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
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 16 – April 2017

March: Assuming there haven’t been any Spring frosts that have already caused the vigneron to panic, this will be a time of rapid growth in the vineyard, not only in the vine but all indigenous plants or cover crops as well. In most vineyards this will be a good time to start spraying plants against various insects and diseases, as well as considering some extra nutrients for the soil as the vine will typically outstrip its available resources, especially on soils with poor fertility. Weed control is paramount at this stage as well, so as not to deprive the vines of the nutrients it so badly needs at this time. It has to be said, this is typically a beautiful time to visit the vineyards as the land is alive with the activity of farmers, and the emerging green shoots are beautiful to look at!

Hello Wine Lovers! Welcome to the 16th Edition of Maestrazgo Wine Club and another month of wine tasting in Barcelona. This month we’re going to be doing three, separate international tastings including a blind tasting on international red varieties, as well as tastings on both Australia and New Zealand, two New World countries I adore for both their style and quality (if not the price of their wines!). Fortunately, I’ve been planning these tastings for a while now and I’m excited to show you exactly what both countries can offer the vinous world.

Events: Maestrazgo Wine Club:

6th April – International Wine Tasting: Blind Tasting of Red Varietals – 10 places available – 30 euros p/p

13th April – International Wine Tasting: The Wines of New Zealand – 10 places available – 30 euros p/p

20th April – International Wine Tasting: The Wines of Australia – 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. ‘The Evolution of American Oak’ by Kelli White – I know, I know. It’s not exactly the sort of topic to set your pulse soaring but bear with me; it’s definitely the best article I’ve read this month. It’s a comprehensive view of the usage of American oak in wine, from the history, to the chemical structures and imparted flavours, to the cultural perceptions and uses in wine-making. Comprehensive and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Fantastic stuff. https://www.guildsomm.com/stay_current/features/b/kelli-white/posts/american-oak

  2. ‘Newer, better wine critics you should be reading’ by Ron Washam. It sounds like a serious title; don’t worry, it isn’t. Ron Washam is the king of wine comedy and the only reason I don’t share an article he writes every single month, is that most of them are laden with ‘in’ jokes. To be honest, so is this one but the points he makes about the extreme views of the wine world are quite in line with my feelings as well; whether you only drink wines that have scored a certain amount of points, or whether you only drink ‘natural’ wine, you’re in exactly the same boat. http://hosemasterofwine.blogspot.com.es/2017/03/newer-better-wine-critics-you-should-be.html

  3. ‘Rioja in the 21st Century’ by Amaya Cervera. Spanish Wine Lover have been doing a terrific job recently in their blog and this is no different. As we’ve explored a few times in our tastings, DOC Rioja is becoming an increasingly complicated region to understand with a lack of specific appellation laws forcing top quality producers to label their wines otherwise, as well as an outdated system of ageing requirements that gives little to no indication of quality. Enter: Spanish Wine Lover. Strongly recommended for all Spanish wine lovers! http://www.spanishwinelover.com/learn-238-rioja-in-the-21st-century-styles-and-categories-of-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:

Domenech Vidal – Cultivare 2013

Cultivare 2013 by Domenech Vidal is one of the best Xarel.lo still wines I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. At 11.5% alcohol it should be quite gentle but there is a lot of flavour here, disguised in an incredibly elegant wine. There’s a lovely combination of ripe apples, honey and freshly cut grass on the flavour profile and sweet tarragon spice on the finish; if it weren’t so soft on the palate, I’d call Albariño if given this to blind-taste! A delicious wine; almost a shame only a little over 2000 bottles were made! Bodega Maestrazgo currently have a few bottles left but due to the very limited production, don’t expect them to hang around for too long! (I believe they’re currently serving it by the glass as well!)

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!

How do I know how long to age a wine for?” – The truth is that there is no hard and fast approach to determining this. Ageing wine depends on a lot of factors; grape variety, climate, tannin levels, acidity levels, time spent in oak, storage conditions and so on. However, as a general rule of thumb: 95% of the wines you purchase and particularly anything from a supermarket are generally unsuitable for ageing. The second consideration is “Why am I ageing this wine in the first place?” and it’s a fair question to ask, because a lot of wines are perfect for drinking at the age you purchase them. As with all things in wine it is a question of style, and some people prefer their wines young, vibrant and powerful over older, elegant and complex. It’s always worth experimenting but if in doubt, open it up and find out! Apart from a delicious drink, you’ll also have your answer for future bottles.

