Priorat to Barca – Going Sideways

After recovering from my inevitable hangover from the previous night’s bacchanalia, I packed up my things, climbed up the steep hill with my bags (always fun with a hangover) and set off to my first winery – Ferrer Bobet. I had a noon appointment scheduled but decided to go there a bit early. I had also purchased a vegan cheese and “meat” boccadillo to eat afterwards. I had no idea if it would be any good but at only 3 Euros it was worth a shot.

I had looked up the route previous so I knew it was relatively close by. This was a good thing as I was staring to run low on gas and would need to fill up after the winery. I drove up into the truly spectacular countryside into a small town. It was then that I started to think something was off given the pictures on their website didn’t seem like it was in a town. My instincts proved correct when it showed I had arrived at my destination – a street called Ferrer Bobet. Shit!

There was also no cell service so I frantically drove back towards where I had come from and finally got enough service to see I was now 30 mins away… and it was noon. Great.

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I zipped down the curvy mountain roads, drove back through Falset (grr) and then took a truly insane switchback with no guardrails up another mountain. I finally arrived at the correct Ferrer Bobet with the tour already in progress.

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I wasn’t expecting a full tour so joining up with a random group whilst my body was dying for a glass of wine to steady my nerves. Still, it was pretty interesting if a bit long. One thing that was fairly unique is that they don’t crush the grapes at all but instead use highly controlled temperature tanks to gradually start the fermentation process.”

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Eventually the tour concluded and it was finally time to taste in a pretty spectacular room.

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They served 3 different bottles – one was a 2016 100% Carrinyera that had recently one a blind Priorat tasting. It had a slightly sour note which was due to the lack of the sugar in the fermentation process, which the defined as “fresh” The second was the same year but now 100% Granacha. However, the usual jammy taste of a typical Granacha was replaced again with this “fresh” taste. The final one was a blend of the two. Because of their process, they said that the bottles have to be stored at cellar temperature. That made it basically impossible for me to buy a bottle. Oh well.

I was now seriously low on gas but had to take that same switchback to get to the station in Falset. Nervously eyeing the last brick on my digital fuel gauge, I somehow made it back in time. Relieved I filled up and then set off to my next winery – Scala Dei.

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The sommelier at Mugaritz had told me this was a must-stop and since it was more or less on the way to Barcelona, it would work out. I drove through some more spectacular countryside side and took the stone bridge into the former Caruthian monastery Scala Dei which was now home to the winery.

I didn’t have time to do the tour so I went straight to the tasting room, which in my slightly frazzled state I forgot to take a pic of but it was very nice. They were pouring 3 versions of their award winning wines. One was a 100% Granacha in the “new style” – similar to what I had at Ferrer Bobet. The next was the Carrinyera of that “new style” Overall I preferred those to what I had at Ferrer Bobet. The final was the “classic style” which was a blend of Granacha and Carrinyera. This was fantastic and I bought a bottle almost immediately, which then covered my tasting – sold!

As much as I was enjoying the wine, I knew I had to get on the road soon so I said adios and started back down the winding road. I had decided to take the scenic route up to Barcelona and that turned out to be a great idea as it was breathtakingly beautiful.

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I crossed through several Medieval towns and eventually ended up on the main road to Barcelona. I was expecting to pay more tolls but got into the city without having to do so. I had to drop my trusty steed at a hotel and after a couple of missteps trying to decipher the confusing directions, finally said adios to the Black Stallion – 1100 kms after our first trip.

My hotel was only a short cab ride away and it was past 9PM so I checked in, dropped off my bags in my small but nice room, and walked into the ancient part of the city I was staying in called El Born.

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Known for its bars and restaurants, even on a pretty cold Monday evening there were a surprising number of people out and about. I didn’t really have a specific destination in mind but soon came across an item on a menu that I hadn’t had since I lived in Spain – Jamon Ibérico with an egg and fries. My senora used to make this which I called the Spanish truck stop special.

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Memories came flooding back as I ate this wondrous combination of fat, salt and gooey yolks. Along with it, I got an order of chorizos braised in Austurian cider, as old skool as it gets. Feeling better I also opted for a very intriguing cocktail simply called – Cava Sangria. It was by no means a simple cocktail though – cava, ginger beer, gin and apple liqueur – dangerously delicious.

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That combo meant I was done for the evening so I made my way back to the hotel, discovered the blackout curtains and hit the sack. The weather forecast looked great for tomorrow and I looked forward to exploring my new surroundings.

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