Camino de Santiago

21 01 2018

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Journey to Italy Day Five: Perugia, Assisi and Montefalco

30 05 2010

A leisurely morning was spent at the hotel before we embarked to Perugia and met up with a tour guide who showed us the local sights there.  Sylvia, our guide showed us the sites and commented on the town that benefited from their proximity to the Flaminia Road, a Roman road and major connector between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Adriatic over the Apennine mountains.  A unique sight within the town is a gorgeous fountain with carvings that depict the daily life of man at the base of the fountain.  To represent each month of the year there is a carving showing the activities such as pruning vines and tending sheep along to more intellectual pursuits towards the end of the year.  The idea is that over the course of the year through daily life humans move from action to intellect and eventually to spiritual enlightenment represented by the more saintly beings at the next level of the fountain.   The town church is modest compared to richer towns, with only faux marble columns and their one relic is the ring said to be that given from Joseph to Mary.  The town was so lacking in relics back in the day that they tried to actually steal the bodies of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare, but were unsuccessful.  Apparently relics were vital as they were a source of tourism, so without them your town suffered.

Perugia was a source of some of the best painters in Italy as home to both Perugino, Raphael and Pinturrichio.  The history of the town is rather violent as f conflict between the popes and emperor creating a great deal of turmoil over its history.  One leading family of the town, the Baglioni.  The Baglione family lived in this town but opposed the pope and as such he destroyed the towers that housed their family.  In its place a fortress was built where he sent delegates to control the town, but of course the locals of Perugia hated this as it was an insult and eventually also destroyed most of the fortress and in the process destroying much of their history.  We were shown the ruins of the ancient town that lie under the Piazza Italia as well as the escape route these delegates would take to leave town.  The weirdest thing is that you reach these ruins through a series of escalators, it feels like you are going into the NY Subway, but you are surrounded by ancient stonework.  Nowadays this leads to the underground parking structure (weird!).  One of the folks in our group got her dress caught in the escalator and luckily survived unscathed, but we joked that maybe this was the miracle the town was waiting for and she should sell them the pink shroud of life as their new relic.  We left the town hearing nothing about the chocolates that are named for the town but someone did ask Sylvia about the “Baci” made by Perugino, she said that basically the Baci was a great marketing idea since they used to call the little chocolates “fists”.  Really?

Off we headed for a quick jaunt to Assisi.  I could have stayed in that town all day.  While it seems a bit touristy it was really amazing to see all the incredibly narrow streets running throughout the town.  Our van driver expertly navigated some really tight turns, I wouldn’t even drive a Smart car through this town, it was crazy tight.  We visited the main Roman square where columns of the Minerva temple still sit.  Built in about 100 BC this site has always been a religious site despite the fact that the religion changed over time.  The city of Assisi was a bit smarter than Perugia and never adversarial towards Rome, which means that much of it is preserved.  This square also housed the market and the old metal measures used for silk and bricks can be seen on the wall next to the temple.  Assisi is famous of course for St. Francis, and also St. Clare, and the whole town’s names really resonate to me considering I am so familiar with California and the names of cities inspired by these saints, San Francisco, Santa Clara and even Los Angeles named for the church where Assisi found his inspiration, Santa Maria dei Angeli.  St. Francis was born at the end of the 12th century to an upper class family.  He had an easy life and was given the benefits of education and financial comfort.  He determined that he wanted to go to war at the age of 19 but was captured and imprisoned and his father bailed him out.  Then he decided to follow the Crusades, but got ill not far from home and again had to regroup.  It was at this time that he discovered his path and decided to live by the Gospel.  He had the benefit of being able to address the nobles as well as all levels of society and received entree to talk with the Pope due to his status.  The Pope was being challenged by the Emperor at the time and so the new Franciscan movement that St. Francis proposed seemed like a good option so he actually gave it his blessing.  The tenets of the religion 1. Poverty 2. Chastity and 3. Obedience to the Church, the last two are the longer lasting ideals…  St. Francis was of course also famous for his respect for animals and the environment, he spoke to all creatures calling them all brothers and sisters.  The Basilica of St. Francis is pretty incredible.  The top story is where the public would attend mass, the next level down you find a more spiritual chapel and at the bottom level is the area in which St. Francis is interred.  You can make an offering an buy a candle to be burned at a later time.  It was really moving.  Amazing also to think that here is the birthplace of a religion that ultimately spread across the world and brought winemaking to California with the Franciscan missionaries.  While they were apparently from Spain they evolved from the teachings of St. Francis, and as our guide said, really a missionary has no home but the figurative home of the church.

