Priorat's geography impresses the visitor but subjugates those who have to work it.
Its name derives from the Charterhouse of Escaladei (Scala Dei), established in 1203 at the foothills of the Montsant Mountians, whose spectacular cliffs constitute the northern boundary of the region. King Alfons granted to the monastery jurisdictional and economic rights over seven villages: its Priorat.
This ancient feudal domain occupies most of a geological peculiarity: a spot of ferrous slate (the llicorella) that has extraordinary qualities as a support for the vineyard. The llicorella spot is itself sorounded by another spot of sauló (degraded granite) which is itsef enclosed by an impressive set of limestone ridges at its north (Montsant), east (Prades and Argentera) and south (Llaveria).
Both the sauló and the limestone share with the llicorella three properties that make them extraordinarily attractive for the cultivation of the vineyard: extreme poverty of organic matter, very little retention of moisture, and depth. Broadly speaking, the spot of llicorella coincides with the D.O.Q. Priorat and the sauló (mixed with limestone and clay at its extremes) with the D.O. Montsant.
The landscape of the Priorat has an extraordinary beauty because it combines the white cliffs of the limestone mountains, the dark ferrous slate hills and the clear sauló plain, all of them with differentiated vegetation and microclimates.
The visitor discovers at the small villages of the old Priorat the remains of a world that fell asleep when, over 100 years ago, the phylloxera plague swept the vineyard, which had been the basis of its economy, and forced two thirds of its population to migrate.
After a long wait, and thanks to the creation of the School of Oenology in Falset and the initiative of a group of innovative foreign producers who have rewarded their wines internationally (Josep Lluís Pérez, René Barbier, Álvaro Palacios, Assumpció Peira, Dafne Cloe ...), the Priorat has again hope.
Today, the Priorat is wild beauty and is optimism, but it is, above all, the strictness that demands to be among the best.