Celler Cecilio Black Slate Gratallops Priorat 2017 is elegant despite being quite a rich red wine, having a little higher in alcohol than some Priorat wines and a little “earthiness” because all these qualities are balanced with the exuberant fruit flavours of brambles and berries that you would expect from Priorat. Like La Conreria d’Scala Dei’s Black Slate Priorat, Cecilio’s Black Slate Gratallops Priorat is part of a project inspired by Burgundy appellations to highlight the different characteristics of various Priorat villages. Although both the wines are produced largely from Grenache and Carignan (with a little Syrah in this Gratallops wine), they are really quite different. The blend in Celler Cecilio Black Slate Gratallops Priorat 2017 is 58% Grenache, 32% Carignan and 10% Syrah. The Syrah brings a little spice to the blend and there are the hints of wet slate or graphite expected from this area. This wine has been described as Classic Priorat and I can see why. It’s opulent, complex & smooth.
Celler Cecilio was the first winery registered in the Priorat DOQ appellation region. Based in the village of Gratallops it is a family winery established in 1942 by Valencian, Cecilio Vincent. Cecilio married into a family with vineyards which he subsequently restored and his son, August, is now the winemaker. Farming is carried out sustainably, with the vines on the famous local “llicorella” or black slate soils; harvest is by hand, the wine fermented with natural yeasts and aged in tank or in neutral, large oak barrels so that the oak influence is very muted and more on the texture of the wine than on the taste. It’s a lovely rich, spicy red wine.
Priorat wines have the same DOCa status as Rioja wines (DOQ being the Catalan equivalent) but are generally less well-known than Rioja; in fact they are the only two Spanish wines at this highest qualification level.