The Pursuit of Balance Part II — Minor Victories and Minor Frustrations

Actually not a million miles away from my current victory celebration — it looks better when he does it, though.

All in all, a successful week. Well, as successful as one can be in a week anyway. Literally the day after writing my previous post, Google stumbled across my website and indexed me which probably isn’t that impressive to most people but was a mini-milestone for myself; the idea is now that the updates I make to my website boost my rankings and make it more likely that people can find me. The fact that I am languishing on page 15 is not a cause for panic, we all have to start somewhere right?….right? From what I can gather, people actually make a living teaching the art of ‘being found’ more easily on the internet, in fact there are several blogs, websites and guides you can read that all stipulate you’re basically out of luck unless you either pay for Google advertising or write with the frequency of Terry Pratchets and Stephen Kings love child. Either way, my old and dusty sensibilities (I’m an old man at heart) are being dragged screaming into the 21st century and honestly, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I’m quite enjoying learning about meta tags, site-maps, search engine optimisation and so on, even if I am still quite terrible at it. So yeah, success!

Another lovely night in our dedicated tasting room — Mencia and Graciano were the universal favourites!

Aside from this, it’s been a bit of a mixed week. I had the pleasure of conducting 3 wine tastings on the topic of “Lesser known grapes of Spain” which were a lot of fun; I believe there are a few more fans of Mencia and Graciano as varietal wines than there were when the week began! On the off-chance you do find a 100% varietal Graciano wine, I recommend heartily that you try it. Grown typically in Rioja and Navarra and used to perfume their Reserva and Gran Reserva wines in small quantities (3–10%), Graciano is something quite different as a varietal wine; think violets and chocolate over vanilla and spice if it has been oaked. Lovely! I intend to do a more in-depth write-up of the tastings and some new discoveries this week but the Graciano was certainly the star. Oh yeah, I also have a sort of exercise regime and my eating has been far healthier — hurrah! The highlight of the week was definitely visiting the lovely Isabelle Brunet, head sommelier of Barcelonas largest wine bar, Monvinic. Despite running a complex and demanding business, she took the time to chat with a complete stranger and offer some advice on working within the wine industry in Barcelona, a charming and impressive woman! I am looking forward to sitting down with her in the future and hopefully sharing a glass of wine.

Miss Isabelle Brunet — the sort of person that makes me happy to work in the wine industry. Bravo!

I also visited two events related to the food and wine industry, with very mixed results. Fira Apat 2015: I was invited to this with the intention of looking for new food and wine options for my tastings as there was (supposedly) a host of local producers and wineries setting up shop at the top level of the Arena in Plaza Espana. Right from the start it was clear that it was actually a business to consumer event, with the majority of the crowd being older Catalans who seemed to know the products already and were simply there to shoot the breeze. There were several producers who had nothing to actually try and had essentially just set up a shop stall; yes, I will buy your expensive Jamon Bellota despite the fact I don’t know you and have no idea of the quality of the product. Shut up and take my money! The final straw was visiting Canals and Munne, a good quality cava producer, and asking to try their Pinot Noir based rosé Cava. During the conversation and when I made it clear I wasn’t looking to purchase on the day, the representative informed me I would have to pay 1 euro for the tasting glass I was drinking if I wasn’t going to purchase anything. Needless to say, I didn’t pay and I won’t be returning to their events in the future.

These guys would be a lot more upset if people actually read my blog. One of these days, guys, one of these days…

The Gran Tast de Vins de Emporda was a far more enjoyable event with 25 or so wineries from the North-East coast of Spain turning up to strutt their stuff. Well organised and situated in the beautiful Mercat del Born, it was a pleasant evening with quite a few discoveries made. Unfortunately, the over-riding discovery was that Emporda has a way to go in terms of quality wine making. Closer in geography and climate to the south of France than the rest of Catalunya, they have historically specialised in sweet and rosé wines and appear to be struggling with red and white production; there is only so much you can do with three different types of Grenache and high quality white wine is not one of them. Having said that, there are some wonderful wineries making high quality products; Perelada, Espelt and Oliveda are three of the more accessible of these, with products widely available in Barcelona wine stores. I have been told that there are a few hidden gems still lurking in the region and I am looking forward to searching them out!

Golden rules for hosting a wine tasting: Ancient ruins are an absolute must as a centre-piece. Don’t forget to make sure you have exclusive access to a space the size of an air-craft hanger.

Finally; beware Lacor products. I have a small wine cooler at home that sits 16 bottles comfortably, purchased last Spring as the summers here make storing wine a very risky proposition. The motor of the fridge broke mid-summer, forcing me to move my wines to my local store and putting regular drinking options in the normal fridge. When I called their customer service helpline, I was surprised to find out that there was nothing wrong with the fridge and that our flat was too hot, meaning that the fridge was unable to fulfill it’s basic duties of being slightly cooler than the rest of the room. I argued that this was exactly the reason I bought the fridge as I don’t live in Finland and expected a product that worked independently of the room temperature. After 3 weeks of this, no joke, I am finally able to take the fridge somewhere to be fixed. In the meantime, I eagerly look forward to the release of their new products; a water-proof coat that only works when it isn’t raining, new-technology lights that turn on as soon as you leave a room and their marquee product, a stylish barbeque that cooks food to perfection.. assuming you live in an active volcano. Maybe I’ll just move to Finland after all…

Until next week!

Wine Cuentista: The literal translation is ‘Wine story-teller’. We run high quality wine tastings in central Barcelona, Borne area, with the intention of tasting and learning about high quality Spanish and Catalan wines in a relaxed atmosphere — perfect for a fun evening out in Barcelona! If you would like to get in touch or see our services, check out the website here: winecuentista.com Thanks!