Wine Review: Vall Llach 2009 “Idus” Priorat
On the nose, a giant whiff of wild fennel and fig confit. The palate is bursting with black fruit with sweet vanilla and balsamic. A whiff of burning tobacco comes forward with a deep edge of minerality. The tannins are massive, but the sheer weight of the wine tempers them to a sweet roundness—the finish moves to blueberry and licorice.
The Idus bottling is a touchstone to the origin of the winery: it is still sourced from local farmers in Porrera and Torroja. The Average age of the vines is 65 years old. Mostly Carignan, with equal amounts of Syrah, Merlot, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Vall Llach is the Spanish winery for people who love Opus One and Caymus Vineyards’ Special Selection. Their wines are dominant, glossy, and concentrated and should be on the wine list of every upscale steak house. Every self-respecting sommelier in Pennsylvania should be buying up this bottle for their restaurants right now. You should, too.
Those are great reasons to buy this wine, but they aren’t why I recommend this wine. It’s because of the people behind the label.
The winery was founded in the early nineties by two men, Lluís Llach and Enric Costa. Americans won’t recognize the name, but Lluís Llach was a famous Catalan songwriter. He and Enric were childhood friends. They started the winery largely to invigorate economic growth in the small town of Porrera in Priorat (Priorat is in Catalan). They first purchased the local wine co-operative in the early nineties. Then they did something that changed Priorat for good: they increased the price per ton that they paid the local farmers for grapes. That one act changed the economic outlook of the entire town, and soon all of Priorat.
Wines simply cooperative wines at that point, and they didn’t offer a “Vall Llach” bottling until 2000. By then, the winery was producing wines from its own vineyards and the grapes sourced from the c0-op. They hired an amazing winemaker, Salus Alvarez Vidal, and their wines started racking up 90+ scores. Ironically, neither of the founders were wine drinkers. Both owners have since passed away, leaving the winery in the hands of Albert Costa, who is now both owner and winemaker of Vall LLach.