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Zoning in on Priorat

Several years ago, I attended a wine conference in Priorat, Spain designed to re-introduce wine professionals around the globe to the historic region. Four sun-drenched days and many sips later, I was hopelessly in love. Hands down one of the most stunning and heroic wine regions in the world, the rugged terrain of Priorat (and the resulting wines) captured my heart. At some point during the weekend, the folks at the helm of the DOQ queried the attendees on the merits of creating village designated wines. I, for one, was all for it and said as much during a panel discussion with international sommeliers, Masters of Wine, wine educators, et al. To me, adding village designations (subzones) on the label would aid retail sommeliers hand-selling wine to quality conscious consumers. Not everyone was in agreement but I found the conversation and spirited debate very promising.

Fast forward four years and the chatter about creating village designations has final been resolved. Last week, the DOQ of Priorat announced the approval of 12 grape growing zones or villages. Wines from these geographic villages can now carry the name of the village on the label giving the wines a more specific sense of place. This is good news for wine retailers. While wines labeled DOQ represent good quality, wines with specific “vins de vila” on the label paint a better picture of the individual personality of the wine for consumers. Climate, topography, and history all play a role in the wine’s profile offering a unique set of characteristics.

The new designations also include additional quality levels such as Paratge Wines, Vinya Classificada, and Gran Vinya Classificata. Regardless of designation, Priorat offers some of the best Carignan, Garnacha, Syrah, Tempranillo wines on this plant. If you like Cali Zins, you are gonna fall head over heels for Priorat.

For more information on the specifics of the 12 sub-zones (villages pictured below), visit the the DOQ website.

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About Marianne Frantz

A Certified Wine Educator, Marianne holds a Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) of London, and has also earned the Advanced Sommelier qualification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. After successfully participating in an educational competition sponsored by the Wines of Australia in the spring of 2008, Marianne became an educational Ambassador for Wine Australia USA. She is also a Certified Spanish Wine Educator.