East of Andalucía’s traditional sherry vineyards around Jerez is Montilla, where the finos and amontillados are possibly better than the better-known cousins, and hardly any tourists visit
The Guardian.com–Stick a pin in the centre of a map of Andalucía and you might well hit Montilla. Geographically this is the heart of Spain’s deep south, with Seville to the west and Granada over the mountains to the east. But as I thunder up the deserted motorway towards Córdoba from Málaga airport, I nearly miss the undulating vineyards that are the source of Montilla-Moriles fortified wines. And as most of the wineries are small affairs in the folds of the sierra, they, too, remain under the radar, as discreet as their brands. Only the determined traveller finds them – but I discover the effort pays off.
Moriles, to the south, is one half of this D.O. (Denominación de Origen) classification but the town of Montilla is the boss, on the edge of a rolling sierra of white limestone, where the pedro-ximénez grape flourishes. A close cousin of sherry in strength and flavour, Montilla-Moriles wines are not easy to track down. You can order a fragrant, dry fino, a nutty amontillado (named after Montilla), a voluptuous palo cortado or a figgy oloroso in Cordoba, but they’re rare further afield. Only 10 of the 170 producers export their nectar.
Guardian.com–Spain’s gastronomic maridaje – the marriage of food and wine – is a definite threesome in Jerez de la Frontera, where all life is fuelled by sherry and tapas, but marches to a flamenco beat. The annual flamenco festival is its peak – not only for larger ticketed events, but also for free performances in thepeñas (social clubs), tabancos (old-style bars), and late at night in the plazas. In fact, all the city’s many festivals and ferias are accompanied by a flurry of flamenco activity – it’s just that, rather frustratingly, it’s not easy to sweep in and locate it.
Several of the tabancos actually have regular, scheduled events (and flyers for one-offs elsewhere). Best-known, and popular with locals and tourists, is Tabanco el Pasaje (C/Santa María 8) where guitarist and singer face the cramped bustle from Thursdays to Sundays. Another good option is Tabanco el Guitarrón de San Pedro (C/Bizcocheros 16) with performances on Saturday afternoons, participation flamenco on Sunday nights and, amazingly given the tight space, a cadre (guitars, singing and dancing) on Thursday nights.
British chef, restauranteur and culinary correspondent extraordinaire, Rick Stein, is back with more research into Spanish cuisine and customs. Stein’s appeal in his Spanish work–and everywhere else he visits–is that his programs are based on what real local people eat, which is usually the best that a country has to offer. This is an hour long video, so turn off the tele, put the image on full screen and learn to travel Spain creatively and to cook salt cod the way the Spanish do it.
A prestigious Spanish association that promotes single-vineyard wines has accepted four new members.
Wine-Searcher.com–Four new wineries have been accepted into the Grandes Pagos de España, an association dedicated to promoting single-vineyard wines. There are now 30 Grandes Pagos in 15 different appellations across Spain. A bodega must satisfy strict criteria before being considered for membership of the association. The wine “has to be made with grapes from a single estate”; the winery must be within the boundaries of the estate, or very close to it; and the wine must have “achieved significant recognition on domestic and international markets”.
Acceptance into the association is decided by a majority vote by existing members after an exhaustive vetting process. Grandes Pagos de España (GPE) was founded in 2003 by Spanish wine grandees Victor de la Serna and Carlos Falcó, and a group of single-estate producers from Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla León. The four new Grandes Pagos de España come from four different regions – Extremadura, Rueda, Sierra de Málaga and Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz. Palacio Quemado is part of Bodegas Alvear of Córdoba, which is renowned for its wide range of Pedro Ximenez-based wines. Quemado, in Ribera de Guadiana in the arid hills of Extremadura on the Portuguese border, makes Syrah, Tempranillo and Graciano blends.
British chef, restaurant owner and culinary media star presents the best series we have seen on authentic Spanish food. It might have been called “Spanish food without liquid nitrogen.” It’s four insightful and delightful hour-long chapters, so you’d be advised to mix yourself a drink, put your feet up and enjoy it to the full. Here’s the first one:
With impressive momentum of first Michelin Star and new Spa and guest rooms coming July.
Travel Daily News.com, SARDON DE DUERO, SPAIN – Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine, the newly restored, historic hotel located in a 12th century abbey surrounded by vineyards in Spain’s Duero winegrowing region, will reopen March 2nd with impressive momentum for a successful 2015 and beyond – driven by earning its first Michelin Star, the addition of a world-class spa and eight exquisite new guest rooms slated to open in July, and crafting specialty guest experiences such as mushroom foraging on the hotel’s medieval estate.
