2014 Terroir Al Limit Priorat L' Arbossar

Year: 2014
Appellation: Priorat
Country: Spain
Wine Advocate: 94
James Suckling: 92
Wine Enthusiast: 94
Wine & Spirits: 93
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
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"The 2014 Arbossar is old-vine Cariñena from a north-facing slope (coster), fermented with natural yeast and matured in an oak foudre from Stockinger until bottling in June 2016. This is always a lighter colored, perfumed Cariñena, with the freshness of a north exposure, which in the warmer 2014 feels a little riper and certainly with a lot more tannins than the 2013. The idea for this wine is to ferment it and age it in cement, and remove the oak totally; this will happen from the 2015 vintage. There are 4,864 bottles produced.

There are two new entry level wines from Terroir al Limit, one white and one red, both under the same name -- Terroir Históric -- and with surprisingly traditional-looking labels, which gives an idea of what they are aiming for. They are aged in cement for six months (perhaps as a kind of homage to Masía Barril? Yes, it's an homage to the old Priorat, the one before the Clos). They are then bottled unoaked in search of an easy-to-drink style of Priorat for trattorias, ramen, tapas... this new range is produced in the old cooperative of the village. The grapes come from the nine villages of the Priorat, what is locally known as the historic Priorat. All the grapes, even the purchased ones, are organically farmed.

Other than that, I tasted the 2013 and 2014 vintages of the full range, except for the white Terra de Cuques and the red Torroja, which are already 2014 and 2015. It's always great to be able to taste two vintages side by side. The 2013 vintage could very well be the finest they have ever produced, but Dominik is happier with 2014, as he keeps advancing in reducing the oak and increasing freshness, first and foremost through viticulture. Les Tosses was bought in 2003, Les Manyes was also purchased late, so it's their own viticulture, and it shows. He hasn't bought any new oak in two years and he has started with cement aging, even discarding the oak completely for the wines he calls "feminine," the new Históric and since 2015 even for the Manyes and Arbossar. The 2014 vintage is slightly warmer than 2013 and it was not an easy vintage -- there were problems with the fermentations. The 2015 vintage is much warmer, in line with 2009, but without reaching the levels attained in 2011. It was an easy vintage, when the grapes were very healthy." (WA)

"Fresh nose showing red fruit with mineral and peppery undertones. Very ripe-fruit aromas, but it's all in reserve here. Full-bodied and slightly chewy, but the tannins are not overly aggressive. Better in 2017." (JS)

"A testament to the potential of Priorat varietal Carignan, Arbossar deals gamy, savory aromas of baking spices, earthy plum and mincemeat pie. The palate is dry on the edges and jammy in the middle. Raspberry and spiced cherry flavors are straight and intense on a saturated finish. For full-flavored, old-vines Carignan, look no further than this. Drink 2018–2028." (WE)

Winery Notes:
L’Arbossar is a steep, north-facing vineyard near the village of Torroja where Dominik farms 90 year old Carinyena on schist and granite soils. He discovered this site while riding his motorbike around the village and despite the conventional wisdom against northern exposure and Carinyena, he could sense that this was a unique site and one quite different from the south-facing Dits del Terra.

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