Regular readers of already know that we're huge fans of the wines from Spain's Priorat. Last compared in January 2012, this appellation continued its run of excellence, with impressive aromatics, depth of flavor, and striking texture.

The night's winner was an astonishing value and a unanimous favorite, displaying everything that we love about Priorat and more. The second place finisher also deserves accolades for its price to quality ratio, showing lots of complexity at an amazing $16 price tag.

First Place:  Celler Cal Pla Black Slate Porrera 2013 (Priorat). Complex, fresh scents of violets, lemon rind, black plums, licorice, vanilla, graphite, almonds, flowers and a hint of dark earthiness or something fecal. Tasters were very impressed by the texture, showing real presence to the black cherry and tobacco flavors. Rich and intense without being overbearing. Josephine remarked that it was "so beautifully composed". Seamless, with great volume and focus. Ali noted that "this is doing what everyone else wants to do". Integrated and opulent. Made from Grenache and Carignan. Everyone's favorite of the night, with 36 total points. Kristin's bottle. About $23.

Second Place:  Cellers Unio Convey 2012 (Priorat). Some funk here, like burnt leaves or tires, with sweaty locker room, dirt, patchouli, shitake mushroom, and cream notes. Really great texture, with complex flavors of jamon, burnt wood, smoke, cherries, currants, and licorice. Josephine was reminded of "barbecued pork", with Suzanne noting that it "feels the most put together". Andy decided on "interweaved", and that it had "an interesting story to tell". Fennel on the finish. Composed of 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan, and 20% Syrah. Everyone's second place wine, except for David, with a total of 21 points. Suzanne's bottle. About $16.

Third Place:  Vall Llach Embruix Porrera 2013 (Priorat). Scents of tomato sauce reminded Ali of "sunday in Wayne". Others found notions of leaves, graphite, flowers, jasmine, cigar smoke, hints of funk, and freesia. More tomatoes on the bright attack, plus roses and apricots, turning juicy with air. David decided that it was "kind of delicious", with Josephine finding that it was "more mature". Pleasing caramel notes on the finish, with dense/fine tannins. Made from 26% Garnatxa, 24% Merlot, 17% Syrah, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 16% Carinyena. David's second favorite wine. Received 15 points. Andy's bottle. About $33.

La Cartuja 2011 (Priorat). Composed of 70% Garnacha and 30% Carinena, this exhibited aromas of black cherries, currants, licorice, cloves, caramel, Ben Gay, camphor, smoke, and hints of blackberry jam. Ali described "hot fruit punch", with Josephine noting "something green and stemmy". Impressive texture, with tar on the attack, then lots of cherries and licorice. Oranges and geraniums on the finish. Ali detected "Twizzlers with the package". Exuberant. David felt that "it could use some refinement", and Kristin noted "too much licorice on the finish". Very improved with air. Received 12 points. David's bottle. About $20.

Rotllan Torra 2010 (Priorat). Cheese, diaper, and barnyard on the nose, with Josephine finding a "slight petrochemical thing" not unlike "a mechanic's garage". Later cough medicine, cigar, and violet scents emerged, along with Josephine finding "New York subway". Well-balanced palate, with excellent texture, showing flavors of vanilla, toast, cherries, licorice, dairy, and crushed rocks. Suzanne was not impressed, noting that "if somebody brought me a glass of this, I wouldn't drink it". Made from 50% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. No points. Josephine's bottle. About $25.

Marco Abella Loidana 2009 (Priorat). Very port-like on the nose, like a basic ruby bottling, offering scents of mangoes, slate, honey, cream, cheap caramel candies, molasses, and blackberries. Hints of vermouth. Very primary and youthful, like grape juice. Kristin noted that she was "confused by it", with Josephine settling on "na´ve", and Suzanne summing up with "the most basic". A little short on finish. Made from 37% Garnacha, 31% Carignan, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. Ali's bottle. About $38.

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