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A wino is born!

Now my Dad has never been a drinker. He likes the odd pint of lager but I don’t ever remember him drinking a whole glass of wine. A sip and a grimace definitely; a glass, absolutely not. This Xmas things have certainly taken a turn. Whether its for better or worse really depends on your perspective!

Dad has got interested in wine since I started writing the blog. This is great as I appreciate his support… But his interest is real! When we talk on the phone the first question he asks is about something he’s read in a post and he’s forever sending me photos of wines to ask if they’re any good. But he still doesn’t like the stuff. Or he didn’t… Until I took him a case at Xmas.

I took a few of my favourites from the past few months and he loved them. So much so that when the fifth bottle was finished (there were 4 of us and it was Xmas!) out came a bottle of Echo Falls Merlot from the cupboard. And his reaction? “I’m not drinking that sh*t; its thin and tastes of vinegar!” I am so proud of him!

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Here are the wines we drank – Dad asked not to be quoted so my reactions will have to do!

Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2008, West Sussex, UK (Waitrose £29.99, reduced to £23.99)
This was Dad’s favourite. Lovely aromas of peaches and apricots with a dry but very fruity palate. The fruity flavours are delivered in a stream of deliciously light bubbles, with a delicious yeasty and long finish. 88 points

DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010, Stellenbosch, South Africa (Wine & the Vine £16.95)
Really interesting nose of melon, peaches, nuts, maybe even marzipan. Lovely zing in the mouth, lots of ripe melon fruit and a wonderful nutty, long finish. 91 points

Domaine Ferrand Pouilly Fuisse Prestige 2008, Macon, Burgundy (Wine & the Vine £22.99)
Aromas and flavours of peaches and honeysuckle. Good weight in the mouth and well integrated oak, although no new oak has been used. Lots of acidity and a lovely clean finish. Quite a modern and delicious Pouilly Fuisse. 89 points

Elboador +7 2007, Priorat, Spain (Wine & the Vine £29.95)
Yes it’s this one again! I couldn’t give Dad a selection of good stuff without including this gem! Aromas of dark cherries and brambly blackberries and black currant. Loads of spicy Xmas goodness and pepper. Super concentrated fruit, upfront tannins providing amazing structure and huge length. 95 points

Joseph Drouhin, Chorey les Beaune 2010, Burgundy (Waitrose £15.99, reduced to £11.99)
Lots of raspberry and cherry fruit and a lovely fresh palate. Secondary aromas and flavours of leather and forest floor. Maybe a bit young but delightful and a great value introduction to red Burgundy. 87 points

We didn’t get to the bottle of Sauternes so I’ll get back to you on that one!

My 2012 “best-of”

When I was a teenager, this was my favourite time of the year. Not because of Xmas or the presents that might await, but because the annual review editions of NME and Melody Maker were released and I could see how many of their top 100 singles and albums I had managed to collect over the past 12 months. Anyway, the subject may have changed (I haven’t bought any “new” music since 2002!) but I still love “best of” lists. So here’s a few of my wine highlights of 2012.

Favourite reds

Domaine Hubert de Montille, Les Taillepieds 1er Cru, 2001, Volnay, Burgundy (The Wine Society £46.00)

Not noted for being a great vintage but this is very exciting! Very pale, almost rose look in the glass but the aromas are incredible. Strawberries, raspberries, sweet cherries, mushroom, truffle and undergrowth. Very sweet fruit on the palate with lively acidity and such freshness. Nicely integrated oak, and dashes of leather and sweet spice. Warm, long, concentrated and sumptuous. Tannins are prominent but silky. This is my kind of wine and wish I could afford to drink it every night! (I’ve got a 2004 from the tiny vintage to enjoy over Xmas) 96 points

Elboador +7 2007, Priorat, Spain (Wine & the Vine £29.95)

Wow. What aromas of dark brambly fruit. There are cherries and blackberries and even hints of black currant. Loads of spicy goodness including black pepper and Xmas spice. Super concentrated fruit, upfront tannins providing amazing structure and huge length. This is the real thing. Having this with the Xmas goose. 95 points

Walter Clappis The Hedonist Shiraz 2010, McLaren Vale, South Australia (Waitrose £12.99)

Inky black in the glass. Chocolate, black pepper and autumn hedgerow, blackberries and black cherry nose. Concentrated and intense, blackberries, black cherry, cocoa, spice from nicely integrated oak and a dash of liquorice at the end. Bold, powerful, delicious. Palate delivers what the nose promised. And long. De-bloody-licious! 92 points

