The single vineyard Finca Morenillo is one of the most unique wines made in Spain. This limited production wine (only 50 cases for the world) is made from dry farmed vines that were planted in 1902. The name of the vineyard and the name of the grape are the same. Morenillo is an extinct grape that is indigenous to Terra Alta that produces extremely elegant wines. Morenillo is very similar to Pinot Noir. The light-skin, long-cycle grape makes bright, fresh, light wines full of flavor and capable of communicating soil like the best of Pinot Noirs. Terra Alta is located in the high elevation mountains of Tarragona, which is in northeastern Spain (about one hour south of Barcelona) and only a few minutes away from the well regarded Priorat region. Terra Alta is higher in elevation than Priorat and it possesses limestone soils as opposed to slate. Due to the limestone and elevation of this area, the wines of Terra Alta exhibit a chalky mineral identity that is extremely refined and polished. The Piñol family has been wine growers for four generations. The story of Cellar Vinos Piñol mirrors the ascendance of Spanish wines in world markets over the past ten years, a story of how a reverence for old, treasured vineyards and the best family traditions are producing some of the finest wines available today.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This limited production single-vineyard wine is made from vines over one hundred years old (planted in 1902). The yearly production is 50 cases. Produced from the finest dry-farmed vines of this Finca (parcel). Morenillo will easily age for more than a decade.
RATING HISTORY: 2013 93WA; 2011 91WA; 2010 94WA; 2009 92IWC
GRAPE: 100% Morenillo. Vines planted since 1902. Tended in limestone and clay soil at 400 meters (1,312 ft.) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Finca Morenillo is a great match for spicy BBQ, beef brisket or smoked pork.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: 15 months in 500-liter French oak barrels
PRODUCTION: 40 cases (6 pack)
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located a few miles southwest of Priorat, within the Terra Alta DO (Zone 5) in Catalunya's Tarragona province in northeastern Spain. The winery and vineyards are in the town of Batea, situated at 400 meters (1,312 ft.) elevation. The soils are composed of 95% limestone and 5% clay. Yields are low (24.5 hectoliters per hectare, or 3,500 kilograms per hectare), which enhances the concentration and complexity in the grapes. For climate, the average temperature from April-October is 67.3F. The hot day and warm-to-moderate night temperatures make Terra Alta a drier and warmer region than Montsant or Priorat. These conditions produce bright purplish-garnet hued wines with greater weight and ripeness than wines from other areas within Zone 5. The low average yearly rainfall of 16.3 inches is less than neighboring regions.
TASTING NOTES: This indigenous variety is virtually extinct- bright ruby, expressive aromas of raspberry, dried flowers, Indian spices and smoky minerals. Sweet red fruit flavors stain the palate, braced by zesty mineral and peppery spice qualities. Fresh and impressively energetic for a big wine, finishing with excellent lift and lingering florality.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold