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 2015 “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.
“The 2015 Doix Costers De Vinyes Velles comes from 55% old vine Carignane (110-year-old vines) and 45% Grenache (85-year-old vines) and was raised all in new French oak. A rich, concentrated, incredibly impressive Priorat, it has that classic smoky minerality as well as brilliant notes of plums, violets, graphite, roasted herbs, and chocolate. Full-bodied, deep, and incredibly concentrated, it stays balanced and pure, with a great finish. It’s going to benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and keep for two decades. It might end up being one of the legendary Priorats out there.”
97 points, JebDunnuck.com, April 2019
“Certainly riper and with a little less acidity, the 2015 Doix Costers de Vinyes Velles is a similar blend of 55% extremely old Carignane and 45% very old Grenache matured in new French oak barrels for 16 months. The fruit is black, and the palate reveals abundant, fine-grained tannins and integrated acidity. A powerful vintage for Doix. 3,100 bottles were filled in March 2017.”
94 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, April 2018