Ferrer Bobet Priorat Vinyes Velles 2015
Founded in 2002 by partners Sergi Ferrer-Salat and Raül Bobet, Bodegas Ferrer Bobet is guided by three ideas: Passion for the world and culture of wine; respect for the long traditions of viticulture and vinification of Priorat with an emphasis on economic and social development of the region; and respect for the terroir and a dedication to producing wines with the distinctive mineral essence of Priorat.
The partners searched to find the perfect property and found a spot with an unusually high proportion of llicorella, one with high elevation, steep slopes and perfect day/night diurnal temperature shifts for favorable ripening conditions. All of these factors combine to produce grapes with optimal phenolic ripeness while preserving flavor and acidity. They selected very low vigor, high-quality rootstocks and clones of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier to plant on 60 acres.
Ferrer Bobet practices strict organic viticulture believing that fastidious vineyard practices produce high-quality wine. The brand new showcase winery uses gravity from reception to bottling. The grapes are hand harvested in small 22 lb. bins and are sorted berry by berry on a sorting table. They are fermented in small (15-30 hl) oak vats that Raül Bobet designed to allow him to vinify each vineyard parcel separately. After alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place in the small vats, the wines are aged in new French oak barriques for a minimum of 12 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. They age a minimum of 11 months in bottle before release.
Located in Catalonia in northeastern Spain and entirely surrounded by the larger Montsant wine region, Priorat is defined by extremely high-altitude, steeply sloped vineyards on llicorella soils. Llicorella, which is the Catalan word for slate, is a laminated metamorphic rock made from decomposed slate and quartz. It is free draining and nutrient poor, perfect for growing grapes. The continental climate (kind of odd given its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea) with long hot dry summers, and annual rainfall of less than 20 inches makes it one of the warmest and driest areas in Spain. These factors along with the region's old vines combine to produce yields as low as 5 hl/ha, significantly lower than the already low Spanish average of 25 hl/ha. (For comparison certain areas in Germany have yields ranging from 60-99 hl/ha. and even high-quality producers tend to run around 50 hl/ha.)
Winemaking in Priorat dates back to 1163 and the Carthusian monks, but it wasn’t until 1989 when René Barbier, scion of a French/Spanish winemaking family recognized the potential of the region and created a group of site-specific wineries in Priorat. These wineries, which he named Clos (the French word for protected or walled vineyards) were blessed with particularly advantageous vineyards sites, concentrated on using small new French oak barrels and planting French grape varieties: Bordeaux blends, Syrah and some Pinot Noir. The five original Clos were Clos Mogador, Clos Dofí, Clos L’Obac, Clos Martinet and Clos Erasmus. These wines garnered extremely high ratings and international attention in the 1990s and their elevated prices reflected this success.
The first wine that Ferrer Bobet produced was the 2005 Vinyes Velles from 100-year old Carignan and Grenache vines. While not considered their flagship wine, it was so well received that it garnered international attention, and national acclaim, including being twice voted the best wine in Spain by two different national Spanish wine publications. Over the years, subsequent vintages have continued to receive accolades. The 2015 was one of three wines awarded Platinum in the Best In Show Category by Decanter Magazine.
Made from old vine 70% Carignan and 30% Grenache and vinified following Ferrer Bobet practices, this 2015 is deeply colored, complex and subtle with dense ripe aromas and flavors of dark cherries, black berries and savory notes. It is concentrated but with excellent acidity and well-balanced tannins. It finishes with a salty minerality that is typical of the region. All we can say about this pairing this wine with food is Lamb! Lamb! Lamb! It’s perfect for it!