Posted: Wednesday, 04 October 2023 12:08
Spanish Wines and Commercial Office wins hearts in Delhi
Dene wala jab bhee deta, poor chhappar farh ke deta, is a line from an old Bollywood song that underlines the fact that when Gods are generous they can be much too generous at times. There have been several Wine Tastings of Substance at the Spanish Ambassador’s residence in the past that had been a phenomenal success but of late, the embassy seemed to be relatively quiet in the wine and food segment. Therefore the invite sent by the Commercial office brought tears of joy to many palates and the attendance was much higher and people arrived on time at 5 PM on this day.
The space allocated seemed much more this time, the organization was a lot better (including glasses) management and the enthusiasm of the visiting producers or their reps. What might have added to the ‘glamour’ this time was the number of wineries from the popular Rioja region and several food stands, not to mention a special food stand in a corner that was catered by the Taj Mahal Hotel.
There were 16 stands/stations catering to much bigger crowd than the last time when Don Quixote had ‘visited’ from La Mancha in the form of 6 Bodegas (wineries)- some of them had been excellent wines as the region has really elevated its status though a bit patchy because of its earlier reputation of making quantity and not quality.
A proper floor plan had been laid out and the wineries and food stands had been well defined for the 17 participants. Fincas de Azabache, an old cooperative established in 1958 was there to welcome you on Stand 1. A traditional Rioja wine producer using Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha and Mazuelo (known internationally as Cariñan), showcased 6 wines and it was a great start to the evening.
Bodegas Franco Españolas was another relatively new winery from Logroño, the capital of Rioja region, known more for its bull fights in earlier years. Some excellent wines were a treat for the cognoscenti, especially the white Rioja and the Gran Reserva that offered insights to the high quality Rioja wines. Perhaps unknown to most, the winery has participated earlier on at least 2 occasions- I had spoken once to a delegation they were a part of and again in 2010 at Shangri-La. It’s a pity that like at IPL, some of the best cricketers are ignored in the auctions for no apparent reasons. I was so glad that I had visited the winery on my first-ever visit to Rioja in around 2004-05. I was also happy I was able to taste (only) a few of the wines they showcased.
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Bodegas del Saz was a family winery-this time from La Mancha that offered good prices for the wines. The 95-year old winery had an interesting Chardonnay and a couple of non- traditional grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. Bodegas GIL was yet another centurion winery from the Jumilla region. One could taste the collective efforts of 9 siblings of the family who have taken the wines to another level, with really chic labels. Arindo was a lovely white from DO Rueda, made from Verdejo grapes. Similarly, it was the DO Monsant wine that I liked- it was the Spanish equivalent of GSM wines from France- with Cariñan, Syrah and Garnacha offering a perfect example of Spanish wines.
Bodegas LAN is another well-respected winery from Rioja, I had visited on my first trip. They have good wines but they did not send their own rep and the Spanish Office manning the stand had unfortunately, no emotional connect with the wine or the history of the winery. Lan a Mano was a typical Rioja wine with 87% Tempranillo with the balance being Graciano and Mazuelo. I tasted all the wines and found them well up to the mark- Riojan mark.
Bodegas Camino Alto was yet another winery from Rioja that impressed me. Unfortunately, due to shortage of time, I could not taste all their wines; their Sauvignon Blanc was interesting.
Bodegas Luzón was a winery from DO Jumilla that was impressive. The 180-year old winery makes grapes from the autochthonous grapes- Monastrell that needs some getting used to its unique taste. But those who have had many wines from the grape, simply love this wine- this was a great opportunity to taste Monastrell in all its glory.
Bodegas San Valero (BSV) specializes in D O Cariñena and manages grapes from 500 growers with a surface area of 4,000 hAs. Bodegas Baigorri was another participant from Rioja. Bodegas San Antonio Abad was from the La Mancha region and had some interesting looking bottles but I could not spend time with them.
Rest were all food stalls of sorts with the pistachio stand Pistacyl, Almond products stand El Almendro and the very popular La Prudencia stand with Iberian ham, the pride of Spain. Since I don’t eat meat now, it could not unfortunately seduce me; neither did the Taj Stand because it had too many people milling around and the time being too short had to be devoted to wine tasting.
Kudos to the Spanish Commercial office for bringing such diversified wines; one hopes there would be some positive response from the importers. The office needs to build its leadership in organizing more such events in future- it might help expand the wine market for Spanish wines though Delhi has not much scope till more pragmatic wine policy is in place.