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!
- ‘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
- ‘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
- ‘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.
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.
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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 email@example.com I can’t wait to see you all soon for more wine, food and good company. 🙂