Priorat is an Origin Certified, in Spanish ”Denominación de Origen” (D.O.) for wines located in the province of Tarragona (Catalonia), recognized with the highest quality by being a qualified Origin Certified.
For a Certified Origin to be recognized as qualified, it has to have spent at least ten years since its recognition as a designation of origin. For the recognition of a designation of origin as a Qualified Denomination of Origin it is necessary to certify the performance of the following requirements:
a) Establish a comprehensive wine traceability system that encompasses the plots of vines, their productions of grapes, identified by batches, transportation, preparation, ageing, bottling, labelling, packaging and marketing.
b) Ensure that the products covered by the appellation of origin are bottled in the cellars that are registered and located in the specified geographical area.
c) Set up a system of quality control and certification of the protected wines, from the production phase up to when they are released on to the market, which includes an organoleptic and analytical control by homogeneous batches of limited volume and in accordance with the characteristics that the wines established in the regulations must include.
d) Arrange that the wineries only have vines or must from registered vineyards or wine from other wineries that are also registered, and that only produce wine exclusively with the right to be called D.O. Qualified, in Spanish “Deniminación de Origen Calificada”.
In Spain you have two D.O.Ca., Rioja and Priorat.
A Qualified Designation of Origin guarantees the origin of the product in its entirety, by means of the execution of the whole system of traceability of origin, thus avoiding submitting the products to conditions which are not considered optimal for the maintenance of the characteristics of these wines.
The traditional grape variety grown in El Priorat is the red Garnacha tinta, which is found in all the older vineyards. Also authorized are the following red varieties: Garnacha Peluda, Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Four white varieties are also authorized: Garnacha blanca, Macabeo, Pedro Ximénez and Chenin.
The trend among the red varieties is that Garnacha stays constant, Cariñena decreases and the international grape varieties increase. While Cabernet Sauvignon has always been in the lead among these, in recent years, Syrah has increased faster.
he traditional reds from El Priorat are a single grape (“varietal”) bottling of Grenache or Carignan, or a blend of these two grapes in a Bordeaux style with other French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah, among others.
- Crianza wines must remain in oak barrels for 6 months and then 18 months in the bottle.
- Reserva wines must remain in oak barrels for 12 months and then 24 months in the bottle.
- Gran Reserva wines remain in oak barrels for 24 months and then 36 months in the bottle.
Few wineries (cellars) follow these guidelines strictly, and the usual practice is to produce wines labelled as “vino de guarda“ (aged wine), which has been in oak barrels for 18 months followed by 6 months in the bottle, with the optimal time for consumption being 2 years later.