Montsant is an interesting region to try for those legions of folks who love Priorat but find the prices a little steep! Montsant is the region that surrounds Priorat and many parts of it share the similar licorella soils that make Priorat wines so unique. Montsant is relatively new Denominacion de Origen (wine appellation) as previously it was known as Falset district of the large and variable wine region Tarragona. Montsant is a very good value alternative to Priorat…the best ones are quite similar. The problem with Montsant is that it is much more variable in quality than Priorat, especially as there are some sites and soils that are not as good. Also some Montsant wineries make a more rustic-style wine. The good news is you can try a lot of Montsants to find the good ones without breaking the bank!
The grapes used in the region are the same as in Priorat: old vine indigenous varieties such as Garnacha (Grenache) and Cariñena (Carignan) and some French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The wine style tends to preserve the intense, often mineral fruit by oaking lightly…the more rustic ones generally have over-ripe, jammy fruit….some of the modern ones have a bit too much oak.
This winery, Portal del Montsant, is keen on careful site selection and use of indigenous varieties. Besides the wine below, they also make a reserva-level red with older vines and more oak, a white from white Grenache, and a Grenache-based rosé.
Wine: Brunus 2006
Winery: Portal del Montsant
Denominacion de Origen (DO): Montsant
Grape varieties: 60% Cariñena, 25% Garnacha, 15% Syrah (20-50 yr old vines)
Oak regime: 8 months in American and French oak
Price: 12€ retail in Madrid
Visual: Intense cherry color…very youthful
Nose: Attractive liqueur blackberry fruit with toasty, spicy oak notes, a hint of menthol and eucalyptus. A bit hollow and oaky at first….more expressive and intense fruit with air.
Mouth: Not as intense in fruit as the nose…a bit tough in tannins and oak. Some nice blackberry and blueberry fruit, a touch of balsamic, menthol. Nice blueberry finish though a bit tannic.
Food: Happened to have some with my mozzarella, tomato and white truffle oil salad. Surprisingly wasn’t too bad…the truffle oil made the match.
Conclusion: Nice wine, really great nose, but a bit thin on fruit compared to the intense tannins in the mouth. The best Montsants translate that opulent fruit from the nose to the mouth. Very modern style of Montsant….but I’ve found that some of these modern ones do lack some depth and complexity of fruit. Also Cariñena can be a tough grape, sometimes lacking fruit. Good price for the area though…hard to find really good ones under 15€…a nice wine.