SomAromes – Jordi Ustrell

I’m Jordi Ustrell (@jordiustrell), “since forever”. Well, since 2009 I have been hosting wine tours at Celler Devinssi (Gratallops, DOQ Priorat). I have a university degree in tourism, I teach at the Facultat de Turisme i Geografia under my birth name (Yury Ustrov) and I have training in wine tour guiding, as well as many years of experience as a wine tour guide. I met Marta at the Winemaking School here in the Priorat, where I enrolled to expand and deepen my knowledge of wine production.

During all these years my day-to-day life has involved telling visitors about the complexity of Priorat wine, how this area’s terroir is reflected in the flavour characteristics of the wines … Aromas, alcohol content, sturdiness… Statistically, more than 90% of my visitors aren’t wine experts: neither traders, nor producers, nor sommeliers, nor professional tasters… The vast majority is represented by guests who want to enjoy a glass of good wine and some good time with family and friends…

One of the curious observations I have had all these years hosting vineyard and winery visits is that many people have quite a good ability to spot the flavours inside a glass of wine. In the first year of my work as a wine tour host, I felt a bit insecure about imposing my ideas on which aromas had this or that wine, and I did not want to always mechanically replay the same wine tasting notes devised by professional sommeliers…

My intuition told me, “Listen to what the guests talk about”. Therefore, what I did, especially with very chatty visitors, was to serve the wine to taste and listen to their impressions of the aromas of the Priorats that they tasted… Obviously, each visitor shared their particular vision on the smells perceived, but I noticed that many were able to tell quite a few aromas. Or at least a couple. The conclusion I draw from this practice is twofold: many people find it very entertaining to taste wine without being given the “right answer” and that smelling is a skill that can be developed like any other ability.

One day Marta told me about her idea for this project and I was really excited about it. Understandably, there were some things to polish, but the possibility of relating wine aromas to natural products captivated me. Then we chose our first wine, 2018 Mas de les Valls by Celler Devinssi, where I work, and got the ball rolling.

For me, SomAromes is a project that not only gives easy names the flavour composition of the wine, but also makes it tangible, palpable, affordable, slightly instructive, and very fun.