It’s uncontroversial to say that monks and wine go together likes peas and pods, so when the Carthusians order arrived in the Priorat in the late 12th century one of the first things that they did was plant vines. Their priory, the Cartoixa d’Scala Dei, literally the steps to god, might have referred to the rugged landscape or the terraces required to farm this remote land. These priors would lend their name to this entire region, the Priorat, and were instrumental in the creation of many of the now famous villages in the DOQ – the oldest of which, Escaladei bears the original name of the medieval priory. While now in ruins, any visit to the Priorat inevitably includes a stop at the Cartoixa d’Scala Dei picturesquely situated at the foot of the Montsant.
Adjacent to the derelict priory sits Conreria d’Scala Dei with the very talented Jordi Vidal at the helm. The estate was founded in 1997 by Jordi and two friends. Their top site, Les Brugueres, and its centenary vines of Garnatxa Blanca produces one of the most delicious, single-varietal white wines in the DOQ. Jordi also makes an elegant version of Black Slate from vines in Escaladei as well as our only Black Slate white from vines he tends in the village of La Morera.
Jordi organically farms several sites that vary in location, elevation and soil. While most are located near the winery there are a few vineyards in the neighboring villages of La Vilella Alta, Poboleda and La Morera. Some sites are planted on steep slopes and terraces while the remainder are on lower-elevation alluvial soils. The vine age at Concreria d’Scala Dei ranges from 10 to well over 100 years old. While most of the vines are rooted in llicorella soils there are higher percentages of clay and limestone nearer the Montsant range. The estate controls 26.5 hectares planted with Garnatxa Negra, Carinyena, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Garnatxa Blanca and Pedro Ximénez.
With nearly a dozen sites and such an array of varieties, harvest at Conreria d’Scala Dei is quite hectic. Each site and variety is harvested by hand and brought to the cellar to be fermented separately. The whites are crushed and see a short maceration before pressing followed by fermentation and aging in tank. The reds see short macerations, of less than 20 days, followed by aging in neutral French and American oak barrels.