clos Figueras

It is nice to have an opportunity to just nose around a bit and have a look at their cellars, a really pretty summer garden, where you can sample their wines, but also sample some delights in their restaurant (weekends only so far). 

They do offer tours, but we were very fast to simply have a look and drive to another appointment.

Celler Clos 93

It is probably one of the smallest properties and wineries in Priorat. During out visit and the tasting we went through the winemaker’s actual home (very rustic and pretty I must say) to the back of it, where the cellar is.

They are currently producing just two wines: the question mark and the exclamation point; I find this marketing feature a very clever one. First of all, having a small range of just two wines they are trying to differentiate not only between the wines (saying that one is superb and one should be assessed), but also from the competition as the bottles stand out of the crowd nicely.

? Celler Clos 93 organic Priorat? is made from Carignena and Syrah, all organically grown of course.

It provides somewhat an easier drinking style, but at the sam time is perfumed, spicy, and an abundance of dark fruit. What I also liked is that the spice is not overly sweet, but peppery and earthy. The wine is superbly round.

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! Celler Clos 93 organic Priorat! is made from 100% Syrah and it is currently out of stock, but the new vintage should be ready for the market very soon. I must add that being 100% Syrah is very unusual choice for Priorat.

They also leave 30% of stems, so it adds an additional tannic layer. The wine has a lot of dark fruit flavours, but they are quite restrained and elegant.

It is also earthy and punchy with the spice, which is again not sweet ( good dark fruit can be brought over the top with extremely sweet spicy flavours I think).

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We have also made a stop at a very nice restaurant, where the tour company introduced to another wine made from the rare indigenous grape, but the story about the restaurant and this wine is to follow.

Next stop is Mas Sinen (Celler Burgos Porta)

Mas Sinen Celler Burgos Porta organic viticulture wine tourWe were driving in the woods to get to that place and then had a very educational tour through the vineyards, where the owner apart from traditional Garnacha, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot also grows experimental clones using Malbec (Cot), Syrah, Tempranillo and Petit Verdot varieties. Should that be successful, they are planning to taste the wins next year and present this to the local regulatory board. This is very exciting as it is not just organic viticulture we are talking about, but also innovations which can lead to exciting wines we can get to our tables in the future.

Yet let’s go back to what is already on offer by this winery. They have provided us with the vertical tasting, where we have tasted their red wine starting from 2010 and back to 2007. The blends are a bit different, but it is very interesting to see the development and light nuances of these 4 organic wines.

Petit Mas Sinen 2010 organicPetit Mas Sinen 2010 is made from 50% Garnacha, 20% Carignan and the rest is Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It displays good concentration of dark fruit, amazing complexity of flavours and being a very tannic wine (the feeling of tannins is very gripping and pronounced). The wine screams of refreshing red fruit and loads of minerality. It spent 6 months in barrel and further 3 years in bottle 

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Mas Sinen 2009Mas Sinen 2009 has a bit of a different blend of 50% Garnacha and 40% Carignan (Samso as they say in Catalunya). 

25 years old vines of Garnacha add a very concentrated red and black fruit to the wine, which was matured 1 year in barrel and 4 years in bottle. It displays amazing fruit, the wine is concentrated and very tannic, so satisfying! (I bought a bottle to take back to London!) 

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Mas Sinen 2008 organic PrioratMas Sinen 2008 is more mature and you can taste how much softer it actually is. It is made from 40% Garnacha and 40% Carignena.  Flavours are of red fruit, but also some black one; everything is very well integrated. It is really soft and mellow, probably not that concentrated as 2009, but really aged well to be so soft!

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Mas Sinen 2007 is made from 45% Garnacha, 25% Carignan, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 

10% Syrah.

The wine is intensely tannic and very kicky, which is surprising after tasting 2008 as feeling how mellow that was! This 2007 vintage shows dark fruit and is super powerful with a peppery edge to it. The concentration of black fruit gives you that balsamic layer to this wine that makes it lush, yet over the top just slightly.

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You can imagine this was an amazing wine tour. You get to meet real people who are behind these amazing wines, and not just buying an entrance ticket and walking the vineyards and then sampling couple of wines. 

I was completely knackered after a day of walking, talking, digesting this information both with my mind, but also with my eyes and of course with the nose and mouth. Big thanks to SweetEasy tours for the tour; they have kindly provided us with 15% discount on custom wine tours in Catalunya, so if you contact them, do not forget to tell them you came from ‘I Blame The Wine’ and you get your personalised tour quote with a discount. You can also send an email, so we simply introduce you to SweetEasy to organise a custom wine tour.

Cheers!

About The Author

Dimitri

Dimitri is passionate about wines, food to go with it, happy & healthy lifestyle, digital marketing, start-ups and entrepreneurship. www.IBlameTheWine.com is about new organic wines in the UK, what to buy or avoid on the retailer shelves; tips on healthy and happy wine lifestyle, but also provides reviews and rankings for organic wines. Get in touch please, I am always on a lookout for new ideas and connections! Cheers.

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