Wine Cuentista Newsletter – Edition 21 – September 2017

September: So it begins – the harvest is upon us! Spain is a vast, diverse country with regards to wine production and so unsurprisingly, there are various different stages of harvest. By this point, Cava grapes are already mid-way through harvesting as they tend to be picked slightly earlier to retain the high acidity that is prized for ageing potential in older wines and freshness in younger wines. A lot of white wines aiming to retain bright fruit flavours and high acidity will also be being picked, particularly in hot regions where the grapes can easily over-ripen and produce wines with unbalanced flavours and even some light reds, particularly Tempranillo may well undergo harvest this month. Vignerons and wine-makers alike will keep a wary eye on the sky, as excess rain during harvest can induce rots, fungi and often dilute the flavours they have worked so hard to nurture. Quality-minded producers will be spending a lot of money to hire trained pickers to gently harvest the grapes before transporting them in small, 15kg boxes to avoid crushing the grapes and losing precious flavours and aromas to oxidation. An entire years worth of effort comes down to these next few crucial months, as the saying goes: ‘It’s possible to make very bad wine with good grapes, but it’s impossible to make great wine with bad grapes!”

Hello Wine Lovers and welcome back! September is finally here and after a long, hot summer, I’m about ready to get back to wine tasting. With it being the first tastings of Maestrazgo Wine Club, I’m excited to be kicking off with some ‘discovery’ tastings – aka, showcasing some delicious new wines I’ve tasted over the last few months. We’ll have a tasting for the Old World wines and a separate one for the New World but remember that these are now available first through Wine Cuentista, so check them out here and reserve your spot. Aside from that, it’s time for an intense few months of studying ahead of my final exam for the WSET Diploma, ahead of a beautifully exam-less 2018. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the summer and hopefully I’ll see a few of you for a tasting soon!

Events: Maestrazgo Wine Club:

14th September – Summer Discoveries: Old World – 10 spots available
28th September – Summer Discoveries: New World – 10 spots available

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. ‘Italian Wine – 3000 years older than we thought’ by Chris Mercer. One of the bigger discoveries in the wine world recently was a series of caves in Sicily containing, what is believed to be, wine-making equipment. Given that this dates back to 4,000BC, it’s a big change in the common belief that the ancient Greeks brought wine-making to Italy and opens the door to a whole new range of possibilities. As a history geek, I’m very curious to see the final report on these findings and who knows what may be uncovered as a result? http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/oldest-italian-wine-study-375334-375334/

2. ‘How to make money in the wine business’ – by Felicity Carter. A large part of the reason I’ve chosen to study with the WSET over CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers) is that the industry of wine interests me far more than the correct, formal service of it. As a result, I love anything that gets to grips with the realities of the industry as if there’s one thing we’re not short on, it’s romantic wine-related stories and quasi-science. Whilst not exactly ground-breaking stuff, Felicity Carter makes an important point about the financial realities of producing wine and how some in the industry get carried away with the fantasy of it all. Here’s hoping for some more of the same transparency on other financial/business related issues within the industry! https://www.meininger.de/en/wine-business-international/how-make-money-wine-business

3. ‘Changes afoot in Rioja’ by Yolanda Ortiz de Arri. I’ve linked a few articles related to the recent turmoil in Rioja, we’ve spoken about it in tastings and I’m actually digging into it a little more deeply for an article myself, but Yolanda does a good job, as always, of summarising the more important points as well as getting some local reaction. Reaction to what, exactly? Well, the tiny step forward that Rioja has taken as a region, allowing for both regional and village names to be appended to Rioja labels meaning greater specificity for consumers and the start of our understanding of Rioja terroir. Sounds great doesn’t it? Naturally, there’s a catch… http://www.spanishwinelover.com/learn-265-village-wines-in-rioja-will-be-based-on-the-location-of-the-winery

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.

Bohorquez Reserva 2007

I tried this for the first time only a few days ago and I have to take my hat off to this small but dedicated team of vignerons – the wine is absolutely delicious. Ribera del Duero has become a tricky region for me, with many of the wines simply trying for too much and missing the target as a result, but this hit the spot nicely. Bohorquez was only founded in 1999 but stylistically, it’s leaning towards the Pesquera/Vega Sicilia way of making wine, which is to say a longer maceration and ageing process, restrained alcohol levels (14%) and considerably less of the overt, ripe fruit flavours so typical of the region.

