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Priorat has an especially long history of wine making since at least the 12th century. Its poor, stony soil underlaid by slate and quartz planted with very old vines gives its established vineyards incredibly low yields of only 0.3 tons/acre. Perhaps because of the unbelievable concentration of their fruit, Priorat vineyards produce world class wines from the usually ordinary Grenacha and Carignan grapes. Surprisingly, these varietals -- elsewhere popular for rosis and light character reds -- engender big sturdy red wines with smooth, plentiful tannins, perfect for long bottle aging. The most recent trend amends local tradition by adding the French varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah to newer vineyards; and also by aging new wines in new French rather than the more usual American barrels. The resulting wines have been described as richly concentrated but well-balanced, with strong tannins and high alcohol - both powerful and graceful. Priorat has also begun to offer some new dry whites and rosis (rosados) in the fresher international style.