Off we went to lunch at Hotel La Bastiglia in Spello, a gorgeous restaurant with an incredible view where we dined on a panzanella salad, fresh ricotta, free range pork prosciutto, herbed pecorino cheese and those were just the starters!  I am getting used to this.  These were of course followed by Tagliatelle with Chianina beef as well as a “mixed grill” of pork, beef and sausage.  Just when I thought I could take no more in comes a molten chocolate cake that was incredibly decadent with strawberry sorbet.  We also met Marco’s amazing family including Arnaldo Caprai, he seems ready to take over now…

A quick jaunt through our local town of Foligno and a 20 minute power nap and it was back to work at Arnaldo Caprai where Paolo Biccheri led through a tasting of Montefalco Rosso and Sagrantino de Montefalco from numerous local producers.  My highlights were Tabarrini and of course Arnaldo Caprai.  Then we tasted seven of the latest new wines from Arnaldo Caprai and were met with a gorgeous sunset over the vineyards while we discussed their latest clonal trials.  They are working both with the traditional propagation of Sagrantino as well as using seeds to breed new clones in order to get the best vine material possible.

We headed off to the gorgeous town of Montefalco as the bats were coming out and the sky was a deep indigo and were greeted by Sylvia Santificetur and her husband Achille, who just happen to be parents of Maria Assunta’s grandson, the couple we met at lunch the day before.  They own Spiritodivino, a gorgeous restaurant that has been getting incredible press lately http://www.spiritodivino.net.  It was another one of those nights when the food and company were so wonderful it was hard to take notes, but highlights were an artichoke served with cauliflower puree and a poached egg as well as a 1996 Sagrantino de Montefalco.

Now it’s off to Montefalco and back to Bevagna for a tour and then onto the winery where they are having an open house and concert!





Journey to Italy Day One, Two and Maybe Three

27 05 2010

May 25-26, 2010

Always one to cut things close, I decided that it would be no problem at all to roll three projects into one the last two weeks of May.  That’s not including a huge tasting of 115 Ribera del Duero wines earlier in the month and multiple other business such as the launch of the SF Chefs 2010 website and ticket sales and a few wine buff commitments.  Overall I knew I was making the month insane for myself but I can’t very often say no and surely I was not going to say no to a trip to Italy to visit Luce, Frescobaldi and Arnaldo Caprai.

So May 18 is really when my crazy journey began.  I packed two suitcases (more like lots of planning and then tossing everything into two bags and hoping for the best)  one which traveled with me and the other that my husband was going to exchange with me later in the week (Southwest doesn’t charge for two bags!  I flew Virgin America to LAX).  I flew into LAX where I picked up a rental car for my journey to the Inland Empire to judge the Los Angeles International Wine Competition (May 18-21), stay the weekend and run the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition (May 23-25).  Both were a blast and filled with lots of partying and great people, and luckily my husband helps me with spirits so I was able to see him again (and exchange bags) before heading off, same day as the end of the competition, to LAX for my flight to Munich/Florence.  I arrived at the airport at 4:30 for a 9 pm flight (way too early in my opinion) and was greeted by the fact that there is very little to do at LAX Int’l terminal.  Had a wedge salad and a beer at the Daily Grill, it was acceptable only because of the double power outlet next to me and a friendly waitress, but otherwise uneventful.  At least LAX has free wireless out there.  In true Chapa fashion more beers were had at the airport bar to allow for plane sleep.

I flew Lufthansa, suspiciously comfortable and easy despite the lack of seat pockets for my stuff.  I watched the Princess and the Frog (made me cry when the firefly died) with my meal, enjoyed some Nero d’Avola/Syrah and dozed off watching Up in the Air.  I found myself rudely awakened by a jerky guy who decided he wanted to wake up the plane by opening his window shade, but luckily another 45 minutes later they were serving breakfast (finished watching the movie, all movies are available at your leisure and can be stopped or fast forwarded which was cool) and we were almost there.  Despite my aisle seat and no neck pillow I awoke all chipper and happy, so of course there would need to be some type of crazy twist right?

Got to Munich, relatively easy deplaning and rechecking and then I walked into their gorgeous terminal complete with luxury cars on display and boutiques, Kiehls, Jo Malone and MAC right when you enter, got some free lotion to revive my dried out body and then went to the pharmacy where they had my favorite shower gel, Korres Basil Lemon, which I have been missing since I forgot to pack it a week ago.  Things were great, I grabbed a Weissbier (ya gotta when you are only in Germany for an hour.)  So things were clearly too good to be true.

My flight was completely cancelled due to equipment failure so they are routing me through Bologna and then taking me on a ground transfer to Florence.  Only adds another three or four hours to the trip, but at this point does that really matter?

I am trying not to let it get me and instead I am taking the opportunity to explore the airport.  Nothing like the smell of the duty free store to refresh you after a long trip, wish I had my perfume books on hand so I could do some investigating.  The good thing about this airport is they may not have wireless but they do have the Allianz Arena, a news lounge open to all passengers where you can visit news sites.  Although I couldn’t get onto my Earthlink webmail, but apparently they think that Facebook and Twitter qualify as “News”.  I was able to connect to my friends/family although at first it tried to bump me off.  The keyboard wasn’t so easy to type on with the y and z interchanged and so while they had Word Press too I opted to write this on my laptop instead.   The also bump you off after about 20 minutes, but there seem to be plenty of terminals.

Another great feature of this airport is multiple free coffee and tea stations!  Although I had vowed to wait until Italy for a coffee, I have to say that automatic machine makes a mean espresso macchiato, so despite the 14 hours of travel I am still relatively awake and hopeful that this is an adventure not a debaucle through Bologna.  See you in Firenze.

May 27, 2010 1:33 AM

Well I finally made it to Florence after more than 25 hours of travel.  I arrived in Bologna around 10:30 and had to wait about an hour for a bus to take us to Florence which took at least an hour.  Of course there was no one waiting so I had to grab a cab and get cash before I made it to my hotel, Grand Hotel Villa Medici, but luckily the hotel was still open (at about 1am) and very friendly and I came up to my room to find a delicious fruit bowl and a bottle of Frescobaldi Bubbles.  I quickly jumped into my bathing suit and ran down to the piscine (pool) and hopped into some pretty cold but invigorating water.  That along with the bubbles is washing all the worries of my travel away, but I have an early day tomorrow so I must crash ASAP.   Grand Hotel Villa Medici was a palace in the 1700s and now as part of SINA Fine Italian Hotels it meshes historical ambiance with contemporary comfort.





Nantucket Off Season

20 11 2009

bclosedI lived on Nantucket for two full summers, the last of which I stayed well into the fall.  I loved Nantucket in the fall, the golden leaves, the quiet beaches, the subdued nature of town.  But with the fall came perils, for example, almost daily I’d need to run down to the ferry to say goodbye to yet another comrade headed off island for the winter.  Restaurants grew slim as they pared down their hours, and worst of all I had to stop ordering Guinness.  It just took too long to pour and settle and soon I’d often find myself surrounded by a crowd of lusty but otherwise harmless scallopers.

I guess those fond memories inspired me to retreat once again to Nantucket in the fall.  Some folks we encountered were confused as to why we would want to visit when then weather was turning cold and grey, but it was sublime.

Nantucket is an island about 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachussetts.  Known for a lucrative whaling industry, today the island remains a proud testament to tradition.  It’s cobblestone streets are mostly unchanged, and save for a Cumberland Farms and a Ralph Lauren outpost, most chain stores are shunned.  No stop lights and staunch dedication towards a traditional architecture means that most buildings look identical in their weathered grey shingles.  Nantucket looks pretty much like it did back in the day.  During the peak season (July and August) the town swells with visitors, but quickly the summer crowds and workers dissipate allowing one to appreciate a pristine and windswept vista in the late fall.  While late October can supply some pleasant Indian summer type days, by November the island gets colder and damper, but more serene.  Beach days become blustery rather than sunny.  Town is mostly shut down, few restaurants are open and those that are have limited hours, often seemingly determined by the whim of the owner on any given day.  Stores are open sporadically but the upside is the incredible sales, it seems the whole island is a bargain with room rates plunging and most retailers offering 20% on current issue items, but 50-75% on summer wares.

My husband and I headed out to the island by plane, a quicker and easier ride than the ferry since we flew east into Boston.  Off season can mean discounted rooms and a few of the larger hotels are really peaceful during this season.  The White Elephant is a quick but chilly walk to town near Brant Point.  Additionally they have just started renting their gorgeous White Elephant Hotel Residences which are available through December 6, 2009.  These are multi room apartments are outfitted beautifully and offer amenities including remote controlled fireplaces, kitchens with panini makers, wine cellars, amazing bathtubs, blue-ray, pretty much everything you need to enjoy Nantucket as if you lived there, also right in the heart of town.  Their Brant Point Grill stays open for most of the fall season and offers great food, but be sure to check exact dates.

Nantucket Christmas Stroll is another great time to visit but room rates bump up a bit due to the increased visitors.  It’s dreamy walking the streets decked out for the holidays and makes you think you have stepped back in time.  This year Christmas Stroll is scheduled for December 4 and 5, 2009.

Overall the island is always an amazing place to visit, but if you want to maximize your dollar and enjoy it without the mass of summer visitors and day-trippers then off-season is the way to go.

White Elephant Hotel Residences

http://www.whiteelephanthotelresidences.com/

View from The White Elephant

American Season’s Restaurant

80 Centre Street: Amazing.  The food is amazing.  I do not know what else to say!  The seasonal menu changes often and is uniquely not divided by appetizer/entree but rather by region into Pacific Coast, New England and Down South featuring dishes inspired by each region.  Lots of game and they also offer specials, and if the charcuterie is an option when you go do not miss it.  http://www.americanseasons.com/

Black-Eyed Susan’s

10 India Street: This small diner style spot offers some of the most amazing breakfast dishes.  I was incredibly fond of Susan’s grits, a small dish arrives making you wonder if it will be enough but the delectable combination of grits, ranchero sauce, cheese and hollandaise is just right, rich and delicious.  The Portuguese scramble with spinach, garlic and linguica is also a winner, hearty and delicious.  They are open for dinner too!  http://www.black-eyedsusans.com/

Easy Street Restaurant

Easy Street & Steamboat Wharf:  In all the years I visited Nantucket, it was not until this year that I stepped foot inside Easy Street Restaurant.  It always seemed a shame that such a convenient location had what was reputed to be sub-average food, but things have changed!  New ownership brings great food to a comfortable and convenient location.  We skipped the Lobster Trap this trip for a more reasonable New England Lobster Boil here.  For $20 you get a 1 and 1/4 lb. lobster, perfectly steamed, with drawn butter, Yukon gold potatoes and corn on the cob.  Wash it down with one of their selection of Oktoberfest beers and it’s heavenly.  Also do not miss the chowder, one of the best we had, as well as the  ridiculously priced 50 cent chicken wings.  I was frightened by the price but had to try them and they were deliciously crispy and seasoned well, quite a bargain really!  http://www.easystreetnantucket.com/

downeyDowney Flake

18 Sparks Avenue: If you want to see where the locals eat stop by the Downey Flake for a donut, breakfast and some coffee.  Owned by my friends and former managers from the Brotherhood of Thieves back in the day, Mark Hogan and Susan Tate offer truly reasonable fare at a great price.  The diner atmosphere is kitschy but its worth a trip and you can eavesdrop on how the scallop harvest is going.

