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Merum Priorati Ardiles Priorat 2016 £21.95
MERUM PRIORATI ARDILES PRIORAT
Located in eastern Priorat around the pretty village of porrera, this in one of the wildest, most rugged terrains, where few vines thrive and those that do produce less than 1 kg of grapes per vine (and as low as 250g per vine for the older Garnacha and carinena plants). Vineyards here are not measured in hectares but by numbers of vines planted due to extreme terracing and contours on these stunning mountainsides. There isn't what you'd call soil more just a carpet of broken black slate called Licorella. In these radical conditions 5 grape varieties thrive on the merum estate: Garnacha, Carinena, Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. A project founded in 2004 by two Catalan familes, the winemaking side is overseen by oenologist Don Lewis (an Australian whose experience in Spain spans 2 decades) and his collaborator Narelle King. Impeccably made but not over polished, these are truly handmade wines: total production in 2004 was 9,000 bottles, fermentation is in small, open top vats with long cuvasion and the wines are intense and seriously complex against a backdrop of bright and vibrant modern fruit.
Grapes are harvested from a combination of premium vineyard sites, of both old and new vines, planted in terraces at 100-700m above sea level. The fruit (Garnacha, Carinena, Cabernet Sauvignon, along with 10% Merlot and 5% Syrah) is fermented in 1.5t open top fermenters and hand plunged daily. Each parcel is matured separately for 12 months in used 225L French oak barrels.
A rich and intense aroma of black cherry, liquorice and toasty oak. Ripe plum, rosemary and vanilla characteristics on the poised palate with smooth yet powerful tannins. Notes of leather and spice on the finish.
Great matched with slow-cooked shoulder of lamb, or rabbit braised with olive and herbs.