Terroir al Límit revisited: tasting through the range of this top Priorat producer
I’m a huge fan of the wines of Terroir al Límit, a producer in Priorat that began as a collaboration between Dominik Huber and Eben Sadie. You can read the story here, where I go in-depth to chart the progress that Dominik has made since the first vintage in 2001, more recently with his winemaking partner Tatjana Peceric.
I got another chance to taste the wines last week, when Tatjana and Dominik joined us by Zoom as we tasted in Charlotte at the Indigo Wines USA shindig.
Tatjana comes from Serbia and was a folk dancer before she did her masters studies in Montpellier and then spent a couple of years making wine around the world, and in 2014 she did a stage in Priorat with Dominic, and moved full time there in 2016.
Dominik has been in Priorat for 20 years. ‘It has been an exciting 20 years and has passed by very fast,’ he says. ‘Priorat has stolen my heart.’
We began with the Historic pair of wines. The idea behing these Historic wines is to make gastronomic wines. ‘It’s important not to just talk about Michelin star restaurants,’ he says, ‘but also the simple places.’ He wanted an honest, authentic but straightforward Priorat wine, and Historic represents the nine villages of Priorat. The first vintage was 2015. Fermentations are 100% whole bunch, even for the white!
Dominik and Tatjana say that white wine is growing in the region, even though it’s predominantly a red area. They can’t make enough. ‘It’s a very special place for white wine,’ says Dominik, ‘and some people think the whites could be even longer living than the reds.’
‘We have powerful soils and an intense environment,’ says Dominik. ‘But the local varieties enable them to make wines in their style, with freshness and purity, and a taut structure – not big ripe wines.’
The range is in four tiers: Historic, village, premier cru and grand cru. The clue is in the capsule colour. And the scale of production is quite small. The Historic range consists of around 30 000 bottles of red and 10 000 of white. The village level wines (Cuques) are around 20 000 bottles for red and a bit less for white. The Premier Crus are around 5000 bottles, and the Grand Crus around 3000.
The range wasn’t planned; it happened. ‘I used to have an old motorbike and I’d drive around looking for vineyards, and then in the evenings drinking beer with farmers,’ says Dominik. They got their first vineyards in 2001 and kept adding them.
Terroir al Límit Historic White 2019 Priorat, Spain
They have some direct press as well as whole bunch now; initially this was just whole bunch. Garnatxa Blanca and Macabeu. One part whole bunch for 6 days with foot treading. All in concrete. Full yellow colour, this is rich and lively with pear skin, peach, spice and a touch of citrus peel. Has brightness and intensity, with lots of flavour intensity and a tapered spicy finish. 92/100
Terroir al Límit Historic Red 2018 Priorat, Spain
75% Grenache Noir, 25% Carignan. Made in stainless steel with whole bunches, 10 days before pressing. Sweet, supple, fresh cherry and berry fruit with lovely purity and freshness. There’s a hint of liqourice and pepper spice here. Lovely fruit intensity here with good balance. 92/100
Terroir al Límit Terra de Cucques White 2017 Priorat, Spain
This is a village level wine from estate fruit. It’s a blend of different vineyards. Pedro Ximenez (90%) and Muscat de Alexandria (10%) with some skin contact. ‘I love Pedro X as a grape variety,’ says Tatjana. ‘It’s very exciting to work with as an enologist.’ Six months in concrete. Full yellow colour. Intense aromatics of orange peel, nuts, honey and lime cordial. The palate shows great concentration and intensity with pithy pear and peach fruit with some nice citrus on the finish, as well as notes of honey and spice. A powerful, intense wine but also a fresh one. 94/100
Terroir al Límit Terra de Cucques Red 2018 Priorat, Spain
Garnatxa Negra and Carinenya aged in concrete and some foudre. This is fresh and intense with lovely brightness to the cherry and raspberry fruit with some stony minerality. Fresh and vibrant with a real fluency to the red fruits, and nice grainy structure. There is some liqourice and some dried herb character here too. Exceptional. 94/100
Terroir al Límit Pedra de Guix 2018 Priorat, Spain
This is a premier cru from old parcels on the same vineyard. It’s a blend of Pedro Ximenez, Garnatxa Blanca and Macabeu. It’s made by whole-bunch pressing the grapes, and then fermenting the juice in foudre (now it’s all done in concrete vats). Full yellow colour with an intense sweetly fruited nose with some spice, honey and nuts. It’s grainy and intense in the palate with depth and structure, showing powerful fruit and then savoury nuts and spice, finishing with a long citrus character. This has the potential to age. 94/100
Terroir al Límit Dits del Terra 2018 Priorat, Spain
Carinenya on a warm site with black slate soils. Matured in foudre and concrete. Fresh, intense and well defined with bright red cherry and berry fruit, with some fine chalky hints. Fresh and vital with lovely purity and good acidity. Very fine and expressive. 95/100
Terroir al Límit Les Manyes 2018 Priorat, Spain
70 year old Garnatxa Peluda. This is matured two years in concrete tanks. Very different soil here, on the mountain, with different types of clay. This site is red clay with some gypsum. This is really aromatic with floral red cherries, some dried herbs, fine spicy notes and a touch of liquer-like cherry. The palate is profound with some sweet cherry character, but also an intense, finely spiced savouriness with cured meat, dried herbs and some fine leather hints. Flora, precise, light but powerful, paradoxical. Has a spice market exoticism. 98/100
US agent: Indigo Wine US/Eric Solomon Selections
UK agent: Indigo Wine