Terroir Sense Fronteres

Earth-to-Glass Purity from a Montsant Radical

To anyone who knows Dominik Huber’s ground-breaking Priorat wines, Terroir al Límit’s move into Montsant was always going to result in something unique. The genesis of Terroir Sense Fronteres began in 2015 when Huber finally acquired his iconic Garnacha vineyard, Les Manyes. As part of this purchase, Huber was also able to obtain an adjacent four-hectare parcel of Garnacha lying just metres across the Priorat border in DO Montsant. The vineyard is called Els Montalts. While the terroir here is almost identical to Les Manyes, Montsant is another DO, so a new project was born.

Montsant’s vineyards lie at widely varying altitudes—Terroir Sense Fronteres’ vines are spread between 350 and 800 metres. And while Priorat’s famous llicorella soils are also found in Montsant, there is more variety here, with clay, sand, gypsum and limestone all playing their part. As well as Garnacha from the Els Montalts site, the Terroir Sense Fronteres portfolio includes Garnacha from the cool, high-altitude slopes of Figuera and parcels of Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Garnacha and Cariñena from mature parcels around Capçanes.

Huber and Peceric are adamant that, while Montsant does not share Priorat's fame, its finest terroirs are every bit as exciting—a point entirely born out in the quality of this grower’s wines

Aside from a plethora of exciting terroirs and the old vines on offer, Montsant DO regulations allow for the production of lower alcohol wines. Huber has always said he would pick his Priorat wines at lower alcohol if it did not mean losing his DOCa status, so the Montsant project has brought the element of freedom he has been craving.

Terroir al Limit’s talented, Serbian-born vigneron Tatjana Peceric runs this project, and her rare touch with high-grown Garnacha and Cariñena is cast, clear as crystal, across these wines. Except for the skin-contact white Brisat, the wines ferment as whole bunches in concrete, amphorae and stainless steel, and extraction is as gentle as possible. No bells, no whistles and zero oak—just the purity and finesse that only a special place, meticulously farmed, can gift.

Peceric is adamant that while Montsant does not share Priorat’s fame, its finest terroirs are every bit as exciting—a point entirely borne out in the quality of these wines. They carry the unique mineral signature of their slate- and limestone-rich soils and have the kind of freshness, lightness of being, crunchy/juiciness and textural sensuality one usually associates with the top cellars of Burgundy and the Rhône Valley.

The Range

Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Vèrtebra de la Figuera 2021
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Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Vèrtebra de la Figuera 2021

The ‘spine of Figuera’ is 100% Garnacha from three old-vine, high-altitude plots in the village of La Figuera, near the old slate-mining villages of El Lloar and El Molar. La Figuera is technically in the comarca (or county) of Priorat, although wines made from its Garnacha grapes fall under the DO Montsant, not the DOQ Priorat. Go figuera. At 700-800 metres on the slopes of the Montsant mountain range, these vineyards are among the highest in the region. The soils are red clay/limestone with layers of gypsum, so they are alkaline rather than acidic. The fruit grown here produces wines that are so uniquely elegant and fresh that local growers refer to their vines as ‘Garnatxa Fina’. The oldest vines for this cuvée are 80 years old, with an average age of 60 years. Regarding the vinification, Vèrtebra de la Figuera was 100% whole-bunch fermented, raised in concrete for eight months and bottled unfiltered. 

There’s more depth and sinew than in the entry level wine, with layers of wild berry, spice and mountain herbs wrapped in silky tannins and driven by altitude-derived rocky freshness. It’s silky and persistent with a Burgundian-like shape and engaging chalky texture, which tapers to a pristine finish. It’s a wine that will clearly benefit from air and a couple of years in bottle, but it’s also absolutely delicious now. A joy to drink.

“Pristine, scented and extremely fresh, with wild red cherries, herbs, raspberries and strawberries on the nose, following through to a bright, crunchy palate that’s full of wild-berry flavors and verve. Fresh, silky tannins. Impressive drinkability here, with delicate, juicy berries. Only 12.5% alcohol. Lovely, reductive character. Drink now or try to wait a year or two.”
94 points, James Suckling, jamessuckling.com
Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Vèrtebra de la Figuera 2021
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Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Guix Vermell Negre 2021
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Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Guix Vermell Negre 2021

In 2015 Dominik Huber finally managed to purchase his beloved Les Manyes vineyard in Priorat’s northwest Escaladei canton. Part of this purchase was an adjacent four-hectare parcel of Garnacha vines in the DO Montsant. Lying a few hundred metres from Les Manyes, the vineyard is called Els Montalts and the terroir here is almost identical. High in the Montsant ranges, the vines here are located at a remarkable altitude of 800 metres. As we have seen, Les Manyes produces a Priorat Garnacha like no other. It’s the antithesis of Priorat’s blockbuster image, with the intensity, finesse and transparency of top-order Grand Cru Burgundy. El Montalts is cut from the same cloth.Taking its name from the local terminology for the vineyard’s red clay and gypsum soils, Guix Vermell was planted with Garnacha some 75 years ago. It is biodynamically farmed, and Peceric and Huber only use the finest selection of fruit from the site to produce between 1,000 and 1,600 bottles per vintage. Guix Vermell is whole bunch-fermented in Italian terracotta amphorae for about seven to 10 days, then lightly pressed and returned to the same vessels for six months. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Guix Vermell Negre 2021
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Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Vèrtebra de la Figuera 2022
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Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Vèrtebra de la Figuera 2022

