The wines of Clos De L’Obac don’t need any introduction among lovers of Spanish wines. These wines are known for their balance and elegance and have great ageing potential.
I recently caught up with Guillem Pastrana at a tasting organised by Belgian importer of Spanish wines La Buena Vida.
He is the son of former journalist Carles Pastrana and his wife, a Barcelona enologist Mariona Jarque who embarked on their life adventure devoting their professional and family future on a project to recover the wines of El Priorat and to make these wines internationally recognised.
30 years later, you can easily say that they have succeeded in their mission to make their wines internationally known. The wines are exported to over 40 countries to the extent that Guillem says they are no longer looking to expand.
Guillem explained the philosophy of the winery. “At the age of 34, my father, who was a journalist in Spain, wanted a change in his life. He decided, together with my mother, to create quality wines from Priorat using the French style and a long ageing process.”
Like his father, Guillem loves the winery and the way of life. A lawyer by profession, he describes himself as a farmer first and a winemaker second. “I love this way of life and being able to work in the open. It is a vision of life that I enjoy.”
Clos De L’Obac produced their first wines in 1989. They make their wines using the French method and wait until the wines are ready before they release them on the market. For example, this year, they are releasing 2008 and 2007 wines.
The winery is one of the pioneers of Priorat wines and their wines are made for ageing. “We do not compromise on this when we make our wines.”
What makes the wines special is that they always use the same percentage of grapes in their blends, which result in wines which can vary in taste depending on the vintage, despite the fact that they are identical in terms of blend. Guillem explains that the wines are always picked by hand and the cost of a kilo of grapes is around 6 euros, and that is before they start to make the wine.
“Our philosophy is to respect the terroir and also to focus on quality. It is difficult to make these types of wines,” he tells me.
Located in the south of Catalonia between the mountains of the coastal and pre-coastal ranges, El Priorat is a land of hills and slopes formed by rich slate substrates, situated along both banks of the river Siurana and facing the four points of the compass, with an average altitude of 350 meters.
The vines are planted in this harsh terrain and they benefit from rich soil and a microclimate that is formed by the imposing Montsant mountains, a natural barrier of 1,166 meters in height that regulates the temperature of the region, sheltering it from the inclement weather which arrives from the north. The combination of all these factors –climate, mountains and soil (slate)– is essential to give Priorat wine its unique personality.
I tasted the Clos de l’Obac and Miserere wines which are made from the grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, syrah, merlot, ull de llebre and samsó (cariñena) varieties, while white grenache, macabeu, xarel•lo and muscat of Alexandria are used to make Kyrie white wine.
I started the tasting with the white wine and was impressed by how young this wine was, despite the fact that it was a 2008. Tasted blind, you would never guess that this wine is already seven years old. The wine, aged in new casks of French oak has excellent structure and has great complexity. It has potential to age for many years despite it being a white wine.
The second wine I tried was the Clos de L’Obac 2008 which is a wine of great power, structure and complexity. It was balanced and with a great depth of flavour despite its power and structure which means that it can age for many years.
The last bottle I tried was the Miserere 2007. This is made with grapes from vines planted over 40 years ago of the local grenache and ull de llebre varieties. It is blended together with the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon in Priorat, Merlot and Carinena. This wine was even more impressive than the Clos de l’Obac and in my view can compete with some of the best wines in the world.
If you are into fine wines, you would do well to consider finding a place in your cellar for the wines from this winery.