LO LA 41

15 Beach Street:  The longitude/latitude coordinates of Nantucket this hot spot makes you feel as if you could be in SoHo.  Offering great Asian inspired food and a huge selection of sake and wine by the glass the atmosphere is chic without being pretentious.  http://www.lola41.net/inner.html

The Brotherhood of Thieves

23 Broad Street:  Although its not the same as I remember it, a visit to the island would not be complete without visiting the Brotherhood.  Although the food is lackluster, the curly fries are still good.  Similarly lacking is the extensive frozen drink selection I remember, but have a seat at the bar, grab a chowder and some fries and a beer and enjoy the dark wood and comfortable cozy atmosphere on a cold day.

Things to Do

Whaling Museum

A trip to Nantucket would not be complete without a trip to the Whaling Museum.  The forty-six foot skeleton of a sperm whale washed ashore on island on New Year’s Day and the gorgeous 1849 Fresnel Lens from the Sankaty Head Lighthouse are worth the visit alone.  Off season expect fun informative talks on topics such as the cranberry harvest presented by island locals.  They have a great gift shop too.  http://nha.org/sites/index.html

Drive out to Great Point

Rent a four wheel drive vehicle with an Oversand Vehicle Permit, deflate your tires and drive through the sand onto Great Point.  Off season you may see some locals fishing, or you may not see anyone the whole time.  We saw deer and a pod of about 30 seals dining at the rip of the point.  They peered over at us curiously and bobbed around in the water.

Visit Nantucket Vineyard, Triple Eight Distillery and Cisco Brewers

Sadly we heard that Cisco Brewers moved most of their brewing off island due to increased demand (always the dilemma, so successful that they cannot do it locally anymore), but that doesn’t make their beer less good.  A visit to the distillery/brewery/winery is always fun with sampling and tasting and sale of all their products.  Try to get some Pumple Drunkin Spiced Ale while it lasts, but for everyday I love the Whale’s Tale Pale Ale.  http://www.ciscobrewers.com/

Shopping

Nantucket Natural Oils (The Fragrance Bar)

5 Centre Street:  Maybe it is because I am a wine geek obsessed with the sense of smell, but I can’t help but gravitate immediately to Nantucket Natural Oils when I hit the island.  John Harding, the proprietor, crafts fragrances to rival those of the major perfume houses, but this is no infomercial “If you like Giorgio you’ll love X” type of place.  What is most special about the spot is the fact that all the products are made from 100% pure oil, rather than diluted with 80-94% alcohol and water like normal scents.  This means that they last longer on your skin AND in the bottle.  It is also a godsend for those that have encountered allergic reactions or professions where fragrance is shunned.  While I would refrain from wearing this to a wine tasting, Harding has first hand knowledge that nurses can even wear these essences without negatively affecting the hospital environment.  I know first hand that these oils do last.  I had a perfume made by Harding in Spring of 1995 which I wore all the time, I still had a half vial left when I inadvertently left the cap off and it seeped into my makeup pouch.  Luckily Harding has a system that remembers  each and every purchase so he was able to recreate this mix of Calyx with an addition of vanilla for me, now appropriately named Spring of ’95.  Whether it is for a custom blend or for a designer fragrance or aromatherapy mix this shop is not to be missed. Harding and his expert staff are happy to let you sample and smell to your heart’s content.  This year I bought some ambergris, an aromatic that comes from the regurgitant of whales after it has festered for years on the open ocean.  How appropriate for Nantucket right?  If you can’t make it to Nantucket you can find them online too!  Until November 20, 2009 they are having a buy one get one half off sale on fragrances, so buy some for yourself and a friend for the holidays.  https://nantucketnaturaloils.com/

Nantucket Bookworks

25 Broad Street: Borders and Barnes & Noble got you down?  This is the perfect remedy.  The Bookworks offers a great selection, great staff recommendations and even a pile of free books sometimes!  They also have a great selection of paper goods, toys, and tchotchkes.  Open seven days a week year round and often open as late as 10pm!  Great place to shop after your beer at the Broho (Brotherhood) nextdoor http://www.nantucketbookworks.com/

Cold Noses

Straight Wharf: A great spot to pick up a squeaky lobster for your furry friend.

Best of the Beach

Straight Wharf: Feels like summer all year long in this bright and airy shop featuring great pajamas, pretty housewares and aromatic candles.

Vis a Vis

34 Main Street: A very nice clothing boutique although not for the weak of wallet

The Hub

31 Main Street: A magazine and candy shop that also features gifts and postcards, the sign outside is where islanders share information about day to day activities.  Here’s where to find a winter rental, babysitter, carpenter, etc.

Nantucket Looms

16 Federal Street: Handcrafted items galore, gorgeous hooked rugs and weavings.

Nantucket Carving & Folk Art

167 Orange Street: Quarterboards, signs and amazing antiques out near the airport http://www.nantucketcarvingandfolkart.com/

The Sunken Ship

12 Broad Street: Although this corner is slightly desolate when the season is over and the Juice Bar is shuttered, the Sunken Ship is still a treasure trove for typical souvenirs, toys, and flags.   Always fun to browse.  http://www.sunkenship.com/

Epernay

1N Beach Street: Especially if you need to stock up your White Elephant Residences fridge you can drop into this cute shop only half a block away to see what they have available.  Selections are diverse and fun and reasonably priced.  You might find Amber Cantella holding free wine tastings at local restaurants like the Boarding House so you can try before you buy!  http://www.epernaywines.com/

Murray’s Toggery Shop

62 Main Street: The classic stop to buy Nantucket Reds paraphernalia.  “Reds” are a type of denim like fabric dyed a particular pink shade that fades to a gorgeous coral color and soft texture when washed multiple times.  Or of course the prepster in you may opt for the lobster pants.  http://www.nantucketreds.com/

Nobby Clothes Shop

17 Main Street: Need foul weather gear?  If there’s a Nor’easter on the way this is the place to go.  A great collection of Carhartt gear and everything you need to look like a scalloper.  http://www.nobbyshop.com/

Current Vintage Clothing Wine Home

4 Easy Street: If your significant other is sick of you shopping for clothes then come here and they can shop for wine at the same time.  They have an amazing selection of lesser known cult wines including Scholium Project!  Pretty cool to see that someone here knows what they’re doing.  http://www.currentvintage.com/





Vinos de Madrid

16 07 2008

In November 2007, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Salon de los Vinos de Madrid, a tasting of DO Madrid wines conveniently held in… Madrid.  It was a short trip, my second visit, but here are some tips on the wines and where to go if you find yourself there.   

 

 

While Madrid may evoke images of a cosmopolitan nation’s capital full of museums and cultural opportunities, most consumers and even wine industry professionals do not think of Madrid as a wine region.  They may picture themselves drinking a glass of Spanish wine with some tapas at a bar table at the Plaza Mayor, but many don’t even know that wines from Madrid exist, so let me let you in on a secret, Madrid wines have incredible potential, so get to know them!

Although wines have been made in Madrid since ancient times, 13th century, the challenges that Spain faced due to phylloxera, World War I, the Spanish Civil War and World War II followed by financial depression through the 70s squelched the wine culture somewhat.  Many vineyards were abandoned and never replanted, and abandoned cellars abound.  The good news is there is a resurgence in wine growing that is accompanied by increased understanding of viticultural techniques and cleaner winemaking.  What used to be rustic table wine is gaining finesse and has the potential to compete on the world wine market.  The Spanish government recognized the strides that local producers have made by rewarding the Denominacion de Origen Vinos de Madrid in 1990, and wines continue to improve.  It won’t be long until these wines catch on both abroad and in the local market.

