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.
“1902” is arguably one of the best of the best. This wine, 100% Carignane from 117-year-old vines is a centrepiece for the cellar. Aged 16 months in new French oak and bottled unfined and unfiltered, only three barrels were produced. Bottles are individually numbered.