Poised to beat 2012’s 99-point
Is the 2014 El Espectacle del Montsant poised for perfection? The 99-point 2012 was “nothing short of spectacular,” according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. With 2014 rated a superior vintage, it seems likely that this wine will earn a perfect 100 points. Spanish legend and Chateau Petrus-trained René Barbier’s ancient-vine Garnacha has been earning jaw-dropping scores recently, and the praise is getting more effusive. The gnarled 100-year-old vines on the dramatic slopes eke out minimal fruit of supreme concentration, which the Wine Advocate describes as “close as it gets to the Hermitage hill or Côte-Rôtie.” The team from Barbier’s revered Clos Mogador crafts the entire “Espectacle” production in one single 4,000-liter oak vat. By the time it realizes its 100 point potential, it will become unobtainable. We have the last of the 2014s at $125 per bottle. $140 elsewhere — if it’s there at all.
The high-altitude Montsant region achieved a milestone when it earned its own designation in 2002. But since then, DO Montsant has found itself overshadowed by its neighbor, DOQ Priorat: In mere decades, it rocketed from unknown to producing what Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson call “some of Spain’s most exciting, and most expensive, wine.” That rapid rise, they marvel, “was inspired by one man.”
That man is René Barbier, the French-educated enologist who worked at Petrus before focusing on — and revolutionizing — Priorat. Barbier saw something world-class in that region, and now he sees the same thing in Montsant, where “Espectacle” is proving him prescient once again. His team from Clos Mogador hand-harvests the daunting 5-acre plot in La Morera, then reduces the miniscule yields with two rounds of selections. The wine ferments, then ages 14-16 months in the same French oak vat. The world sees a paltry 5,000 bottles, most of which are consumed in Europe.