£17.99–£19.95, Fine Wines Direct, Vinvm, Amazon
I hardly need say that I wouldn't have chosen this if drinking it was like purgatory, but why would anyone (hipsters aside) give the name to their wine? Simple: conditions on the remote L'Aranyó estate from which it comes are so extreme – high, hot, arid – that Benedictine monks were sent there to work the land as penance and the farmhouse built by the Abbey of Montserrat in 1770 became known as the 'farmhouse of the exiled'.
While farming to provide food for the diocese in the harsh environment may have felt like purgatory, the monks soon found that the conditions were ideal for growing grapes. Fast forward two centuries to 1999 and the opportunity came up for the Torres family to buy the estate – all 870 hectares of it in the Garrigues sub-zone of Catalonia's Costers Del Segre DO. They kept the centuries-old olive trees and started replanting vineyards with Garnacha, Cariñena and Syrah. They now have 200 hectares at 330–550m asl, all organic and a quarter used for Purgatori, the first vintage of which was 2013. A new winery was opened in 2018, partially equipped with concrete vats made using rocks from the vineyards and you can view part of the old winery that was uncovered when they were doing the renovations.
Now to the wine. What I like about the 2017 is the brightness and intensity of the fruit, the freshness, the quiet, supple tannins (qualities that aren't a given in such conditions) and the way the flavours of red and black fruit, smoked paprika, wild herbs and black pepper are woven together by the oak (French, 40% new, for 18 months). It's enjoyable already but you could cellar it to the end of the decade.
If you're drinking it now, it would make a wonderful posh barbecue wine (for both meat and vegetables) and it's equally suited to roasts, including duck. If you want to accompany fish, try a dish with puy lentils and/or pancetta or prosciutto. It's also a good match for the sweet intensity of sautéed chicken livers with roast Mediterranean vegetables with a rocket salad. 14.5%
Familia Torres Purgatori 2017, Costers del Segre, Catalonia, Spain