Visiting Priorat winery with character - Celler Devinssi
Catalonia, Spain, has many attractive tourist destinations, from the bustle of Barcelona to the beaches of Costa Brava. But visitors to the area should not ignore the interior of the region, where driving west will bring you to the windswept mountains of Priorat, one of Spain's - and the world's - premier wine-making regions. To experience the wonders of this land, visitors should schedule a visit to Celler Devinssi.
Begin with a drive to the Priorat vines
True wine lovers always relish the chance to step into the vineyards. Devinssi's host, Jordi - a charming, funny, multi-lingual guide - drives visitors on narrow unpaved roads that wind around vineyards. Along the route, he waves to neighboring winery owners, explains the that the plantings between vines actually facilitates biodynamic grape growing, and finally parks on a tiny piece of flat land. From there, visitors can walk up a trail to a stunning lookout point where an unspoiled landscape of vineyards, almond trees, and lush vegetation stretch as far as the eye can see.
Tour and tasting at Devinssi in Gratallops
After the vineyard tour, visitors return to the old stone streets of Gratallops (the village was settled before the 12th century) for a tour of the diminutive cellar. Then it's on to the next stop - what looks like a small house that serves as the tasting room. There's a homey feel to the whole setup, and our group (a small media trip) was settled in at a wooden kitchen table and offered crackers as Jordi and owner Josep Roca opened the D.O. (Denominaciones de Origen) Priorat wines.
I was surprised to taste a wonderful white wine to start - the 2015 Mas de las Valls White. This full-bodied white had lush flavors of white raisins, minerals, lemon pitch, slight grapefruit, and almonds. This noteworthy wine was made from equal thirds of White Garnacha, Pedro Ximenez (better known for making sweet Sherry), and Carignan (a red grape).
Wonderful red wines from Priorat
The red wines of Celler Devinssi were truly memorable and offered exceptional quality at every price point.
2014 Cupatge was a red blend with deep dark black and red fruit flavors, soft tannins, and was overall a strong expression both of minerality and fruit. It sells for 30 euros.
The 2013 Mas de les Valls had a smoky notes along with strong violet aromas. The fruit was very rich with blackberry jam quality that was balanced by high acidity. I brought a bottle of this 45 Euro wine home with me.
The 2013 Il.lia had a basalmic quality with cherries, clove, firm, but integrated tannins and high acid. The blend of Garnacha, Carinena, and Cabernet Sauvignon is aged for 18 months in French Oak. This 70 Euro wine was a wonderful example of top quality Priorat wine.
Being on a media trip, we got to taste a premier wine that may not be available to tour groups. However, it is worth sharing the tasting notes as an example of premier wine of this region. The 2012 Rocapoll was, quite simply, a "wow" wine. It has a tiny production - this vintage only produced 300 bottles. It is created with Mazuela grapes from old vines. It is a rare, traditionally fermented wine - using only yeasts of the grape. The result is a wine with delicious, deep blackberry flavors, rich mouthfilling body, high acid, minerality, and a huge finish. This wine garnered 92 points from Penin's Guide 2016 and its price of 200 Euros reflects its rarity and quality.
Whether a serious collector or an enthusiastic newbie, travelers who want to get a taste of some of Spain's best wines, should make an appointment to visit Celler Devinssi.