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!
‘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! https://www.meininger.de/en/wine-business-international/great-debate-future-of-wine
‘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! http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/old-wine-movies-now-online
‘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! https://wineonsix.com/showcooking-wordsenglish-in-catalan-wine/
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 Vinissimus.com for around 12 euros a bottle. https://www.vinissimus.com/es/vinos/rosado/detalle_vino.html?id_vino=avnro14
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.
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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. 🙂