The ‘spine of Figuera’ is 100% Garnacha from three old-vine, high-altitude plots in the village of La Figuera, near the old slate-mining villages of El Lloar and El Molar. La Figuera is technically in the comarca (county) of Priorat, although wines made from its Garnacha grapes fall under the DO Montsant, not the DOQ Priorat. Go figuera!At 700-800 metres on the slopes of the Montsant mountain range, these vineyards are among the highest in the region. The soils are red clay/limestone with layers of gypsum, so they are alkaline rather than acidic. The fruit grown here produces wines that are so uniquely elegant and fresh that local growers refer to their vines as Garnatxa Fina. The oldest vines for this cuvée are 80 years old, with an average age of 60 years. Vèrtebra de la Figuera was 100% whole-bunch fermented, raised in concrete for eight months, and then bottled unfiltered. 

Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Vèrtebra de la Figuera 2022
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Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Brisat 2022
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Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Brisat 2022

Brisat is a blend of 75% Garnacha Blanca and 25% Macabeu from 15- to 35-year-old vines around Capçanes, grown at between 300 and 350 metres on sandy clay soils locally known as panal. The fruit is harvested earlier than typical for the area—when flavours are ripe and acidity is still vibrant.Brisat in Catalan refers to wine fermented on skins. Half the grapes were direct-pressed, and the other half macerated in their juice for five to seven days. If you tasted earlier releases of Brisat, we should note that these days Huber and Peceric are searching for more finesse and expression of place in this wine, and thus have toned back the ‘skinsyness’. The must fermented with indigenous yeasts before the wine rested on lees for six months in tank. It was bottled unfiltered.

Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Brisat 2022
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Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Negre 2022
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Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Negre 2022

Prizing finesse over concentration, Serbian-born vigneron Tatjana Peceric has a beautiful touch with Montsant’s high-grown Garnacha and Cariñena. Except for the skin-contact white Brisat, the wines are fermented as whole bunches in concrete, amphorae and stainless steel (no oak is used), and extraction is as gentle as possible. In the cellar, Peceric works with the infusion model—a buzzy term for sure, yet we should not forget that this kind of no-bells-and-whistles winemaking is scarce in this corner of Europe. In short, the grapes are gently crushed by foot and taken off their skins at between eight and 12 days to continue fermentation. “We don’t need to extract tannin,” says Peceric.Another key to the style and quality here is that regulations allow for harvesting early for lower alcohol; minimum levels here are 12.5% for reds and 11.5% for whites (compared to 13.5% for reds and 13% for whites in the DOQ Priorat). This year’s Negre is a pure Garnacha, from mature vines sited around Capçanes. The 25-year-old (on average) bush vines sit at 350 metres on the mixed sandy clay soils (known locally as panal) with varied exposures. 

Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Negre 2022
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Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Guix Vermell Negre 2019
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Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Guix Vermell Negre 2019

In 2015 Dominik Huber finally managed to purchase his beloved Les Manyes vineyard in Priorat’s northwest Escaladei canton. Part of this purchase was an adjacent four-hectare parcel of Garnacha vines in the DO Montsant. Lying a few hundred metres from Les Manyes, the vineyard is called Els Montalts and the terroir here is almost identical. High in the Montsant ranges, the vines here are located at a remarkable altitude of 800 metres. As we have seen, Les Manyes produces a Priorat Garnacha like no other. It’s the antithesis of Priorat’s blockbuster image, with the intensity, finesse and transparency of a great, Grand Cru Burgundy. El Montalts is cut from the same cloth. Taking its name from the local terminology for the vineyard’s red clay and gypsum soils, Guix Vermell was planted with Garnacha some 75 years ago. It is biodynamically farmed, and Peceric and Huber only use the finest selection of fruit from the site to produce between just 1,000 and 1,600 bottles per vintage. Guix Vermell is whole-bunch fermented in Italian terracotta amphorae for about seven to 10 days, then lightly pressed and returned to the same vessels for six months. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered at 13%. 

“This is their top wine, and it’s utterly compelling… so finely wrought and elegant, with textured liqueur-like red cherry and berry fruit on the palate, some fine sappy notes, and liqourice and pepper notes. It has good acidity, a red fruit core, and a fine spicy finish with some liveliness. Astonishing elegance, with the sleek fruit hiding some substantial tannic structure. There are layers of finely interleaved flavour here, with amazing complexity despite the smoothness and elegance. Quite profound, with the elegance and complexity and texture of the very finest Burgundy, morphed with the very finest Châteauneuf (think Rayas, or Bonneau). This should have a long life ahead of it. It also has amazing drinkability.”
97 points, Jamie Goode, Wineanorak.com
“The aromatics here are incredible, it's intoxicating and perfumed with notes of violets, lilies and blood orange peel, really showy, elegant and complex. They believe this is where they want to go with this vineyard and wine, they picked the grapes at exactly the right moment, full of flavors and aromas while keeping the alcohol relatively low. This has a beautiful tannic structure, that seems fragile but with lots of energy. Incredibly elegant and harmonious. 1,050 bottles were filled in May 2020.”
97 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
Terroir Sense Fronteres Montsant Guix Vermell Negre 2019
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“... We're amazed by the first vintage of Terroir Sense Fronteres” James Suckling

Country

Spain

Primary Region

Montsant, Catalunya

People

Winemaker: Tatjana Peceric

Availability

National

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