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While some have called these wines “poor man’s Priorat,” that does a disservice to the area’s burgeoning reputation. A near circle of vineyards surrounding Priorat, Montsant shares grapes (Garnacha, Cariñena) and styles with Priorat. The only great differences are that the vineyards are usually not as old and the elevations and terrains are not as wild and wooly as Priorat —but what other vineyards are? Once known as the Baix Priorat, Montsant’s nearly 4,500 acres of vineyards lie mostly at around 1,200 feet, lower than much of Priorat by nearly 2,000 feet. Priorat’s famed licorella soils of granite and slate are only occasionally in evidence here; soils are mostly sandy limestone, chalk, and clay, but granite and slate lie underneath these soils, and the landscape and climate match Priorat’s extreme character. If the reputations and predicted age worthiness of Montsant’s wines fall short of those of Priorat at this time, so too do the prices.

In fact, there are spots near the town of Falset that see outcroppings of granite while other spots show chunks of slate, so smart buyers have realized that Priorat’s intensity of character is available in Montsant if they rely upon a bit of research or a sharp palate.

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