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!

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!

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

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. 🙂

Fintan Kerr

Barcelona Wine Tasting Newsletter: November 2016

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.


November: This is typically the last month of the harvest for most wine-makers and indeed, practically all the white grapes and most of the reds will have been picked, pressed and begun fermentation already, with the exception of some late-ripening varieties or those small pockets of grapes in particular micro-climates. The big task in November is making the wine; with winery space at a premium and stainless steel tanks, barrels and concrete eggs all full of fermenting wine that has to be monitored constantly in order to make sure the temperatures, nutrient levels and volatile components are all in check, it can be a pretty stressful place to be. Now the time in the vineyard is more or less over, biology takes a back-seat to chemistry as science and artistry vie for control of the process. If the harvest was good and a good crop of healthy grapes was brought in, the sky is the limit for a skilled wine-maker. If the yield was low and/or poor quality due to rots, fungi, weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances then the wine-maker will have a challenge on their hands to turn it into a good quality wine that can return the investment of the year. Spare a thought for the wine-makers this month, the next time you raise a glass to your lips!


Hello Wine Lovers! I think it’s fair to say that we’re now officially in Autumn with lashings of rain and cloudy skies making Barcelona their home; perfect weather for wine-tasting, incidentally! Last month we covered some serious ground going from the Wines of Galicia, to top quality, single-estate wines across Spain and finally a mad dash around the world in search of Pinot Noir. This month is going to be no less hectic with another 3 tastings on the cards; A blind tasting of some of Spains most iconic wine styles, an achingly sweet look at the Spanish dessert wine scene and finally, a trip to a skinny little country towards the bottom of South America – Chile! 30 spots open for the month and 3 very different topics so choose your poison and get ready for another wonderful month of tasting our way around the world of wine! Who knows, it may even stop raining eventually…

Events: Maestrazgo Wine Club:

10h November– Blind Tasting: The Wines of Spain – 25 euros p/p

17th November – Spain Sugar-Coated: The Sweet Wines of Spain – 25 euros p/p

1st December – International tasting: Chile – 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. ‘The Future of Wine’ by Robert Joseph and Felicity Carter. I love this time of the year; usually it’s when industry experts start trying to predict what the near future will bring to wine and who will benefit the most. I admire and respect both Robert and Felicity and this list of potential changes is a well thought-out and interesting piece from two excellent wine-writers. Well worth a read!

  1. ‘Old Wine Movies in Full’ by Jancis Robinson MW. This one is less of an article and more of an opportunity to watch a very good series of wine shows originally shot in 1995 with a much younger Jancis. It’s a collection of short videos, around 30 minutes each, of Jancis and co. travelling around the worlds major wine regions, taking it all in, drinking some very good wine and asking some very pertinent questions. All now available on youtube; the link’s in the article!

  1. ‘Showcooking and Wordsenglish’ by Miquel Hudin. I recently had the pleasure of spending a day picking a field of mildew-blighted Carignan with Miquel in DO Montsant and aside from his vast knowledge on the world of wine, he’s a genuinely nice guy and funny to boot. Not long afterwards he released this short article, which if you’re ever done a few winery visits will provide a chuckle or two. In the style of comedy I normally associate with Ron Washam, Miquel pokes fun at Catalan wine culture, wine visits in general and anything associated with harvest-time. Very fitting!

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.


Avanthia Rosé 2015 I could be wrong but I believe having a rosé as our ‘Wine of the Month’ may well be a first! This was a wonderful discovery for me, as I normally associate Valdeorras with crisp, weighty white wines from varieties such as Godello. I adore Mencia, which is the grape variety that makes this wine, and a good indication of quality in rosé wines for me is that ability to pick out the grape variety that made it; often difficult with bland, commercial wines that are sold on the basis of their colour. Violets, strawberries and a lovely kick of wild herbs with a racy acidity and a stunning dark pink colour – absolutely delicious! Available at for around 12 euros a bottle.

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!