“Our vision for LeDomaine from the beginning has been to create a hotel that stands apart for its combination of historic atmosphere and precedent-setting guest facilities and experiences, and all of the components of this extraordinary property are coming together,” said Andres Araya, Managing Director. LeDomaine has announced that when it re-opens in March, after closing for three months for the holidays and to accelerate construction of the spa and guest rooms, it will offer a starting room rate in 2015 of $415 as well as a variety of packages including spa, gourmet, romance and special guest experience programs that take advantage of the diversity of the local terrain. On the ‘Mycological Experience,’ guests hunt for wild mushrooms in local forests and dine on gourmet dishes prepared with the freshly picked fungi.
Blend from Catalan vineyard is little known at home – but has just been named best in world by specialist Asian magazine
The Guardian.com–China’s wine market is one of the biggest in the world, with urban affluence having driven a decade of explosive growth in consumption. Now a small bodega in Spain stands to benefit from the Asian country’s huge economic firepower after one of its wines was named as the best in the world by a specialist Chinese magazine. “It was a complete surprise to us,” said Olívia Bayés, who with her husband, David Marco, runs Marco Abella in the mountains of the Catalan winemaking zone of Priorat. “They told us we had made it into the top 100 – we were really excited to get that far. Then they called us and told us to come to China because we had won the top prize.”
After more than six years pushing their products in China, the pair had entered Wine in China magazine’s blind-tasting competition in the hope of drumming up more business. The 14-member jury, made up of experts and sommeliers from China, Australia, the UK and US, gave top marks to the Marco Abella 2009 Clos Abella, awarding its blend of carignan, garnacha, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz grapes 97 points out of 100. The bottle retails for about €40-€50 (£30-£38) in Spain.
The Roca brothers, owners of the “El Celler de Can Roca” restaurant, as well as a documentary about Spanish Sherry wine, will star at the Culinary Cinema program of the 65th Berlinale, which starts Feb. 5.
LAHT.com–BERLIN – In “Cooking Up a Tribute,” a road (cooking) movie directed by Luis Gonzalez and Andrea Gomez, brothers Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, conscious of the need for introducing their cooking to the world and their obsession with innovation, decide to close their restaurant for five weeks to go on tour.
The film is a unique experience detailing their journey last summer to six cities in four countries on the American continent (Houston, Dallas, Mexico DF, Monterrey, Bogota and Lima), during which they prepared 50,000 dishes for over 2,700 people. The film, according to its creators, is a tribute to American cuisine, which has offered so much to European and world gastronomy.
It’s time to hone your mixology and practice your Spanish!
Huffington Post.com–Si acaso hay una bebida clásica del verano, que recuerde al verano, que tenga sabor a verano, esa es la sangría. No hay experto dominguero que se precie que no tenga su receta perfecta de la sangría: que si con vermú, que sin con melocotón, que si el hielo va al final… Nuestros compañeros de HuffPost Taste, amantes de los cócteles creen que hay tantas recetas como personas, más aún siendo una bebida tan sencilla y refrescante. Como ellos mismos dicen, la mayor parte de recetas de sangría son bastante simples: vino+fruta+hielo (+ a veces brandy, vermú…). Y a partir de ahí, hay mucho con lo que se puede experimentar.
Christian Gysin writes for the Daily Mail.co.uk–Russian president Vladimir Putin can now toast his own success on the international stage – after planting a vineyard in the grounds of a stunning Spanish mansion he has reportedly bought and developed for some £15 million. Putin’s grand home near Marbella is in the Malaga pueblo of Benahavis and comes complete with stunning northern views of the Serrania de Ronda mountain range.
Meanwhile, to the south the wealthy Russian leader can enjoy an unspoilt Andalusian outlook across the Mediterranean sea towards both Gibraltar and the coast of North Africa. Putin – who has always revelled in his hard-man bare-chested ‘hunter’ image – has clearly now decided he might enjoy the finer things in life. For the Daily Mail has learned that the 62-year-old insisted on 25 vines from the top Burgos-based Bodega ‘Pingus’ – some 500 miles from the Costa del Sol – to be planted into a series of sun-soaked terraces surrounding his new mansion high in the Marbella Hills. The Russian President is understood to have hired the famous Valladolid province vineyard owner – Danish oenologist Peter Sisseck – to oversee both the production of the wine and the later bottling process.