Clos de los Cuarzos Priorat 2011

Clos-del-los-Cuarzo-PrioratThe Chairman’s Selection program is easily the best thing about buying wine in Pennsylvania: a silver lining in the otherwise irksome cloud of pervasive government influence. In addition to bringing new and interesting wine to the state’s consumers, sometimes (but not always) at a considerable discount, Chairman’s Selections are delivered to stores every month and sell out quickly, meaning you can be relatively sure they won’t have been standing upright in a corner for two years.

And so begins the tale of my encounter with the Clos de los Cuarzos Priorat 2011, a blend of Grenache/Garnacha, Syrah and Carignan from Spain. To American drinkers, the Priorat region is probably the second best-known in the country, after Rioja, and the only other with the honor of Spain’s DOCa level. If you don’t drink many Spanish wines, now might be a good time to start; California seems to be having some issues with arsenic, and believe me when I say you don’t even want to know about the old lace levels in French wines nowadays.

Priorat is a great place to find powerful reds, which are of course the best reds. It also has a reputation for producing some of Spain’s most expensive wines, bringing us back to the Chairman’s Selection program, which mercifully brought this so-called $27.99 bottle down to a mere $13.99 for PA residents. With those savings, you could buy almost anything, up to and including a second bottle!

Right off the bat, this wine gives off an aroma of raspberries and blackberries, and after some breathing leather joins the fray. The tannins are persistent but prove open to compromise, and in time we manage to work out something of a truce. Notes of black cherry and blackberry are prominent, and there is no discernible alcohol burn despite clocking in at 14% abv. This pairs well with pork chili, although that may have been because I used some of it to make the chili… but in any case, neither lasted very long: proof either that this wine was quite pleasant, or that I have a problem.

At $13.99, this Priorat is an excellent bargain and thus a great introduction to the region’s wines. Let it breathe for a bit if you’re drinking it now, or be extra patient and cellar it for a year or two. But hey! At a price like this, why not do both?

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