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Doug Frost MS/MW http://dougfrost.com

Madrid Wine Festival

Madrid Wine Festival

I think that Jupiter must have been in my 7th House or something. The planets aligned, found a four-leaf clover, rubbed a rabbit’s foot, found a penny picked it up, pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, whatever, because all I know is that last Thursday at the Madwine Festival I truly felt fortune smiling down on me.
As far as size goes, this is a small and relatively new wine fair, organized to be more of a symposium consisting of panel discussions and tastings led by experts from the Spanish (and some foreign) wine business. As far as price goes, it is also an incredibly costly fair if you want to attend all of the lectures – which I am sure were very valuable and insightful – especially considering that many of the same speakers will be at the massive and easy-to-get-in-free Fenavin wine fair in Ciudad Real next week. However, apart from the conferences, Madwine also had an area where winemakers had tasting tables set up where, for a minimal fee, you could wander around and taste wines from some of the most venerated wineries in Spain and abroad – and it was here, my friends, that Providence came to my assistance.
Normally, wine fairs can be wonderful ways to make contacts, talk to winemakers, and often wait in long lines to try wines (they serve you) while the jewels of the winery are often only cautiously doled out after you’ve proved your worth. All very time consuming factors that, if you only have 1.5 hours in the fair like I did, can really limit the number of wines that you have time to try. When I arrived the other day at lunchtime however, it was blissfully quiet, and it seemed as though someone had pulled a fire alarm and everyone had vacated the room in a hurry, leaving the tables littered with open bottles, as well as decanters full of cream of the crop wines, inviting me to wander around to my heart’s content, serving myself, and trying at least 50 amazing wines in little under two hours (spitting of course). The particularly wonderful thing about this was that I was able to retry many of the most classic Spanish wines, and to try for the first time other classic and famous Spanish wines that are on a list that I have of “classic and super famous Spanish wines that I incredibly embarrassed to have never tried”. All in all, I probably knocked 25 of them off of my list. What a relief.
I was privileged enough to taste Spanish wines from Roda (including Roda II and Cirsión), Muga and Prado Enea, Viña Tondonia (including the 1988 white), Matarromera, Remírez de Ganuza, Viña Pomal, Can Rafaols Ad Fines (a 100% Pinot Noir from D.O. Penedes) and their (100% Merlot) Caus Lubis, Campo Eliseo and El Albar from D.O. Toro, Calchetas and the elusive Torcas from Bodega Viña Magaña in D.O. Navarra, Cuveé Palomar and Pago Negralada from Abadía Retuerta, incredible Palo Cortados from Bodegas Tradición and Apóstoles, and a curious sweet Viognier from Casa de la Ermita. There were a few foreign wineries represented, Domaine Pascal Jolivet from Sancerre in France, Sauvignon Blanc devotees Craggy Range and Wild Rock from New Zealand, and Chianti producers Badia a Coltibuono, not to mention a table with about 20 different Scottish and Irish single malt scotch that I only had time to gaze at longingly.
There seemed to be excellent representation from many of Spain’s top wineries, and despite the price, the lecture program included interesting topics such as “Climate Change and the Wine Industry”, given by the event’s organizer Pancho Campo, of the Wine Academy; and tasting led by Spain’s top sommeliers. I was however disappointed that it was not made more available (economically) to common industry professionals such as restaurant people and sommeliers, and hope that this improves in the future.
And then, just as quickly as the magical moment had begun; my clock struck twelve, the wine representatives began to slowly take their places once again, the room started to fill with chatter and the lines to form, and I was off, lest I turn into a – albeit very satisfied – pumpkin.

  • bbennett

    Your mention of the Tondonia wine brought to mind a memomable evening in Barcelona at a tapas bar just off the beach and south of the city center. It was the end of a software implementation in August, '04 and I was being taken out by the project sponsor to at least savor a wee bit of the ambience of Barcelona after spending the previous two weeks in dusty Martorell, at the outskirts of Barcelona, in the heart of the commercial zone. I digress. We sat down and the wine card was thrust into my hands. I was confronted with page after page of Spanish wines, predominantly Rioja. Somehow, as fate would have it, I chose the 1994 Vina Tondonia. Fate, or dumb luck? Either way, my co-worker and I were mightily impressed with the finesse and depth of flavors offered by the wine, especially considering it was approaching 10 years of age. The next day, while at the airport waiting for my plane, I chanced upon a wine shop. It was a small shop, but they had some of the wine in stock. Talk about lucky! So, I picked up a few bottles to bring home (back in the days when wine could be carried on to the plane). Here's the kicker. I had FORGOTTEN the name of the bodega. . . until today when I read your post. Thanks for jogging my memory and confirming my opinion of the wine.

  • bbennett

    Your mention of the Tondonia wine brought to mind a memomable evening in Barcelona at a tapas bar just off the beach and south of the city center.

    It was the end of a software implementation in August, ’04 and I was being taken out by the project sponsor to at least savor a wee bit of the ambience of Barcelona after spending the previous two weeks in dusty Martorell, at the outskirts of Barcelona, in the heart of the commercial zone.

    I digress. We sat down and the wine card was thrust into my hands. I was confronted with page after page of Spanish wines, predominantly Rioja. Somehow, as fate would have it, I chose the 1994 Vina Tondonia. Fate, or dumb luck? Either way, my co-worker and I were mightily impressed with the finesse and depth of flavors offered by the wine, especially considering it was approaching 10 years of age.

    The next day, while at the airport waiting for my plane, I chanced upon a wine shop. It was a small shop, but they had some of the wine in stock. Talk about lucky! So, I picked up a few bottles to bring home (back in the days when wine could be carried on to the plane).

    Here’s the kicker. I had FORGOTTEN the name of the bodega. . . until today when I read your post. Thanks for jogging my memory and confirming my opinion of the wine.

  • Adrienne

    I'm thrilled to hear that my little article came in handy in jogging your memory. Vina Tondonia is indeed a classic Rioja that is also, interestingly, known for its very old whites. I tried the latest one that is currently available and was stunned to discover that it was from 1988! I have to say, it is not the typical Spanish white, nor a typical aged white wine, but it does have a very particular character that makes it more than worth trying. I think it is fascinating as well that this particular winery is KNOWN for its aged wines, talk about sticking to your guns! glad you enjoyed it! Adrienne

  • Adrienne

    I’m thrilled to hear that my little article came in handy in jogging your memory. Vina Tondonia is indeed a classic Rioja that is also, interestingly, known for its very old whites. I tried the latest one that is currently available and was stunned to discover that it was from 1988! I have to say, it is not the typical Spanish white, nor a typical aged white wine, but it does have a very particular character that makes it more than worth trying.
    I think it is fascinating as well that this particular winery is KNOWN for its aged wines, talk about sticking to your guns! glad you enjoyed it!
    Adrienne