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Gerry,

A few quick viticulture/wine-making questions--feel free to answer them briefly: I believe you've mentioned slate-laden soils and steep slopes as key to Mencia, would you list any other prime factors as beneficial to this grape? Could you see it doing well somewhere in the Western hemisphere? Once harvested you've mentioned neutral barrels (French or American?), what about maceration times? Does anyone leave the stems in as part of the pomace/cap? Do most use indigenous yeasts?

Sorry for the first semester UC Davis style questions. One of my first experiences with Mencia was a 2003 Luna Beberide "Daniel" that tasted like a campfire and I've been hooked since.

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Sorry for the first semester UC Davis style questions. One of my first experiences with Mencia was a 2003 Luna Beberide "Daniel" that tasted like a campfire and I've been hooked since.

[Goodness don't apologize for asking a question such as you did. If everyone's afraid to breathe, no one will take a breath.] :(

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Gerry,

A few quick viticulture/wine-making questions--feel free to answer them briefly: I believe you've mentioned slate-laden soils and steep slopes as key to Mencia, would you list any other prime factors as beneficial to this grape? Could you see it doing well somewhere in the Western hemisphere? Once harvested you've mentioned neutral barrels (French or American?), what about maceration times? Does anyone leave the stems in as part of the pomace/cap? Do most use indigenous yeasts?

Sorry for the first semester UC Davis style questions. One of my first experiences with Mencia was a 2003 Luna Beberide "Daniel" that tasted like a campfire and I've been hooked since.

No problem. I will answer what I can and ask my most trusted source in La Ribeira Sacra to fill me in on the rest. I certainly don't know it all, but I can probably find out who does.

Well, if you can find a moderate vineyard climate with a little altitude and that area happens to have 2,000-year old terraces built by the Romans (or their slaves, at least) on 85% inclines hanging over a deep river canyon, Hell, yes, go ahead and give Mencia a shot in the Western Hemisphere. :)

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Manuel Formigo of Adegas Manuel Formigo in Ribeiro visiting La Ribiera Sacra.

Tour boat on the Sil River far below the Amandi vineyards of La Ribeira Sacra.

Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

I will find out about maceration times, but I am very much against long macerations just to pick up deep color (which doesn't have to do with a wine's quality) and a lot of pigmentation that is just going to fall out later in your bottle, so you can throw it away, instead of letting the winery do it. I would prefer that the wines pass time in epoxy-lined cement tanks as a part of the ageing process, then, if wood must be used, put the wine in well-cared for used barrels, like they always did in La Rioja until the de-forestation lobbyists and salesmen began to dominate the flavor of our wines with ghastly oak, instead of the flavor of grapes and soil-driven (terroir) flavors that make wines taste like the only place they could have come from.

IMO many of the best Mencia wines in Ribeira Sacra have a distinct pomegranate flavor component and often have an equally characteristic lead pencil or graphite-lie taste in the finish. If the winemaker doesn't oak up so much that the timber kills the terroir in the finish, these wines can be a thing of true beauty. But, when wood becomes a flavoring agent, instead of an ageing receptacle, it kills flavor, complexity and charm.

In an article I wrote about oaky, high alcohol, new-wave Spanish wines more than ten years ago, I quoted Josh Raynolds, now with Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, but then National Sales Representative for Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchants (New York). Here is an excerpt from that piece:

”It's not even about the grape anymore, much less the terroir. I consider myself a pretty good blind taster - 13 years full time in the business, drinking and attending tastings for 20 years, a year in Europe devoted to visiting estates, and going to Europe once or twice a year to taste for the last 11 years."

"I am often at a loss to even hazard a guess as to even what *&$#@*# variety has been poured," Josh Raynolds told me, "I can, however, often guess what type of oak was used and even who the winemaker or consultant was. My experience is that there is a sameness to the wines that makes a taster think more about who made it, who consulted on it, what the alcohol level must be and where the wood came from (not to mention what it must have cost)."

Oak had become such a important flavoring agent in new wave wines that according to an American visitor (ten years ago), a new wave Rioja producer was very disappointed that he had been turned down when he tried to buy the same type of barrels used by Romanée Contí from François Freres, a producer of the type of assertive French oak that is very much in vogue. Then one day François Freres called and said, "You got a 90 from (Robert) Parker, so you can have some barrels." (GD)

I also quoted Raynolds in that piece saying:

"New Wave cult wines are undeniably tasty and appealing in a shame-inducing way, like Slim Jims (which they resemble - smoky, meaty, spiced, oily, sweet) but they should in no way be confused with truly great wines, as Slim Jims ought not be confused with fine cuisine."