Yet there is a good concentration of slightly dried red and black fruits here, cedar, coffee, dill, leather, tobacco and earth. This wine is in a really good place, with a lovely spectrum of flavours and a wonderfully elegant texture. Restrained and classic, with that smoky, leathery finish I so enjoy!

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 fintankerr@winecuentista.com I can’t wait to see you all soon for more wine, food and good company. 🙂

Fintan Kerr

Wine Cuentista Newsletter – Edition 20 – August 2017

Maestrazgo Wine Club Newsletter – Edition 20 – August 2017

August: A blisteringly hot month in Spain, which explains why most sensible people take the month off and hurl themselves into the sea. However, for immobile vines it is a particularly important month due to the phenomenon of veraison. This is the onset of berry ripening and also when the pigmentation starts to form in red grapes, leading to the distinction in colour between the different types of grapes. Red grapes will start to turn a light berry-red colour, whilst white grapes will start to turn yellow and golden. This is a key part of the life cycle of the vine and the vignerons will be hard at work to ensure it goes smoothly. Leaves will be cut away to expose grape clusters to extra sunshine and sometimes bunches of grapes will be removed in a process known as ‘green harvesting’ in order to concentrate sugars in the remaining bunches. Some producers will already begin harvesting this month, with 2017 set to be one of the earliest harvests ever recorded in Spain!

Hello Wine Lovers! Welcome to the 20th edition of The Wine Cuentista Newsletter! It’s our final month of the summer break and that means no Maestrazgo Wine Club tasting, but keep an eye out for an announcement coming in the next few days about some changes on that front. I don’t want to give too much away, just to say that MWC is coming back better than ever before!

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!

Beyond Bling: Wither Fine Wine? By Christian Holthausen. I really enjoyed this one, a very well thought-out article indeed. It starts as an article about fine wine and turns into a painfully accurate view of modern consumerism and the pitfalls thereof. Brilliantly written. https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/beyond-bling-whither-fine-wine

‘What not to drink sparkling wine from a Champagne glass’ by Miquel Hudin. I’ve made a point of drinking good quality sparkling wine from a glass for a while now, much to the consternation of a couple of wine producers, for the reasons that Miquel details in his article above. This is a particularly good read for anyone coming to Maestrazgo Wine Club as it’ll give you a hint as to one of the structural changings we’ll be making to the upcoming tastings. https://wineonsix.com/why-not-to-drink-sparkling-wines-in-a-champagne-glass/

‘Sweet talk on wine’ by Robert Joseph. A simple but thought provoking piece about the levels of sugar in wine and its relationship to wine quality. A lot of entry level wines have elevated levels of residual sugar to make the wine more palatable to a broader audience, as well as paving over some of the more obvious short-comings of the wine itself. Is that, in itself, necessarily a bad thing? Hrm. It’s not to my palate and I would certainly mark it down as sloppy wine-making, but is that because I was taught to see it like that. What do you think? https://www.meininger.de/en/wine-business-international/sweet-talk-wine

Wine of the month: I’m constantly on the look-out for wines of real quality and value; you’ll commonly find me drinking in the 6-25 euro range.

This was a bottle I'd been holding onto for a while; Cuvee Frederic Emile Vendage Tardive 2001. Produced by Trimbach, one of the greatest Alsatian producers with a history going back to 1626, this is likely the best bottle of Riesling I've ever had. You can see the dramatic amber colour from the picture but the stunning aromas of orange marmalade, honeyed orchard fruits, cinnamon, marzipan and slate can only be imagined. Rich, not sweet, and unbelievably fresh! Drank over the two hours it took Roger Federer to win his 8th Wimbledon title; check out winecuentista.com for a full write-up! @trimbach #wine #france #riesling #alsace #lateharvest #instagood #instadaily #photo #wimbledon #federer #pairing #wineoclock #wineoftheday #delicious #dramatic #amber #2001 #best #history #travel

A post shared by Fintan Kerr (@wine_cuentista) on

Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling VT 2001: Ok, so definitely not in the 6-25 euro range but the single best bottle of Riesling I’ve ever tried. The tasting notes are above as part of my instagram profile, but for a full write up of Trimbach and an insight as to why I opened such a special wine, check out this post on Wine Cuentista.

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!

