Reserva de la Tierra, a Spanish wine cooperative, has been working with a US importer for several years to craft a bottle of wine for the American market. The result is Vega Escal, an opulent offering at a very reasonable price.
The juice is sourced from vineyards around the Priorat town of Gratallops, a place I visited with a cadre of Wine School students a few years ago. We saw firsthand why. Priorat wineries like Clos Mogador and Clos Erasmus are world-famous. The abundance of old vines here – usually handpicked – makes for some unforgettable wine moments.
This wine doesn’t reach that far into the stratosphere, but it does register much farther than the $15 price tag should allow. My only criticism of the venture is the bottle itself: the design is a bit off-putting, in that it looks like a modernist Aussie wine with bright colors and bold type. They should have stayed with their typical old-school sensibilities.
The wine is mostly Carignan, with a bit of Grenache and Syrah in the blend. The lovely aroma of burning incense, dark fruit, and Asian spices opens on the nose. Rich and round on the palate, it shows both chocolate and iron. The finish goes toward plum and blackberry. It evolves with great strength into smoke and mineral.
Pair with smoked brisket or a big fatty pork chop smothered in shiitake mushrooms.