We parked our car in the central square of Porrera and walked a short distance to Celler Joan Simo where we were met by winemaker/owner, Gerard Batllevel, and his wife, Fanny. Of all the wineries I contacted before our trip to Priorat, Gerard was the most helpful to us in planning our trip. He sent us a lot of information that helped us learn how to get around this remote region. In addition, after leaving the winery, we had a problem with our car and Gerard helped us immensely and contacted the car rental agency for us to procure a replacement in this small village.
The winery is named for Gerard's grandfather. (Joan is the Catalan name for John.) Annual production is normally in the 15-20,000 bottle range. In 2004, about 7,000 bottles of Les Eres and 10-15,000 bottles of Les Sentius are being produced. After a tour, we tasted the following wines:
2003 Les Sentius- The composition of this wine is 60% Garnacha, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Syrah, and 4% Merlot. The wine has a moderate nose of roses and spice with bright, juicy flavors of cherries. It is balanced and almost ready. 88-89
2003 Les Eres- The composition of this wine is 60% Carignana, 20% Garnacha, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine has a very nice nose of wet earth, coffee, and plums. On the palate, the wine is packed with great dark berry flavors, moderate integrated tannins, and acidity to age. 90-92
2005 Syrah- This was a very impressive barrel sample. I told Gerard I'd love to see this bottled separately, but that does not seem to be an accepted method in Priorat. Virtually all wines are blends. This has a rich nose of malt and root vegetables, with rich, plummy, boysenberry flavors. Well-balanced. 93
2004 Les Sentius- The composition of this wine is 60% Garnacha, 22% cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 8% Syrah. The wine has a slightly medicinal nose of dried fruit and baking pastries. It has a nice minerality to it with tart cherry flavors. It has good balance but needs more time in the bottle. 90-91
This was one of our favorite winery visits. I'd recommend it to anyone visiting the region.