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Vall Llach: Priorat star

Celler Vall Lach
Tel: +34 977 828 244
Website: www.vallllach.com
E-mail: celler@vallllach.com

For me, Priorat is Spain’s most exciting region. From a standing start just a couple of decades ago, this wonderful terroir has been revitalized and now some fantastic wines are being made from its schistous soils – not unlike those of Portugal’s Douro.

Vall Llach was founded in the early 1990s by singer Lluís Llach and Enric Costa, and it situated in Porrera. However, the first wine to be marketed was released in 2000. It’s pride and joy are some old vine (60–90 years) Cariñena and Garnacha vines. They have also planted some Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Some grapes are also bought in to supplement these.

Three wines are made. Embruix is aged fro 14 months in used casks (all French oak, previously used for the main wine), and consists of a blend of Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon and young Garnacha, supplemented with a bit of Syrah and Merlot. Idus is aged in new oak (light toast 300 litre barrels from Dargaud & Jeagle, medium toast 225 litre barrels from Radoux, all French) for 18 months, and consists of 40% old vine Cariñena, 25% Cabernet, 20% Merlot, 10% Garnacha and 5% Syrah. The flagship wine, titled simply Vall Llach is aged for 18 months in new French oak (same barrels as the Idus), and is mostly (65%) old vine Cariñena with the rest Merlot and Cabernet.

The wines were being presented by young winemaker Bibi Garcia, who graduated in Viticulture and Enology from Madrid University and has worked in Rioja and had a couple of spells in Chile.

Recent vintages in Priorat. 2000 was very good, with a very hot, dry summer. 2001 had a bit more rain, and overall was probably more balanced. 2002 was a difficult vintage in these parts (as it was in a fair bit of Europe), and production was cut severely. 2003 was also difficult because of rain producing botrytis problems. 2004, though, was fantastic.

Vall Llach Embruix 2002 Priorat
Tight, slightly close nose. The palate is savoury, earthy and spicy with good density and firm structure. Very savoury. Very good+ 89/100

Vall Llach Idus 2001 Priorat
Sweet, intense liquoricey nose which is quite smooth and high toned. The palate is supple and expressive with elegant red fruits and an earthy, spicy edge. Quite delicious and moreish – a savoury sort of style. Very good/excellent 93/100

Vall Llach 2001 Priorat
Brooding, intense dark fruits on the nose. Smooth and elegant with a mineralic edge. The palate is supple with lovely rich, smooth red and black fruits backed by powerful but supple tannic structure. There’s a distinctive, rich almost chocolatey, spicy finish. Very good/excellent 94/100

Vall Llach 2000 Priorat
Wonderful, powerful spicy nose. Chocolatey, spicy, minerally, expressive and full with lots of complexity. The palate is bold with concentrated, dense spicy fruit. Very full and tannic (there’s huge structure here); currently tight and dense with lots of ripe fruit under the tight structure. Excellent 96/100

UK availability: agent is McKinley Vintners
Wines tasted 02/05

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