2014 Terroir Al Limit Priorat Les Manyes

Year: 2014
Appellation: Priorat
Country: Spain
Wine Advocate: 98
James Suckling: 95
Wine Enthusiast: 95
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
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"The 2014 Les Manyes was bottled a little earlier, in June 2016. In many wineries in Priorat, 2013 is clearly better than 2014, but it's not that clear in the case here, and you have to take it wine by wine. In the case of this Les Manyes, I think 2014 was the big surprise, with a combination of depth, perfume, subtleness and power difficult to achieve. The clay and chalky soils provide for an extraordinary texture of tannins, a lot less coarse than those from slate soils. It distills all the Mediterranean herbs and flowers, the essence of ripe red cherries and wild strawberries with some chalky minerality in a nose and palate that is close to perfection. This is a tour de force Garnacha from... chalky soils in Priorat! There are 1,008 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)

"Elegant and structured wine showing complexity and fruit concentration. A lot of fresh strawberries, plums, cherries and blackcurrants with hints of cloves and nutmeg. Full-bodied and flavorful. Pure, old-vine garnacha. The finish is long and enticing. 1008 bottles made. Drink or hold." (JS)

"Cinnamon and clove aromas stick out on a nose with light red-fruit scents. Power with restraint describes the palate on this varietal Garnacha from old vines. Dark, slightly baked flavors of brandied cherry and mulled berry fruits finish with a touch of oak and a recurrence of lightly baked fruit notes. Drink through 2026." (WE)

Winery Notes:
Tasting Les Manyes blind is a thrilling exercise. Without a reference point to guide you, you find yourself wandering around the Mediterranean confused if you’re in Spain, the Rhône or Piedmont. There are a couple of reasons why Les Manyes is so unique in the Priorat. Firstly, this is not Garnatxa on llicorella, instead it is grown on clay soils rich in chalk located in the mountains above the village of Scala Dei – making for a wine with a distinctly different mineral profile that one normally expects from the Priorat. Secondly it is made by Dominik Huber, who farms these grapes biodynamically, harvests them a few weeks before his neighbors, ferments them whole cluster with indigenous yeasts, favors infusion over extraction and presses half-way through the fermentation before finishing the wine and aging it in a single 1200L Stockinger fuder.