Clos de Nit Montsant Joven 2020
Fresh Blueberry & Blackberry, Pencil Lead, Dried Black Figs, Dark Chocolate
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"Montsant is an ancient wine producing region that is relatively new to many consumers. It is located in the Catalan region, west of the city of Barcelona, and forms a ring around one of Spain’s most famous wine regions, Priorat. Like its more famous neighbor, the wines are produced from old vines of Carinena and Garnacha, often augmented with new plantings of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and occasionally Merlot. While not as well known, prices for Priorat wines have skyrocketed in the past couple of years, so I find considerably better value in this region for wines that are nearly as intense as their neighbors.
Clos de Nit gets its name from the old Catalan expression, “vineyard of the night.” At this high elevation, nearly 3000 feet above sea level, the moon watches over the vines at night like a sentinel, and holds special meaning to the people of the region. This is especially relevant considering the grapes to make this wine are harvested at night. It is increasingly common for producers in warm climates to harvest their grapes at night because they contain higher acidity than during the hotter times of the day. It is a complicated reason why, but the abbreviated explanation is the vines use malic acid, found in the grapes, to synthesize carbohydrates in lieu of photosynthesis. When temperatures drop after sundown, the malic acid in the grapes builds back up. By picking in the early morning hours before sunrise, the wines have higher acidity and produce more balanced wines.
To make this wine they use a blend of 40% Garnacha and 25% Cariñena from very old vines, with 20% Merlot, 10% Tempranillo, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from younger plantings. The dominant parts of this wine, Garnacha (Grenache) and Cariñena (Carignan) are well suited to the hot, dry climate, and have been grown in the region for hundreds of years. When Priorat and its surrounding areas started to become popular in the 1990’s, new producers to the region planted international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, to add dimension and polish to their often rustic wines. Although I personally prefer examples made only with Grenache and Carignan, it is quite apparent what these grapes contribute to this lovely bottle." - Tim Varan