The rise of a new region or the revival of an old one must start with a few pioneers. In Priorat, we have a region that is both ancient and new. Priorat is a very small and remote Catalan region just inland from the Mediterranean and sixty miles south from Barcelona. Vines have been grown there since Roman times but the area is so mountainous and steep that after the late 19th century phylloxera infestation many growers simply gave up and the region was slowly abandoned. In the late 80s, however, the region was rediscovered by adventurous young winemakers who thought the terroir of Priorat, with its ancient ready-made terraces and properly vine-stressing soil composition and climate, was just too promising to ignore. Daphne Glorian was one of those pioneers.
In 1988 Swiss-born Glorian spent her life savings on a small property in Priorat. She had studied law in Paris but while there developed an enthusiasm for wine while working as office manager for an English Master of Wine. She subsequently spent some time in Burgundy but is largely self-taught. Glorian, along with fellow pioneers Rene Barber (founder of now celebrated Clos Mogador), and Alvero Palacios (founder of now celebrated L’Ermita and Finca Dofi), began working the rugged, difficult slopes, and in early vintages she relied on advice from Barber and Palacios (among a few others), and vise versa. She learned quick and her Clos Erasmus and Laurel have become benchmark wines; the Clos Erasmus received back to back 100 pt. scores from Wine Advocate for the 2004 and 2005 vintages. Her husband is prominent wine importer Eric Solomon, himself a pioneer, being one of the first importers to discover Priorat as a promising new region.
Clos i Terrasses is a small, boutique winery and at 11 hectares produces perhaps 3000 cases each year. The property is biodynamic. Laurel is Glorian’s second wine and is a softer, lighter version of Clos Erasmus that is wonderfully ready to drink on release. It is 75% Garnacha, 20% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Garnacha is the principal grape of Priorat and perhaps there reaches its highest expression, aside from Chateauneuf-du-Pape (where the French term is Grenache), and like a great Chateauneuf the Laurel delivers power with complexity and grace.
Clos i Terrasses Laurel Priorat 2018
Sale Price: $54.97
Wine Advocate, 96pts. – “The second wine here and one that is easier to drink, the 2018 Laurel was produced with fruit from the younger vines, a couple of barrels that are declassified from Clos Erasmus and the Cabernet Sauvignon, more or less 70% Garnacha and 15% each Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has good ripeness and still a pH of 3.3. It fermented mostly in oak vats and 2,000-liter concrete vats with indigenous yeasts and matured for 18 months in 20,000-liter oak and concrete vats, second use barriques and some clay amphorae. It's a bright translucent ruby color and has a perfumed and delicate nose with notes of orange peel and flowers; this is the most elegant and ethereal vintage of Laurel as far as I can remember, with red rather than black fruit and a kind of cranberry quality. The palate is medium-bodied, textured and fluid, with subtleness, balance and very fine tannins. The oak is perfectly integrated, and the wine is easy to drink, approachable and very pleasurable right now. It's a fresh vintage with energy and finesse, quite different from previous vintages. I love it.” (12/2020)
Past Cellar Selections:
Canon la Gaffeliere St. Emilion '15 & '16
Keenan Cabernet Reserve 2016 - Cult Wine for the Masses (Ha!)
Casanova di Neri 2016 – Historic Vintage & 99pts.
Ducru-Beaucaillou 2015 – Super Second
Falletto Giacosa – Grand Cru Barolo
Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo 2016
Huët Clos du Bourg 2019 – Grand Cru from the Loire Valley
Heitz, Dunn, Continuum . . . What is a Cult Cali Red?
Chandon de Briailles - Wines Without Artifice
Magnum Bottles from CVNE Imperial
Beaux Freres Pinot Noir 2018
Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva – What were you doing in 1987?
Domaine Simon Bize 2018 – Value Burgundy
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias
Three Oderros: for the Picnic Table, the Dinner Table and the Cellar