He drove 2.5 hours from his day job and Barcelona to meet and pour wines
for us at Poboleda.
Jordi Ossó i Estivill, Genium Celler’s export manager, is one of six family partners who’ve banded together to bring their wines from this tiny Catalan village established in the 1200s by Carthusian monks to the world.
The walls of this winery are ancient – the building next door (now the school – and pictured to the right) was where the prior lived. (‘Priory’ is from the root of the word for the modern day region, Priorat.)
The monks and the builders lived in the town’s stone homes, one of which now houses Genium, and lived in Poboleda while building the nearby Escaladei monastery.
Jordi’s grandfather and father are from this tiny hamlet where making wine has been a part of the culture since Roman times. However, the Genium group has been making wine since 2002 when they decided to work together instead of selling their grapes to the local cooperativa.
Between the families, they coordinate weekends in the vineyards and winery and produce about 30,000 kg of grapes – mostly the local varieties, Garnaxa (Garnacha) and Carinenya (Carignan) along with some Merlot, Syrah and Pedro Ximenez.
The local microclimate is similar to that of nearby Torroja del Priorat in that it’s heavily affected by the sea so the grapes retain higher levels of acidity. Despite a relative distance from the sea, the mountain passes and gaps funnel the cool Mediterranean air straight to the region.
This has allowed Genium to produce a white wine from Pedro Ximenez (PX) that you would never know is made from this grape usually responsible for producing Sherry.
Named Ximenis, the local Catalan word for PX, there are about 600-700 bottles of this produced a year. Ninety percent is PX with the remainder including Garnaxa blanca and Macabeu.
The grapes are grown on Jordi’s cousin’s costers (slope) and after it is picked, the grapes are layered with dry ice prior to a 16-18c fermentation. It is aged in new French oak.
Pale gold, this wine is youthful but offers a Rousanne-like nose and finish with plenty of stone fruit (pear), acacia, citrus and soft honey. The acidity is medium plus and there’s a delicacy and juicy character in among the solid structure.
Stephen Tanzer has granted it a 90 and I agree – this is a WSET Very Good wine. Intriguing, unusual, refreshing, structured and yet elegant. It’s a happy surprise in the sense that it’s always said PX is not a noble grape – yet, Genium has produced a unique stunner with it.