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Text: Danny Adler

After last weekend, the first weekend of May will only mean one thing to me. The Falset Wine Festival has arrived! The wines of the Priorat have had a special place in my heart since I first started drinking wine. I always look forward to my trips down there, knowing that I will not only be drinking some of Spain’s finest wine but also will be blown away by how stunning the dramatic landscapes are and how quirky and interesting the local people can be.

Rental car booked, casa rural reservation made, I ️❤ Priorat t-shirt packed and I was ready to go! There are so many special events to pick from over the course of the weekend, so I kind of felt like a kid in a candy store! There was also the tricky business of choosing the right restaurant to book, which I mistakenly left to the last minute. Among my top choices were Aspic, Mas Trucafort, or La Corporativa. I went with La Corporativa, as I have a fond memory of eating dark chocolate truffles with olive oil and salt for the first time there years before and was eager for a second round!

After our two hour driving down to the Priorat, we checked into the old Masia where we were to spend the night. It was lovely, and just a few kilometers outside my favorite town of the Priorat, Porrera. After getting checked in, it was straight off to Falset to the tasting!
   
Festival

Like many wine festivals in Catalunya, the atmosphere is always light, fun and (despite being an event all about my favorite alcoholic beverage), family oriented. There were dozens of stands set up offering wine tastings, many from wineries I was familiar with, but many new ones for me as well. I feel it is such a crime to spit or pour out wines of this caliber, but when trying to taste over 30 wines, it is a must. I’m sure a seasoned sommelier would tell you this was for the integrity of your palette, but for me, it just boils down to blood alcohol content.
I always end up learning new things about winemaking and the Priorat as a region itself at these events, and moreover, I get to meet some of the winemakers who speak with such passion about their production process. After my wine research was complete, we ventured around Falset. As this is a Catalan festival, there were some of the usual suspects around. Gigantes, Castellers, and cured meat & cheese stand galore! Gotta love Catalunya!That evening we had a full schedule between our dinner at La Corporativa and then the Clos Figueres blow out garden party in Gratallops, so we planned to head back to the Masia for a little siesta, but as soon as we got close to Porrera we decided to go for a little stroll around the town and head up to the lookout point on the top of the town. We had about an hour to kill before our dinner reservation anyway so it worked out perfectly. This tiny medieval town is so perfectly picturesque, built seemingly entirely out of stone, with tiny and steep little streets, charming cafes, and a beautiful ‘mirador’ where you can look down on the town and see vineyards all around. I kind of wish we had packed a little jamon and bottle of cava to drink up there, but I’ll keep that in mind for next year. 🙂

Festival

Dinner was terrific in this quirky little restaurant. The menu is full of Catalan specialties and each of us picked a different starter and main course so we could all share and try different things. The wine list was, needless to say, pretty awesome as well. As we were walking out we ran into Paco and Dominic, the owners and winemakers of one of my favorite wineries of Porerra, Clos Dominic. They are spunky couple and Paco, in particular, is, apart from being a fantastic winemaker, a laugh a minute. I jokingly told him that is the whole wine thing doesn’t work out, he could always pursue a career as a stand-up comedian.
The garden party in Gratallops was a blast! It got going around 9 pm and went until 2 in the morning. There was a ton of good wine to go around and a great live jazz band. Good music, tasty wine, all in a stunningly beautiful garden terrace, what more could I ask for to end the day?! Upon getting back to the Masia to sleep, I swore to myself that this will be an annual tradition and I was already looking forward to next year!
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