GIVE UP THE DAY JOB!
CELLER VERMUNVER, DO MONTSANT
When, thankfully, sitting down with the charming Aïda Vernet (this was but a few days before my recent knee replacement), I was as amazed as I was humbled to hear that all the members of the close-knit family who are involved with Celler Vermunver’s also have ‘day jobs’!
Amazed because the quality of their wine is such that one would think they’d been crafting quality wines for generations; and humbled, to see that they had taken the gamble of following a dream! To me, this is as admirable as the wine that they produce. They are a new, 21st Century, business and they’ve entered a very competitive field, so their passion isn’t yet providing them with a full-time living. However, watch this space!
Whilst not making their own wine, commercially, before, the family, like many in Spain, have made wine for their own use. For this, they needed to keep back some of the grapes that preceding generations had traditionally sold to others for their wines. Viticulture, they know very well, and whilst not on a commercial basis, they also have a history of wine-making.
Enter Roger Vernet Muntané, brother of Aïda, who had the vision to see that there was potential to continue growing for others but also to start a bodega making their own wines. To his family’s generational, traditional domestic wine making knowledge and commercial grape growing experience and success, Roger added a degree in oenology (winemaking).
For a start, their vineyards are right next door to the hallowed ground of Priorat, from whence comes one of Spain’s three most expensive wines. Indeed, DO Montsant, as their area is now known, used to be called the Falset sub-zone, where all the best DO Tarragona wine was made. After considerable pressure the authorities did concede that the consistent excellence of wines from Falsett was such that they should be granted DO status independently.
So, Roger and the family knew that the quality of the basic ingredient, the grape, was as good as is necessary to make fine wine. Consider also that the majority of the vines used for their production are between 70 – 80 years old, and you may wonder why it took them so long to get cracking!
In 2004 Celler Vermunver launched its first wines. The limited production sold out and they knew that they were onto something. How the business is financed, is not my affair of course, but it seems that they are, sensibly, taking it ‘poco a poco’ (little by little) until such time as their success enables them to concentrate solely on wine making and promoting their wines.
I tasted all of their small portfolio and am confident in recommending them to readers. I’m not alone in this as the company have already garnered medals and top Peñin Guide and Parker points.
First into my eager tasting glass was their Garnacha, Cariñena and Merlot Joven 2013 Vinum Domi (Latin, meaning Home Wine, so a real connection with their traditional past). You’ll find bags of fruit with this wine as well as a touch of liquorice on the finish. (7€)
Next I tasted Petit Gènesi (small beginning) – this time it’s 20 yrs old Syrah that joins the old guys, giving a touch of peppery, added juiciness. The wine has had 6 months in French and American oak, giving it a little more authority than the youthful previous wine. However, none of the fruit is lost to wood – the oak provides some structure and some depth of flavour, giving also a longer finish. (9€)
I loved the labels of the two mono-varietal wines. Both proudly display the picture of the leaf that each distinct vine produces. I tasted the magnificently fruit orientated 100% Gènesi Cariñena 2012 (95 Peñin Points!) which has enjoyed (and I mean that!) 12 months in French and Hungarian oak (which is the French oak species , grown in Hungary). This wine, along with the other mono-varietal, is made using wild yeast as found on the vines in their own vineyards.
The 2012 Gènesi Garnacha is made in exactly the same way, but with Spain’s second most planted variety which has been grown so successfully in this part of Cataluña for centuries. Again, the by-word here is fruit, but with elegance, depth and structured complexity . Both of these single variety wines do what was intended – they delight the drinker, both when eating and when simply contemplating life, as well as being excellent expressions of what each variety is about.
At 20€ per bottle they’re not cheap – but of course quality never is! Outstanding wines!
Finally, I tried Gènesi Seleccio 2008, 60% Cariñena and 40 % Garnacha – a signature wine of the bodega and a homage to the soils in which the varieties have been growing for 80 years, planted by Aïda and Roger’s Grandfathers!
Adorned with several medals and top level marks in the guides the wine is drinking perfectly now, and at 15€ it’s a very good buy! However I don’t think it has long left. Readers may therefore want to wait until the following vintage is available (which may be now? www.genesi.cat ).
Contact Colin: firstname.lastname@example.org ; and via his unique wine orientated website www.colinharknessonwine.com where you can subscribe to his newsletters and learn of his Wine Tastings, Bodega Visits, Short Break Wine Tours; Blogs etc; and via Twitter @colinonwine