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Visiting Albert Costa Miralbell of Cellar Vall Llach

cropped_albertJust so you know, Mr Llach is a famous singer in Catalonia ... and Albert Miralbell is a young, dedicated scion of a historic winemaking family in the Prioriat region.

“In one day, we went from selling our wine from five Euros to sixty Euros,” he explains, saying that a high profile sommelier tasted the wine and told him they could charge much higher prices.

Yet I am getting ahead of myself.  Before I taste the wine – before I even hear this story – I am immediately transported four hundred meters above sea level to the wineries vineyards in the heights of the Priorat hills.

Albert is a good driver, yet I do feel the extreme twists and turns of this steep uphill road which transports me from a sunny, Sunday village ambiance (children playing, adults chatting, older people licking ice cream on a park bench) to this wild wilderness terroir.

Along the way we see rough-hewn stone terraces from the last century, and abandoned vineyards where weeds grow free.

Also the small vineyard houses, abandoned for decades if not centuries, where workers could seek shelter from the many lightening storms.

After what seems to be an endless series of twists and turns, and flashes of abandoned vineyard house facades thick with weeds, we reach the top of the mountain.

Here the vines are vibrant and thriving, growing strong in the intense Catalonia sun. Strong enough to even grab hold to if one needs to transverse the rocky granite soil.  Yes, I am tempted … yet given the lofty price of these wines, would not want to be responsible for even a bottle less production as this is OLD VINE Carignan and each plant is worth its weight in gold at today's prices.

The soil s basically the premium sort of granite that gives this wine incredible minerality. The slopes are so steep it seems impossible to harvest. And right now, the third week of June, the berries appear to be very far from the bud.

Yet in the tasting room an hour later the wine is incredible.  We taste the 2009 (a warm and challenging year) and 2010 and they are both quite astonishing.

Yet beyond the wine is the story. And the story is sometimes sad and sometimes energizing, as Albert is the only one holding it together at the moment. He grew up outside of this region, which was where his mother was born, and came back recently to fulfill the dream of his late father and the famous singer who bears the winery's name.

In the cellar, everything is first class -- the French oak barrels, the tasting room, and most touching of all, the barrel room dedicated to the poet who inspired Albert's father and whose poetry books, chair, and image in the form of a poster rests in the most high end barrel room.

As I taste through the wine I am so grateful to Albert and by association, his father, Mr. Llach, and the poet for producing this incredible wine.

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