Favourite whites

Maison de Tastelune Chassagne Montrachet 2008, Burgundy (M&S £30.00)

The Fish bought me the first bottle of this wine for my birthday – thank you Fish! Beautiful nose of white peaches, honeysuckle and a dart of vanilla oak. I really could smell this wine for hours! Clean and fresh with a little bit of weight, peachy and spicy and long. Lovely texture excellent weight. Love it. 92 points

DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010, Stellenbosch, South Africa (Wine & the Vine £16.95)

Really interesting nose of melon, peaches, nuts, maybe even marzipan. Lovely zing in the mouth, lots of ripe melon fruit and a wonderful nutty, long finish. 91 points

First Press Chardonnay 2010, Napa Valley, USA (Waitrose £16.99)

Overripe, fruity sweet melon fruit. Supercharged fruit with a lovely brioche waft and some nuttiness. Not as wild on the palate but a lovely appley streak of acidity. Nutiness comes through after a while in the glass. Delicious. 90 points

Favourite fizz

Camel Valley Pinot Noir Brut 2008, Cornwall, UK (direct @ £30)

We drank this at the beginning of December with my brother in law and his other half, The L’s, Luke & Laura. Lovely red-fruity aromas and summery taste of strawberries and red currants. Very pleasant with a delightfully yeasty and biscuity finish. Thought it tasted like a Rose but wonderfully clear in the glass! 91 points

Favourite restaurant

We had some amazing meals on our French odyssey in the summer, especially the Crazy Carafe in Tournon, Cave du Madelaine in Beaune and Le Chambolle in Chambolle Musigny. However, I cannot go past The River Cafe in Hammersmith. I’ve been lucky enough to eat there twice this year and can’t wait to return in 2013. Wonderfully sourced, seasonal ingredients, cooked to perfection with minimal fuss. The food for people who like eating! Amazing all Italian wine list; hopefully the guide I wrote recently will help you make a great choice!

Favourite bar

In 2012 I discovered Gordon’s wine bar, near Embankment tube station. The place is mental busy and great fun. The wine list is pretty eclectic and you can get a bottle of Latour Corton Grand Cru 1998 for £45! Well it’s better than most village Burgundys you pay more than £50 for when drinking out of home! Also a great place to get smashed with Hanski and George! I haven’t been able to get to Sager & Wilde yet, but I’m guessing it will be near the top of my 2013 list.

Favourite shop

It will be no surprise to any of you that this goes to Wine & the Vine at Battlers Green, near Radlett. Jez is a constant source of inspiration and keeps me up to date with what’s new and interesting… And long may it continue. Special mention also to Waitrose, who’s selection just gets better and better… Especially at 25% off!

Favourite website

No competition this year. http://www.winetravelguides.com was an essential resource in putting together our 2 week fantasy through The Rhone, Burgundy and Champagne. If you are looking for advice on anything to do with wine on your holidays then make this website your first stop. Use this code for a 30% discount D2Blog12

So that’s it for 2012. I hope you all have a superb Xmas, and I look forward to sharing more wine words with you in 2013… CHEERS!

The Grape Escape

Not another French post! Well no actually, it isn’t. Well not really. I know I’ve written a fair bit about French wine over the past couple of months but I do think its the best place to start and is a great introduction to most of the well known grape varieties. But most of these varieties are grown all around the world, so this post highlights the places to look. I’ll use the recent articles about decoding French wine to take us on a trip around the world. It’s a bit like Amazon… If you liked that, then you might like this!

Pinot Noir

My love of Burgundy has also taken me to a few other places over the past year and back in February I even bought a case of 6 bottles from Majestic of Pinot Noir from everywhere but France! New World wines, particularly New Zealand and USA,I have found to be more fruit focused, which lots of people like, but often without the earthy, forest aromas and flavours of Burgundy. Getting any Pinot for under £10 is never easy, but it can be done, and the best example I’ve found comes from Pfalz in Germany (M&S – find it!). Ive been told that the best up and coming region for Pinot is Tasmania, owing to its cool climate, so I’ll keep my eye out for a couple to try for you. I really am sooooo selfless!

