Aug 2008
The Wine Merchant at home
Falset, 24th of July 2008.

I’m behind with relating on a lot of trips, events and tastes (Düsseldorf, London, Dublin). Work is hanging like a too big shadow over me and as long as I don’t have a personal assistant I will move in the dark. Of course that personal assistant could be a lap top … but that’s not the same.

I had a visit from my dear friends
Mark Hoddy and Elsa Lejeune (Domaine Eternel) who gave me another opportunity to express my deepest love for the Priorat. It helps drinking Priorat wine but the scenery of the winding landscape in a pocket full of hills impresses me so much I feel in heaven. Probably you think I found the stairway in the Montsant. I might have, but I wouldn’t tell you where it is.
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In the morning we visited Mas Blanc, Pinord’s newest bodega that conquered the organic and biodynamic (Demeter) label for it’s wine making in no time. And very fine wine making it is indeed. It must be a dream to design your winery from scratch and build up an amfi theatre of different autochtone and foreign varietals, planted on level and angle to their needs. And then the bodega, half bedded in the mountain with a glass tasting room in the barrel ageing cellar. Their wines have personality and the wine maker Jaume put a life’s experience in it. I take Mark and Elsa up the hill with my worn out Patrol jeep (that pictures perfectly in the scenery) and my mini IPod playing, who else, Bob Dylan. If my shadow is work, Mark’s shadow is Bob. I must admit, Bob is (still) an eminence in contempary music. He’s as old as my father (which is still young, he probably reads this! I mean my father, Bob can take it) and lecturing the world what making music is really about. Nobody can get around his prominent quality (anymore).
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On the hill top of the beautiful trimmed vines the views take you from the Montsant as far as the Terra Alta massive. One gets quiet with such a view and may this now be the biggest quality of the Priorat: no man produced sound (read noise), only nature …
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After a quick cooking session at home that turned out in my grand mothers sunday dish (marinated beef, peas and beans and grâtin dauphinois) with a superb Costers del Segre (La Figuera 2004) we head of for a visit to Ferrer i Bobet.

Now be ready, if you’ve ever seen the light, this is a dream (or a nightmare). Generations of farmers that have been struggling and suffering on the Priorat hills are not pleased with new comers that walk in the big door and throw their money in this mystic mountains to build a high tech fully quality conditioned bodega. Something only few people can do, and
Ferrer i Bobet did it ! One feels drunk after the thousands of curves the road takes you, but arriving at Ferrer i Bobet sobers you up in no time. The work they did in a year to build this bodega and plant vines probably took the Roman slaves a life time. If you watch closely you still see a lot of ancient terrasses hidden under the overgrown pines all over the Priorat. Today, the Priorat is at 25% production compared to the vineyards they had many, many years ago.
Ferrer i Bobet recoverd many hectares ‘costers’ while they patiently wait (6 years before quality falls of new vines) and in the mean time rent surrounding producing vineyards from the farmers to make their wine that was launched in the fall of 2007. I’m impressed as if I see an "Esher" painting. I recognize all the details (top vinification installation, gravity to transport wine, high tech lab, varietal experiments, barril room, shoe wine boxes) but when I look at the entire picture I get lost.
The wine is way up standard and promeses for the big future wines that undoubtly will be produced in this technological high end bodega.
The tasting glass room, hanging out of the top of the mountain gives you a vertiguous feeling of beeing on top of the world. My mind is blank when we leave …
Mark and me in the UFO cockpit

I meet Stefaan Vinckevleugel (singer songwriter and my brother in law) for a gin and tonic in the local bar of Porrera, where we feel at the end of time. I hope he gets inspired for a new song.

By the way, the gin and tonics are very good this year!