Blue Wine – Seriously?

A while back, BBC published an interesting article about this Spanish company that has started making blue wine. A really bright blue wine, might I add, not something that looks very natural. The thought of this makes me think publicity stunt. But I don’t want to be stuck with what I think wine should look like (it looks like something out of Star Wars…I can imagine Jabba the Hut drinking it). I want to judge a drink by its aromas and taste, and the experience of drinking it. Until now I have not been able to get my hands on this new invention, but I thought to write about it anyway. Really interesting to hear if any of you have tried it? Continue reading “Blue Wine – Seriously?”

New Wine Finds in Barcelona

What a week we have behind us. Now sitting home in cold Sweden, I am reminiscing our time in Barcelona. The weather was not great to be honest. Last two days it was around +14 Celsius and rain. But we found these amazingly cozy spots for wine, where one could just forget about the world outside, or even enjoy the moist weather.  Continue reading “New Wine Finds in Barcelona”

Cavatast is Coming Again

As summer is closing to it’s end, at least here in Sweden, I like turning my attention to what will be happening in the fall. The highlight is of course Cavatast, the festival to celebrate all that is to do with the spanish premium bubbly. Cavatast is a festival for everyone: locals, professionals as well as tourists. In recent years it has taken a  bit of a gastronomical direction as well with an increasing number of food vendors participating in the festivities. As every year, there is no information regarding this festival in English, so I have used my nonexisting skills in spanish to make educated guesses on what is in store for us. The only thing I can be quite sure about is the dates: 7th to the 9th of October.  Continue reading “Cavatast is Coming Again”

Wineweek 81:A Fresh New Look

We have worked all week. Every evening after dinner, we have opened our laptops to work on our new Shopify web shop. It has felt good doing some extra work for the business, as we have admittedly been slacking off lately. Or rather been focusing on tasting wines instead of actively selling them. Today we launched the new website with great pride! Not that it looks as good as many professionally made web shops, however, I consider this quite an achievement as we are complete amateurs in this field. Oh, the possibilities one has today with  To honor the launch, we have also added some great new wines to the selection. Continue reading “Wineweek 81:A Fresh New Look”

The Spring Rose Special

I don’t really think Sweden is a rose country. Not in the way for example Spain is. However, in the spring there is some kind of wacky rosé-fever. Everyone wants to start drinking it around the time of April. The season will peak by mid-June, and no one will even look at a bottle of rose after August. If you are interested in a short introduction of how rose is made, you can have a peak at this earlier post on the topic Continue reading “The Spring Rose Special”

Tips for Booking a Wine Trip

Last weekend I attended the Nordic Travel Exhibition in Helsinki. I was there to market my home city, Stockholm, however ended up on stage talking about wine. How did that happen? Well that I will save for another post. But long story short, I was on stage interviewing two fun ladies who had been living one in Barcelona and one in Lisbon for a large part of their lives, on wine-travel. We discussed the wine culture in both cities/countries, wine opportunities and most interestingly where and how to do wine-travel. I thought I would share some of the highlights of that discussion with you today on how to organize a successful wine-trip. There are of course organized tours, but the recommendations below focus on if you want to plan your trip yourself (which I always do). Continue reading “Tips for Booking a Wine Trip”

Grape-Love: Albariño

As we are quite fond of Spanish and Portuguese wines, we have crossed ways with Albariño (or Alvarinho in Portuguese) many times. It is a variety of white grape grown in northwest Spain (Galicia) and northwest Portugal (Monção and Melgaço). The wines made from the varietal are fresh with mineral notes and high acidity. Even though the grape comes from areas that have heavy rainfall the local saying is “wine is sunlight, held together by water”. Thus, a perfect wine to enjoy during the winter to remind us of the pleasures of summer.

Continue reading “Grape-Love: Albariño”

The Passion of Torelló

When I started this blog, it was very much just for me. It still is, but it has also brought me some great opportunities to meet new people. In the beginning of the summer I was contacted by Raidel. He is a fellow cavalover and has been actively marketing cava as a premium bubbly in the UK. We agreed to meet at Cavatast, and Raidel also introduced us to a new cava acquaintance, Torelló. We had tasted one fo the Torelló cavas before, their 225 (lightly oaked) gran reserva at Jason Athertons Esquina all the way in Singapore. If you followed this blog when we were in Asia last winter, you might have noticed that we were very deprived of good bubbly, so a glass of the 225 at that moment felt like a gift from God. So we were very excited to receive an invite to the Torelló family estate on the week following cavatast. This producer had made an impression, and we were very curious to find out more.

