Montsant Wine Guide | Styles, Sub Regions and Winemakers
After reading our introductory guide to Catalunya , we know you’ve been itching to learn more about some of the different Catalonian wine regions. Well, here’s our Montsant wine guide, where you’ll find out all you need to know about Catalunya’s newest sub region!
Montsant is a sub-region of Catalunya. It is here where you will find the more famous region, Priorat. You’ve probably heard of Priorat, but maybe not Montsant, and that could be because Montsant was only registered as a ‘DO‘ in 2001. For those who don’t know, ‘DO’ is in reference to a Designation of Origin for the wine. Montsant DO is the newest official addition to the Catalunyan wine-scape. Before it became its own sub-region, it was a subzone of Tarragona DO.
WHERE IS THE MONTSANT WINE REGION?
Montsant is about 50 miles inland from Tarragona, to the North-West, and about 110 miles west of Barcelona. As mentioned, it pretty much encompasses Priorat in nearly a full circle.
MONTSANT WINE GUIDE
Although Montsant has its own climate, and its style of wine is different enough to its neighbours, i.e. Priorat and Tarragona, it is still very much a part of Catalunya. With this in mind, expect powerful red wine. Garnatxa (Grenache) is the most planted grape, producing rich, full-bodied, high alcohol wine. White wine production in Montsant is minimal, and is often made up of a blend of different grapes. Grenache Blanc is a popular base grape, producing wines with elegant aromas and a fuller body.
Take a look at the images below to discover the most popular grapes varieties in Montsant.
As mentioned, Montsant DO surrounds Priorat DOQ, the most famous sub region of Catalunya. Priorat wines use similar red grapes to Montsant, however they only permit Garnacha Blanc, Macabeo and Pedro Ximinez white grapes to be grown. Another big difference between the two regions is the soil. Montsant has limestone and bright red clay soil, whereas in neighbouring Priorat, it’s grey and slate-like. As mentioned, Priorat is surrounded by the Montsant mountain range, which gives it its own micro climate. These are the main factors which make Priorat wines different to Montsant.
The dividing line between Montsant and Priorat can sometimes be blurred. For example the town of Falset has a multitude of vineyards surrounding it. Some of these vineyards are designated Montsant DO, others are Priorat DOQ.
So Tarragona isn’t really a sub region of Montsant, but up until 2001 Montsant was actually part of Tarragona DO. It broke away and in 2002, wines from this area were being sold as Montsant DO. With this in mind, we thought it would be important to include Tarragona in our Montsant Wine guide
Wines from Tarragona DO use similar grapes to both Priorat DOQ and Montsant DO, with Tarragona red wine in particular being full-bodied, high alcohol, rich blends. However the primary difference between Montsant and Tarragona is the micro-climates. Montsant is based around the nearby mountains, whereas Tarragona’s two sub zones are divided. Camp Tarragona, the largest of the two sub zones, stretched north-east of the DO and reaches the border with the province of Lleida. Ribera d’Ebre is situated to the southwest of the region and its wines are characterised by the proximity to the River Ebro.
MUST VISIT AREA OF MONTSANT
Falset. This is the principal village in the Comarca of Priorat. It’s one of the most well-known areas for wine in Montsant/Priorat and every year in early May they hold the Falset Wine Festival to celebrate the wines from Montsant DO and Priorat DOQ. If you’re staying in Tarragona, you can easily drive to Falset in about 40 minutes. However, if you’re thinking of staying a couple of nights then we recommend Secrets Hotel. It’s elegant, affordable and above all, it’s in the heart of the town, so it’s great for getting about. One of the must see sites in Falset is definitely the old co-operative winery, as the architecture style is that of a grand cathedral!
MONTSANT AND PRIORAT’S TOP WINE MAKERS
See the list below for the wineries/winemakers that have made it into our Montsant wine guide
#1 GALILEA BY FIONA
Galilea by Fiona is a project by Fiona Fischer and Priorat wine legend René Barbier. Fiona claims that when she arrived in the area she had an intuition that she wanted to make wine and export it to everybody. Subsequently, Galilea was born!
Galilea’s wines offer a portrait of Montsant, and to transmit an appreciation for the wine and pay homage to the region, by combining the long wine making traditions of the area with modern approaches to wine production. ‘Galilea by Fiona’ wines are made without additives or chemicals.
Must Try Wine:
We love Fiona and Rene’s wines here at Savage Vines, and often stock their bottles. Click here, to see what we’ve got!
Clos Mogador is owned by René Barbier and his wife Isabelle Meyer. René is famed for his work which made Priorat DOQ what it is today. He’s obsessed with terroir and says “If you’re a winemaker and you don’t live with your vineyard then you become the worst enemy of the soul of a fine wine”. With the dedication to the land that René has, there was no way that Clos Mogador wasn’t going to get onto our list of the best winemakers in Montsant & Priorat.
MUST TRY WINE:
We would recommend trying their Manyetes 2016. This wine is extra special because the Carignan grapes that are grown in the Manyetes vineyard struggle to survive. This is because of poor soil and very intense sunlight however, the Ebro river provides them with a bit of humidity which helps the vines produce enough quality fruit. Small quantities of Grenache are then added at the end, resulting in a complex, yet subtle, full bodied wine, high in tannin but with lovely femininity.
Fancy a trip to Clos Mogador? Well click here to see their tour schedules and pricing!
The guys at Venus La Universal have a very similar ethos and dedication to Clos Mogador, as one half of the team at Venus La Universal is René Barbier IV. In other words, he’s the son of Montsant and Priorat legend, and Clos Mogador owner René Barbier III.
Sarah and René are focus on sustainable wine making by reducing wastage, water use and fossil fuel consumption. It’s with this attitude and dedication to the land why they make it into our Montsant wine guide.
Their signature wine ‘Dido’ (not linked to the singer Dido in any way), is a homage to youth and tenacity. It’s made from Garnatxa Negra and is rich, fruity and vibrant, the way wines from Montsant should be.
MUST TRY WINE:
For more information regarding Venus La Universal, and to read their whole story, click here
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