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Monday, 7 February 2011

Wining and Dining in the Wine World

The other week I took some time out and immersed myself into the glamorous, fun side of the wine world, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was great to get away from the usual routines in the vineyard and winery, which I’ve been doing for 8 years now.

I hit the road with US wine importers, José Pastor and Mark Middlebrook (of JPS) for two days (Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th of January) travelling around central Spain, visiting vineyards and wineries, drinking good wine, eating good food, and talking about wine.

Jose (left) and Mark (right) in my foggy vineyard

Don’t get me wrong: I really love what I do (grow grapes and make wine) and there’s nothing I can think of that I’d rather be doing, BUT EVEN SO, a routine is a routine! Maybe I’ve got a short attention span or I’m hyperactive, or something, but I jumped at the chance when José invited me join him on his trip.

Actually, it all started on the Sunday night (16th), when we met for tapas, beer, wine, vermouth and gin-and-tonics (in that order, more or less) in the Lavapiés district of central Madrid. We went first to La Vinícola (c/San Eugenio), an old haunt of mine. I used to go there more often than now as they used to keep their wine boxes for me which I’d use for my own wine, but last year I got some of my own boxes printed up with my own logo on them. They have good wines (nothing special), natural cider, vermouth on tap, great tapas, and a great atmosphere and décor. Then on to La Echartia, just round the corner on c/S.Isabel, for gin-and-tonics. Nice atmosphere, jazz music, good ambiance!

This was the first time I’d gone out on the town since the new no-smoking law came into effect in Spain on Jan 2nd. What a difference! This is a major turning point, sea-change, paradigm shift in the Spanish night-time social cultural scene, and I exaggerate not! On the plus side I see the following: inside the air is nice ‘n’ clean and you don’t get home with your hair and clothes stinking; there’s plenty of room inside to stand at the bar or even to sit down; you can now step outside to smoke, chat, and smirt with a crowd of like-minded people: you smoke less and enjoy it more! On the negative side, I see yet another step in globalization, homogenization and places losing their identity, charm and singularity.

Anyway, after sorting out the wine world’s problems, home early – at 2:00 a.m.!

Monday morning, up bright and early (11:00 am) we went to see my own vineyard in Carabaña. It was cold and foggy.

Jose and Mark in the vineyard in Carabaña (Spain)

We’ll be starting the pruning soon.

Then on to ‘my’ bodega in Morata de Tajuña, for a tasting. This is what José Pastor will be importing into the US in the near future:

- 100% Airén 2010
- 100% Airén 2010 Carbonic Maceration
- 100% Garnacha 2010

And perhaps these as well, but in the not-so-near future:

- 100% Airén 2010 with skin contact. Not yet. This will improve/evolve with time
- Other young red wines from 2010 (Tempranillo, Graciano, Sirah, Petit Verdot). Not ready yet, to be tasted, left over the winter, tasted again, etc
- Other crianzas, to be tasted and/or blended in a few months time

Tasting notes: I’ve never been good at tasting notes, so I won’t even bother to write any here. José can do that himself :)  Suffice it to say that I like my wines (that’s why I make them the way I do!), he likes my wines, and hundreds of incorrigible regular customers also like them; and in the near future hundreds more new customers in the USA will be tasting them and hopefully liking them too! This is what it’s all about for me: making unique, genuine, unadulterated wines expressing the ‘where and when and what’ and getting as many people as possible in the world to taste them and enjoy them.

Then for lunch at La Tinaja, a nice restaurant in the centre of Morata. We had the menu del día, but boy did we cover that wine list!!! We ended up doing a spontaneous unplanned wine-tasting. There were so many bottles, that they had to bring an extra table (and buckets so we could spit). Talking to the maitre it turned out that they had a whole load of old wines in the cellar that were not even on the wine list.

Our table(s) at lunch

Check that out

One of the wines we tasted

Then, into Madrid (running late; it was about 18:00), where we went straight to a wine shop (La Tintorería; Pº Marqués de Zafra 35. Tel 910 005 834) run by an interesting trio of wine world characters: César Ruiz, Flequi Berruti and Nacho Jiménez. Basic decor (ie, floor, white walls!) but very interesting wines. well worth checking out if in Madrid.

Now it was time for dinner! See what I mean about wining and dining? The appointment was at Los Asturianos (C/Vallehermoso, 93) owned by Belarmino Fernández and Alfonso Chacón , who (surprise, surprise!) happen to be wine-makers also: Bodegas Canopy. And we were joined for dinner by none other than Victor de la Serna (again!) (See previous post).

Dinner was amazing (again!) But rather than dinner, it was another tasting session accompanied by food at dinner-time! There were loads of wines:

- My own three: Airén, Airén MC, Garnacha 2010
- Victor brought a few from his Finca Sandoval (Manchela) and one Albillo from Navarra
- Belarmino and Alfonso brought a few from their Bodegas Canopy (Méntrida)
- Other wines that I lost track off and didn’t even take photos of!

Then home for an early night: 2:00 a.m. again

Next morning, bright and early again (about 12:00), we headed off to see Belamino and Alfonso’s vineyards and bodega. The vineyards were spectacular, in the Sierra de Gredos at around 900 m. Mostly Garnacha. Old vines. 14 small vineyards of about 1 ha each. Industrial bodega in Camarena (Toledo). Lunch at Gregorio. Only one wine!!!

To be continued…

(Insert text…photos of Canopy vineyards… ) After lunch, we set off to see natural wine-maker Alfredo Maestro in Peñafiel. 100-year old vineyards by night! Visit to the winery. Tasting. Home at 2:00 a.m. again. (photos and text of Alfredos bodega and vineyards)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like great fun. I have enjoyed Remelluri before. Love Spanish wines.


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