How long will my wine last for once opened?”Once a wine has been opened, it is vulnerable to its biggest enemy; oxygen. In particular, within wine are a host of tiny particles and bacteria, one of which is known as acetic bacteria. Acetic bacteria will use oxygen as a catalyst to turn wine into acetic acid – for all intents and purposes, this is vinegar. I personally never keep a bottle of wine open for longer than 3 days, although if you have a vacuum pump you may get another day out of it. It’s important to always store open wine in a fridge, as cooler temperatures slow down all chemical reactions, including the one that is slowly turning your beloved wine to vinegar! Frugality and personal taste are of course, big variables here.

‘Red or Black Fruits?’ – This is a really tricky one as we all taste in a slightly different way. In terms of enjoying a wine, it really makes no difference. However, in terms of blind tasting the difference between correctly identifying whether the fruit profile in the wine is red or black, can really give you an indication of which grape variety this wine is, where it might be grown. It takes a lot of practice to nail it down, and my only suggestion here is to keep sniffing, tasting and benchmarking those smells and tastes in your head. Use some typical examples – Grenache tends to smell quite strongly of strawberries to the majority of people – and work from 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

Barcelona Wine Tasting Newsletter: March 2017

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

budburst

March: This is typically a month of two halves. The first half includes the final preparation for spring, including planting new vines in areas that are free from frost-danger. Spring does not officially start until the 21st March but the unpredictable variation on temperature has meant this can often come sooner. As the weather warms up in the second half of the month, so does the soil temperature and several things start to happen. The new canes will start to produce sap and the vines will come out of dormancy as the temperature of the soil reaches around 10°C . The winter buds will slowly expand and become woolly, leading to eventual budburst as seen in the picture above. Spring is finally here!

Hello Wine Lovers! Welcome to the 15th Edition of Maestrazgo Wine Club, and the start of the beautiful ascent into Spring here in Barcelona. Last month was very quiet due to exam studies which I am set to take on the 8th March, but I’m pleased to say we’ve got 3 wonderful tastings lined up for the month, including an international tasting on the iconic region of Tuscany in central Italy. Due to the huge popularity of blind tastings, my own personal favourite activity in the world of wine, we’ll be doing another international wine tasting this time trying to understand the process of defining quality in wine. Finally, we’ll be looking at another top Spanish producer, this time at one of the most interesting projects in DO Penedes; Can Rafols dels Caus. I’m also expecting to start my Youtube tasting channel at some point this month, which I’ll keep you posted about, but perhaps most importantly just taking the opportunity to take a breath, sit back and catching up with everyone. It sure does feel a lot like Spring!

Events: Maestrazgo Wine Club:

16th March – International Blind Tasting: Judging Quality in Wine – 10 spots left – 30 euros p/p

23rd March – Spanish Wine Producers: Can Rafols dels Caus – 10 spots left -25 euros p/p

30th March – International Wine Tasting: Tuscany – 10 spots left – 30 euros p/p

16908260_1851753641772185_4887510252695584768_n

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. ‘Spanish pre-phylloxera grapes’ by Amaya Cervera. One of Spain’s biggest points of difference on the international markets is that the vast majority of our wines are made from indigenous grape varieties; Tempranillo, Garnacha, Albarino, Verdejo and so on. However, the Torres family have been looking even further back to try and find grapes that were almost wiped out by the introduction of phylloxera to Europe, and have been doing so for the past 30 years. For all the commercialism of Torres, they’re always been at the forefront of wine innovation, going back to the introduction of stainless steel, temperature controlled fermentation tanks in the 50’s and 60’s and most recently championing the planting of cool-climate regions around the world. Could they be ahead of the game once again? http://www.spanishwinelover.com/learn-234-a-better-future-for-spanish-wines-with-pre-phylloxera-grapes

  2. ‘Building a wine and the art of the blend’ by Miquel Hudin. A short and sweet article on Miquel Hudin’s first hand experience of blending a wine. My take on the production of wine is that it’s a combination of the biology of the vineyard and the chemistry of the winery. However, there is a very human skill involved in nearly all wine production as well, that being the process of blending the different tanks/barrels/amphorae of wine together to create the final product. An often over-looked aspect of the wine industry https://wineonsix.com/building-a-wine-the-art-of-the-blend/

