Priorat wines from 2011 will be scarcer but of greater quality

The strong heat diminishes the production of grapes of the wine region Priorat, but their quality is better. Priorat’s Protected Geographical Indication, which brings together some 600 farmers, expects a fall in grape production of around 15%, but the surviving grapes will be of great quality. Priorat red wines, produced in South-West of Catalonia, are internationally appreciated and are famous for their strong character.

CNA / Núria Torres

September 12, 2011 09:00 PM

Poboleda (ACN).- The production of grapes in the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) of Priorat –in Catalan Qualified Denomination of Origin (DOQ)- will fall between 10% and 15%. This is the forecast made in the Regulatory Council of the DOQ Priorat. Its president, Toni Alcover told the ACN that the excess heat in the last two months will reduce the amount of grapes produced, but increase the quality of those grapes which have survived. “Production and quality are at odds in the wine world and, therefore, we prefer to enhance the quality”, says Alcover. The harvest has begun inland of Tarragona, in the Priorat County, and is expected to last around one month. Last season 4.8 million kilos of grapes were harvested. This year it is estimated that between 4.4 million and 4.2 million kilos will be harvested.

With a total area of ??2,000 hectares, in eleven villages, Priorat PGI (or DOQ Priorat) brings together some 600 farmers, of whom about 150 are enrolled in cooperative programmes and 450 are independent. The harvest has begun in the Priorat County and the whole of Catalonia, which has already harvested an estimated one third of the total vines.

“It has been a strange weather. First a very mild winter, then, between May and June, came heavy rain that caused the vines to blossom, and now we have endured many weeks without water and everything has dried up,” Alcover said. ”The wineries will also work hard when selecting the grapes,” he added.

However, Alcover remains positive about the situation because, according to him the quantity of the grapes that are harvested is not as important as the quality of the wines that are created. He believes that this year, Priorat's wine will be well positioned in the market. “That is, there will be fewer bottles to sell, but they will be of higher quality,” concludes Alcover.

In this sense, the general manager of the Catalan Institute of Vineyards and Wine, Jordi Bort, has confirmed that this drought has been reproduced in other parts of the country, although it has been especially pronounced in the DOQ Priorat. “It looks like a problem, but on the contrary, the quality prospect of the harvest is excellent”, he said.

“There will be less quantity but higher quality”, he repeated. Although Bort believes it is too early to speculate on production data, he predicts that the harvest will be of "equal amount or slightly less" compared to Catalonia's average figures from last year. Last season the volume of grapes in Catalonia reached about 460 million kilos.

This date was announced as part of Poboleda’s Wine and Vineyard Old-Fashion Festival, celebrating the early harvest, which took place last Saturday. 28 wineries participated in the 13th edition of the fair, located in the basement of the ancestral homes of the village Poboleda. This fair attracted nearly 3,000 visitors in a village of only 300 inhabitants.