Barcelona Wine Tastings Newsletter: February 2017

Every month I send out a simple newsletter to the members of Maestrazgo Wine Club; a small group of wine-lovers who meet once a week to explore the world of wine together in a small tasting room in Barcelona. For more information on Maestrazgo Wine Club and how to book a wine tasting in Barcelona,check out this page for more information.

Winter ploughing

February: After a long, cool winter this is the last month of dormancy for the vines; sap is just starting to stir and circulate in the plant and vine growers across Spain will be finishing their winter pruning and selecting the buds they wish to produce fruit for 2017. The soil should be freshly ploughed, allowing aeration and deeper penetration for rainfall. Growers will be adding fertilisers and organic matter that will gradually break down, adding nutrients for the plants rapid growth in Spring. This is also the last time of the year to finish repairs on trellising systems and to make any major changes for the coming growing season; once it starts, it goes very quickly indeed!

Hello Wine Lovers! Welcome to the 14th Edition of the Maestrazgo Wine Club monthly newsletter. It’s been a real treat to kick-off 2017 with you all with two fantastic tasting events, and now we find ourselves already one month in; time really does fly! Due to my awful study schedule (2 exams on the same day in early March – how cruel) there will only be one additional tasting open during the month of February. A real shame but the month before these exams get quite intense and I wouldn’t feel comfortable organising multiple topics that I couldn’t give my undivided attention. Fear not, however, for March is right around the corner and we’ll be back to full speed before you know it! Until then, there are 10 spots available for our first ever tasting exploring the portfolio and life of Spains wine-making families and producers, starting with the iconic Palacios family with projects from Rioja to Priorat, and then all the way across the country to Bierzo. Strap yourselves in!

Events: Maestrazgo Wine Club:
2th February – ‘International Wine Tasting: Blind Tasting’ – Full – 30 euros/person
23rd February – ‘Spanish Wine Producers: The Palacios Family’ – 10 spots available – 25 euros/person

Articles: I probably spend too much of my time reading online articles about wine. However, as a result I can find and select a choice few to share – here are my three favourites from last month!

1. ‘Essential online wine stats” by Richard Hemming MW. This is about the geekiest post I’m ever likely to share, but I’ve had questions before at tastings about where I get my statistics from, where I learn the specifics of regions and how I learn the trade structures of certain countries. I’ve been slowly building up my resources but last month, Richard Hemming MW shared the sources he used to study for his Master of Wine qualification and blew mine out of the water. Be warned; this is pretty much only statistics but for those of you who want to navigate around the world of wine numbers, it’s a goldmine!

2. ‘Coming of Age” by Matt Walls. This is a very relaxed, well written piece looking at general consumer trends and how they are affecting the world of wine. The pattern is the same as elsewhere; we want it and we want it now. Whilst this is encouraging a lot of smaller, lesser known regions to shine with their accessible, fresh and fun wines, it does have a knock-on effect when it comes to stocks of mature wines. Conclusion? I definitely need a cellar

3. ‘Under the spell of the volcano’ by Yolanda Ortiz de Arri. This is perhaps something to wet the appetite as we will be exploring the island wines of Spain in March. Spanish Wine Lover explores the island of Tenerife, largely defined by viticulture and home to some of the highest vineyards in Europe, some of the oldest vineyards in Europe and a plethora of grape varieties designed to make you say “,,,What?”. Another well written, detailed article that has definitely confirmed my desire to explore the wines of the Balearic and Canary islands with you all!

Wine of the month: I’m constantly on the look-out for wines of real quality and value; I rarely purchase anything over 30-40 euros a bottle and more commonly you’ll find me drinking in the 6-25 euro range.

Finca Villacreces 2014: Is there a better wine from Ribera del Duero for around 20 euros a bottle? If there is, I haven’t discovered it yet. Finca Villacreces, along with Tomas Postigo, has been a winery I’ve been drinking right since the very beginning of my wine adventure here in Spain. From the first sip, I knew I was onto a good thing and my only regret was not buying larger quantities of the older vintages, 10 and 11 especially. Named after the estate itself and made from a blend of 86% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Merlot, this should be a modern wine. Except it isn’t, at least not in style. 14% alcohol, high acidity and a soft, richness speaks to a more restrained style of Ribera del Duero and one that I can’t get enough of. Plummy and intense in youth, fading to chocolate, coffee and dried fruits with some bottle age; this is a wonderful wine. 2014 is proving to be a very good, consistent year for Ribera del Duero with lots of purity and freshness in the resulting wines, Finca Villacreces included. If you find a bottle, snap it up and give it a go!

Wine Facts
Some fun and interesting facts about the world of wine. Terminology, myths and FAQs; as science becomes more ingrained in our industry, we discover new and exciting realities every day!

1. “What do the legs/tears mean on the side of the glass after swirling?” – A lot of people get very interested in the visual appearance of wine as it slides down the sides of the glass. Whilst interesting, it is not an indication of quality and is usually related to high alcohol or sugar levels in the wine, as alcohol evaporates faster than water creating surface tension. The next time you drink spirits, swirl your glass and you’ll see an even slower drop down the sides of the glass!

2. “How do you know if a wine is corked?” – This one can be tricky as not all corked wines are easy to spot. The culprit is a chemical known as TCA (trichloroanisole) which usually forms due to natural fungi from the cork tree reacting with the chemicals used in the cork making process; namely chlorine. Small amounts of TCA are often undetectable or don’t spoil the experience of the wine. However, if your wine smells suspiciously like wet cardboard/rotten wood/wet dog, this could well be TCA. Always re-cork this bottle and bring it back to the store you bought it from; whilst they are not obliged to exchange the bottle, all good stores will.

3. ‘Finish’ – This is a term used to describe how long the desirable flavours stay present in your mouth after swallowing/spitting the wine. The ‘desirable’ part here is very important as it is common for wines to leave an after-taste but this is not always pleasant and can consist of a acrid bitterness or a stinging sensation from a level of unbalanced alcohol! Whilst there are some minor faults in a wine that can be smoothed over by clever wine-making, long, complex and enjoyable finishes are usually the mark of a truly lovely and well-made wine.

Social Media
These newsletters only come out once a month and there is a limit on space for content. If you use Social Media and want to keep up with regular wine updates and occasional rambles, feel free to connect with me on any of the following platforms.

Facebook: Wine Cuentista
Twitter: @Wine_Cuentista
Instagram: wine_cuentista

That’s it for this months newsletter. I hope you enjoyed it and please, if you have any suggestions or things you would like to see get in touch! Either respond to me here or email to I can’t wait to see you all soon for more wine, food and good company. 🙂


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