Cabernet Sauvignon

From the epicentre of fine wine in Bordeaux, Cab Sav is grown all over the world and thrives in hot climates. We only need to go back to the famous “Judgement in Paris” in 1976 when the Californian wines whooped the asses of the Borderlais in a blind taste test to realise there are great Cabernets around the globe (get yourself a copy of the film “Bottle Shock” to learn more and to enjoy another superb performance from Alan Rickman). Then there’s the fabulous region of Coonawarra in Australia, famed for Cab Sav. And for value head to South America – Argentina and Chile are making some great stuff.

Syrah/Shiraz

Same grape, different name! In fact Aussie Shiraz is probably better known to most casual wine drinkers in the UK than Syrah from the Northern Rhone! So where better to start than Oz! The Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale regions of South Australia produce some stunning Shiraz, as does the Margaret River region in Western Australia. Try “The Hedonist” from Waitrose at £12.99 – one of my favourite wines of the year.

Grenache

The Grenache blends of the Southern Rhone are available all over the World. In Oz they are often referred to as GSM (Grenache, Shiraz, Mouvedre). The famous Chateau de Beaucastel in Chateauneuf du Papes even transported and planted some of their wines in Paso Robles, California! I’ve also written a lot about my love of Priorat in north-east Spain, usually made primarily from Garnacha (yep, same grape!). Hot country = spicy and fruity and often excellent.

Chardonnay

This grand grape has had a tough time over the past 10 with the ABC gang getting into a tizz. Now it’s true that the supermarket shelves have been full of basically crap stuff from Oz and the States… But what do you expect at 3 for £10? There is so much great winemaking around the world now that Chardonnay is regaining its place as one of the most fantastic and flexible grapes out there, both with and without the use of oak. I’ve found some amazing wines from the US and Oz over the past 12 months and recently tasted a stunner from NZ. Also look to Chile for value. I also tasted truly excellent Spanish Chard on our recent trip.

Sauvignon Blanc

Where else to start but New Zealand? Since the inaugural 1986 vintage of Cloudy Bay ( not Oyster Bay, repeat not Oyster Bay – never pay more that £5 for it!) those clever Kiwis haven’t put a foot wrong. Supermarket shelves are packed with the stuff, and there is some great value to be found as well as some real class if you’re prepared to go above £10. The up and coming country for this often gregarious grape is Chile, but prices are rising with improved quality. Also look to the south of France for some lovely clean wines.

Riesling

Germany is the place to start as they probably produce some of the best anywhere in the world, but as usual the top stuff comes with a hefty price tag. However, if you like something really fun and a bit sweet then give the Dr. Loosen from Sainsburys a go. I’m a huge fan of Australian Riesling, especially from the Clare or Eden Valleys. They offer real concentration of limes and tropical fruit and lovely minerality. Also look to NZ who are really starting to get into the grape more and more. Recently I also tasted a lovely example from South Africa… Expect to see more and more on the shelves over the coming months.

Chenin Blanc

Not unlike Oz and Shiraz, Chenin has become synonymous with South Africa and there are bottles at all price levels. I am really getting into these wines at the moment and have a blockbuster lined up for Xmas day. Australia is another country making some Chenin waves and these are generally easier to find in the supermarkets than the French bottling from the Loire Valley.

When you’re having a dinner party, try buying a French and other country example of a white and red wine and see who prefers what… My guests are probably getting fed up of the same old game but I’m still enjoying it!

Wines for the Christmas table

Some of the contenders!

I’m getting a bit overexcited now its less than three weeks till Christmas. I’ve watched Heston, Delia and Hugh cook their Xmas dinner already. I’ve heard Band Aid at least once a day for the last week. But I haven’t started thinking about what wines to serve with Xmas dinner this year!!

For the past few years I’ve taken a case of 6 wines to each of the parents to go with their wonderful food. I like to choose a red, a white, a sparking and a sweet (2 each of the red and white).

Last year the red was a Burgundy (Aloxe Corton 2006) the white a Gruner Veltliner from Austria, the fizz was Cava (not a a very good one!), and the sweet was a wonderful sweet Kiwi Gewurtztraminer. The red and white for next year are maturing in the spare room – bounty from our summer trip to France! If you have to know, the white is a white Burgundy from Meursault, the red a spicy Syrah from Cornas in the Northern Rhone. And this helps, because I don’t like repeating things so I now have some goalposts.

So lets pull together a shortlist for each choice and see where it takes us:

The fizz

The options are English fizz or Cremant de Bourgogne. English fizz because it really is so damn good and there won’t be much wine from the 2012 vintage due to the appalling weather this summer. Cremant because it is so wonderfully elegant with very fine bubbles, almost ethereal. Hmm… I’ll come back to that one.