As to Luna Beberide 'Daniel,' named for the importer's son and thus his special cuvee, that wine was certainly not be my benchmark wine from Bierzo, even though my good friend Gregory Perez undoubtedly had a hand in making it, as did another good friend, the great Mariano Garcia (once the winemaker at Vega Sicilia), who was consulting at Luna Beberide at the time.

According to their published specs on that wine, it was "Macerated and fermented in small stainless steel vats for 20 days with 2 or 3 pumping overs every day. The wine was aged for 15 months in New French oak (Renou, Seguin Moreau, Taransaud). Fined with egg whites and bottled unfiltered in April 2005."

Several Ribeira Sacra producers do leave some stems in (I think I had one last night!). I will make some inquiries and give you some names. Many of my producers ferment with native yeasts.

Many thanks for you questions, ChiantiandFava.

My best, Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

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I just noticed that Spain is shaped like a bulls head.

wine_spainmap.gif

Is there greatness (or at least distinction) to be found in all of these smaller regions, or are some just "forced?" Who or what was the impetus behind Priorat becoming so well-known?

More importantly, I know a lot of people - myself included - who often don't like Cava for the same reason they don't like Prosecco - it's often just fizzy, and doesn't have much complexity at all. How many Cavas will you be bringing in, and what do you look for in a good one? What are the varietals permitted? (I'm not even sure what the precise definition of a Cava is, and if I don't know, I suspect many others don't, either).

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Towering Torreblanca: Alicante's Maestro Paco Torreblanca, One of World's Greatest Chocolatiers & Pastry Chefs

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For those of you who may not know the great Spanish pastry chef, Paco Torreblanca, who is descended from a Jewish family that came to Spain 800 years ago, the above link leads to an article and a slide show. Paco is one of the world's greatest desserts maestros.

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Paco Torreblanca in front of the ancient olive tree growing in his Totel chocolate and desserts plant, Monover-Elda, Alicante.

Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com /

http://www.gerrydawesspain.com

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I just noticed that Spain is shaped like a bulls head.

wine_spainmap.gif

Is there greatness (or at least distinction) to be found in all of these smaller regions, or are some just "forced?" Who or what was the impetus behind Priorat becoming so well-known?

More importantly, I know a lot of people - myself included - who often don't like Cava for the same reason they don't like Prosecco - it's often just fizzy, and doesn't have much complexity at all. How many Cavas will you be bringing in, and what do you look for in a good one? What are the varietals permitted? (I'm not even sure what the precise definition of a Cava is, and if I don't know, I suspect many others don't, either).

Don, it has been written many times that Spain is shaped like a bull's hide, or ox hide. If it a bull's head, I guess the horns are Galicia and Catalunya! :rolleyes:

There are plenty of jewels to be found in some of the lesser known regions like Ribeira Sacra, Monterrei and Ribera de Arlanza. Priorat has some high quality wines, but they tend to be very alcoholic and that is after taming the alcohol levels that historically soared very high (only the isolated indigenous acclimated yeasts could survive to allow those wines of yesteryear to reach 18%!). That and politically powerful, nationalistic Catalunya needed its own 'grand cru' wines, so Priorat has been heavily promoted. Just a few years ago, Priorat was considered the hottest, sexiest (insert other adjectives here) in Spain, but now the combination of high alcohol, new oak and very high prices has considerably dampened enthusiasm.

I wrote this a few years ago:

Not since the six-century Roman occupation of Spain (until the early 5th Century) when Pliny the Elder praised the wines of Tarraconensis, have the wines from Spain’s Tarragona province–the Priorat, Montsant, Terra Alta, Conca de Barberà, a small piece of Costers de Segre and the eponymous Tarragona denominaciónes de origen, or D.O.s–been so highly rated as they are today. Until the recent explosive debut of Priorat wines on the international wine scene, Tarragona, located in Cataluña, about two hours southwest of Barcelona, was best known for its Roman ruins, for romesco (a superb, addictive sauce made with olive oil, garlic, dried peppers, tomatoes and hazelnuts or almonds), and as the birthplace (in Reus) of modernista architect Antoní Gaudí.