Arriving at Torello
Arriving at Torello
Beauty at the Can Martí estate
Beauty at the Can Martí estate
A glimpse at the vineyards
A glimpse at the vineyards

We were welcomed to the estate by Rosó, the new Export manager for Torelló cava. Born in Sant Sadurni, Rosó has long experience working with the “Champagne of Spain” (eg at the Institut del Cava). She gave us a quick tour of the facilities and an overview of the Can Martí estate that is not only the winery but also partially the family home. The Torellós have an impressive history dating back to the 13 hundreds. The day continued with a tour at the Torelló cellars. Tony Torelló, who is not only a Director at Torelló cava but also the president of the Confraria del Cava (the brotherhood of cava), explained the production process and the philosophy of the house. The emphasis is clearly on premium cava. A good product will sell its self. Torelló has high emphasis on the care given to the land and vines: grooming and picking by hand. Thus Torelló is one of the few houses that use only their own grapes. I have gone through quite many tours of cava production, but the part that stood out most for me was how the coupage (blend) was made. Perhaps you cannot call it a coupage at all. All the grapes going to the cava are pressed together, kind of like what one would do with a field blend. So all the varietals are in together already from the first fermentation. Torelló has also invested in the technology for soft pressing and uses mainly the free run juice in its production. The emphasis was in using verietals indigenous to Penedes. The use of Chardonnay was low in the selection.

After the tour we were treated to a nice Catalan lunch: traditional Catalan tomato bread, cold cuts, cheese and omelette as well as a warm dish of pork fillet (so good). We also sampled “a few” of the Torello cavas to get a good taste for the selection. We started off with the entry level selection: the light Pal.lìd Rose Brut Reserva and the Torello Brut Reserva. It was a hot day, so the cold cava was more than welcome. There was also some white wine available in the ice bucket, but I was so consumed by the food that I forgot about it (silly me). We also sampled some of the more premium products: the Grand Torelló Brut Nature Gran Reserva, the 225 Brut Nature Gran Reserva (aged in barrel), the Rose Brut Reserva and the Soto Special Edition Brut Gran Reserva (with chardonnay). We also sampled the Raimonda red wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It was lighter than expected, so very refreshing in the hot weather. All in all the wines were excellent, however the 225 remains my favorite even though I am seldom a fan of oak.

Bottles after bottles, touring in the Torelló cellars
Bottles after bottles, touring in the Torelló cellars
Torelló cavas in the cooling
Torelló cavas in the cooling
The coordinates of the grapes displayed on the bottle of Gran Torello
The coordinates of the grapes displayed on the bottle of Gran Torello

The day ended with coffees and an interesting discussion on how cava is perceived in each market (there were representatives from UK, Denmark and Germany) and how cava could be promoted for people to understand its full potential. A very interesting discussion with like-minded cavalovers and experts n their own country.

I must say we were very impressed by the quality of Torelló cavas in general. It is definitely something we could imagine having in our selection some day. Right now it seems like there is a distributor already for Sweden, but lets see, you never know what happens. We will most definitely keep an eye on the house. Even if we cannot distribute the Torelló cavas at the moment, we can most definitely drink them. A great big thank you to Raidel, who introduced us to Torelló. And of course to our new friends Rosó and Tony, who arranged this great day and introduction to the estate. We feel blessed that we were treated to such a lovely visit!

If you wish to visit the estate, Torelló opens their winery for guests once a month. You can check the dates and instructions on www.torello.com.

Skol! To Torelló. May we soon meet again!
Skol! To Torelló. May we soon meet again!

Bubbly Brunch at the Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona

When it comes to brunches, I am a fan. Even though I always eat too much and come out feeling guilty and nauseous. I don’t know what it is that I am so fond of really. The food is seldom the best quality, buffets are not my thing (as other people tend to touch the food) and I don’t really appreciate the ‘all you can eat’ concept. I just like brunches, that’s it. And the sparkling brunch at the Mandarin Oriental was so good that none of the above negative comments had any ground. If there is one brunch in Barcelona (or the world) you should try, it is this one.

Lets start with the wines. The brunch includes a glass of Balma cava. This was a new acquaintance for me and a pleasant one. The cava was quite young and fresh with notes of stone fruit (like peach) and citrus. The bubbles were not aggressive and the mouth-feel had some creaminess. I would say it was nothing exceptional, but a nice aperitif. The only negative point was that the waiter clearly poured very unevenly for the whole group (we were 11) and I ended up with a significantly smaller glass than my friends. I switched glasses with M. For an extra cost, one could also choose to have champagne. The house champagne was Billecart Salmon, which is not that exciting that I would have felt like paying for it.

Light interior
Light interior
Bread and yogurt buffet
Bread and yogurt buffet
The house cava
The house cava

For starters there were two different buffets: one with cold cuts, salads and Asian dishes, like sushi and gyozas, and one with bread, yogurt and muesli. I especially enjoyed the small truffle sausages. Mains could be ordered from the menu. We had a perfectly cooked sirloin steak, egg and foie grass, surf and turf rice and eggs Benedict with salmon. The food was well made and the steak was perhaps one of the best pieces of meat on the whole trip. Sadly the service did not do justice to the great food. Some dishes were forgotten and when we ordered some more steaks (the first one was so good that we had to have more), they came out well done (MURDER). We had to send a steak back two times until we got one medium rare again. Luckily we were not in a hurry, otherwise I would have been quite annoyed. The great thing about the main dishes is that you can order as many as you want.

