The Spanish wine region of Priorat left a distinct impression on me when I visited a few years ago: steep mountains, quiet towns made of stone, and a distinct herbal, florally scent baked by the intense summer sun.
About an hour and a half outside Barcelona, the area is all about the grapes Carignan and Garnacha (known elsewhere as Grenache), and the red wines made here are unabashedly powerful.
Alvaro Palacios, with whom I was visiting at the time, has received justifiable buckets of attention for his intense and long-lived wines, including L’Ermita. But I recently discovered another outstanding producer from the region: Marco Abella.
Run by a cute young couple: Olívia Bayés and David Marco, who chucked city jobs to move to the countryside and make wine (Marco’s family has a long tradition of grape growing in the region), Marco Abella makes three wines and you can pick the price point that works for you.
Marco Abella Loidana 2010 ($30) is the more affordable (sorry, no $10 vino here) level, full of fresh cherry, a lovely persistence on the palate and a great medium body. This wine is calling out for tapas.
Denser, blacker, and more intense is the Marco Abella Mas Mallola 2008 ($50). The black fruit almost reaches over into prune, in a good way, and it really coats the teeth.
Top of the heap is Marco Abella Clos Abella 2009 ($90), which forced me to stop, sit down, and reflect about wine in general. This wine has layers: a refreshing wallop of acidity, a comforting, substantial amount of weight without being heavy (imagine your favorite dog lying on your chest—it feels like that), and a symphonic mix of flavors including, but not limited to, black cherry, nuts, spice, and a touch of leather.
If you want to taste what Priorat can do, grab one of these bottles. You may be booking a flight to Spain soon after.
Ted Loos is T+L's Wine & Spirits Contributor. Follow him on Twitter at @LoosLips.