American wine guru Robert M. Parker, Jr., a considerably more powerful wine writer than Pliny, once predicted that Tarragona’s major D.O. Priorat (Priorato in Spanish) would surpass La Rioja and Ribera del Duero as the top wine region in Spain. However, due to its small size and the geographical limits of Priorat’s licorella, or slate, soil, which accounts for its famous terruño (terroir), coupled with Mr. Parker’s never having stepped foot in Spain as a wine writer in his entire career (until October 2009, when he was paid a reported 100,000 Euros to speak at a wine conference), we seriously questioned that prediction as we have many of his pronunciamentos on Spain. Priorat has just 4000 acres of registered vineyards and its boundaries are now surrounded like a crescent by the new Montsant DO, a division that is partially defined by Montsant’s soils, which have much less slate in their composition. Rioja, by contrast has more than 150,000 acres of vineyards, which, if you count only 10%, or 15,000 acres (a low estimate) as producing top quality wine rated at 90+ points and above, is still nearly four times what Priorat is capable of producing and that’s if all the wine in Priorat had a 90+ point rating, which it does not.

Nevertheless, Robert Parker’s high opinion of the region gives an idea of the esteem in which the wines are held and Christopher Canaan, a man with one of the most experienced and sophisticated palates in Europe and President of Bordeaux-based Europvin--which has one of the top portfolios of Spanish wines (Vega Sicilia, Rioja Alta, Lustau sherries, etc.) and has taken up a significant position in both Priorat and Montsant-- is sold on the area. Canaan, who owns several brands in Priorat and Monstant, concurs with Parker’s assessment of Priorat’s quality, “Indeed, I think that Priorat already ranks with the great wine regions of the Mediterranean.” (It is important to note that the climates of the top Spanish wine regions of La Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Toro, Rias Baixas, Rueda, and Bierzo are primarly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, not the Mediterranean, and often achieve natural balances of fruit, acid and alcohol seldom seen in warm-country wines such as those of Tarragona.)

You can read the rest of the story here:

The Powerful New-Wave Catalan Wines of Old Roman Tarragona

As to your question about cava, your statement leads be to believe that you haven't had many of the really good ones.

Back in 2006, I wrote this:

Over the past few years of sipping Cavas in some of Spain's top restaurants, it has become increasingly apparent that a number of the country's smaller producers are bottling some absolutely superb sparkling wines. By contrast, not too long ago, Spanish sparkling wine was little more than quaffable, mass-market bubbly widely available at bargain prices. While that still holds true for a large percentage of the staggering ten million-plus cases of Cava exported each year (another eight million-plus cases are consumed in Spain), during the past ten years — hand-in-hand with quality advances on the country's wine and gastronomy fronts — a number of Champagne-quality Cavas from a wide range of producers have emerged. Some of these exceptional wines are vintage dated, prestige brut cuvées; bone-dry, palate-cleansing brut natures (great with shellfish); and an increasingly impressive group of sparkling rosados (rosats in Catalan), some made with pinot noir, others with indigenous varieties such as trepat.

Juve y Camps, a family firm that has long been appreciated here by wine aficionados, is probably the best known of these cavas, but top-quality names such as Agustí Torelló Mata, Raventos i Blanc, Parxet, Gramona and Castillo Perelada are well worth tasting. The Spanish Artisan Wine Group has some exceptional cavas from Can Festis, but they are not available in the U.S. right now (stay tuned).

To give you an idea of what one critic thinks about the quality of cava, in September, John Gilman, who recently made a trip to Catalunya and came away excited about cava, wrote this in the July-August issue of his View From The Cellar newsletter:

Can Festis Cava (Jaume Giró et Giró)

While I will be doing a full-fledged feature on Cava in the next issue, I wanted to include notes here on The Spanish Artisan Wine Group’s fine Catalan producer, Jaume Giró et Giró and their excellent label of Can Festis Cava. Like virtually all of the top producers I have tasted in recent months, Jaume Giró et Giró is part of the “Six Percent Club” who own their own vineyards and produce Cava solely from their own grapes. As I will elaborate on in my article on Cava, in my experience, this is one of the fundamental building blocks for producing truly world class Cava, and if one were to simply limit one’s consumption of Cava to producers who grow their own grapes and make their own wines, one could steer clear of disappointingly bland examples and come to appreciate just how beautifully delicate and complex top flight Cava can be from members of this “Six Percent Club”. Señor Giró produces three levels of Cava, all fermented in the bottle like Champagne, with the three levels neatly reflecting the Bronze, Silver and Gold medals of the Olympics. These are outstanding sparkling wines that are every bit as interesting as top examples of Champagne in the classic, dancing style of great Cava.

Thanks for your questions, Don! :rolleyes:

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I'll write back in more detail soon once I've dug myself out at work, but having just returned from Spain yesterday I wanted to really thank Gerry for this chat, and the incredible advice he had for us. We had an amazing trip, and your recommendations and suggestions helped to make it so. In particular we loved Sanlucar, the salmorejo and berenjenas fritas at Taberna Juan Pena in Cordoba, and the crazy scene and food at the bar at La Castella in Madrid (the zamburinas there may have been the single best thing I ate during our entire trip).

