Clos Dominic, vines on the face of the pyramid

Porrera is one of the leading Priorat villages. Placed in the East of the DO, its labyrinthic streets hide more than a dozen of wineries and, for whatever reason, a similar number of sundials.

One of the more singular of these wineries is Clos Dominic. With the (tiny) winemaking facilities in the ground floor and underground of a village house, its real heart lies elsewhere: 2 km away from the streets and sundials, la Tena stands.

Dominic and Paco grew in Priorat. Paco had a tradition of winemaking in his family, but no land. Finally, in 1998 they purchased one of the best properties of Priorat: la Tena.

La Tena from the bottom
La Tena is a plot composed mainly of two pieces: a great coster, or sloped vineyard with vines planted unevenly and grown as bushes, with the form of a triangle and resembling the face of a huge pyramid; and a flat part at its feet, close to the riverbed.

The flat vineyard is planted with Garnatxa negra, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, around ten years old. The coster is home to very old vines, from 60 to over 100 years old, mainly Garnatxa and Carinyena, but with a sprinkling of Picapoll negre and white varietals: Garnatxa blanca, Macabeu, and even the odd, newer Riesling. In the sometimes impossible slopes of the coster, the old vines cling precariously to the slatey llicorella soil adopting outlandish shapes, and fighting for dear life as they stubbornly yield an average of 300 grams of grapes per plant. Meagre harvest in quantity, but the quality more than compensates.

Vines in the coster
Farming and winemaking are organic, with biodynamic overtones. Sulphur addition is kept to the lowest levels, and no other additives are used for clarification or other purposes; so much so that an allergy patient association recommends Clos Dominic wine to its associates. Fermentation is achieved with the yeasts naturally present in the grapes. And all the work is undertaken by members of the family.

This non-intervention policy yields wines with a defined personality that highlight the terroir and each vintage circumstances. Indeed, vintage to vintage variation is probably higher than in other wines with more “technology”.

Clos Dominic blanc is a very limited production (300 bottles) of a complex white, made from the white grapes of la Tena. It is fermented and kept for five months on its lees in new French oak.

Reds usually undergo ageing in French oak for 12 to 16 months. That lends them a suitable wood touch, without hiding the intense fruit and the minerality, typical of Priorat.

Younger vines in the flat plot
Clos Petó is the basic red, from Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnatxa negra grown in the lowest plot.

Flat plot at the bottom

Vinyes Baixes (literally Low Vineyards) comes from Merlot from the lower vineyards and some older Garnatxa negra from the coster.

Vinyes Altes (High Vineyards) is Clos Dominic’s top normal wine, the product of the old Carinyena (70 %) and Garnatxa vines of the coster in la Tena.
La Tena from midway up

Paco and Dominic adore their children (one girl is already on track to became Oenologist and Sommelier) and have given their names to special, selected bottles coming from the oldest Carinyena and Garnatxa vines. Look out for Selecció Andreu, Míriam or Ingrid; the production is minuscule and price high, but concentration of colour, aromas and flavours is stunning. Ingrid is Garnatxa negra 100 %; Andreu and Míriam, Carinyena 100 %.

Like a number of other small wineries, a visit to Clos Dominic, starting with a hike up la Tena among the old vines, ending in tasting their very special wines, and under the enthusiastic guidance of the Castillo family, is one of the “must-have” experiences for a wine lover.


Paco gazing up la Tena

No comments:

Post a Comment