From Barcelona with Love

It’s that time of the year again – cava overdose time. Normally we have timed our visit to the first week of October, the week of the cava festival Cavatast. This year, however, we decided to come early and stay in Barcelona instead. Sant Sadurni is a train-ride away and it always takes more time to visit the winemakers than we anticipate (we always end up drinking cava with them for hours). Now we are just drinking cava in Barcelona by ourselves (smirk). If you are interested in Cavatast, you can find a survival guide here. In this post I have collected a few old favorites from Barcelona – where should you go for a good glass of wine. I am of course also going to post about some new finds (but more about those on Sunday). Continue reading “From Barcelona with Love”

Wine review: Kloof Street Chenin Blanc 2013

I will not repeat the story on Kloof Street and Mullineux as I have written more about it in a previous review of the Kloof Street Swartland Rouge, read it here. What can be said about this Chenin Blanc is that it is not your run of the mill entry level wine. The vines used for this are over 40 years old so this is actually really interesting wine for this price level.

The Kloof Street Chenin Blanc is reminiscent of a Loire Chenin Blanc, or at least that was part of how it was described to me by the knowledgeable sommelier at Monvinic where I sampled it, and I can see what they mean. It is pale straw yellow in color but the nose was a bit strange to me, it had notes of ripe pear and apricot but also a bit of wet granite. There was however a scent that somehow was a bit stale about it, and at first I thought something was off about the wine. With some air it did however disappear but I was almost on the verge of checking with the sommelier if it corked. The wine is fresh and clean on the palate with dry pineapple and mineral but combined with a nice creaminess.

Despite my initial hesitation the wine won me over when it had some air. It rates as a 3.5 for quality and price wise it will set you back between €13-17 and that is decent value for money so also there a 3.5 rating. Pleasant, drinkable and would consider having it again.

Wine bar review: Monvinic, Barcelona

Monvinic is a lovely wine bar located in the Eixample neighborhood in Barcelona. It looks really sleek and classy from the outside and the feeling is the same when entering. The entire place is designed by interior designer Alfons Tost and it does feel like it is a fitting design for an upscale wine bar. I must however say that while it looks nice the chairs at the tables are not very comfortable so I always prefer squeezing together in the sofa instead.

There is an extensive wine library along one of the walls and it is from what I understand fine to browse the books. I have never really found a reason to do it as I have most of the wine books I want at home. While the books are impressive the reason to come here is the wine list. The wine list by the glass is constantly changing. Most of the time there are around 30 wines available by the glass and several hundred more by the bottle.

The list by the glass is a nice mix of both Spanish and International wines. There is usually three different sparkling wines, around 10-15 reds and whites respectively and then some sweet wines as well. The wine list is presented on tablets (not iPads but some other brand) and that is of course nice but I do wish they would have made better use of the technology. There is very limited information on the wines and the producers and it would be so easy to have something more there when they have the tablets. The use of tablets does however make it very easy to change and update the wine list and that means that they sometimes change the wine list by the glass during the evening.

All the waiters serving are also trained sommeliers so it is always possible to get knowledgeable service. Or I would rather say that it should be. At times Monvinic gets very busy and it is then sometimes not possible to really get the attention of the staff. It did not really use to be like that but since the Wall Street Journal piece on Monvinic it does seem like the place also draws in more people (and to some extent more the people that want to appear to be interested in wine). I would recommend coming either a bit earlier (before 19) or a bit later (after 21.30) to get the best service. The wines are usually interesting and the prices by the glass are decent. What i really like is that it is possible to order half-glasses. It gives a good chance to sample more wines and since many of the half-glasses are around €3 it does not have to be very expensive.

Recently I sampled some interesting wines from South African Mullineux (the white Kloof Street as well as the red Mullineux) as well as some great sparklings. Amongst them an Italian sparkling, Faccoli from Francacortia (if this was a blind tasting I would have picked it as a Champagne) alongside some, while not bad, more disappointing champagne from Pehu Simonet and cava from Albet i Noya. The international selection is pretty impressive but I would actually have expected more from the Spanish wines. There are however some interesting local wines there and I have on previous visits sampled lovely wines from Castell D’Encus (they make some lovely unusual Spanish wines in the Pyreenes, their Acusp is 100% Pinot Noir and the Ekam is a 100% Riseling).

Monvinic also serves food and while the quality is pretty good I must say that prices are rather steep for it. The food is a mix of set tapas menus and some larger dishes. I often struggle to find any set menus I like (as they usually contain something I do not want/like) and as I have come with the purpose to sample some wine I do not want a full main course so prefer to eat elsewhere. All in all I do however love popping into Monvinic for a few half-glasses, some wine talk with the sommeliers and then head elsewhere for dinner. It is without a doubt one of the best wine bars in Barcelona. I may not agree with the Wall Street Journal that it is the best in the world but it is clearly a good place for a glass or two.

Wineweek 18: Barcelona Edition

Or I should rather call it the Sant Sadurni Edition, as I barely saw Barcelona during the three days I was there.

My wineweek began with some great news, our distant sales license (for our Danish company) to Sweden arrived in the post. So get ready all you Cava-vikings (and fans of Port and other Portuguese wines), we will open a order window soon. It didn’t take that long, only umm six months. Glad that our personal finances is not dependent on Sweden to keep the numbers from turning red.

Barcelona 164
Spring has already come to Barcelona

On Wednesday I hopped onto a flight taking me to Barcelona. As you might recall from last Wineweek M was already there waiting for me. Barcelona is perhaps one of my favorite cities in Europe. I love just strolling around, popping into cafes and having Cava with every meal of the day without it being deemed weird, or slightly alcoholic behavior. In Spain, wine is an essential part of the food culture, and Cava an everyday enjoyment. This time, however, we headed to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia every day to meet some old and some new friends (aka Cava producers).

We met with four new producers: Vilarnau, Castellroig, Rimarts and Cellers Carol Valles. They are all small or medium sized producers who have something that we are interested in: great Cava combined with traditional production methods and an interesting story. We will write separate posts from all of them, but I must say that in general, we were very pleased with how everything went. The highlights of the week were perhaps seeing the beautiful vineyards of Castellroig, experiencing the artisan bottling at Rimarts and tasting some very special Cavas (100% Subirats Parent) at Vilarnau. Also tasting the quality that is produced by the members of the family at Carol Valles was wildly impressive. It will be exciting to see who we end up working with but what I can say is that all of these producers are worth following.

The beautiful vineyards of Castellroig
The beautiful vineyards of Castellroig

On Saturday we visited our old friends at Peret Fuster for a special Calcots barbecue. Calcolts are long green onion that are very sweet and yummy when grilled and dipped in Romesco sauce. Its a great pairing with some rose Cava. The menu also included some grilled artichokes (with olive oil and salt), sausages, blood sausages and pork chops. Simple but good ingredients prepared with care! As the weather was unstable with rain and sun taking turns every 15 minutes (like Nordic summer) the table was beautifully set in the middle of the bodega where the wines are bottled. We had a great time!

Table set for a king!
Table set for a king!
Calcotadas on the grill
Calcotadas on the grill

In Barcelona, we only had the evenings available, so we reserved that time for some of our favorite bars. We popped by Monvinic (M went several times), Tandem (cocktail bar) and the wine bar of Fabrica Moritz, a new acquaintance. Monvinic is perhaps one of the best wine bars I know (M’s favorite). They have a long list of wines by the glass (and half glass) and they rotate the selection often. Actually they might change the wines by the glass on the list as many as five times a night. They have one bottle of something and when it’s out it’s out. The menu is on a pad, and every wine has a dedicated page with information about the producer and a map of where it’s from. Sounds great right! I will write more about it during the coming weeks.

So that was a lot of wine excitement for three days. So much that we didn’t really buy as much wine as we usually do. I think we only packed 11 bottles in check-in luggage this time. Strange! Anyway, we have some wine to sample for the coming months, so I am not worried that we will run out of selection. And with our trip to Terres & Vins de Champagne (grower champagne festival) approaching, perhaps we should save up some space in the cellar.

Wine review: Quinta do Perdigao Colheita 2009

Continuing on the Portugal theme but this time not connected to my recent trip there but still about Portuguese wine. I visited one of my favorite wine bars, not only in Barcelona but in the world, Monvinic. They always have an interesting selection of wines as it rotates as soon as a bottle is finished. In Spain it is not common to find Portuguese wine so I was glad to find this one from Quinta do Perdigao.

The vineyard was planted in 1997 at an altitude of 365 meters, in the area around Viseu and covers 7 hectares. The soil is granite based and the vine density is close to 5 000 per acre, they mainly have Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Jaen, and Alfrocheiro as well as some Encruzado. Production is largely done sustainably and pesticidies are avoided. Not sure if they are organically certified as I have heard differing stories, but they are trying to produce in a sustianble and ecological manner. It is a small family winery so no huge volumes produced here so perhaps something for my list to visit next time around.

The wine I sampled was the Quinta do Perdigão Colheita from 2009. It has 20% Touriga-Nacional, 35% Tinta-Roriz (Tempranillo) 35% Jaen (Tinta Mencia) and 10% Alfrocheiro.

I am not that familiar with Alfrocheiro. Wines made from it are often rich in colour with firm but ripe tannins and a good balance of alcohol, tannins and acidity. Flavor is often ripe with berry fruit, particularly oblackberries and ripe stawberries. They are somehwat prone to attack by oidium and botrytis and require a lot of attention. Origin is somewhat debated as it originally was thought to be related to Pinot Noir but now the consensus appears to be that it is an indigenous Portugese variety. This specific wine only has 10% of Alfrocheiro but I will try to seek out some wines where it is more dominant.

The wine has been aged in French oak barrels (225 litres) for 12 months. The color was deep ruby red. The nose has a nice touch of red fruits and herbs. The Aromas include a touch of smoke, dried and fresh herbs, and savory fruits. The wine has a nice acidity but with some tannins. There are clear falvors of red and dark fruit. For the price range I think it is a good wine (available for around €8-10 in many places), the quality is not exceptional but still good so rating it a 3 for quality and a 3.5 for value for money.