Thank you so much.

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I'll write back in more detail soon once I've dug myself out at work, but having just returned from Spain yesterday I wanted to really thank Gerry for this chat, and the incredible advice he had for us. We had an amazing trip, and your recommendations and suggestions helped to make it so. In particular we loved Sanlucar, the salmorejo and berenjenas fritas at Taberna Juan Pena in Cordoba, and the crazy scene and food at the bar at La Castella in Madrid (the zamburinas there may have been the single best thing I ate during our entire trip).

Thank you so much.

Wow, Mark. I was hoping to hear how you made out. I am very happy that Sanlúcar worked out and really thrilled that you got to Taberna Juan Peña in Córdoba and La Castela in Madrid (love those zamburiñas). Looking forward to hearing more details.

My best, Gerry :)

Sunset in a Glass: Drinking Manzanilla Sherry at the Source

Andalucia%20Sanlucar%20Manzanilla%20%26%20Langostinos.jpg

Langostinos de Sanlúcar with La Gitana manzanilla in the evening,

Bajo de Guía beach on the Guadalquívir River, Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

Gerry Dawes©2008 / gerrydawes@aol.com

A Modern Version of Cordoban Classic Tomato-based Salmorejo at the Legendary Taberna Mesón Juan Peña

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At the legendary Taberna Juan Peña in Córdoba, the classic tomato-based salmorejo with Cordoban extra virgen olive oil, topped with hard-cooked egg and small bits of Spanish jamón Ibérico de bellota (from the D.O. Pedroches, Córdoba province), ham from free-range pata negra (black hoof breed) pigs fattened on acorns. Juan's wife, Mari Carmen, makes theses salmorejos. It was served with a sherry-like fino from Montilla-Moriles, a D.O. also from Córdoba province. Berenjenas fritas, olive oil fried eggplant strips are often served with salmorejo as a sauce into which the eggplant strips are dipped. Like the most exquisite French fries with the most exquisite ketchup you have ever eaten.

La Castela, Madrid

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Zamburiñas (small scallops), La Castela, Madrid.

Photos by Gerry Dawes©2012

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Don, it has been written many times that Spain is shaped like a bull's hide, or ox hide. If it a bull's head, I guess the horns are Galicia and Catalunya! :rolleyes:

That was my observation: Galica and Catalunya were the horns (has nobody ever brought this up before?)

Is there any region on that map you haven't visited?

How are you holding up, buddy? I really feel for your daughters right now.

I'm all for keeping this chat rolling at a leisurely pace - it's an important document, and it's the best thing that's happened to this website in a long time. I feel like you're finally getting some of the recognition you deserve.

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About my former wife, Diana, thanks. I am doing okay, just a rough couple of days of scanning old fotos and reliving old memories. My daughers are hurting because she was such a terrific Mom to them. Thanks for asking.

Spain has been described a bull's hide drying in the sun, but no usually as a bull's head. As to Galician and Catalunya being the horns, many without a sense of humor in those two regions might object to that since putting the cuernos, or horns, on someone means you are insinuating that they are a cabrón, or cuckold. Neither region lacks its fair share of cabrones, for sure. Most of my friends and I in those regions (and elsewhere) endearingly address one another thusly: "Hola, cabrón." If you use that word in anger, it can cause a problem and if you use it in the literal sense, it can cause a very big problem. In Galicia, where some of my best friends are and where I contend that cabronismo has been raised to a fine art, I sometimes begin a conversation with "Hola, cabrón de Galego, then I apologize for being redundant.

But, then I have a galego friend who address me as "Rey Pugnante," or the "King of the Repugnants." Like I said Galicians have raised cabronismo to a fine art. :o:rolleyes:

As to regions on the bull's hide that I have not visited: I have been once to Mallorca, but not to Menorca, where I want to visit because of Mahón cheese, caldereta de langosta (a seafood stew with a whole lobster) and Xoriguer, a good gin that has been made there since the island was occupied from 1707-1756 (and again for 20 years at the end of the century) by English soldiers, who, by the way, did not like cheese made with ewe's or goat's milk, so cows were imported from England and the somewhat Cheddar style of Mahón was developed. Mahón is the capital city of Menorca and is the origin of one of the world's most famous sauces, mayonesa, or mayonnaise.