All types of wine are made including sparkling, Cava, but the best wines seem to be reds.  A blending of traditional grape varieties, Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache) with international varieties, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon is proving to be successful.  Joven wines, those without barrel age are bright and fruity with softer tannins and less concentration.  They tend to be simple and quaffable and offer great value.  Crianza wines, aged a minimum of six months in barrel and a full year in bottle, are a bit richer but still very drinkable and reserve styles tend to be more concentrated and fruit driven.  Roses are bright and fruity and whites tend to be lightly aromatic and fresh and include some native varieties such as the Malvar, grown only in Madrid.

Three sub-regions make up the Madrid appellation, Arganda in the Southeast, Navalcarnero due south of the city and San Martin to the Southwest.  While many of the 41 producers of Vinos de Madrid are note yet exported to the United States, it won’t be long until they are discovered.  Some producers have limited distribution and are worth searching out.

Bodega Ecologica Andres Morate is a find, Vino Bosquera 2006 is a Joven blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon that has great intensity and balance and Esther Crianza 2004 a rich spicy wine with a very long and rich finish made  of also of Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. (www.andresmorate.com) 

Bodegas Ricardo Benito produces some of the most elegant and refined wines of the DO including Duan 2004 a very intense blackcurrant flavored blend of Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon and a truly great wine called Asido 2003 aged in new Alliers medium toast barrels.  The wine has very refined flavors and great balance of fruit and oak.  (www.ricardobenito.com) 

Gosalbez Orti is a newcomer started in 2000 producing wines from organically grown grapes under the Qubel label.  Paciencia is 70% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah and 10% Garnacha .  Excepcion is 100% Garnacha, but my favorite was Nature, mostly Tempranillo with some Cabernet Sauvignon, really concentrated with violet aromas and incredible minerality.  They even have a wine shop and tasting area available for private tastings, the first in their town to offer tastings the potential for enotourism is great considering it is a mere 35 minute drive from Madrid.  (www.qubel.com) 

Vinos Jeromin straddles the bar between tradition and innovation with wines like their Felix Martinez Reserva Cepas Viejas (old vines) 85% Tempranillo and 15% Syrah from 75-80 year old vines.  The wine is really concentrated and spicy with rich anise and berry flavors.  They also make the standout white of the region, an oak fermented Malvar, Puerta del Sol 2006 and a very tasty Rosado (rose) as well under the Puerta de Alcala label.  (vinosjeromin.com) 

The wines from Madrid match expertly with the traditional cuisine, tapas like jamon Iberico and lomo, roasted meats, lamb and pork, and some of the lighter reds are perfectly at home paired with fish.

Although they may be a bit hard to find, Wines of Madrid although elusive are worth searching out and offer a great range of flavors.  

Vinosdemadrid.es

Food Tips!

Oldest restaurant in Madrid Restaurante Botin, Casa Fundada en 1725, Calle de Cuchilleros, 17, botin@restaurantebotin.com specializes in roasted suckling pig

Paradis great spot for lunch incredible calamari (Calamarcitos a la Plancha) near the Palace Hotel, another nice hotel is the Villa Real Hotel

Try Lechal, one year old baby lamb that is fed only herbs and milk, we had it at the Molino de Cantaranas in the Araganda subregion Hotel Molino de Cantarranas Crta. M-204 Km. 2 Tielmes, Madrid

Merluza is a common and delicious fish, known in English as Hake

Don’t miss the Jamon Iberico and lomo

Casa Lucio is in the heart of old Madrid, delicious boquerones (Spanish anchovies), lomo and Jamon Iberico and incredible roasted steak.  President Clinton had visited the night before and the owner was very proud!

Try La Venencia, the oldest sherry bar in Madrid, they keep tabs of what you eat with chalk on the counter!

 





Welcome to my BLOG!

16 07 2008

I have finally decided to start blogging.  Why you may ask?  Well, I have a lot to say.  I plan to use these pages to share my suggestions for wines, spirits, places to travel, things to do, and occasionally for other fun pursuits.  I hope to add in some blogs about my past endeavors to get to know those of you I don’t know and to update everyone on what’s going on with me.  I will also share with you some great tips from my journeys past and present!  Thanks in advance for listening!