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New village wines from old Priorat co-operative

Published:  11 June, 2018

The DOQ Priorat co-operative, La Vinícola del Priorat has launched a new series of village-classified wines under the region's, "Vi de Vila" system.

A stalwart of the region, it was founded in 1917 in the village of Gratallops. But despite their widespread creation after phylloxera and economic collapse in the region, this is the only co-operative that remains producing wine in DOQ Priorat, with all the others having either closed or, in the case of La Vilella Alta, La Vilella Baixa, and El Lloar, merged with the Gratallops co-operative in 2008 to form this modern entity that produces both wine and high-quality olive oil.

The release of these wines from the 2016 vintage makes for a fitting tribute as each is sourced from the individual villages in the cooperative. Based solely on either 100% Carignan or a blend of Carignan and Grenache, they were designed to pay tribute to the villages and their unique characteristics.

The productions totals will only be several hundred bottles each and they're targeting the upper range of DOQ Priorat wines by planning to price them at 40€ retail.

DOQ Priorat is unique in Spain in that for over a decade it has been the only DO to have a certified village classification system although it was joined last year by DOC Rioja's slightly looser, Vinos de Municipio.

Fully ratified in 2009, the first Vi de Vila wines date back to the 2007 vintage as to receive the status, individual wineries must have entered into a traceability pact with the DOQ prior to harvest.

The initial batch from 2007 were a mere eight wines, but currently from the 2016 vintage there are 55 wines that were certified and for 2017 there are 72 pending final certification upon their release.

To put this into perspective, there are around 350 individual labels of wines made regularly in the region each year so having roughly 20% of them being released under the village certification speaks well to adoption and belief in the system by the wineries.

But Priorat isn't content to sit on its laurels as during the last decade of existence for Vi de Vila they've been working on further granularization of zones via "Vi de Paratge" and then eventually single and grand cru vineyard classifications of "Vi de Vinya" and "Gran Vi de Vinya".

Some critics as well as sommeliers have argued that there is little need for these certifications as they complicate selling and charge that, "It's difficult to discern a difference in villages".

The winemakers however would heavily disagree and anyone who has visited Priorat will know well that in its villages, valleys, and tiny vales, there is a great deal of difference and they're determined to push onward to ultimately themselves to be a Burgundy of Spain.