Clos de l'Obac: The First 25 2

In 1194, Carthusian monks from Provence brought monastic life and winemaking to present-day Tarragona in northeast Spain. Named for the priors on whose monasteries vines were planted and wine produced, the region, Priorat, became known for a rich, full-bodied red wine from Grenache grapes grown in hard slate and quartz Llicorella soils. When phylloxera decimated the region’s vineyards in 1893, the region fell into virtual oblivion and, until the 1950’s, grape vines were not replanted in what became one of Spain’s most economically depressed regions.

In the 1950’s, the replanting was predominately done with the grape variety Carignan, which produces a rustic, extremely deep-colored wine that many winemakers use to add color to their blends. This high yield varietal replaced the far less prolific, but more elegant, Grenache that populated the vineyards of the monastic era. In the 1970’s, however, the future of this poor region of rustic wines was changed radically by the vision of one person–Carles Pastrana.

By 1978, Carles, his young wife Mariona Jarque, and a small group of friends began to buy vineyards near the village of Gratallops in Priorat, and, in 1989, after more than a decade preparing the land and winery for world-class production, the first Clos de l’Obac vintage was born.

When released in 1991, this first vintage put Priorat back on the world’s winemaking map when the renowned French gourmet guide Gault Millau named Clos de l’Obac one of the great wines of Spain, and World Wine Guide included it among its list of the 150 best wines in the world. In 1994, Clos de l’Obac 1990 was named one of the four best wines at the Dagens Nyheter’s Great Tasting in Stockholm with the same score as Chateau Clos d’Estournel and Chateau Le Pin and only 0.5 points below Chateau Petrus. Since then, Clos de l’Obac has never stopped receiving praise and accolades for what has consistently been an extraordinary wine.

As the first of Priorat’s now famed “Clos” wines, Clos de l’Obac is the only winery in the region that can present 25 years of continued excellence. With Carles Pastrana’s none-to-usual winemaking concept of “fixed percentages,” Clos de l’Obac is also a faithful witness to the changing impact on wine of the varying meteorological conditions from year-to-year.

Carles Pastrana has bottled 25 Clos de l’Obac vintages from 1989 to 2013, using the same percentages of wine from the same individual parcels on his estate to produce his Clos de l’Obac coupage. Instead of tweaking the blend each year as most winemakers do to produce a consistent organoleptic profile that the market has come to expect from a particular label, Carles uses the exact same blend of his five wines from the exact same crus every year to produce a sometimes inspired, sometimes sublime, but always surprising and gratifying Clos de l’Obac.

The Clos de l’Obac coupage is composed of 35% Grenache, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% each of Merlot, Syrah, and Carignan. Vintage after vintage since 1989, this blend has given rise to widely different and widely exciting wines whose only differentiating factor is the weather that condition them. The hand of the winemaker is clearly seen in the technical virtues and pristine cleanliness of the aromas, taste, and mouthfeel of Clos de l’Obac. However, the wide array of styles, from the most European austere and spiritual wines to wildly fruit-forward spectacles found in New World winemaking, can only be attributed to, as Carles is wont to say, the Hand of God.

Thomas Matthews, Executive Editor of Wine Spectator, says of Clos de l’Obac:

“…across vintages and over time, this wine provides a beautiful transparency to the terroir 
that creates it.”

With this in mind, Carles Pastrana, always an incubator of the new and exciting, decided to present all of his first 25 vintages in a single nickelodeon of taste and aroma. In March of 2017, these first 25 vintages will be presented to a fortunate few as The Quarter Century Collection at comprehensive vertical tastings in New York, Chicago and Newport Beach.

What will easily be the wine event of the year, The Quarter Century Collection of Clos de l’Obac will be a tour de force of what many connoisseurs already recognize as one of the world’s great wines.

The Quarter Century Collection, hosted by Clos de l’Obac owners and winemakers Carles Pastrana and Mariona Jarque, will be presented at The Pacific Club in Newport Beach. For more information, contact John-Dominique Cancilla 626.414.4150 | John.Cancilla@cherrygate.com