On a trip to Priorat in 2017, we were struck by how Carignane, a grape not often discussed in North American wine circles, was treasured among winemakers, with the best cuvées receiving the lion’s share of the best old vine fruit.
Years ago, the Catalonian government initiated a pull-out program endorsing farmers to rip out their Carignane and plant Grenache and other preferred varietals. Carignane is vigourous, and under certain vineyard practices, can produce a large quantity of fruit at diminished quality. As a result, much Carignane was made into “jug wine”. It gave the grape a poor reputation.
When crop load is controlled, however, or when vines are very old, Carignane produces rich, round, full-bodied, vibrant wine with soft tannins and bright acidity. The best can age gracefully. These are special wines worth pursuing.
The 2014 “Doix” is 55% Carignane and 45% Grenache. The grapes come from vines between 80 and 105 years old, with small, exceptional average production of around 400 grams per vine. Harvested by hand and transported to the winery in small crates, the fruit ferments in small lots. It matures around 16 months in new French oak barrels before it is bottled unfined and unfiltered.
“It’s deep ruby/purple color is followed by a beautiful perfume of blueberries, violets, graphite, lead pencil and iris flower. Just insanely pure, perfumed and complex, with full-bodied richness, this beauty glides across the palate with no weight, incredible tannin quality, no hard edges, and beautiful purity. While this cuvée used to be richer and slightly more concentrated, it’s more elegant, pure, and seamless today, without sacrificing intensity.”
96 points, Jeb Dunnuck, Feb 2018
“Poboleda is another village where Cariñena excels, and the 1902 old-vine cuvée from Mas Doix can be a very good example. If last time I was delighted because I had two vintages of that wine, this time I got three! Could it be that they are selling at a faster pace now? I had two vintages of the old-vine cuvée to taste side by side, starting with the 2014 Doix Costers de Vinyes Velles. Made of 55% Cariñena and 45% Garnacha from old vines on slopes on slate llicorella soils, the fermentation and aging are the same as for the centenary Carignan: fermentation in stainless steel with neutral yeasts and an élevage of 16 months in new French barriques. It has moderate alcohol and high acidity. It has already started developing some tertiary notes and shows some graphite and wet slate notes. The palate shows great balance, with concentration and freshness—what you’re aiming for in a wine like this where pure power might be too much. 5,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in April 2016.”
95 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, April 2018