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Montsant in Priorato DO

Published:  23 July, 2008

by James Aufenast

A new Spanish wine region is under discussion amid big changes in north-east Spain that look set to preserve the region's quality reputation. Local growers are pushing for the 2,000ha region that is currently a sub-zone of Tarragona DO, Falset, to change to a new DO, called Montsant. The region encloses Priorato in a horseshoe shape, to the west, north and south. According to the winemaker at the top-end co-operative in Tarragona, Capanes Jrgen Wagner: "The new region will appear in two months." Capanes will become part of the new growing area. However, a spokesperson for Wines from Spain in Barcelona, involved in talks said: "Nothing is definite yet. It is under discussion and there is lots to sort out." The new Montsant denomination will be differentiated by its predominant clay, compared to the slate of Priorato. Priorato will be shrunk into an area to the east of Montsant. "They're doing the right thing," said South African Spice Route winemaker, Eben Sadie. "The temptation would have been to expand the Priorato region, and dilute its reputation for quality." Sadie worked in Priorato and intends to buy property there. He added: "It is the best wine-growing region in the world." Torres has planted 25ha near Falset, in Montsant, and is likely to plant 30ha nearby. Other big companies are expected to move in now that local growers have all but stopped supplying them with grapes. Winemaker Joseph Puig has built a new winery and planted Touriga Nacional in Priorato. Clos Erasmus owner Daphn Glorian, whose 1994 Priorat Unfiltered wine was awarded 99 points by Parker, plans to add 7ha to her 5ha site, mostly of the once-traditional variety from the region, Grenache. "Priorato is one of the top five sites in the world for Grenache, alongside McLaren Vale and Chteauneuf-du-Pape," said Glorian. "Grenache is the Pinot Noir of the south. The more I make it, the more I love it. Cabernet Sauvignon is a workhorse and can grow anywhere, but Grenache is perfect for Priorato."