Humbly Spanish

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The stunning terraced vineyards of Priorat

I recently attended a tasting of a Spanish wines from the great team at Humble Grape. Although proprietor James was otherwise engaged, Jessica and team took us through an interesting selection from some of the known and less well known Spanish regions.

The tasting was held at the Haciendas Club near the Millennium Bridge – a great venue for a Spanish themed event. We were a little early so we tried some cava and tapas from the excellent Zorita’s Kitchen directly below the Club.

We enjoyed a couple of glasses of Marques de la Monistrol ‘Reserva de la Familia‘ cava while the group gathered. This subtle rosé was also our favourite from those served downstairs. Cava is so under appreciated. These Spanish sparklers share the “Traditional Method” of production  – second fermentation in bottle – with those from Champagne, resulting in wines with much more depth and finer bubbles than those of the currently fashionable Prosecco.

We were then served a 2013 Vedejo from Marques de la Concordia, from the Rueda region. This was a great drinking wine – it serves the same purpose as Sauvignon Blanc without being Sauvignon Blanc.

We then sampled a couple of wines from Bodega Vinessens. The first was a “cool climate” chardonnay. It was plugged as a “burgundy substitute”. I wasn’t convinced – if I was looking for that vibe I’d seek out a Spanish barrel fermented Garnatxa Blanca, ideally from Terra Alta. But it was certainly different, and a very welcome addition to the Spanish interpretation of Chardonnay. Probably star turn of the night. The second was a Monastrell (known to most as Mourvèdre) made in a lighter style. This one is known as ‘Scandalo‘ to reflect its interesting provenance. We noted significant variety amongst our tasting group, who sampled different bottles. The conclusion was that this wine was indeed fine but a little one dimensional – a classic case of where a blend could perhaps have made a more interesting wine.

Next up was an old (2007) Rioja from Bodegas Rioja Santiago Reserva. At £14 it was good value and showed many of the characteristics that you would want from a Rioja. Better this than many a supermarket Rioja, but don’t expect distinction at that price.

We then turned to the latest “hot” Spanish region for a Gran Clos “Finca El Puig” 2001 Priorat. I’ll declare an interest – I think some of the most interesting red Spanish wine is coming out from Catalunya. This was no exception, but perhaps a bit too young to show its best. One for the cellar.

The next wine was trailed as a revelation. The Pico Cuadra from Ribera del Duero had everything going for it, including a winemaker who learnt his trade at Vega Sicilia, but the wine didn’t deliver on the night. Perhaps this was due to the frantic journey it had to go through to get there due to some “unforeseen circumstances”. One to taste again at another time, perhaps.

All round, an interesting selection, and certainly some different wines from those I would have expected. If you don’t know them already, I suggest you check out Humble Grape – they have some good stuff.

The Only Way is Ethics

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I have been in business for over 30 years and in that time I have met the entire range of “business people”. Many I would happily trust in all matters, but sadly there are also too many that I would put in the “dodgy” category. Unfortunately the deregulated nature of the internet makes it harder to determine the good guys from the bad. One area in particular that incenses me is the area of “remunerated blogging”.

I love the idea that on the internet, anyone can easily publish their opinion and invite comment. Interesting bloggers and tweeters can build up a significant following that sometimes exceeds that of the established press. So far, so good. The problems can come when bloggers seek to “monetize” their followers. It is fine if you put a bit of Google advertising on your page, or offer an enhanced subscription service. Readers can tell the difference. Sadly though some bloggers write opinion pieces about a certain product in order to be rewarded by the producer in some way, and without telling the reader about the financial connection. Such behaviour is rightly not allowed in print media. However on the internet it is a veritable industry – “affiliate marketing”.

The answer is simple. If people want to blog for reward, they should just make sure the reader knows whether they are reading an opinion piece or what is, in effect, a paid advert.

That is why on this site any blog will only be tagged with “opinion” when we have no financial interest in the matter, and will be tagged “connected” when we have a direct financial interest in the subject being written about. That is the only ethical way to blog.

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