“What exactly is a sommelier?” – A subject open to debate; essentially an old French word used to describe someone who served wine, and hopefully knew a bit about it, in a restaurant environment. This would typically be someone with no formal training and who simply worked in wine because they enjoyed it. Now across the world, there are sommelier schools, sommelier programs and even documentaries following the lives of sommeliers, some who work in a restaurant and some who don’t, making the whole thing very confusing indeed. Essentially, you’ll never get anyone to agree on the definition but it can roughly be used to talk about anyone knowledgeable about wine who works in a customer-facing environment.

“I want to learn more about wine formally, where should I start?” – I’m a big believer in formal education for setting a foundation of knowledge. There are many institutions you can study with but the largest, and most respected, in the world is the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, or WSET for short. I’m currently studying the final level with this institution over two years and it has enriched my understanding of wine immensely, as well as giving me the stepping stone I need to begin the Masters of Wine program in 2019. A friend of mine, Sharon Levey, is a WSET educator in Barcelona. For now, if you’d like to find out more about her and the courses she runs, check it out here! http://www.winecoursesbcn.com/

‘Tannins’ – These are an important structural component of wine, mainly found in red wines due to the extraction from the skins of the grapes, although some can also be added through oak ageing. They are very important in the process of ageing red wine, as well as being important for colour stability. They are often associated with bitterness and astringency, but when ripe and well integrated contribute enormously to the pleasant structure and feel of the wine in your mouth. If you ever want to find what bitter tannins taste like; leave a tea-bag soaking for far longer than it should be – that is tannic bitterness. Tasting tannins in wine is difficult as it tends to be a textural component more than a flavour one. If you want to focus on them, try swirling the wine around your mouth and you should get a sensation at the front of your lips and around your gums, where the tannins make themselves most present. It goes without saying that a large part of skilled red wine making is the handling and presentation of the natural tannins, with ripe, smooth or finely grained tannins the goal.

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

Twitter

Instagram

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 fintankerr@winecuentista.com . I hope everyone has a lovely summer and I will see you all for more tasting in September!

Fintan Kerr

Maestrazgo Wine Club Newsletter – Edition 19 – July 2017

July: A baking hot month under the Spanish sun for both us and for the grapes; a couple of years ago, during July 2015, it even became so hot that the plants stopped photosynthesising for a few weeks! As flowering is concluded at this stage, the vines are suddenly the proud parents of small, tightly knit bunches of hard, green grapes. This is the first indication that the grower has of the size and quality of the crop for the year and some will even begin ‘green harvesting’ at this stage, which is the act of removing some bunches of grapes in order to help concentrate the remaining bunches. Depending on how warm it is, veraison can begin in late July or early August, that is to say, the changing of the colour of the grapes to white and red depending on their variety.

Hello Wine Lovers! Welcome to the 19th Edition of Maestrazgo Wine Clubs newsletter. I hope you’re all having a wonderful summer break and enjoying the whacky weather of Barcelona; one moment it’s unbearably hot, the next it’s a thunderstorm, the next it’s a breezy day, reminiscent of Spring. You’ll likely see me around town a great deal as I’m working a lot over the summer, including planning some new tastings for September onwards! There’ll be some slight structural changes to Maestrazgo Wine Club when we relaunch in September, but all will be revealed in next months newsletter. For now I can only wish you all the best and apologise if I wander past you in the streets of Barcelona; being a new father is one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had but it does make for some very sleepy moments…

Barcelona Wine Tasting Events:

As there won’t be any Maestrazgo Wine Club tastings for a few months, here are a few other groups on Meet-up that are organising interesting wine tastings around the city:

BCN Tastings Wine Club: Ran by my friend, Alex Pastor, this is a new group focusing on high quality wines from both Spain and abroad. Expect upcoming tastings this month on the varying styles of Rioja as well as an international tasting of sparkling wines! https://www.meetup.com/BCN-Tastings-Wine-Club/

The Wednesday Wine Club: Ran by Alice and organised at Vivinos, The Wednesday Wine Club is a regular group with varying topics, mostly focused around the world of Spanish wine. They recently organised a successful trip to a recent wine festival in Priorat as well, so a very interesting group to be part of! https://www.meetup.com/Wine-Wednesday-Tasting-Networking/

BCN Gastronomic Society: A collection of different organisers from around the city, look out for events organised by Adria Montserrat as he tends to organise the wine events. https://www.meetup.com/BCN-Gastronomic-Society/