  3. ‘Scoring for Value’ by Andrew Jefford. Talking about scoring wine is a complicated issue, not least because we’re scoring quality, when wine for most people is far more of a subjective experience. How then should wine professionals build their frame-work when judging and scoring wines? In the context of wine as a whole? It hardly seems fair to compare a 6-8 euro Garnacha from Montsant to the prize wines of Priorat, often 10 times or more the cost. A very interesting read and picks up on some points we will talk about in our upcoming blind tasting! http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/opinion/jefford-on-monday/jefford-wine-scoring-value-354423/

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 and this month is no different. As presented in our tasting of the Palacios Family…

16906091_1667082596651897_2853418066342051840_n

Palacios Remondo Placet 2012: A stunning white wine from one of the countries most exciting talents, Rafel Palacios, and a member of the hugely impressive Palacios family. Rafael Palacios created this wine in 1997, shortly before he disappeared to create his own project with Godello as the star in DO Valdeorras. There’s a wonderful balance between the intensity of the fruit and 12 months of oak contact, blending almost seamlessly together and maintaining freshness and vibrancy, even after 5 years. This was the favourite white wine of the evening and deservedly so. Retails for around 17 euros a bottle and the 2012 is currently selling in 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!

Are screw-caps a sign of cheap wine?” – Definitely not. A screw-cap is a style of closure that has been extensively championed by both Australia and New Zealand, although it is starting to make an impression in Europe as well. The concept of aging wine is to find a closure that allows a small, predictable amount of oxygen to enter the wine over a period of time, faciliating chemical change. Whilst screw-caps still don’t have extensive studies of how wines will age past the 20 year mark, early studies suggest that this could potentially work for aged wines in the future; plus, how many of us age wines for 20 years or more before drinking them anyway? Screw-caps are cheaper, easier to open and mean there is no chance of cork-taint in your wine.

What do people mean when they say, ‘This was a good vintage’?”Wine is one of the few products in the world where the quality is affected drastically by the weather conditions of that particular year. This is not only the weather during the harvest, but also the weather during important periods of the plants annual cycle such as bud-burst, flower set and veraison (the time during the year when the grapes change colour according to variety) Too much rain, or too little rain, too much sun or too little sun.. all these factors add up to the quality of the vintage. An excellent vintage will be one where the weather conditions were good or excellent at all stages throughout the process; where enough rain fell in Spring to promote growth, but not too much to encourage fungal diseases. Where the harvest was warm enough to ripen the grapes fully, but not so much that the grapes had to be picked unusually early, and so on. Low cost commercial wines are typically not affected by this as they aim for a consistency of style over the years by blending grapes from various areas together, but high quality wines that aim to reflect a sense of place, or terroir, will be different every year.

‘Body’ – This is a term used to describe the weight of the wine, or more specifically how it feels in your mouth. Alcohol is the primary consideration as it adds weight to the wine and also tends to come with elevated levels of glycerol; a colourless, aroma-less alcohol that adds body and sometimes a sense of sweetness to the wine. Sugar and tannins can also make a wine feel thicker and denser in your mouth, which will add to the body. As such, it’s no surprise when ripe, powerful and alcohol wines are considered to be full bodied, and delicate, aromatic wines are considered to be light bodied.

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

Barcelona Wine Tastings Newsletter: February 2017

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

Winter ploughing

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

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

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

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

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

2. ‘Coming of Age” by Matt Walls. This is a very relaxed, well written piece looking at general consumer trends and how they are affecting the world of wine. The pattern is the same as elsewhere; we want it and we want it now. Whilst this is encouraging a lot of smaller, lesser known regions to shine with their accessible, fresh and fun wines, it does have a knock-on effect when it comes to stocks of mature wines. Conclusion? I definitely need a cellar http://www.timatkin.com/articles?1749

3. ‘Under the spell of the volcano’ by Yolanda Ortiz de Arri. This is perhaps something to wet the appetite as we will be exploring the island wines of Spain in March. Spanish Wine Lover explores the island of Tenerife, largely defined by viticulture and home to some of the highest vineyards in Europe, some of the oldest vineyards in Europe and a plethora of grape varieties designed to make you say “,,,What?”. Another well written, detailed article that has definitely confirmed my desire to explore the wines of the Balearic and Canary islands with you all! http://www.spanishwinelover.com/learn-228-tenerife-wines-fall-under-the-spell-of-the-volcano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have the latest posts sent directly to your inbox!

Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: