15-02-2011

Still Catalan in Celler Generi

This cellar was one that we really had no intention of visiting as we’d never actually heard about it. It’s in a small town called Agullana which is more known for its water than its wine. It’s remote and not in an area with much wine production; in fact this is the only winery there. In talking to other wine makers though, it was often mentioned that there is this enolog named, Jaume Serra Pagès who seems to make the rounds to a number of wineries in the area. Basically, whatever wine he touches, is nearly guaranteed to be fantastic and it was Elia who discovered that Jaume was doing the enolog work at Generi and that we should go have a taste and see how it is.

As to the wine, it did indeed end up being 100% true that the Jaume Touch made all the difference with the wines all being excellent. For some time, Francesc made a low-end, basic wine that he sold for 3€. It is not a work of art, but it is quite good. Even though it is a strong wine, it is a well-balanced and nicely-crafted wine. It’s great with food and is a tremendous value as it outshines any other wine you can buy for even twice the cost. Sadly, it appears that it’s going to be made anymore given the amount of work vs. the small return on price.

The white that he makes was sold out when we were there. We assume it must be quite good and at some point, hopefully we’ll be able to taste it as Catalan white wines are very interesting wines. There are few of them and as most people prefer red, they are often quite distinct in character to stand out more. But, we weren’t sobbing over the lack of the white due to the red being tremendous. We didn’t happen to know this at the time of purchase since Francesc only make 3,000 bottles a year and he doesn’t do tastings. We had to buy his 2004 Reserve untasted at 10€. It sounds silly to say, but that was a large gamble we’ve rarely ever taken. But, his character was just right and we knew that it was going to be at least a good wine. Turns out that it’s an extraordinary wine.

This red is strong, full-bodied and robust, but at the same time wonderfully balanced and smooth. What he has reached with this wine is the boldness that a winery such as Peralada tries to achieve with the smoothness that *lavinyeta constantly achieves. We’ve never seen two such discordant elements in one wine before that actually work. The only issue is that we have trouble describing it. The body has hints of cinnamon, cloves, blackberry, and this bright crisp element to it as well that I can only really describe as being akin to the sensation of fresh mint, but not like the taste of mint. A lot this comes from the fact that it’s a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. We have no idea as to the ratios, but we have a feeling it might be similar to what the English call Claret as the depth must come from 80-90% Cab and the smoothness being from the rest in Merlot. And naturally, it finishes beautifully clean. Of course there are oak overtones to it as well given that it spends (if memory serves) 24 months in French oak. Francesc uses a combination of transport and aging barrels, the later being several millimeters thinner to allow more permeation of the air to give more flavor.

Time will tell in how this winery goes, but we truly hope it continues as these are wonderfully crafted, small-production wines that if they were being produced in California would not only be impossible to find, but also cost upwards of $100 a bottle.

Learn more about the wines, wineries, and history of Empordà in our Empordà, Catalonia enotourism guide