Clos Mogador was founded in Priorat, Spain, in 1982, by Rene Barbier, a descendant of the 19th century Frenchman who founded the now very large and successful Rene Barbier wine estate near Barcelona 150 years ago. That estate is now owned by Frexinet and makes a large portfolio of wines. The current Rene Barbier worked in the wine industry for other producers for several years before returning to Priorat, his home region, and starting his own winery.The 50-acre estate is named after a novel written by Barbier’s great aunt, who described the life of a family living near Mont Ventoux in southern France. Clos Mogador’s first vintage was 1989, and it quickly became a cult Spanish red, prized for its extraordinary character. Barbier presses his grapes on an olive press, which extracts only half the amount of juice that a grape press would deliver, making Clos Mogador highly concentrated. Clos Mogador is 35% Garnacha, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah and 10% Carinena.
Priorat in southern Catalonia is one of Spain’s newer regions for quality wines. With only about 2,500 vineyard acres, it is not one of Spain’s larger appellations, and its rocky mountains and hillsides make for challenging vineyard management. But grapes have been grown here in the rich, volcanic soil since at least the Middle Ages, when Carthusian monks planted vineyards. Bulk wines were the main focus here until the late 1970s, when pioneering Spanish winemakers Alvaro Palacios and René Barbier replanted vineyards and vastly improved winemaking in the region. Clos Mogador, Clos Erasmus and Finca Dofi were some of the now much-admired wineries started in the later decades of the 20th century. By the 1990s many innovative, quality-focused wineries were started in Priorat, making it one of the hottest winemaking regions in Spain. Priorat was made a DO in 1954 but upgraded to the prestigious Demoninación de Origen Calificada, or DOCa, in 2000. (In Catalan, the regional language, the appellation abbreviation is DOQ.) Full-flavored, full-bodied wines with relatively high alcohol content are characteristic of Priorat, with Garnacha (Grenache) and Carinena (Carignan) being the traditional grapes.