Catavino keeps you current not only with the remarkable wine developments in Spain and Portugal, two of the most dynamic wine producers on the planet, but you'll learn about food trends, new dishes and restaurants and the ancient and modern cultures on the Iberian Peninsula. And you may not notice it, but Catavino also happens to be one of smoothest designed websites you'll have the pleasure of visiting.
Doug Frost MS/MW http://dougfrost.com

Iberian News from Around the Web

Iberian Wines News From Around the Web

Another week has come and gone, and with the end of July creeping up around the corner, it’s time to say adieu to our Sherry Virtual Tasting. And although this month was quite lean on participation, Gabriella and I had fun tasting various sherries! But rememberâ€Â¦ there is always time to join in and leave us your thoughts on our forum.

Here are a few of things that we took note of this week from the web, and if you have a link, send us a note at links at Catavino found on the net!

2006 Rueda from Marqués de Riscal winery got a nice write up from Edward Deitch at MSNBC. He said he was afraid of cheap whites from big producers, yet this one seems to have made him happy. Personally, I find this wine to be pretty straightforward and run of the mill, but it definitely is not a bad find for the price. Interestingly, a price check around the web yielded some slim results and a few bottles that seemed a bit out of date. Speaking of out of date, seems Tim at Winecast has been bitten by the sherry bug and has a nice bit of advice on finding a fresh bottle of Fino. He also helps to unravel the “freshness” code on the back of two producers. We, on the other hand, are still waiting to hear back from a few producers we’ve contacted regarding their “code”. We promise to pass on the secret “decoder” pin if they email us back.

According to the Federación Española del Vino (FEV) the median price of Spanish wine fell by .03% during the first three months of 2007, while exports increased by 15.9% more liters over the previous year, translating to a 15.6% gain in revenue. Obviously there is a lot of wine being sold in Spain, that’s for sure! The most interesting increase was a HUGE leap in sales of bulk wine and table wine to Russia. Cheaper wine equals more sales. Now imagine if we only made vodka? But in reality, what do numbers really mean? I just include them to make myself sound smart. Is it working? We obviously know Spanish wine is popular and after last months WBW, we might just see the 2nd quarter’s sales numbers spike even further, especially if new up and coming regions like Somontano take off! Next year, we’re planning to give a full report on this region when we take another “Catavino Road Trip!”

One last thing before I wrap this up and get to packing for our trip to Portugal, we are typically inundated with press releases daily. Although most are in Spanish, and typically very banal and unimportant, press releases like “We won a new award from ___insert some obscure judging panel from some unknown wine society___!”, mean absolutely nothing to us. Please people, send us a press release with something press worthy and we’ll do our best to say something about it.

Allow me to give you an example. Today, a new press release popped up in my inbox in relation to a Wine Tourism group, called Divinum Vitae from Castilla y LaMancha. This past year, I went to a wine conference called, FENAVIN where I attended the launch party for Divinum. I was under whelmed and uninterested. The party was overdone in an effort to impress the importers and wine buyers from around the world with ballet (am I missing the connection here between ballet and wine?), fireworks, wine, and very little food (I was starving!). At the time, I just laughed and thought nothing of it. They claimed to have 30 bodegas working together to promote regional wine tourism all vowing to open their doors to tourists. Yeah, right! Spanish wine tourism generally translates to someone giving you a map and telling you where the wineries are, but when you actually find your way to the winery, you’re quickly informed that unless you have an appointment the winery is unavailable.

Well it seems that I was wrong. (Gabriella: “Ryan was wrong? Can he repeat that just one more time please?!) Evidently, the bodegas are open, and if you speak Spanish, you can visit their website and download one of several maps to choose from. Pretty slick! While a good first step, they launched this at an event full of international wine buyers who may not speak Spanish. I’m a little confused on that.

I get so many requests for people wanting to visit vineyards during their stay in Spain that I would love to be able to recommend this to them. Being a short drive South of Madrid, this would be great for travelers who a quick daytrip to the countryside. Sadly, unless they hire their own personal translator, it’s just not worth the trip. Maybe once things settle down after the harvest, Gabriella and I can rent a car a try out a few routes to see what the experience is like. According to today’s press release, they have several events scheduled throughout the summer at the wineries including concerts, theater and more. After providing their info in English, they can include a section on their site actually telling you where the events are and at what time they will be hosted, rather than you having to hunt for the info on individual winery sites. Being a Web 2.0 geek, it would seem like a simple Google calendar might solve the problem and make it a bit easier to promote all the wine events at once. But hey, that’s just our humble opinion.

So much for a brief ending so that we can pack, oh well, as mentioned above, we’ll be in Portugal all next week. As some of our Twitter friends already know, we’ll be visiting a Cork Factory on Wednesday, but we’ll confirm this with you on Monday. We’ve had mixed feelings about cork, but currently, are in the camp of more less bad cork equals more wine. We’re both doing our best to keep an open mind and look forward to not only seeing the process, but also learning more about this misunderstood wine staple. If you have a question that you want us to ask, please leave it in the Iberian wine forum!

Cheers and until next week,

Ryan and Gabriella Opazcata