‘En Primeur’ – En Primeur is a term given to wine that is sold as futures prior to being bottled, that is to say that the wine has not yet been made yet, and typically you’re taking a bet on the finished product with the incentive of a lower upfront cost to buy the wine, which frees up cash-flow for the winery. This is traditionally a practice done in Bordeaux but recently I have seen it within Spain, particularly through Vila Viniteca who, in their defense, were offering some excellent prices on the 2015 vintage of some of Spains more famous wines. Due to the nature of the transaction, you typically won’t receive your wines for 1-3 years after purchase when the made has been made, matured and bottled.

Does spending more money on wine guarantee a higher quality product?” – Not necessarily although there are less reliable ways to choose a bottle! Wine prices depend on a lot of different factors and up to around 30-40 euros a bottle in Spain, these can often be linked back to production costs. After this level however, the price increases are usually linked to supply and demand, famous appellations or wine-makers, scarcity of the product and of course, simply what the market is willing to pay for it. Within Spain, there is rarely a need to go over 20 euros a bottle to get a good, well made and individual wine that will light up the evening and there’s a wealth of choice available at this price bracket too. If you’re still curious about it, go mad one day and spend that 40-50 euros and find out for yourself. One way or the other, you’ll have your answer!

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.


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. 🙂

Fintan Kerr

Barcelona Wine Tasting: Around the World with Pinot Noir


We’re back again with another weekly wine tasting, this time focusing on one of the worlds most famous, highly sought after and fickle grapes; Pinot Noir. What a wine made from Pinot Noir is meant to taste like is a highly debatable topic, although it is fair to say that the bench-mark region is certainly Burgundy in France, specifically the Cote d’Or (If you don’t believe me, watch out for the word “Burgundian” – it’s rife in the wine world). However, within that individual region is a variety of different meso-climates, soil structures, slope aspects, clonal variation, vine age and of course, the vinification process of the winemaker themselves which can lead to a wine being shunned, or a wine selling for the same amount as a new car. Madness, really but incredibly alluring, and of the wines I have tasted so far, no grape has ever captivated me in the same way that Pinot Noir has. It has this incredible ability to convey a sense of place, or what the France would call “Terroir”. It can be ethereal, pale and quietly charming, it can be hedonistic, powerful and intoxicating and it can even be quite firm, tough and inaccessible in youth, slowly shedding its defenses over the years and decades to reveal something quite sensational at its core.

Historically Pinot Noir is one of the oldest known grape varieties, already in cultivation by the time that the Romans arrived in Burgundy around 2000 years ago. It’s known as being a highly unstable grape genetically and as a result, not only are there a wealth of clones to choose from (A clone being a grape descended from the same original mother-vine with differing attributes as a result of clonal selection) but it’s believed that it is responsible for 16 other grape varieties that we know and enjoy today, including Chardonnay, Gamay and Aligote. The clones are particularly important in the final outcome of the wine, with a selection of different clones believed to be a key factor in the success of the top Pinots’ of the world. Some offer lightly coloured, delicated perfumed wines whilst others are powerful, producing darker coloured wines with heavier tannins and riper fruit flavours.


Of course, whilst Burgundy may be the bench-mark region for Pinot Noir, it is also cultivated across the world and our tasting will look at similarly priced wines from 6 different countries including: Italy, France, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. The common theory is that Pinot Noir prefers cooler climates in general, although top quality examples from the Margaret River and California are challenging this concept. Where-ever you decide to grow it, you need to be on your game as Pinot Noir is one of the worlds most challenging grape varieties to grow. It’s an early-ripening variety, sensitive to rot, fungi and minor changes in weather patterns. A slow ripening process in a cool climate works well due to the berries sensitivity to heat, yet at the exact same time it needs a good dose of warmth and sunlight close to harvest in order to fully ripen and leave no ‘green’ flavours in the wine. This infuriating grape therefore needs a careful, skilled hand to coax it to fruition properly and as a result, it has attracted some of the worlds best, bravest and maddest winemakers who are up for the challenge.

Over the course of the tasting we’re going to taste 6 wines made exclusively from Pinot Noir. We’re going to present them as pairs, comparing regions from the Old World vs the New World side-by-side in an attempt to try and identify some sort of stylistic patterns between them. However, most importantly we’re going to get a wonderful group of people together in a room, open up some truly excellent Pinot Noir, eat, drink and make merry! The wines we’ll be tasting are listed below:


Franz Haas Pinot Nero 2013 – Pinot Noir is largely limited to the north of Italy due to the weather conditions; it’s getting quite warm in the south for this delicate grape. A lot of it goes into sparkling wine but the best still wines are being made on the west-facing slopes of Alto-Adige where a long, slow ripening process is facilitated by the protection of the Alps to the North. Franz Haas is a top quality producer in the area, famous for his high altitude plantings and willingness to not make wine if the grapes are not of the right quality. This delicate, racy Pinot is a great way to get us started!


Fist of Fancy 2013 – South Africa is usually a bit hotter than Pinot Noir would traditionally like, but some very good examples are being made across the country, particularly Walker Bay. Swartland, however, is famous for attracting adventurous wine-makers and producing good quality Pinot Noir in an area better known for Rhone varietals is certainly adventurous! Fist of Fancy is a lovely little Pinot Noir with lots of zip and light, fruity flavours.


Enderle & Moll Liaison 2012 – Back to the old world again and this time, to Germany! When most people think of German wines, anything red is usually near the bottom of the list but Germany is actually the worlds 3rd largest producer of Pinot Noir, and in fact it may have originated right on the border of what we know as France and Germany today! The most successful examples come from Baden to the south of the country, which is exactly where we headed for this weeks German Spätburgunder (Germanys name for Pinot Noir). To sum up this tiny estate: “The estate known as Enderle and Moll is really just two guys, a tiny cellar, a basket press, a few hectares of old vines and a hell of a lot of buzz.” Exciting stuff!


Waipara Spings Premo Pinot Noir 2012 – Now across to the other side of the world, to a country that has been defining their very own style of bold, bright and fruit forward Pinot Noir over the last 3 decades; New Zealand. Waipara is a sub-district in the southern island of the country, close to Christchurch, offering a cool, dry climate with long ripening seasons. New Zealand Pinot Noirs have become distinguished by their riper flavours, higher alcohol levels and easy drinking style; Waipara Premo Pinot Noir follows this with a nice lick of oak after 15 months ageing prior to bottling.


Joseph Drouhin Santenay 2013 – Drouhin is a famous producer and negociant in Burgundy, and this wine of his is an excellent value, easy drinking style of Pinot Noir from the village of Santenay, in the Cotes de Beaune. A higher presence of clay in the soil makes for a slightly more powerful, rustic style of Pinot Noir than in other areas in Burgundy, but Drouhin balances this with fresh acidity and wonderful flavours of fresh strawberries and raspberries. A bench-mark wine from a bench-mark region.


Marimar Estate La Masia 2012 – We can’t escape the Spanish influence even as far afield as California! The famous Torres family have had an influence in Sonoma County since 1986, specifically in the Russian River Valley, a cooler area in the region. California has been growing Pinot Noir for a long time but after the popular film “Sideways’ in 2004, the grape gained real commercial appeal. There is a lot of basic, sweet and quite boring Pinot coming from California in order to satisfy this demand but Marimar Estate are producing a well balanced, tasty style without losing any of the Californian influences; sweeter fruit, more obvious oak and a fuller body.

10 wine-lovers, 6 wines, a table full of food and an evening in which to enjoy it in; life isn’t so bad after all! Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow and should anyone wish to attend our weekly wine tasting events, the next months tastings will be going out as part of our monthly newsletter on the 1st November. For more information and for updates about events, join us on Meet-up!

Barcelona Wine Tasting: Vino de Pago


This week with Maestrazgo Wine Club, we’re going to be looking at an appellation that is relatively new to Spain having been founded in 2003; Vino de Pago, quite simply’Estate wine’ or more correctly, ‘single-vineyard wines’. It was ostensibly introduced to create further diversity amongst the Spanish wine market and to celebrate top-quality individual estates, that may or may not have already been part of an existing DO. The official description of the appellation is as follows:

a rural site with particular edaphic and microclimate characteristics which differentiate it from its environment and where wines of singular features and qualities are obtained. Besides, the grape production, the winemaking and the bottling must take place within the pago strictly following the production rules stated by the specific ministerial decree for each pago”.

This last bit is quite interesting, as it creates a great deal of diversity within the appellation. Basically, whilst there are certain requirements needed to be part of the appellation in the first place; lower yields, grapes that can only come from that individual estate, wine that has to be bottled on the estate and so on, each Pago is effectively different from the others and certainly unique from the land around it. As a result, we get a lot of very interesting wines from these areas, often using international grape varieties and different methods of production. If you were to compare it to the Cru system of Burgundy for example, it is intrinsically different in that historical context is not important at all; it’s really all about innovation and creating something different – a very different take on the concept of terroir indeed!

The other interesting part about Vino de Pago is that the 17 estates that currently make up the appellation are all in regions not especially famous in the minds of 21st century consumers, notably Castilla-La Mancha, Valencia, Cariñena, Utiel-Requena and Navarra. Whilst there is an allowance for wineries joining from DOC Rioja or DOQ Priorat to label themselves the very lovely sounding “Vino de Pago calificado” this has not yet been an issue as no wineries from either of these two regions have applied to join the Vino de Pago appellation. This clear divide is explained by Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW writing for who says: ‘I would say Vino de Pago only exists in those regions where producers are not proud of their classic appellations, such as Navarra, La Mancha and Valencia. Instead of fighting to raise the quality of their natural regions, producers and politicians preferred to invent a new legislative animal, unrelated to either terroir or tradition.’

Not to be confused with the private organisationGrandes Pagos de España’, the following 17 estates have qualified for Vino de Pago since its inception in 2003:

Name Region Date joined
Dominio de Valdepusa Castilla-La Mancha 2003
Finca Élez (Manuel Manzaneque) Castilla-La Mancha 2003
Guijoso Castilla-La Mancha 2004
Dehesa del Carrizal Castilia-La Mancha 2006
Arínzano Navarra 2007
Prado de Irache Navarra 2008
Otazu Navarra 2008
Campo de la Guardia Castilla-La Mancha 2009
Pago Florentino Castilla-La Mancha 2009
Casa del Blanco Castilla-La Mancha 2010
El Terrerazo Valencia 2010
Pago Calzadilla Castilla-La Mancha 2011
Pago Aylés Cariñena 2010
Pago de Los Balagueses Valencia 2011
Pago de Chozas Carrascal Utiel-Requena 2012
Vera de Estenas Utiel-Requena 2013
La Finca Bolandín Navarra 2014

We’re going to have a look at 5 different Pagos covering the 3 of the major regions defined above. Starting with:


Otazu Chardonnay 2015 – Otazu joined Vino de Pago in 2008, becoming the third estate from Navarra to do so. They focus on Cabernet Sauvignon/Tempranillo blends for their red wines and Chardonnay for their whites. Otazu Chardonnay 2015 is a young, fresh and ripe style of Chardonnay with no oak contact but still a good 14% ABV. Expect good acidity and tropical fruit flavours in the style of warm-climate Chardonnay


Finca Terrerazo 2014 – A winery from the Valencia area that joined the appellation in 2010, El Terrerazo focuses on local grape varieties such as Bobal and Merseguera grown at high altitudes of around 850m above sea level. This, combined with the continental climate produces small volumes of very intense grapes, including their signature; old vine Bobal. Finca Terrerazo 2014 is a 100% Bobal wine, aged for 21 months in French oak and built to last. Expect lots of powerful, bright berry and cherry fruit over significant oak influence and spice.


Serendipia 2013 – Pago de Aylés is currently the only winery present in the appellation from Carinena, a wine producing region in the old kingdom of Aragon, south-east of Rioja and Navarra. The winery has two very different production portfolios, with one focusing heavily on using the name of Pago de Aylés as a marketing tool and the other labelled after Arabic fables. We will be focusing on the latter, with Serendipia coming from an Arabic Fairy Tale concerning the three Princes of ‘Sip’ – Grenache, Merlot and Syrah as single varietal wines, in this instance. Expect ripe fruit aromas, powerful pepper spice and some sweet American oak to round it off.


Arínzano La Casona 2008 – Arinzano was the first Vino de Pago from Navarra, or indeed in the North of Spain, sometime they celebrate quite enthusiastically on their website. The estate is very large with over 120 hectares given to Vino de Pago wines, mainly focused around indigenous varieties with smaller proportions of French varieties blended in. This is the case with Arinzano La Casona, with a more traditional blend of 75% Tempranillo and 25% Merlot with 14 months of ageing in French oak; actually quite a popular blend in regions such as Ribera del Duero. Expect plummy fruits, chocolate and some spicy tobacco flavours after 7 years in bottle.


Marqués de Griñón Emeritus 2010 – This is where it all started. Dominio de Valdepusa was the first estate to be granted Vino de Pago certification in 2003 and they have gone on to become arguably the most famous of them all. Located near Toledo in Castilla y La Mancha, they focus heavily on international Bordeaux varietals, often blended together in traditional proportions, albeit with the twist of the Spanish climate. We’re going to finish the evening with their flagship wine; Emeritus 2010. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot are vinified separately prior to spending 22 months getting to know one another in French oak. A powerful, spicy and fruit forward wine in youth, this could last a decade or two quite happily, although I know of one particular bottle that won’t make it past this Thursday!

The line-up is ready, the table is set and we’re ready to drink our way through these 5 delicious wines as we continue our exploration of the world of wine in Barcelona, Spain. The tasting is fully booked but if you live in Barcelona and would like to come along one evening, check out our wine-tasting group on Meet-up. The next newsletter will be going out on the 1st November along with the wine tastings for that month. Happy drinking and I hope to see you soon!

Barcelona Wine Tasting Newsletter: October

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. From October onwards, I will start to share this newsletter here as well! For more information on Maestrazgo Wine Club and how to book a wine tasting in Barcelona, check out this page for more information.

Maestrazgo Wine Club Newsletter – Edition 9 – October 2016

October: The harvest is in full swing! Visit any major vineyard, especially those harvesting red grapes at this time of the year and you’ll find a very busy time for most vignerons and wine-makers. Harvesting the grapes is always a delicate negotiation with the weather; the fact that the 12th October would be ideal according to your plans isn’t always factored in by mother nature, who is quite prone to rain at this time of the year, promoting both fungal rot and dilution of the grapes, forcing workers to pick earlier than otherwise desired. The winery itself will be working hard everyday and, in big commercial operations, around the clock to clean, select, destem, press and start the fermentation process for the incoming grapes. Hired hands mix with experienced, full time staff, the fields are alive with the sounds of picking and all this time, whoever owns the operation is praying that this year will see enough healthy, ripe grapes to make a reasonable profit. One of the real beauties of wine is this reliance on the basic crop; the humble grape. With the right phenolic ripeness, balance of acidity and sugar and the attention of a skilled wine-maker, the sky is the limit. Here’s hoping for a wonderful 2016 harvest!

Hello Wine Lovers! It’s so lovely to be back and spending time with you all again. September was a hellishly busy month for a lot of us but we still managed to look at some premium Tempranillo wines, a selection of summer discoveries and even visit the island of Sicily for our international tasting. This month there will unfortunately only be 3 tastings as a short-notice flat move has left me a little short on time to reassemble and organise my new home, so the first Thursday is being sacrificed for this. Nonetheless, we will make it up with a wonderful selection of tastings for the rest of the month! This month we’ll look at a selection of wines from Galicia, famed for its crisp, fresh white wines but also potentially the most exciting region in Spain for red wine at the moment! We’ll also take a sneak at the often misunderstood appellation of Vinos de Pago; small, high quality wineries that don’t fit into their surroundings, all across Spain! Finally, we’ll finish with a look at that mercurial grape, Pinot Noir, and as we’ll need to head around the world a little, this will be our international tasting for the month of October. Strap yourselves in for another round of exploration, bad jokes and late Thursday nights! It’s good to be back 🙂

Events: Maestrazgo Wine Club:

13th October– Green Spain: The wines of Galicia – 25 euros p/p

20th October – Vinos de Pago:Spain’s single estate wines – 25 euros p/p

27th October – International tasting: Around the world with Pinot Noir! – 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!

‘The Grapes of Spain’ by Miquel Hudin. A simple but effective article detailing the major grape varieties of Spain, almost evenly split between white and red. A nice, easy to read look at the major grape varieties and styles across our own wonderful country by one of my favourite Spanish wine writers, Miquel Hudin. If you ever want to know more about Montsant, Priorat or Emporda, his Vinologue guides are truly excellent as well!

‘What about Craft Wine?’ by Jancis Robinson MW. Finally, someone who dislikes the word ‘craft’ as much as I do. Jancis looks at the industry of alcohol as a whole and how craft is being used, or misused, as a marketing tool and how this would apply if it were specifically applied to the world of wine. A really lovely article with lots of comparisons to the holy grail of the alcohol industry at the present moment; Craft Beer.

‘Can it really?’ by Richard Hemming MW. The King of wine-related puns is back, this time looking very briefly at the market for wine stored in cans. I haven’t seen this yet in Spain but the last time I was in England, I passed through a Marks and Spencers store and, lo and behold, wine in cans was available. Lots of things in wine are proclaimed as ‘the next big thing’ but Richard approaches this with a pinch of salt, and whilst we’re becoming gradually more accepting of wine packaging, I think he may have a point here!

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.

Philipps Eckstein Grauburgunder 2015 Believe me, I’m just as surprised as you! A German Pinot Gris is my wine of October? In this case, yes, and for a couple of reasons. First of all, this is not a style of wine you can readily access in Spain; we simply don’t have the growing conditions to imitate the steep, stunning Mosel Valley in Northern Germany, nor do we have many plantings of Pinot Gris! Secondly, the price: 10 euros a bottle in Bodega Maestrazgo, simply stunning for a wine of this quality. From the outstanding 2015 vintage, this wine combines a lovely ripe orchard fruit and slightly tropical profile with the high acidity of its regional style, without losing any intensity or balance. The texture is soft, smooth and finishes nicely with a touch of spice – truly a versatile and pleasant wine! Thirdly, with 13.5% alcohol and a slightly creamy texture, this wine is a perfect combination for the slowly cooling Autumn evenings and the gradually meatier dishes that come at this time of the year. Try pairing it with a Thanksgiving Dinner come November and see for yourself! Available at Bodega Maestrazgo.

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. If you can get hold of a 10-20 year old Tawny Port, chill it slightly and sip at your leisure – you’ll thank me for the tip!

‘What exactly do you plan do once you have your Diploma/MW qualifications?’ – A personal one this week but I get asked this a lot, and the answer is I truthfully don’t know yet. I love the wine industry; learning about it, exploring it, sharing it and of course, drinking it! However, in terms of pinning myself down to a single career choice within it, well, let’s just say I’m not quite there yet. I loved working in a winery last year, I love writing about wine, I love working as a tour guide and I especially love organising tastings on different topics within the world of wine. Whatever happens, I will do my utmost to keep new and interesting tastings available with Maestrazgo Wine Club; organising tastings with Meetup was how I started with wine, and it’s still my favourite part of the week! I hope to eventually grow this small group into a well connected hub of winelovers in one of the most interesting and dynamic cities in the world. Let’s see how we go and what comes up along the way 🙂

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. 🙂

Fintan Kerr

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