The white

Chablis is a great go-to for Xmas. Mineral and citrus and just ever so bloody lovely. But I’ve got Burgundy lined up for next year. I have 2 other options. One is a lovely, sexy Italian number. It’s from Lugana, in the Veneto region in Northern Italy. It is made with the rather modest Trebbiano grape but is full bodied and like baked apples. Or I could go for the fresh but aromatic qualities of Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Hmm… This isn’t getting any easier!

The red

I think I’ve hit this one sorted! Our trip to Barcelona gave a fantastic introduction to the wines of Priorat. Made predominantly with the Garnacha grape (called Grenache in France) and has that lovely bramble, earthiness. I’ve tried a good one from Waitrose and have one from Jez waiting to be tested. Yep, I’m happy with the region, just need to decide on the actual bottle. Yes, one down!

The sweet

I love sweet dessert wines but rarely buy them – Xmas is the perfect excuse to get stuck in. Because I don’t get the chance to try too many, I’ve got a shortlist of two. The first is a classic Beaumes de Venice from the southern Rhone. Made with the muscat grape, this is a truly classic wine. The second option is the wonderful Steindorfer Seewinkel Beerenauslese, from Austria, that we enjoyed at our veggie feast at Steve and Sara’s. A blend of Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Bouvier, giving up peach, apricot and honey sweetness. Damn… Not as easy as I thought.

The verdict

So there we go… Still plenty of decisions to make! Thought this was going to be a fun and easy task. Definitely fun as I’ve still got lots of wine to try, but definitely not easy! I hope it’s at least given you a few ideas. Xmas is a great opportunity to really splash out and the good stuff… But careful, you might get a taste for it!

 

 

 

 

Discount wine revisited

It’s been a couple of weeks now since I went shopping in Waitrose and M&S when they were running their 25% off promos. In those few weeks I’ve had a chance to open a few of the bottles, and must admit, I have been really impressed with what I have drunk. It’s also fair to say that a couple of these wines are well worth a buy at full price… Although I’m sure there will be another per-Xmas bonanza coming our way.

But seriously, if these guys do run a similar deal then get down there quick… It will certainly add to you Xmas enjoyment.

Here are the notes I made on six of the wines; all highly recommended by me… and The Fish! (Prices are RRP/25% off)

Whites

First Press Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2010. (Waitrose £16.99/£12.74)

Overripe melon in a lovely way. Supercharged fruit, lovely brioche waft and a note of nuttiness. Not as wild on the palate but a lovely appley streak of acidity. Nutiness comes through after a while in the glass. Delicious. 90 points

Maison du Tastelune, Chassagne Montrachet 2008 (M&S £30.00/£22.50)

Beautiful nose of white peaches, honeysuckle and a dart of vanilla oak. I could smell this wine for hours! Clean and fresh with a little bit of weight, peachy, spicy and long. Very fresh with lovely acidity but still plenty of Chassagne weight. This comes with a heftyish price tag but will brighten up your Xmas. Love it. 92 points

Felsner Moosburgerin Gruner Veltliner, Austria 2011 (Waitrose £11.49/£8.62)

Pears, veering on pear drops with lots of white pepper nose. Lovely and warm on the palate, very spicy with a lovely bite, a whisp of acidity and beautiful long finish. 89 points

Reds

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Villalta Amarone Classico I Communali, Veneto 2008. (M&S £25.00/£18.75)

Lovely sweet, intense cherries and even raspberries on the nose. The cherries carry on through and there’s also an elegant bitterness of almond, with a fine tannic structure. The finish is decent in length and I do like this wine a lot. I’d buy another bottle at the promo price for sure. 90 points

Brazi Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel, Manteca 2009 (Waitrose £12.99/£9.74)

Lovely dark purple colour but surprisingly light texture in the glass. Blueberries and chocolate on the nose, like a Starbucks muffin, with some tobacco smoke. Blackberries and blueberries on the palate, grippy tannins and a hint of oak and spice but not overdone – like treacle toffee. Nice and subtle for a Zin, bargain at the under £10 price, value at £12.99. 88 points

Walter Clappis, The Hedonist Shiraz, McLaren Vale 2010 (Waitrose £12.99/£9.74)

I haven’t enjoyed a decent Aussie Shiraz for a while… Until now! Inky black with chocolate, black pepper, blackberries and black cherry nose. Concentrated and intense, blackberries, black cherry, cocoa, spice from nicely integrated oak and a dash of liquorice at the end. Bold, powerful, delicious. Palate delivers what the nose promised. And long. De-bloody-licious! Michelle – get to Waitrose and buy this at full price… You won’t be disappointed! 92 points

Shopping with 25% off

With all of the talk this week about the supermarket 25% off deals I thought it was time I got in on the act so spent some time this afternoon vigilantly scrutinising the shelves in Waitrose and M&S. Sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to visit the theme park that is Tesco in Watford on a Sunday (or any other day if I’m being totally truthful).

