- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Fra Guerau, Montsant, 2001, $15

Some of the most exciting red wines in the world these days hail from northeastern Spain — specifically, the remote regions of Priorat and Montsant.

Although grapes have been cultivated there for centuries, the wines have received international acclaim only recently. Over the past decade, the richly concentrated reds from Priorat have become quite chic (and costly), while the wines from Montsant remain largely undiscovered. As a result, Montsant is an appellation (or, in Spanish, “denominacion”) savvy consumers should get to know.

Priorat and Montsant are rugged, stony regions that see little rainfall and plenty of hot summer sun. Priorat’s slate soil imparts more mineral-tinged complexity to the wines than Montsant’s more sandy terrain, but in all other respects, the growing conditions prove identical. Good wines from both are deeply colored, full and rich.

Fra Guerau’s 2001 Montsant, a blend of indigenous Mediterranean grapes such as carignan, grenache and syrah, as well as more recent imports cabernet sauvignon and merlot, is deeply flavored but soft and supple. Its red-fruit flavors resemble raspberries and plums, with an intriguing spiciness in the finish that adds intrigue. An excellent value, it would be a great partner for medium-weight roasts — chicken, turkey or pork.

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