One thing I have learned about winemakers and winery owners is that showing even a little interest in their work usually yields immensely positive results for anyone wanting to learn more. Most are keen to share and you realize very quickly that asking seemingly innocent questions garners reams of information and feedback – and of course, leads to more questions.
Corresponding with the group of six families who joined forces in 2002 and combined their 15 ha of vineyards located throughout Priorat DOQ reminded me of this simple truth.
Jordi Ossó i Estivill is the Export Manager of Genium Celler and the ‘unique partner who speaks some English’. Lucky guy – he pulled the short straw to answer my email about visiting Genium Celler in January 2015. And talk about genial and helpful.
Genium Cellers is housed on the ground level of a stone home located in Poboleda, Priorat (northeastern Spain, south of Barcelona) where the Carthusian monks of the appropriately named, ‘Scala Dei’ (stairs to heaven) first set up shop in 1253.
‘Costers’ means slopes and their 7 ha of vineyards lie at a precipitous and precarious 45 degree angle meaning that everything must be done by hand.
The 2005 version (50% Cariñena, 30% Garnacha, 10% Merlot and 10% Syrah) comes from a combination of vines that are about 90 years old and produce only about 300 g of fruit per year, as well as some planted in the 1980s that produce around a kilogram per year. It was aged in French oak for 14 months prior to bottling.
I think this about sums it up, “We keep taking care of the old vines on the slopes, in spite of the low output and high costs.” Their attention to the viticulture and vinicultural processes is apparent – this wine earned a 91 from Stephen Tanzer in 2007 and a long ageing window. I opened this bottle in October 2015.
Clear and bright, opaque garnet with a medium garnet rim and slow, fat legs, on the nose the wine is clean with medium plus intense aromas of black fruit – blackcurrant, blackberry, black cherry – olive, tarragon, rosemary, old, wet earth, vanilla and crushed rock minerality.
We had to decant it heavily as it was very closed initially, but over the course of the evening, it showed more complex fruit and earthy mineral tones.
The palate is dry with medium plus alcohol that is not noticeable at all. The tannins are medium plus, but ripe and softly dusty. Acidity is medium plus and the medium plus flavour profile includes more blackberry, lots of black cherry, cassis as well as dark plum, star anise, rosemary, thyme and tarragon, black olives, soy sauce, wet, overturned earth and rocks. A medium plus finish complemented the palate.
WSET ‘Very Good’, this wine is drinking beautifully right now. We enjoyed it with rib eye steaks prepared simply with salt and pepper, grilled peppers and fresh baguette with extra virgin olive oil. It’s well balanced and still has a lot of fruit and good acidity working in concert with the dusty tannins.
If you’re lucky enough to still have a bottle lying around, enjoy it now (decant about an hour prior to indulging) or within the next 1-2 years.
Hopefully in January 2015, I’ll be able to try other Genium Celler wines when we visit Jordi in Poboleda, Priorat. Stay tuned…