Clos Garsed 1989


The shortened form of Priorat history goes something along the lines of “The monks came in the 12th century. They made wine. René Barbier arrived in 1979, released a wine in 1989 with four other people. More people came. Priorat is now famous.” It’s an easy version to believe as a) it’s short and b) it’s what you generally hear repeated. There are however large tracts of narrative that are omitted in doing this and they’re quite crucial to understand the actual story.

For starters, wine has been produced in Priorat continuously since the Romans arrived. This information doesn’t have the hard proof to it like other regions in Catalonia such as winemaking ruins under Barcelona but its been made for a long, long time. While often just seen as a Frenchman who popped on down, René Barbier was born in Catalonia and has know the region his whole life which is how he undoubtedly came across the Cellers de Scala Dei 1974 vintage that put Priorat back on the map for a great many people.

Seeing the potential, he did indeed go there in 1979 and the initial vintage was indeed the 1989 one. But it must be explicitly stressed that there were 10 wines released in this vintage which ironically weren’t released under DOQ Priorat as a) it was just “DO” back then and b) because the wines had too low an alcohol level at 12.5%. Yet these wines and the five physical wineries that eventually emerged from them have become known as the vanguard of modern Priorat wines.

A good deal of attention has been paid to these wines as of late given that they just celebrated their 25 year of existence and bottles have been magically appearing that had been cellared all this time. Here’s the thing though, if you’ve tasted any one of them and it’s been properly stored then you’ve tasted all of them as they were all the exact same wine but with 10 different labels.

So we come to Clos Garsed which is one of the five wines from this original series that was a bit shall we say, “forgotten” despite the Garsed family popping up here and there still to make a wine with a Clos Garsed 2009 being the last one I’ve come across. But apparently an older gentlemen passed away recently and his inheritors found that he had quite a wine collection with many classic bottles including a couple of 12 bottle case of this Clos Garsed. They took the case to Vinum in Porrera to see if they were interested in buying some which they did. Of the original 12, now only two remain as many people have been interested to try this wine given the current rarity of any of the bottles. Recently, I was one of the lucky ones to get my hands (along with other friends in Porrera) on a bottle before they finished.

First and foremost it needs to be stated that while obviously stored very properly with a cork in good shape, this wine has long peaked and should have been opened maybe five years ago–note to anyone still hanging on to bottles, you might want to open them soon. That said, the wine still shows surprisingly well but in tasting it, I was merely taking a guess as to how it was and so I won’t give scores this time around as it’s just not a fair evaluation of a wine that most likely held no end of potential at one point. Still quite cool to have gotten the chance to taste a bit of bottled history.

Clos Garsed 1989
Menthol, light balsamic, forest floor, tons of licorice and light cloves, light caramel in the nose. Light and easy on the body. Red fruits and balanced although the depth of this body is fading quickly. Lingering acidity and fruit in the finish. With only 12.5% it makes for a very, very different Priorat from a different era.

Grenache, Syrah, Cab Sauvignon 12.5%