I spent a bit of time during the week reading some of the recommendations from Jancis, Tim, Tom et al, and pulled together a shortlist of interesting looking options and stared from there. M&S in Rickmansworth was the first port of call, where I was met with bright red point of sale material confirming that I was in the right place to save 25%. Phew. The wine sitting underneath was the £3 Pinot Grigo and Cab Sav nonsense so I ventured to the farthest reaches of the store to look at the range.

Confession time. I was planning on buying 6 wines… I ended up buying 6 bottles but only 4 wines. The reason being that I had to purchase 3 bottles of the excellent Maison du Tastelune Chassagne-Montrachet 2008. The Fish bought me a bottle of this for my birthday a couple of months back and it is an excellent example of Chassagne, with a great fat texture and lots of peach and lemon fruit with hints of nuttiness. This wine is usually £30 so £22.50 to me looks like a bargain for an appellation where you rarely get change from 30 notes. So three more wines to find. I found an M&S Meursault 2008 sitting next to the Chassagne so I’ll give this one a trial in the team too (£21.75 with the discount).

The next on my list was another favourite, the Palataia Pinot Noir 2011 from Pfalz. Another corker of a wine and under £10 usually (£9.99). Lovely silky Pinot for £7.50?? I was gutted there was only one bottle left! My last choice was a Villalta Amarone 2008. I love Valpolicella and have only recently been seduced by the deeply concentrated flavours that some time in the sun can do to the Corvina grape. At £18.75 with the discount I hope I’ve picked a winner.

My M&S slection – Trick or Treat?

So the M&S bill came to £152.99, or £114.74 with the discount. This feels like a good price to pay for the bottles in the basket but only time will tell.

Next stop Waitrose and this time lots of green signage luring me into the 25% savings. Here I had no preconceptions and decided it was 6 wines; 3 white and 3 red. So here goes. The white choices came from my online research earlier this week. Blanck Gewertztraminer Alsace 2001 (£14.99/£11.24), Felsner Moosburgerin Gruner Veltliner 2011 (£11.49/£8.62) and First Press Chardonnay Napa Valley 2010 (£16.99/£12.74). A selection of grapes I love and the prices look good so I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into them.

The reds proved a little more difficult as most of the wines on my research list weren’t on the shelves. But what the hell, isn’t this the fun of shopping?? My first red choice was the Coma Vella Priorat 2007 (£23.49/£17.62). If you’ve read my Barcelona article you’ll know that Priorat is fast becoming a new obsession with me. Since coming back from Spain I’ve been struggling to find much Priorat on sale, and even less under £30 so I’m hoping I may have found a new option at Waitrose. Selection #2 is The Hedonist Shiraz McLaren Vale 2010 (£12.99/£9.74). I love the Northern Rhone spicy Syrahs and haven’t paid much attention to Oz reds for quite some time, so I’m looking forward to a silky number from the Southern Hemisphere. And last but not least, a fruit bomb from the States, Brazin Lodi Old Vine Zin 2009 (£12.99/£9.74). I often forget how much I enjoy the warm cherries and spice of Zinfandel so I’m hoping this one reminds me and sends me back for more.

Value at Waitrose?

The Waitrose bill was £92.94, reduced to £69.71 with my 25% discount.

In conclusion, I’m a sucker for what looks like a bargain. I look forward to seeing whether the Waitrose wines offer the better value for money or the extra investment in M&S pays off. Whatever, I can’t wait to get stuck in over the next few weeks.

Barcelona. The good, the bad and the bubbly!

Now my knowledge of Spanish wine certainly isn’t great. I know my Rioja from my Ribera, understand the difference between a Crianza and a Gran Reserva, and love the refreshing whites from the the north of the country, particularly Verdejo and Abarinho. But what about Barcelona, and what about Penedes?

The white wines by the glass are simple affairs, reminiscent of the slightly round white wines from the Rhone; pleasant but lacking that streak of acidity to really give them a lift, especially when drunk with some of the marvellous seafood pinchos. What I was really surprised and delighted by are the number of varieties grown in the area, and the quality of the wines produced using the more commonly known grapes.

