Archive for the ‘Spanish Wines’ Category

Tasting at Vega Sicilia

June 18, 2010

written by Michael Oudyn

In 1970s Spain the very words “Vega Sicilia” inspired mystery and awe.  “World´s greatest wine”: “Most expensive wine in the world.” Of course nobody I knew had ever tasted it, or even seen a bottle of it, for that matter.  (My friends and I might get into a mid-level Rioja on a good day.)  Jancis Robinson attributes much of this awe to Vega Sicilia´s “splendid isolation” in the ruggedly inhospitable Castilian backwaters a couple of hour’s drive north of Madrid; steamy hot in the summer, freezing cold in the winter.  Vega Sicilia was far from any official wine region.  So in those days “the best wine in the world” had to be sold as the lowest of the low: vino de mesa, table wine. And their neighbors were capable of nothing better than plonk. Definitely the stuff of fairy tales.  Personally I wasn’t completely convinced that Vega Sicilia wasn’t just some  weird collective patriotic hallucination until I saw, with my own two eyes, a bottle of it in a Barcelona wine shop. (more…)

Obama and the “White Revolution”

November 23, 2009

written by Michael Oudyn

Obama "White Revolution" Rioja tshirt

“White Revolution” Rioja style

I was covering the Wine Future congress in Logroño, Spain with It was being billed as “the greatest wine congress ever.”  Wine´s  heavy hitters  and glitterati were present: Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, Gary Vaynerchuck, and Barack Obama.  President Obama? Well, yes. His  “yes, we can”  face was everywhere: on T-shirts, posters, everywhere.  But with a new-twist second slogan: “The White Revolution.”   Our first black president linked to a white revolution?  Was this some kind of weird, surreal image rip-off?  Had I wandered  nto the Rioja chapter of the KKK by mistake?  Was last night´s red Rioja messing with my head?

None of the above.  Not only were these two slogans a brilliant bit of catch-your-attention marketing, they actually made coherent sense. I interviewed Ricardo Amarbarri of Castillo de Maetierra a family-owned (more…)

The showman of Clos de l´Obac

May 20, 2009



written by Michael Oudyn

The Costers del Siurana winery is located in Gratallops, province of Tarragona, Catalonia. It was the first of the four mythic new-wave DOQ Priorat wineries that revolutionized the region in the 1980s. Alicia Juanpere of Catacurian Gourmet Food and Wine Vacations  said that Carles Pastrana, the owner and public face of Clos de l´Obac, was “the best of the winery”. Carles—animated, eccentric, opinionated, and playful—didn´t disappoint. After an interesting tour of the facilities, we adjourned to the tasting room with its beautiful stained glass ceiling and its fantastic views of mountains and white slate vineyards of the Priorat. Here the fun began.

Carles started off dumping on legendary Gratallops wine l´Ermita.   This $600/bottle, 97-points-from-Parker red systematically loses blind (more…)

AOQ Priorat and AO Montsant

May 15, 2009
Priorat, through a glass lightly rose

Priorat, through a glass lightly

written by Michael Oudyn

My friend Ricard Domingo and I are on our way to Falset.  About a two-hour drive south of Barcelona this town of 5000 inhabitants is this week´s center of the Spanish wine world.  We will be spending three days tasting, talking about wines, and whatever else might pop up at the Mostra de Vi, a wine fair for D.O. Montsant and D.O.Q. Priorat.

We are reminiscing about wines in the good old days and how far Priorat has come.  In the 1950s Ricard worked in his father´s bar in Barcelona and some of their best wines came from the comarca (county) of Priorat.  They were not the D.O.Q. Priorat wines of today; they didn´t even have labels.  Horse carts delivered the wine in 60-liter bullskins or 120-liter wooden barrels.  No preservatives (more…)