Moving on to desserts, the selection was quite astounding. A whole buffet of cakes and pastries, all very beautiful and inviting. We ended up tasting quite many, and of course feeling nauseous afterwards. Some of the cakes were not that exciting but others were excellent. Traditional in style I would say, with a lot of ingredients like chocolate, strawberries and vanilla, apple pie and cheesecake. So perhaps there could be some more innovation to make it even better. I was also missing some small nibbles like pralines or nougat, something small with coffee.

Fried eggs with foie grass
Fried eggs with foie grass
Tea selection
Tea selection
Creamy yogurt
Creamy yogurt
Beautiful cakes at the table.
Beautiful cakes at the table.

The brunch also included all the tea and coffee one could drink. The selection of teas was better than your average cafe, however the quality was quite mediocre. I will not even go into the coffee, as it was Italian dark roast. But this is what you can expect at a hotel.

All in all I think the brunch was great. One of the best I have ever had from a food point of view. The Mandarin Oriental is really beautiful and you feel very luxurious but relaxed. The service was ,however, poor. Friendly, but the staff made way too many mistakes for what one expects at a five star hotel. It was clearly the B (or C) team serving that day. We had to send quite many dishes back as they came out wrong, some dishes we ordered never came at all and, well, I already mentioned the pouring of the cava. Te brunch including cava costs 45€, so I expect a much better performance from the personnel. Otherwise the staff were very nice and attentive.

Wineweek 46: Cavatast Greetings

Greetings from Barcelona! It is the day after Cavatast; the sun is shining and people are out and about. We have just come back from a lovely cava-brunch at the Mandarin Oriental (as if there was not enough cava yesterday). Now a few hours of rest and we will head out for dinner. Eating, drinking and walking around; that is what our (working) holidays are made of. Especially in Barcelona, it is just great to walk around and pop into whatever café or bar that looks nice. There is an abundance of new places to visit.

But enough with the chit chat. I am sure you are most interested in reading more about Cavatast. In general I have to say the day was good. We visited the stands of many new and exciting producers as well as mingled with a cava-loving crowd. Everyone was in a festive mood clinking glasses and sipping ice cold cava. A group of swedes even bursted into song in the middle of the street giving a good show the surrounding crowd. In the small town of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, cava brings both locals and tourists close together. You don’t even need to speak the same language, a small nod and a raise of your glass is enough.

Having experienced the festival last year, we knew roughly how many producers and cavas we could seriously try out before getting too tired (and drunk). To be honest, it is not that many. The tongue also gets numb after too much bubbly. We made it up to ten producers and around twenty cavas; after which we felt that it was time to start heading back to Barcelona. We visited: Berta, Mestres “vins de cava”, Jaume Giro I Giro, Fonpinet, Llopart, Juve y Camps, Oliver Viticultros, Muscandia, Eudald Massana Noya and Alsina Sarda. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was Juve y Camps, that we have labelled as one of these major houses (with mass production and a lot of sugar added to the cava). We had a chance to meet some people from the company as well as have a taste of their range. Their new product, a 100% Xarello cava was perhaps the best of the whole day. You might recall, I have been writing about my interest in Xarello before (post here); I am definitely a fan of the local grape variety. Other positive experiences were at Mestres (their Visol 2007), Muscandia (the Rose and Gran Reserva) and Oliver Viticultros (Barrica). We are also hoping to be able to go and visit Jaume Giro i Giro next week as they had some very impressive Gran Reservas in their range.

Cava brunch at the Mandarin Oriental
Cava brunch at the Mandarin Oriental
Cozy atmosphere in Barcelona
Cozy atmosphere in Barcelona
The range of Oliver Viticultros on display
The range of Oliver Viticultros on display
Patrik enjoying a cool glass of cava
Patrik enjoying a cool glass of cava

We also visited the Cavatast boutique. Amazing selection and prices. We were able to contain ourselves and bought only seven bottles. Some cavas were so cheap, that we just bought a bottle based on the description. Fonpinets Gran Reserva (aged 48months) was less than 5€ a pop. I can invest a fiver into trying something new, and even better if it is good. At least based on our taster of their ecological Brut Nature, they know what they are doing.

Food this year was also better: meat cones, cakes and pastries as well as some better quality tapas. A local chocolatier also had a stand celebrating the towns trademark bubbly with some chocolate bottles and other small snacks. I am actually hoping for the festival to take a more gastronomical direction.

That was it for this weeks recap. The coming week we will be going back to Sant Sadurni for a few days. We will be visiting Torello, Rimarts as well as Peret Fuster. Hopefully also some other new acquaintances if we are able to set up meeting at this short of a notice. I think in Spain they are pretty relaxed and flexible and have no problem doing stuff at a moments notice (if they feel like it). Now to get ready for dinner and some more wine. Have a great week you all!

xx Soile