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A Taste Of Montsant DO Wines

This story was supposed to be about my adventures in Montsant DO wine region in Catalonia, Spain. I was invited to visit Montsant this past April, but due to the pandemic, the press trip was canceled. We are tentatively rescheduled to visit Montsant in late October but I am not optimistic that we will be back to a “normal” traveling pattern by then. So, in the meantime, my wine glass and I will continue to virtually explore different wine regions.

I recently received two bottles of Montsant DO wine to whet my palate in anticipation of a future trip there. So, in addition to reviewing these wines, I’ve decided to include a very brief overview of Montsant with the hope of piquing your interest.

Montsant DO is located in northern Spain at the southern end of Catalonia. The region is shaped in the form of a semi-circle that almost completely surrounds the renowned Priorat region. Montsant is made up of mountainous terrain with high altitude vineyards situated between 50 to 700 meters above sea level. Seventeen sub-regions are located within this semi-circle.

Montsant was always considered an unexceptional sub-zone of the Tarragona region until growers petitioned to have their sub-region status changed. In 2001, Montsant finally extricated itself from Tarragona’s shadow and was officially recognized as a DO (Designation of Origin).  With this new status, growers were motivated to increase vineyard plantings, combine centuries-old tradition with modern technology in wine production and actively promote their wines. There are presently 61 wineries ranging from large cooperatives to small family businesses. Approximately 2000 hectares are under vine, with the majority (94%) being red grape varieties.

Montsant climate is Mediterranean with continental attributes that are also influenced by the mountainous terrain. Soils throughout the sub-zones are diverse and tend to be high in granite, slate, calcareous and/or limestone-based. The high diurnal range in temperature combined with the soil components contributes to the development of aromas and complexity in the grapes.

The two major red grape varieties are Garnaxta Negra (Red Grenache) and Carinyena (Carignan). Garnatxa Blanca (White Grenache) and Macabeu (Viura) are the most widely grown white grape varieties.

Both samples of wine are an expression of what Montsant DO has to offer and they are a nice introduction to this region.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

COFAMA was founded in 2002 and represents different wineries as well as their own brands. Clos de Nit is a Catalan phrase that means “vineyard of the night”. 

Clos De Nit Crianza DO Montsant 2016
This wine is a lovely blend of 40% Garnaxta Negra, 40% Carinyena and 20% Syrah and is aged for six months in oak. The color is dark ruby with aromas of dark plum, black cherry, berries, spice and a hint of clove. It is well structured with mild tannins and dark cherry, berries, cranberry, toast, spice, pepper and anise on the palate. The finish is long with a touch of minerality.
Alcohol:  13.5%
SRP:  $13

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Clos De Nit Tinto DO Montsant 2017
This wine is a blend of 40% Garnaxta Negra, 25% Carinyena, 20% Merlot, 10% Tempranillo and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Aromas of lush red fruit, floral and blueberry make their way onto the palate with plum, red and black berries, red cherry and a hint of herbs and fennel. Smooth tannins and a long finish are quite satisfying.
Alcohol:  13.5%
SRP:  $13

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Montsant is putting itself on the map with its excellent, concentrated and expressive red wines. And, they are giving value competition to their famous neighbor, the Priorat region. I look forward to traveling to Montsant someday soon to explore more of these delicious wines. And I promise that my next story about Montsant DO will cover winery visits, food, culture and a much more in-depth view of this fascinating wine region.

Until next time,

Cheers!

Penny

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