For lunch on our first day we sat down at a very good seafood tapas restaurant, Mariscco in Placa Reial. Looking through the wine list, what caught my eye was a Penedes DO Riesling (Torres Waltroud 2011) so I went with my instinct and what a good choice it turned out to be. At first taste I thought it may be a touch off-dry, but this was simply the juiciness of limes and pineapple chunks coming through. The finish was actually bone dry and rather reminiscent of a wine from the Clare Valley – a very modern and enjoyable wine (89 points). The seafood was outstanding. Percebes, langoustine, clams, cuttlefish, followed by some beautiful veal fillet.

Mariscco restaurant in Placa Reial

We also enjoyed some simple but refreshing Basque white wine in a couple of the great pinchos bars; nothing to write home about with too much conviction but perfect for this most superb method of informal dining.

The best seafood dish ever??

The second memorable white was the exceptional Jean Leon Chardonnay 2009. Only 12,000 bottles produced in the vintage and ours was bottle number 9,554. The wine had beautifully integrated oak, which surprised me when i found it had spent 9 months in new French oak. The nose was a pleasant apple and pear combo, with the fruit coming through in the taste, swathed in a rich vanilla cream. Once we took the wine out of the ice bucket we were able to enjoy it at its full and charming best (91 points). What I haven’t mentioned is Can Majo, the superb restaurant where we enjoyed this wine in Barcelonta, overlooking the sea. The Majo paella was maybe the best seafood dish I have ever eaten and I implore you to go if you ever find yourself in the vicinity.

So what about the reds? Well this is the only “bad” I can write about. And the main reason is the lack of local red available by the glass. Rioja – tick, Ribera – tick. But very little of the local stuff. The couple of places we did find with Penedes, or if we were very lucky, Priorat, on the list by the glass were fantastic! The Garnacha is spicy, yet silky, concentrated and inky. It was just such a shame that there was so little around!

La Vinya del Senyor – a great wine bar in Placa Santa Maria

On our last evening we went to the superb wine bar in Placa Santa Maria, called La Vinya del Senyor. OK, we went the day before and enjoyed a lovely glass of Cava and Ribera, but the list was excellent so we decided to head back for a bottle of Priorat. And boy was it worth it. We asked the waiter for some inspiration and he pointed us in the direction of the Somni 2009. Wow! Spicy, smokey, brambly, black currant and blackberry nose. Lovely cassis flavour, reminiscent of a great black currant sorbet. Warm, concentrated, complex and long, like a black fruit duvet! This was perfect for a chilly evening in Barca (by their standards), and one I will be tracking down for Xmas (94 points).

The star of the show – Somni 2009, Priorat DOCQ

So that just leaves the bubbles. To be quite frank, I’ve never met a Cava I’ve really got along with… Until this weekend. I’ve always found Cava lacking the acidic backbone I so enjoy in champagne and English fizz. But this weekend I found the Cava zing and it was certainly worth waiting for. We enjoyed a lovely Titianna Brut Nutural (extra dry) at the aforementioned La Vinya del Senyor, but the real magic came when we visited Freixenet, one of the biggest Cava producers in Catalunya. I’m going to write a separate piece about the tour and tasting at Freixenet as it is definitely something I would recommend to anyone visiting the Barcelona area, and anyone who feels they don’t quite “get” Cava.

A taste of things to come

Overall, Barcelona is a wonderful city and brilliant place for a city break. The food is simply outstanding, the culture is magnificent and the people are welcoming. As a matter of fact, I can’t wait I go back!

The good.

I have fallen in love with pinchos – the most social way of eating I have ever come across. As for the wine, well the brooding, fruity reds of Priorat certainly get the gold medal but the whites made from the more internationally recognised grapes are also excellent and I look forward to finding some for my collection.

The bad.

There isn’t any really. The biggest bugbear was the lack of local wine by the glass and the omnipresence of Rioja and Ribero. In fairness that really isn’t too much of a chore but I think the locals should be proud of their wine and encourage more of us tourists to give it a go.

The bubbly.

Well I’m a Cava convert. The cheap stuff we buy in supermarket in the UK really doesn’t do this drink any justice. There is so much choice and there are some really complex wines out there – you just have to search them out and have a bit of patience. I will write up my notes from the Freixenet tasting in the next day or so to try and give a bit more depth to the subject.

Gracias!

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