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. ‘Priorat’s new structure’ by Miquel Hudin. Priorat has long been a shining light in its approach to appellation and structure, championing not only village wines but individual vineyards as well. Miquel Hudin, wine-writer and local expert, looks into the future of the structure of the appellation and what it all means at present. The future looks increasingly bright for Priorat and if the rest of Spain can adopt a similar approach to understanding their soil, vines and ‘terroir’, then so much the better! https://www.meininger.de/en/wine-business-international/priorats-new-structure

2. ‘Fino’s context warning’ by Sarah Abbott MW. I still remember the first time I tried Fino Sherry; it was during my level 3 WSET course in London and I was very much put off. Salty, briney and what on earth is that smell? It’s now a personal favourite, which just goes to show you how much tastes can change, but I have a lot of sympathy for people who are first introduced to this very specific drink. Sarah Abbott MW puts this into perspective with some interesting asides about the production, cultural and historical aspects of the drink. http://www.timatkin.com/articles?1788

3. ‘Alta Alella – The search for terroir expression’ by Yolanda Ortiz de Arri. Alella is a tiny DO just north of Barcelona, with a grand total of 9 producers registered in the area. By far and away the shining light is Alta Alella, a modern winery perched on the top of the hill, overlooking the town and sloping down into the Mediterranean sea. Yolanda Ortiz digs into what makes the winery tick, their various projects and their philosophy heading into the future. Alella is all of a 20 minute bus ride from Barcelona for the grand cost of 3 euros each way, so consider a day out exploring the vineyards and wines of the area; it’s the perfect time of the year for it! http://www.spanishwinelover.com/learn-252-alta-alella-the-search-for-terroir-expression

Wine of the month: I’m constantly on the look-out for wines of real quality and value; most commonly you’ll find me drinking in the 6-25 euro range:

Domaine Andree Anjou Rouge 2012


There was a lot of competition this month, as I’ve been lucky to drink and try a lot of very good wine. However, Domaine Andree wins through with their delicious, refreshing and very reasonable priced wine from the Loire Valley in France. The grape in use is Grolleau Noir, a variety I only discovered around a year ago, and it turns out that it isn’t commonly used for quality wine production. However, with low yields and clever vinification, this humble grape turns into something really special. Aromatically gorgeous, with wonderful aromas of ripe cherries, strawberries and violets. There’s a touch of light oak usage to give it a touch of complexity and just a hint of something herbal. With 12% alcohol and lots of verve and life, at 16 euros a bottle this is the perfect summer wine. Currently imported and distributed by Vila Viniteca.

General Ramblings
A collection of wine facts, questions and drunken musings on the world of wine

Taking a break – I miss running the Maestrazgo Wine Club events, I really do. They’re my favourite part of the week and although it’s not a profitable exercise, I get a lot out of the process. However, taking this extended break has given me an awful lot of ideas on how to improve the tastings, how best to take them forward and has resulted in a restructuring of how they’re going to work. Fear not, this isn’t a large change and all will be revealed next month. All I will say is; if you’re a wine lover living in Barcelona, these tastings will be unmissable!

Barcelona Wine Selection – I’ve often been quite critical of the international selection of wine available in Barcelona, but recently it feels like I can find a reasonable choice from most countries in the world, albeit with a bit of extra leg-work. Keep an eye on my Barcelona by the Glass project as over the coming months I’ll be reviewing a lot more wine shops, bars and even a couple of restaurants with special wine choices within the city. Word to the wise; Vila Viniteca have just reorganised their shop on Carrer Agullers and a few interesting bottles have been uncovered from the dark corners; it’s not unheard of for the staff to lose track of what’s in there!

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.

Blog: winecuentista.com
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 fintankerr@winecuentista.com I can’t wait to see you all soon for more wine, food and good company. 🙂

Fintan Kerr

Maestrazgo Wine Club Newsletter – Edition 18 – June 2017

Maestrazgo Wine Club Newsletter – Edition 18 – June 2017

June: Another vital month in the annual cycle of the vine and a beautiful month to be in Barcelona! The vines will still be growing green material at a rapid pace and more importantly, the plants will start to flower. This is the process where the embryonic grape clusters pollinate and are fertilised; without this process, there can be no grapes and therefore no wine. The plants are very vulnerable at this time of the year, in particular to short and violent changes of weather, in particular with the recent terrible frosts across Europe, this is when we discover the true extent of the damage. Without appropriate flowering, yields will be drastically low and prices could rise as a result. June is the ideal month to visit a winery; there is plenty of activity in the vineyards, the plants are looking stunning with their shoots reaching for the sky and the small clusters flowering across the vineyards. A wonderful day out and a great opportunity to meet some local wine-makers!

Hello Wine Lovers! Welcome to the 18th Edition of Maestrazgo Wine Clubs newsletter. As those of you who attended tastings last year will know, we typically take a 2 month break over the warmer summer months of July and August. Due to the impending birth of my first child in June, it’s with some sadness that I’ve decided to extend that summer break to include June as well; a full 3 month break from the tastings. We’ll be back in September with more high quality wine tastings from around the world, and in the meantime the newsletter will still go out with some suggestions for other wine tasting activities within the city of Barcelona. I’ll be hard at work throughout the summer with private events and tastings, so chances are you’ll see me around and do feel free to get in touch with any questions or queries you might have. I’ll miss the tastings as always, but also looking forward to taking some time to plan future events and improve some parts of Maestrazgo Wine Club. Stay tuned for more information!

Barcelona Wine Tasting Events:

As there won’t be any Maestrazgo Wine Club tastings for a few months, here are a few other groups on Meet-up that are organising interesting wine tastings around the city:

BCN Tastings Wine Club: Ran by my friend, Alex Pastor, this is a new group focusing on high quality wines from both Spain and abroad. Expect upcoming tastings this month on the varying styles of Rioja as well as an international tasting of sparkling wines! https://www.meetup.com/BCN-Tastings-Wine-Club/

The Wednesday Wine Club: Ran by Alice and organised at Vivinos, The Wednesday Wine Club is a regular group with varying topics, mostly focused around the world of Spanish wine. They recently organised a successful trip to a recent wine festival in Priorat as well, so a very interesting group to be part of! https://www.meetup.com/Wine-Wednesday-Tasting-Networking/

BCN Gastronomic Society: A collection of different organisers from around the city, look out for events organised by Adria Montserrat as he tends to organise the wine events. An upcoming trip to the ‘Arrels del Vi’ festival in Emporda isn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday! https://www.meetup.com/BCN-Gastronomic-Society/

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!

‘Learning to taste better’ by Andrew Jefford. Whilst this is ostensibly a look at tasting, in reality it’s a short interview with the world renowned taster Michael Schuster who runs a very respected wine school close to London. I’m intending to practice tasting with Michael sometime next year ahead of the MW course, as he’s been credited with being one of the best teachers in the business. An interesting, honest chat about all things wine. http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/opinion/jefford-on-monday/michael-schuster-learning-to-taste-369776/

‘Bling Bling – it’s luxury wine calling’ by Sediment. One of my all time favourite blogs, bringing some good old British satire to proceedings. I don’t normally share too many of their posts as they’re laden with ‘in’ jokes, but this look at the world of luxury spending in wine is quite spot on. http://sedimentblog.blogspot.com.es/2017/05/bling-bling-its-luxury-wine-calling.html

‘Why buying a wrist-watch is like buying fine wine’ by Richard Hemming MW. One of the great battles of the wine industry is how to talk about wine passionately, without alienating people who aren’t as heavily invested into the subject. Ultimately, it’s never going to be entirely possible because the moment you suggest that a subjective experience can be quantified objectively, you do create a divide. However, I enjoyed this recent piece by Richard who compares buying wine to his experience buying a watch, with little to no knowledge of the industry. Some interesting parallels and a good insight for anyone working in the industry who runs into this problem again and again. https://www.richardhemmingmw.com/blog/time-consuming-why-buying-a-wristwatch-is-like-buying-fine-wine

Wine of the month: I’m constantly on the look-out for wines of real quality and value; most commonly you’ll find me drinking in the 6-25 euro range:

Finca Allende Blanco 2012

A difficult one this month as I’ve had the pleasure of trying a great deal of very good wine this month! Just edging the competition, however, is this wonderful white Rioja from Finca Allende, the perfect drink for a warm spring evening. White Rioja is a tricky wine to produce; often it falls flat or is dominated by oak, and the key is getting the most out of the relatively neutral Viura grape and keeping the amount of oak used in balance. Finca Allende have managed to do both remarkably well and the result is an incredibly elegant, aromatic and subtly intense wine. Gorgeous aromas and flavours of lemon curd, chamomile, butter, vanilla and stone fruits are supported by fresh acidity and a soft, slightly oily body. Really lovely stuff and at 16 euros a bottle, well worth every cent!

General Ramblings: A collection of wine facts, questions and drunken musings on the world of wine.

Summer time drinking: As wine is so often thought of as a lifestyle drink these days, it’s not surprising to see most mainstream magazines publishing generic articles suggesting things to drink this summer, usually focusing around anything pink and cheap. Whilst I’m no stranger to a glass of rosé wine, it certainly doesn’t have to be the only option for warm-weather drinking.

Within Spain, there are many styles of wines that work brilliantly well in warmer weather. The obvious region of the country is Galicia: with it’s cooler and wetter climate it’s home to a great deal of crisp, fresh, indigenous grape varieties such as Albarino, Godello, Mencia and others that work wonderfully well in hot weather. More locally in Catalunya, Xarel.lo is starting to become a force of white wine production, along with white Grenache from Terra Alta in particular. Sumoll with its juicy, fruity profile is a great red choice and even the Garnacha being produced at higher altitudes, particularly around Madrid, are refreshing enough to offset their high levels of alcohol. You see? No need for a random bottle of vapid rosé and if all else fails, there’s always beer.

Barcelona by the Glass: I’ve just began a new project for Wine Cuentista called ‘Barcelona by the Glass’. The idea is to explore and summarise some of the best bars, restaurants and wine shops in the city and see exactly what they’re all about. Wine culture here is a funny thing as it’s so lop-sided; from 2 euro/litre bulk wine to bars only focusing on eclectic, specific wines made in certain ways with relatively little in between. Now I know for certain of 10-15 excellent bars and restaurants that have a good selection of wine at fair prices, but I’m sure there are many more to be found. Over the coming years, I intend to visit them all and see which are worth shouting about, and which can be left to their own devices. Keep up to date on the happenings here at Wine Cuentista!

“Is there anything I can do with a faulty/corked wine?” – I recently got asked this by someone who used wine that suffered from cork taint (TCA) for cooking and wanted to know if it would cause a problem. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend buying expensive wine for the purposes of cooking, I also wouldn’t use wine that I wouldn’t drink myself and faulty wines come under that category. Whilst it won’t do you any harm as TCA is harmless, it’s not going to add much to the dish and frankly, you’d be better served taking the bottle back to the store where you bought it for a replacement or a refund.

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.

Blog: winecuentista.com

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 fintankerr@winecuentista.com I can’t wait to see you all soon for more wine, food and good company. 🙂

Fintan Kerr

Maestrazgo Wine Club Newsletter – Edition 17 – May 2017

May: A similar month to April, with a great deal of green growth and management of the soil and canopy to be done. Unfortunately this year, there has already been frost sweeping across Europe which has destroyed many of the buds that would ordinarily go on to flower and produce grapes. As a result, 2017 is already off to a rough start and the damage hasn’t been fully assessed yet; even parts of continental Spain have suffered quite badly. With warmer temperatures, buds are starting to develop earlier than usual and the late Spring frosts are particularly harmful, wiping out not only the potential crop but in severe cases, even limiting the vines ability to recover and produce extra buds. There’s still lots of work to be done to prevent these outbreaks of frost and to shelter as much of the vineyards as possible. Whilst wealthy producers may go as far as hiring helicopters to disperse the cool pockets of air, most vignerons will be up all night, lighting fires and trying to keep cool air from settling. A hard month lies ahead.

Hello Wine Lovers! Welcome to the 17th Edition of Maestrazgo Wine Club and another month of wine tasting in Barcelona. This month we’re going to be doing another 3 tastings, with one blind tasting of international varieties, a tasting focusing on some of the most exciting, terroir driven wine-makers in Spain and an international tasting looking at the famous Rhone Valley of France. We’re only two months away from our annual summer break from our weekly gatherings, so I’m looking forward to signing off with a bang! There are some delicious wines to be drank and as always, the tastings will be taking place in our private room in the Born district of Barcelona and are limited to 10 persons per event.

Events: Maestrazgo Wine Club:

11th May – International Wine Tasting: Blind Tasting – 10 places available – 30 euros p/p
18th May – Spanish Wine Tasting: The Terroir Manifesto – 10 places available – 30 euros p/p
25th May – International Wine Tasting: The Rhone Valley – 10 places available – 30 euros p/p

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. ‘Penedes and local grapes’ by Amaya Cervera – Spanish Wine Lovers are back with another excellent article, this time on the indigenous varieties of DO Penedes.With such a wealth of indigenous grapes in Spain, it’s sometimes a wonder we use anything else at all but the truth is that a lot of them are slowing dying off, as vineyards are replaced with more fashionable varieties. Read about what they’re up to in the Penedes to combat this. http://www.spanishwinelover.com/learn-245-peneds-plays-the-local-grape-card
  2. ‘Where have all the wine merchants gone?’ by Tim Atkin MW. This is an excellent article written by one of the most widely travelled Masters of Wine, Tim Atkins. The piece is about the British wine trades tendency to focus on famous names and scores to sell wines, rather than getting out there and making new discoveries, something I believe applies very strongly indeed to the Spanish wine trade! All the really excellent importers and retailers I know of share one similar trait; they get out there and they taste the wines. Every year. As a result, they’re always adding new producers, wines and styles which enriches our wine culture immensely. http://www.timatkin.com/articles?1775
  3. ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a fake’ by Adam Lechmere. Forgeries and fakes in the wine industry are reaching a whole never level, with some experts estimating that as close to 75% of all wines imported into Hong Kong are fake; a terrifying thought. As bottle prices for the rarest wines spirals out of control, there’s a huge industry in well made fake wines to sell to collectors and what we know at the moment, is that we’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg. If you haven’t seen the documentary Sour Grapes on Netflix already, I highly, highly recommend you watch it! https://www.meininger.de/en/wine-business-international/where-theres-will-theres-fake

Wine of the month: I’m constantly on the look-out for wines of real quality and value; most commonly you’ll find me drinking in the 6-25 euro range:

Francisco Barona Ribera del Duero 2014

Technically a little more than 25 euros, (28 to be precise) but what a wine! It was only a few weeks ago that I was having a conversation with a friend about wines from Ribera del Duero, something along the lines of how the wines are always a little bit too similar in style. Then this comes along. Fresh, vibrant and so full of energy and concentration, a truly delicious wine. I believe it’s the first vintage of this new producer and there’s a limited production of 12,000 bottles making this pretty difficult to find. If you can track some down, I highly recommend it! I’ve got two bottles put away somewhere, so perhaps it may come to a tasting with a year or two of extra age behind it…. more likely it’ll be consumed with great relish long before that! This sort of wine is the future of Ribera del Duero.

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!

“Do I need a wine fridge to store my wine?” – Honestly, it really depends on how long you want to keep it for. If you’re planning on drinking your wine within a year or two, professional storage isn’t really necessary and most cool, dark places will do. If you’re fortunate to live in a house with more than one floor, under the stairs is almost ideal for this sort of make-shift cellar whereas for the majority of us living in Barcelona, a bag or box under the bed is probably the next best option. For longer term storage or for particularly poorly ventilated flats (my previous abode turned into Hells Kitchen during July/August) then yes, a wine fridge would be highly recommended!

“What is ‘Fortified Wine’?” – A Fortified Wine is usually a wine that has had neutral grape spirit, 77-96% ABV, added at some point during its creation, often during the fermentation process. This was historically done to make wines more robust for long sea journeys; a certain George Washington famously toasted the independence of the USA with Madeira, a wine that has been both oxidised and fortified to around 19%, making it an ideal drink to send across a 3 month trans-Atlantic crossing in the 18th Century! It is also done to kill the yeast responsible for completing the fermentation, leaving a sizeable quantity of unfermented sugar in the wine. As a result, many fortified wines are sweet; Port, sweet Sherries, Madeira, Vin Doux Naturels etc. Highly under-rated and usually available at very good prices. PX drizzled across vanilla ice cream with crushed walnuts… thank me later.

“What’s the correct temperature to serve wine?” – Naturally this is slightly subjective as it largely depends on the personal preference of the person drinking the wine. However, the old adage of ‘Serve red wine at room temperature’ certainly doesn’t hold true in Spain, and with the advent of central heating only really makes sense in you live in an igloo, in which case you probably aren’t drinking wine and definitely aren’t reading this newsletter. My personal favourite temperatures depend slightly on the body/style of the wine, just as a general rule I try to serve red wines around 16°C and whites at around 10°C. If you’re ever in doubt, try to serve the wine slightly cooler than you would ordinarily as it will always warm up in the glass but is highly unlikely to get cooler.

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.

Blog: winecuentista.com
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Twitter: @Wine_Cuentista
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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 fintankerr@winecuentista.com I can’t wait to see you all soon for more wine, food and good company. 🙂

Fintan Kerr

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