[ Priorat – Spain ]
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In the heart of the mountains of Priorat, just outside of the village of Gratallops, we find the cellars and vineyards of Clos Mogador. Here, a collection of extraordinarily old Grenache vines (80+ years old) planted on impossibly steep mountainside terraces yield raw materials that Priorat magician René Barbier coaxes carefully from the classic llicorella each year. Here, in what feels like one of the most natural and history steeped wine regions anywhere on earth, Barbier has been a driving force in putting Priorat on the world wine map.
While the actual blend varies from year to year, Clos Mogador is comprised of more or less of 40% Garnacha, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cariñena & 20% Syrah. The results speak for themselves, in as much as Clos Mogador Priorat Red has become one of the most sought after and appreciated red wines made anywhere. The minute yields given up each year by this challenging climate and terrain produce an average of about 25,000 bottles, which today are exported in small quantities to just about every major wine market around the world.
At Clos Mogador, René Barbier nursed back to life abandoned old vineyards planted on steep schist hillsides, where the ancient Grenache and Carignan vines had learnt to struggle against the aridity by sending their roots 25 metres down, or more, in search of water and nutrients. While this estate has become firmly entrenched as the number one address in the appellation – with a bulging book of press coverage to back this claim – Clos Mogador is much more; namely, a thriving ecosystem and a celebration of biodiversity; a blueprint for a living “terroir”.
Meticulous care is taken over every aspect of the vinification and ageing process. René Barbier himself is a pupil of Jean-Claude Berrouet, Winemaker at Château Pétrus. Building on this education, enormous attention is given to every detail at Clos Mogador. The oak from the Nevers and Allier is selected in France and then assembled in the Rioja. The wine is manipulated as little as possible, and then only by gravity, with the cool winter temperatures making all forms of clarification unnecessary.
The wine shows an opaque black, purple colour and an intense complex bouquet of ripe fruit, wild herbs, toasted bread, spices and smoke. The palate is massive and well balanced with a fat richness, a dense structure of velvety tannins and a powerful, lively acidity. Flavours of cristalised fruit, pepper, chocolate, coffee and a whole panapoly of spices and herbs. On the long finish there are the unique mineral tones that make Priorat so special.
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