René Barbier en Dirk Hoet. The Clos Manyetes vineyard is visible in the background.
Michiel Carpentier, Dirk Hoet, Ive Marx and I spent the better part of a cold January afternoon with René Barbier, touring his Priorat vinyeards, cellars and tasting several of his new wines.
- 2004 Clos Mogador Priorat Nelin – Spain, Catalunya, Priorat
A blend of 50% white Grenache and the rest Marsanne, Roussanne, Macabeo (elevated together with the Grenache), Viognier and up to 10% Pinot Noir. First produced in 1999. According to René Barbier, 2002 is the best vintage, but 2005 is looking very promising. The 2004 needs some time in the decanter or the glass to fully give itself. We tasted it before and after the reds and it was markedly more expressive the second time. Honey, yellow fruit and lemon peel on the nose. Spices, ripe yellow fruit, and lemon peel on the very fresh palate. Nice balance, very fresh and ripe at the same time. The Pinot Noir is there to give this freshness and spicyness and does a good job of it. The Pinot Noir component is not discoloured before assemblage to retain all its aromas. This gives the wine a slightly orange colour, that is sometimes mistaken as oxidation, but the wine has no oxidatieve aromas. We also tasted some components for the Nelin 2005 from barrel. The Grenache/Macabeo barrel had good acidity, combined with fruit and minerals. The Viognier component tasted spicy, very intens, with ripe fruit and honey. The Pinot Noir component was quite interesting, with lemon peel, citrus, herbs, spices and a good acidity. (88 pts.)
- 2002 René Barbier Priorat Manyetes – Spain, Catalunya, Priorat
Dark colour. Black currant fruit (cassis) and aromatic herbs on the elegant nose. The palate is potent, with minerals, black coffee and very elegant black fruit. A wine with good concentration and a lot of material. This is mostly Carignan and 30% Grenache from an older vineyard then the Mogador. This is the classical Priorat blend. The grapes are elevated together in barrel and not assembled afterwards. According to Barbier, the Manyetes is mistaken by some as his ‘second wine’ , but it is another blend, another vinyeard and another terroir compared to the Clos Mogador. Both wines are priced the same ex-bodega (21 euros!). The Mogador is more a constructed wine (vin de autor), while the Manyetes is almost bottled as it is from the vineyard. “Le Mogador je construis, le Manyetes je subis,” says Barbier. The Manyetes vineyard has older vines then the Clos Mogador. (92 pts.)
- 2004 René Barbier Priorat Manyetes – Spain, Catalunya, Priorat
Tasted from bottle, but the wine is still in barrel. 70% Carignan and 30% Grenache assembled before elevation in barrel. The nose is riper and more evolved then the 2002. It is still a bit lactic, with nice ripe fruit. The palate is more tannic then the 2002. This has more fruit, but the aromatic herbs and mineral touches are also there. Very elegant and classical. (93 pts.)
- 2004 Clos Mogador Priorat – Spain, Catalunya, Priorat
Tasted from bottle with René Barbier, Dirk Hoet, Ive Marx and Michiel Carpentier. The wine is still in barrel. Very dark colour. In the slightly lactic nose cough sirup, black fruit, liquorice, … The palate is very concentrated. Black fruit, spices, chocolate, refreshing acidity. Coats the mouth. Great wine, I hope the definitive bottling keeps this quality. Mostly Grenache, with 15% Carignan and 20% Syrah. (95 pts.)
I was especially impressed by the Manyetes, which is a classical and very elegant wine in need of some bottle age, and clearly underestimated by most critics. According to Babier, “most good Priorats are consumed too soon. Grenache from Priorat schiste (llicorella) is much more ageworthy then Grenache from Chateauneuf-du-Pape (René’s family came to Spain from the Rhône by the way). I have tasted Scala Dei Priorat from the Sixties that was still evolving in a positive sense.”
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