Everyday while in Spain, we had plenty of travel-time on the bus. The group of folks I traveled with were all top wine industry professionals across the US - distributors, restaurateurs and powerful retailers. Chatting with this group from sunrise and into the wee-hours of the morning each day was great fun and inspiring.
Throughout the week "Top 10" lists were compiled by my "back of the bus" companions. I won't even go into all the titles, they usually had less to do with wine and more to do with pop-culture. So in remembrance of those crazy-ass Top 10 lists...here's one for the books - click on the pictures to enlarge.
"Top 10 Mind-blowing Moments of the Solomon Trip"
10. "Professor Xavier Gramona" explained "Mouseability" of his beautiful Cava. "We focus on crafting wines that have a long life without oxidation, the spirit, maturity, balance and complexity can grow-up, the yeast is the most responsible".
9. 84 farmers gave over 1.5million to Capcanes, the man below swimming in his skivvies directed them to do so. True Vision and Courage!
The Capcanes property is situated in the village of Capcanes and served for several years as the village cooperative. In 1995, this vast investment took place and the whole winery was completely restructured and modernized thanks to farmers - true believers of the region.
8. The Priorat - is a small unique pocket of black hills where powerful, deep red wines of superb quality have been made for over eight centuries. Before standing on this schiste ridden hillside, we had NO idea how steep and vertical the vineyards of the Priorat stand. By far the hardest farming and vineyard management we saw in Spain. TexaCali Ali's personal favorite new discovery: "Closa Batllet" created by Sonia and Marc Ripoll.
7. 2005 Clos Eramus. This appeared over dinner in Falset, not often I get to drink (not just taste) a 100 point wine over dinner while sitting next to the winemaker! The vertical vineyard slightly right of center in this photo is the orginal Daphne planted a few years ago in the Priorat. Here's the parker blurb: 'The 2005 Clos Erasmus is produced from three vineyard sites originally terraced by the Greeks. The current blend is 85% Garnacha and 15% Syrah with a long-term goal of making a 100% Garnacha wine. The wine was aged for 18 months in new French oak. It is super-fragrant with aromas of crushed stone, slate, cinnamon, baking spices, cassis, kirsch, blueberry, and wild black cherry. Perhaps a bit tighter than the 2004, on the palate there is a liquid minerality that must be tasted to be believed. Opulent, harmonious, and awesome are words which really cannot do justice to this extraordinary vinous achievement.
6. Scala Dei "God's Ladder" - after sipping the gorgeous 100% Garnacha Blanca from 100+ year old vines of Conreria de'Scala Dei "Les Brugueres", winemaker Jordi Vidal led us on a tour to see remains of a Carthusian monastery in Scala Dei, Priorat.
5. Bodegas Mustiguillo - their mission is to protect indigenous "Bobal" and nuture it into what has become one of Spain's most fancinating wines. From their Mestizaje red blend of bobal, tempranillo, cabernet and garnacha tintorera to their 100% bobal bottle of Quincha Corral, a true sense of place can be tasted in each sip.
4. Paella! I can't leave this one out, the father who began working at age 6 is now retired but playing golf and has become one of the best amatures on the senior circuit in Spain! This particular paella was an incredible savory mix of roasted green snap peas, grilled artichokes, olive oil and rice. Fire roasted for a few hours and served HOT! Delicious with the wines of Mustiguillo.
3. 16th Century Wine Cellar complete with its Amphora's. Just breathtaking to see the techniques of winemaking that still reign today. This historic site is on the property of Cellar del Roure winery - created in 1995 as a family estate by Pablo Calatayud. Based in the village of Moixent, the property is committed to nurturing and championing the wines and indigenous varietals of the region, most notably the Mando grape. The estate owns three different blocks of vines on the northern slope of the Serra Grossa at 550 meters above sea level.
2. Casa Castillo - Day 5 we visited the newest addition to the Solomon Selections Spanish Portfolio. I had the great pleasure of sitting next to the second generation of the family Mr. Nemesio and his son Jose Vincente who revived this property that was originally founded in 1870. Stylistically the wines are true to their terroir and taste. Very well balanced monastrell, syrahs and cabernet. The 2006 Las Gravas was my personal favorite last spring at the Solomon tasting in San Francisco, still is. 55% Monastrell, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. Gorgeous wine!
1. Number 1 already? Well I have to give the honors to the 'back of the bus posse" a few members are missing in this photo, but this Friday night in Madrid was the most fun time all week long. Thanks to JT, Arthur, Jeffery and Ronnie for always keeping it real and making me laugh to tears this night. An unexpected & unplanned night of savory tapas (oh that tortilla and octopus plate!) and wines that were full of surprise and adventure.
I took well over 600 pictures and am in the midst of creating a day-by-day photo essay on www.texacaliwine.com. It's going to take a few more days, I'm off to Dallas and Fort Worth until Sunday. Stay tuned and in the meantime, go click around on www.europeancellars.com to discover your own Top 10 list from Spain...Cheers! Ali