Spain is incredibly diverse. From the weather, to the foods, to the languages, to the terroir. There’s even a wealth of diversity within regions. Recently, I tried my first wine from Priorat DOQ – a sub-region in Catalunya. I was blow away by the concentration of flavours.

The key, I found out, is in the soil.


Llicorella is a Catalonian term for the soil found in Priorat. A mix of slate and quartz, llicorella can barely be classified as a soil. It doesn’t make for a particularly stable foundation. This, coupled with the fact that Priorat is characterized by steep slopes, makes wine growing in this region particularly challenging. When you do, however, the results can be magical.

Here’s a couple reasons why:

  1. Llicorella is stoney, flakey, fragile, and nutrient-poor. It is deep, which means vines are put under great stress to borough their roots deeper down into the more fertile layers of soil, where they can suck up water and nutrients. This stress keeps yields low, and is said to increase the quality of the grape.
  2. Llicorella stones contain flakes of mica in them. Mica acts like mini-mirrors, making llicorella appear like a sea of glass when the sun beams down. This reflected light adds additional units of heat to the vineyard, aiding the ripening process of the grape, which in turn, produces sugar, and generally speaking, higher alcohol wines.

Check out my post, which profiles a delicious Priorat DOQ from Buil & Giné:

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