Badaceli, Cal Grau, Priorat, Spain (bottle price £28)
In 1989, a local producer, René Barbier, formed a small group of viticulturists and winemakers to collaboratively re-invigorate several specific vineyards and produce wines, blending in Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot with Priorat’s local varieties, Garnacha and Cariñena.
Using French-inspired winemaking techniques, such as maturation in French oak barriques, their wines had received, by the mid-1990s, much critical acclaim from some of the world’s most esteemed critics, and were being sold at a premium and super-premium prices.
From the late 1990s, the number of estates in Priorat increased dramatically, with about 50 wineries by the mid-2000s. In 2009, Priorat alongside Rioja was promoted from a DO to a DOQ (there are only two DOQ’s in Spain which represent the highest quality level) Founded in 2003, Cal Grau is a small winery that maintains its family spirit and produces wines that reflect the Priorat's charism, its terroir and its licorella, its climate and its landscape.
Located in Finca la Solana, in the municipality of El Molar, Bodegas y Viñedos de Cal Grau currently has more than 40 ha, of which approximately 22 are dedicated to the vineyard. In order to maintain the balance of the farm, the winery has chosen to preserve its forests and ancient olive trees, which are integrated with the vineyards.
After harvesting, the grapes from the best sites on the estate (Carignan, Grenache) are processed in small tanks and they are aged in French oak separately, 13 months in new (30%) and second-year (70%), until the final assembly and tasting.
Time in oak adds balance to the ripe and plump grapes from the better sites. This all creates a powerful Priorat with more secondary flavours. There is an earthiness to the wine on the primary backed up by tertiary flavours of fig and tobacco notes brought about from the five years of ageing.