Rioja? Priorat? Guess again...
Most of the Spanish wines I drink either come from the prolific Rioja region, or the more recently trendy Priorato. So I was intrigued this past weekend when my father-in-law pulled out a bottle of wine from Montsant. This appellation became official in 2003--before that, it was just considered part of Tarragona. It almost completely surrounds the more famous Priorat region, so the climate and grapes grown are similar. (The area is named for the nearby Montsant mountains.)
He had a bottle of 2004 Fra Guerau. The label said it was a blend of seven varietals, but it didn't tell which. I figured Tempranillo, Garnacha and Carinena would figure into the mix, and a Google search told me the breakdown: 23% Syrah, 19% Garnacha, 17% Merlot, 16% Carinena, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Tempranillo and 3% Monastrell.
Unfortunately, I was hit with a nasty head cold last week, which rendered me completely congested, and made wine tasting almost impossible. The wine tasted decent to me, but I couldn't pick out any particular notes, so my sisters-in-law filled in the blanks for me. It had a nice tart cherry finish, and any tannins present were smooth. There was a touch of a woody/spicy flavor, but it was pretty subtle. Overall, it was a wine that could have paired with a number of dishes. The best part was that the bottle was sold as a "Chairman's Selection" in PA Wine and Spirits stores, so it was $8 instead of $16.