For our first week, Lorena and I have started with a wine from a little known wine region in the Spanish region (that term should really tick the secessionists off) of Catalonia called Montsant. Partly, because I know a thing or two about these wines, and partly because, the way things are going, we may not be able to call them Spanish long from now.
Most people people have never heard of this region because they don’t read my book and therefore don’t learn about these things. This is not a personal thing. The 47 people who did buy my book 15 years ago learned a lot. The rest have relied on unreliable sources. That’s their problem. Even today, with all that is available online, it’s shocking how little even the experts know about Spanish wine. Shocking because I was shocked fifteen years ago. Shocking because little has changed since then. But the world has changed a lot. Donald Trump is president of the United States, my friends. It’s something we should remind ourselves about every single day before we brush and flush. We don’t say it enough.
Anyway, Montsant is located in the province of Tarragona and it literally forms a ring around the more well known wine region of Priorat, which took the country by storm in the 1990s by launching some of Spain’s most exclusive wines. This had to do with the high quality of the old vines, its limited production and the unique minerally characteristics of its wine. They all translated into specialness, which really means hefty prices per single bottle.
Why are we talking about Priorat if we want to hightlight Montsant? It’s to provide a little context. Montsant used to be a subzone of the Tarragona wine region until it separated (that seems to be a Catalan thing) and started up as its own denominación de origen in 2002. You get the feeling that Montsant is kind of like the poorer relations of the highly touted Priorat, that cousin who has to stay in your pool house instead of the local hotel, but we can assure you that it stands on its own just perfectly well, thank you. Priorat’s wines are excellent, especially because they are so different, but they tend to be special occasion bottles, unless you own an island or two.
Montsant, on the other hand, tend to be a mighty value for your money, and they don’t compromise on quality. Without trying to sound too much like a sponsored article, Venus La Universal’s Dido, created by Sara Pérez and Rene Barbier, is a perfect example. These two winemakers each come from families with roots deep in Priorat and beyond (The Barbiers have been at it since the 13th Century, so I kind of feel I can trust their know-how without risking it). All the same, their presence in Montsant seems to have given them more freedom. This red made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Merlot and Syrah, just blows your mind a way. It takes a little time to get up and running, but it once it does, there is no saying, “Let’s put the cork back and finish it tomorrow.” There is no tomorrow.
Lorena, who has far finer senses than I do, noticed the leathery aroma open up to something more like redcurrant. It was full-bodied but silky smooth. It evolved wonderfully throughout the meal and she enjoyed finishing it off with a bit of chocolate. And all for little more tha twelve euros.
We’re praying Venus stays in Spain!