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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.
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Was just over on winedepot and saw your notes on your trip to Priorat. Sounds like quite a trip. It's funny, I read some of your posts from the past on your OR trip and took your advice on Sinneann and had a great experience with Peter Rosback on our Willamette Valley trip a few weeks back. Maybe I'll duplicate your Spain route as well and experience similar success.

Anyway, I am looking for some suggestions on Spanish wines that I can age for a long time. My wife is Spanish, her family is from Galicia, and we thought it would be cool to put away a few bottles or a few magnums of some 04's for our daughter's birth year. Nothing too extravagant, just something to lay down for a while and for us to enjoy at points during her life, and maybe, just maybe if the stars align, have some for a wedding, college graduation, etc.

I have spoken to a few differnet wine retailers here in the DC area and have received mixed reviews on the area(s) of Spain to purchase from when seeking long-term (10-15+ years) Spanish wine.

You seem to have a VERY good grasp on Spanish wine and with your recent visit, I wondered if you can offer any advice and possibly any reatailers who are particularly good with Spanish wine.

I know, I know, forgo the wine and put it in the college fund. Done, but I want to do this as well.

It was a great trip. I've really developed a taste for old vines Garnacha and Cariñena. You'd love it.

Since your wife is from Galicia, I hope you've tried some wines from that region. My favorites are the Albariños from Rias Baixas, in particular Fefinanes and Pazo Señorans.

For aging, my preference would be for the Priorat wines of 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004. I think the 2005 vintage will be a truly great one that may mature a little earlier, but that's based on barrel samples. I'm not sure what they'll be like when the aging is completed. The first wines will be expensive but there are some great bargains to be found amongst the second and third wines.

If you're a Tempranillo fan, look for the Reservas and Gran Reservas of Rioja, many at surprisingly modest prices. A lot of the Ribera del Duero wines spend up to 6 years in oak and age very well, but there aren't many bargains there. Look for the wines of Pesquera for decent QPR.

As for sources, most of the online retailers are stocking up on the best from Spain. The wines aren't hard to find anymore.

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