Toasting Lucky Number 13 with Clos Mogador Nelin White Priorat


Greg and I recently celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. These days celebrations are a bit more subdue thanks to the Zombie Apocalypse –– or perhaps “cozy” is a better way to put it. There was no fancy evening out, but we did want to order in and enjoy a nice dinner, and of course, we had to open a good bottle of wine.

We decided to order in from The Wolf here in Oakland. I considered Champagne, as I always do whenever there’s half a reason to open a bottle, but I gravitated instead to a bottle of Clos Mogador Nelin White Priorat 2011. It might have to do something with the fact that this bottle had happy memories attached to it given our trip to the winery several years ago, the fact that I already had Priorat on the brain as I knew I’d be writing a post about our trip, or the fact it seemed like a good time to open the bottle as it was already several years old, but we both felt the pull to open this bottle over bubbly. We also both thought it was likely to go well with our dinner. 

Cellars at Clos Mogador.

Only a small percentage of the wine produced in Priorat is white, and there are quite a few grapes permitted, including: Grenache Blanc, Macabeu (Macabeo), Pedro Ximénez, Chenin Blanc, Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Xarel-lo, Piquepoul, and Viognier. Grenache Blanc and Macabeu are probably the most common.

I can’t say that I’ve had enough white wines from the region to make generalizations in style, but I recall both the versions from Clos Mogador and Costers del Siurana (described in my last post) having some oxidative notes. These weren’t as pronounced as a classic white Rioja, for example, but there was a step in that direction. Rather than sherry-like almond notes, things might fall more in the dried and over-ripe stone fruit camp.

In the case of the Nelin, I got notes on the nose of gold flowers, Meyer lemon skin, a touch of preserved lemon, and ripe yellow peaches. All of those notes came back on the palate along with dried apricots, mixed ripe citrus, bruised apples, hints of almonds, dried honeysuckle, chamomile, singed herbs, and a hint of salt. Given that this wine has several years on it, those dried fruit notes were all the more expected. 

The Nelin 2012 was in progress when we visited the winery.

It was holding up very well ten years in. In addition to its years, the wine also saw skin contact, so it poured a deep golden color. There was still plenty of fruit with attractive aromas, especially when given time to open up – it would be worth decanting this, although we didn’t. I would also not recommend serving this wine too cold, as that would mute the complex flavors. It had a lush full-bodied texture, with enough acidity for balance.

I’ve seen the Wolf’s cuisine described in various ways, I might call it Californian with influences from all around the Mediterranean, and we thought the wine would be a good bet with the food. On Clos Mogador’s website, they mention that part of the intent of the wine was to create something that would go well with food: 

A renowned Catalan journalist recently wrote: “Today, Catalunya is represented by some great chefs and by the wines of Priorat.” We were aware that it would be difficult to marry our rich, powerful red wines to some of the newer recipes so we hope that Nelin proves an ideal partner.
 Here was the menu that we ended up getting:

  • Garlic Naan with burrata crispy spiced lentils, mint chutney, green onions, cilantro, espelette pepper. 
  • Spanish octopus - crispy chickpeas, salted cucumber, radicchio, hummus, sesame, buttermilk-yogurt sauce, fresno chili relish, sumac
  • Duck liver mousse date butter, pickled onion, fried biscuits.  
  • Fried Brussels sprouts sweet & spicy Calabrian chili sauce, lemon, Grana Padano.  
  • Stinging nettle cavatelli pasta.  
  • Dungeness crab risotto green garlic, tarragon, Meyer lemon, sea urchin butter, brown butter pangratatto.

The only items the wine didn’t work as well with were the Brussels sprouts and the duck liver mousse on fried biscuits (a dish I particularly loved) because the sweet elements in these dishes shut down the fruit in the wine. The wine worked well with everything else, marrying well the combination of umami and fresh notes in most of these dishes. Most of these dishes also had creamy components and the wine’s texture worked with those elements as well.

On the whole, this was a delicious meal and the wine worked as well as we’d hoped!

Geeky Details

Taken from the tech sheet – see for additional details. More details also available here.

Grapes:    52% Grenache Blanc, 48% Macabeu,Viogner, Escanyavelles (I can’t find any info on Escanyavelles)
Type of wine:  White Crianza
Soil: Schist
Vineyard contours: Terraced mountain slopes between 350 and 500 meters in altitude.
Fermentation: Oak barrels and wooden vats, with naturally occurring yeasts, occurring over more than 6 months.
Winemaking:  The wine was aged in large vats of 1,200 liter oak vessels and 600 liter concrete vessels. In total and for the first time, Nelin was bottled after 16 months. With Nelin 2011, we have gone for initial complexity when the wine is still young, as well as adding more stability in order for the wine to age better.
Aging process: 15 months in wooden vats and concrete tanks
Alch: 14.5%   
Average price: $39


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