For probably too long, Montsant has been thought of as the cheaper cousin to Priorat, delivering wines of a similar quality for a fraction of the price. These days though, and despite their close proximity, it seems a shame to be forever comparing one against the other. Priorat for me is a much tougher region, producing beefy, oily reds that aren’t necessarily that easy to drink. Montsant by contrast is more user-friendly, big on fruit and smooth, silky tannins. And it deserves to shine all on its own, especially as new-wave wines emerge like Acústic made to traditional methods using endemic grapes grown on old vines (35-60 years). Believe me, you taste the difference. Very young vines tend to produce that 'green', cheek-suckering taste.
This is made with a blend of Garnatxa and Samsó (also known as cariñena, there is some debate as to whether they are the same grape or not, or whether they are just part of the same family), the resulting wine is fairly alcoholic (14.5 percent) with silky tannins and lots of black fruits. You'll find lots of character here, what you’d call an opulent wine, the sort that makes you feel rich just by drinking it.
Although it comes in at a bit above my €10 budget for this blog (it retails at around €13), it’s a wine that will last well and is well worth considering in advance for the Christmas table. It benefits from a bit of air so open it up well before you want to drink it. And if you’re thinking of buying a case or two of mid-range wines to hang on to, this is a good option. Many producers complain that consumers drink good quality Montsant far too soon and that it would benefit from another five years or so in the bottle.
One final thought for the day: take time tonight to raise a glass to the late, great Keith Floyd—one of Britain’s most flamboyant culinary talents who died September 15th aged 65—who advocated good food, wine and company as the spice of life better than anyone else I can think of.