Montsant is one of the most recently created D.O.’s in Spain, having been officially put in place in 2001. Prior to that it had already acquired considerable prestige when it was known as the Falset subzone of the larger Tarragona D.O. Montsant takes its name from the Montsant Mountain Range in the area. There are currently about 5,000 acres of Montsant vineyards with a trend toward increased growth. The D.O. is shape of a horseshoe, nearly surrounding Priorato, but the wines have a clear identity of their own.
As part of the Tarragona Province, which during Roman times was the capital of the Iberian Peninsula, wines were traded in the Montsant area as far back as the second century BC. The wines were also very important in the 12th century when they were made by Carthusian monks. Today Montsant has an impressive legacy of a dozen tiny hermitages from the Carthusian period which were established at high altitudes. It is said that the monks felt “very close to God up here.”
Located in the southern part of Catalonia, just 90 minutes drive from Barcelona, the vineyards are located in the beautiful countryside, interspersed among olive and almond groves as well pine trees and rocky outcrops. Due to the complexity of the topography, it is not easy to cultivate vines with many different altitudes and a mosaic of different soil types converging. The predominant soil types can be summarized as clay, sandy granite and slate. The southern portion of the D.O. produces about 75% of the wines. It is lower in altitude than the north, with flatter surfaces and a warmer climate due to the influence of the nearby Ebro River. The northern portion is higher in altitude with less rainfall and cooler temperatures where the remaining 25% of the production comes from.
D.O. Montsant produces about 95% red wines which are made up of 30% Garnacha, 30% Cariñena, 10% Ul de Llebre (local name for Tempranillo) and 30 % international varieties such as Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. The most widely planted white grapes are Macabeo and Garnacha Blanca with smaller amounts of Moscatel, Parellada and Chardonnay.