Desnivell is a 2.4 hectare ‘Coster’ – an old, steep-sloped vineyard planted (1946) to now 80+ year old Garnatxa Negre and Garnatxa Peluda bush vines planted on wild American rootstocks. Desnivell is a sunny vineyard oriented to the interior (facing west and south-west), and uncultivated. It’s nestled among hazelnut and pine forest at 400m altitude, and also has some (more recently planted) Cabernet and Syrah. The soil is laminated brown slate, allowing 14 metres of root depth for the old vines. Fruit yield is a pitiful 1 tonne/ha, or about 300 grams per bush vine (even so, Blai battles local wild boar for title to the scarce fruit.)
After a gentle, long maceration, the wine settles in stainless for a month (to settle lees and avoid reduction in cask) then ages about a year in seasoned large French oak. Desnivell is Catalan for ‘uneven/unlevel’ …, referencing the generally steep, irregular and difficult location.
Fleshy and super mineral, the nose is floral red berry and smoky llicorella. The palate is soft and round, briary and sweetly earthy, with metal-fresh mineral tang in a balsamic finish. The potash, truffled-earthen nobility of the brown slate is laced with nutmeg spice. A wine of incredible line, it’s never strict nor strong, and is nipped at the rim by a flash of acidity in the steely mode of llicorellan minerality.