Pinyolet is the name of the unique type of soil that makes superior wines in the Montsant appellation. If the best wines in Priorat are produced from Licorella soils, the most singular wines from Montsant are produced from vines tended in Pinyolet soils. A pinyolet is a pebble of limestone that results from the erosion of limestone boulders only found in the upper hills of Montsant. These pebbles of limestone communicate an element of minerality and brightness that is unique to the best wines of this terroir. Even though Montsant is next to Priorat nothing could be more different. Montsant is cooler and higher in elevation than Priorat. The cooler nights allow Garnacha to retain more acidity and make wines that are uplifted, floral, full of tension, more elegant. In the words of Neal Martin “If Priorat is Pauillac then Montsant is Margaux”. Pinyolet Garnacha is produced from vines that are organically grown.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? Sustainably grown, old vines tended in the sought after Pinyolet soil of Montsant. This is a Mediterranean Garnacha expression that is floral, uplifted, elegant, full of tension and minerality. Not overripe or alcoholic. The cooler climate of Montsant produces Garnacha's that are capable of ageing for decades. Special microclimate that is windy, warmer and drier than other subzones within the region.
RATING HISTORY: 2014 91JS; 2013 90VN; 2012 91RP; 2011 92RP; 2010 90RP
GRAPE: 100% Garnacha. Sustainably grown vines planted from 1987-2003. Tended in limestone (pinyolets) soil at 520 m (1,706 ft) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This is not a jammy, overripe, sweet, alcoholic Garnacha like those from other areas of Spain. Pinyolet has beautiful fruit, acidity and balance that its easy-to-drink, juicy character will pair with a variety of red and white meats, and it will also pair well with burgers, burritos, empanadas, Panini sandwiches and other casual foods.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: 6 months in 3 year old French oak barrels of 225. Lit.
PRODUCTION: 3,500 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: These vineyards are located within the the Masroig district of Montsant at 520m (1,706 ft)elevation in Zone 5. The Pinyolet limestone soil combined with the organic viticulture communicate with great precision the mineral identity of this great terroir. Night temperatures in Montsant are cooler than in Priorat allowing its grapes to ripen slowly thus preserving its aromatic purity to a higher degree. If Garnacha in Priorat is black, Garnacha in Montsant is red.
TASTING NOTES: Pinyolet Garnacha reveals a rich strawberry and raspberry fruit intermixed with notes of licorice, crushed rock and earth, all offered in a medium to full-bodied, heady style. The price is a steal and the quality of the wine is impressive. Notes by Robert Parker Oct/Nov 2010. Bright ruby. Bright raspberry and blackberry on the nose. Red berry flavors are lifted by gentle acidity, picking up spiciness with air. Finishes broad and smooth, with good length. Notes by Josh Raynolds Sept/Oct 2011.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold