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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org I can’t wait to see you all soon for more wine, food and good company. 🙂