This is an indispensable tool for those who want to follow, in English, what really goes on in the world of Spanish and Portuguese wines – lively, informative and, most important, first-hand, on-the-scene knowledge!
Victor de la Serna http://elmundovino.elmundo.es

Respite During the Storm: Catavino’s 2nd National Geographic Expedition

Some of you might remember last year, when we took part in a portion of a Lindblad Expedition from the north coast of Spain around the coast of Galicia to Porto, and finally disembarking in Lisbon. 5 days and nights filled with food, wine, culture and lazing on a boat ship, with fine seas and sunny skys. Obviously, our experience carved out much of our expectations for this year’s trip, but little did we know that the seas can turn for the worst.

This year, fall weather brought with it a considerable amount of rain, which create “swells” – a word that has zero relationship to a happy, “swell” of a time. With Gabriella looking a fine shade of pea soup green, I sat pretty with my  stomach of steal, enjoying the waves crashing over the bow, while we slide up and down the sea walls.

Sadly, we did lose 2 glasses of a delicious Marselan rosé we picked up in St. Jean de Luz when the boat was hit by some rather impressive waves, though by the grace of the sea gods, the bottle was saved! A few passengers also had a rather rough go of it as they found themselves tipped backwards, legs up and thoroughly saturated in wine. But in the good spirit of perpetual sea-goers, jokes were promptly made that we could save the remaining wine by ringing drenched garments into glasses.

Our main mission on the ship, beyond enjoying the expansive buffet, was to educate the intrigued masses about Iberian wine. A few night ago, we slowly walked 100 seafarers though 7 very distinct and diverse wines, 3 of which were paired with tapas:  Mestres Visol, Equipos Navasos Manzanilla and a Garnatxa from Vinyas Aspres. Granted, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with tapas, but to our advantage, the boquerones were huge, juicy and tasted sweet like candy, while the Iberian jamon was perfectly buttery and delicious. Hence the appreciation for the food was equal, if not greater, to the appreciation for the wines.  Only the Sherry took a few odd glances, but this is to be expected.

After tapas, Ryan taught an hour long course on Spanish wines tasting wines from Rioja, Montsant and Rueda. The course was short and basic, but many people had very thoughtful and poignant questions to share. Some had never considered Spanish wine before and were elated to take their first sip. But interestingly, the number one compliment was that we not only the wines, but the food and culture of each region. I think it confirmed my belief that a tasting note is the least effective way of selling a wine. Rather, you need to tell a story, and share a bigger picture to really get people to fall in love with it.

Today, having watched Gabriella swim in sub freezing temperatures off the Islas Cies, we’ll be pouring 2 port cocktails: rose port with soda and a thick orange wedge and a white port over ice with tonic and a lemon slice.

Tomorrow, we’ll be getting off at Porto, to visit a cellar and to teach a bit about Portuguese wines, and then we’re off in Lisbon. The trip is too short, but our inboxes are bursting with too many EWBC related matters to really take any more time. That said, it’s a nice break from the norm and a great way to charge up the batteries into the final stretch.

Stay tuned while we post more on our adventures in the near future!

Cheers from some where on the Iberian coast line,

Ryan and Gabriella Opaz

Fun video!