Unruly rascal – Casa Rojo Maquinon 2017

I’d find it hard to name a wine region that is more exciting than Priorat. Alas, it costs a fortune to get to know it. When desire threatens to topple reason I normally turn to its much more affordable neighbour Montsant. (Montsant may be short on llicorella, but the climate and the grapes are pretty similar.)

I like to think that I can recognize Priorat typicity. But it may be closer to the truth that what I actually recognize is the character of carignan/carinena. According to Miquel Hudin, my go-to guy in all matters concerning the wines of Catalunya, there’s actually no established Priorat character that could be identified in blind tastings. The special microclimate, the bush vines, the legendary black slate and all the other super-duper terroir features all pale into insignificance when compared to the fact that just a decade ago many of the iconic Priorat wines were essentially Bordeaux blends while today under the same labels you get pure carinena or carinena dominated blends. And admittedly at a less exalted level, Torres Salmos and Palacios Camins are excellent wines – to take two Priorats readily available in Hungary -, but you could never tell that they come from the same region.

Casa Rojo’s Maquinon is a typical Priorat to my mind. Meaning that it displays that exuberant kirsch liqueur character coupled with racy acidity which I so often find in carinena. Problem is that Maquinon is 100% garnacha (at least on paper). With all due respect I’d be much easier convinced that it’s pure carinena. But who cares, if the wine is good enough.

Now this is certainly not for the average WSET undergraduate. It would be way to easy to dismiss it as too much of everything. However if you have some experience with Priorat/Montsant wines or you’re open to new discoveries you’ll be handsomely rewarded by this wine. It’s a bit on the sweet side but it’s full of fruit and flowers and spices, it’s fresh despite its high alcohol and somehow it conjures up images of orange scented southern nights (Noches en los jardines de España). Definitely not for Burgundy lovers. Others might find joy in its sun-soaked quirkiness. I, for one, would much rather have this unruly rascal of a wine than the uber polished and bland Finca Dofi.

6 points and 17 euros.