Priorat is a small wine region in northeastern Spain in Catalonia; over the past 10 to 15 years, it has become one of the world's best known.

The principal grape used in these wines is Garnacha (Grenache), which flourishes in this arid, hot territory; the granite and quartz soils are poor and yields are small, even tiny. The miniscule production certainly means intense, deeply flavored grapes.

Priorat wine is generally aged for 12 months; a crianza has been matured for one year in wood, followed by one year's aging in bottle. A Reserva is aged for one year in oak and then two years in bottle before release in the market, while a Gran Reserva has been aged for two years in wood and two years in bottle.

There are also Priorat wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The small production of whites are crafted from Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo and Chenin Blanc, among other varieties.

The Garnacha-based Priorat wines are a robust offering, generally produced for the long haul; many peak after 10-12 years following the vintage date. Pair these hearty, spicy reds with beef, roast lamb and pork. (Wine/Appellations)