I have been to all the other mainland regions multiple times, but I still need to spend a bit more time in Aragon and in the Catalan Pyrenees. Though I have been to each the following provinces a few times and have slept in all their capital cities on more than one occasion, I still need some more time in Ávila, Salamanca, and León provinces. :unsure:

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Unfortunately the wine shop at Bodegas Hidalgo was closed for siesta when we finished our tour with Miguel, so we were unable to purchase any wine while in Sanlucar. As a result, currently my most pressing Spain question is where can I find examples of the wonderful wines we drank at the Bodega in the US? My limited searching in the past couple of days has yielded very little (my local stores don't list them on their websites, but haven't stopped in, and wine.com has only the oloroso among the dry sherries). Any help here would be greatly appreciated.

This bodega visit, and the trip in general, was very eye-opening for us with regard to sherry. We had very little experience with this style of wine before going, yet drank manzanilla throughout the trip and loved it. The bodega visit and a couple of trips to a wonderful sherry bar, La Venencia, in Madrid, were fantastic as well.

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Your mention of gin has me thinking - I've heard a lot about the gin and tonics of Spain, how there are so many types of gins, and tonics, and how carefully they match them. I don't think I've ever tried a Spanish gin, however.

Is there a specific style that makes a Spanish gin, or does it usually more replicate the London Dry gins? Do you know of any available in the US that would make for a good introduction to Spanish gins? I would assume the same would go for tonics...

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Unfortunately the wine shop at Bodegas Hidalgo was closed for siesta when we finished our tour with Miguel, so we were unable to purchase any wine while in Sanlucar. As a result, currently my most pressing Spain question is where can I find examples of the wonderful wines we drank at the Bodega in the US? My limited searching in the past couple of days has yielded very little (my local stores don't list them on their websites, but haven't stopped in, and wine.com has only the oloroso among the dry sherries). Any help here would be greatly appreciated.

This bodega visit, and the trip in general, was very eye-opening for us with regard to sherry. We had very little experience with this style of wine before going, yet drank manzanilla throughout the trip and loved it. The bodega visit and a couple of trips to a wonderful sherry bar, La Venencia, in Madrid, were fantastic as well.

Hi, Mark, go on to the Hidalgo importer, Classical Wines's website, get their contact info and ask where they have it in D.C.

Suerte, G.

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I have essentially no knowledge of Spanish gin, and the only one that I know I've tried was on this trip, at Bar Cock just north of Gran Via in Madrid (recommended to us by Katie Nelson).

10993.06a66e79016cce51a2292919904fcb9c.jpg

While there I had a martini (surprisingly not a gin and tonic) made with the bartender's recommended gin, Giro. The bartender recommended it by saying "This is a really nice Spanish, I'm sorry I can't call them that, a really nice Catalunyan gin." I was probably too many drinks in at that point to give you a really detailed and descriptive review, but it was a perfectly fine martini.

On the topic of gin and tonics, good lord do the Spanish love their gin and tonics. In essentially every bar we were in gins outnumbered vodka by on average 10 to 1, and many bars had upwards of 40 or 50 different gins. Each different gin would have different tonics to match with it as well as specific garnishes (at the rooftop bar in the Mercado San Anton the Mobassa gin was matched with Pimiento Rojo tonic, red peppercorns and a lime peel while the Martin Miller gin was matched with a lavender tonic and apple slices). At Bar O'Clock in Sevilla the Junipero gin and tonicwas paired with halved blueberries, whole blackberries and lime peel.

Only tangentially related because it involves booze, but the difference in the makeup of a typical Spanish bar compared to an American bar is rather large. Their top spirits were always gin, then scotch (or "malts", then rum. We seldom saw more than maybe a bottle of tequila, and the most bourbons, or bourbon-like spirits, we ever saw in a bar were five (at the aforementioned Bar Cock, which had Four Roses, Four Roses Single Barrel, Makers Mark, Jim Beam and Jack Daniels). Four Roses (yellow label) and Jack Daniels were by far the most common American whiskeys (or "Whisk-ays" as they call them) over there.

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Your mention of gin has me thinking - I've heard a lot about the gin and tonics of Spain, how there are so many types of gins, and tonics, and how carefully they match them. I don't think I've ever tried a Spanish gin, however.

Is there a specific style that makes a Spanish gin, or does it usually more replicate the London Dry gins? Do you know of any available in the US that would make for a good introduction to Spanish gins? I would assume the same would go for tonics...

I am not real expert in gin, but, except for Xoriguer, I think most of the gins produced in Spain are imitations of the London Dry Gin's. They even have knock-off label that looks like Gordon's.

Xoriguer (pronounced sho-ri-gair) is the same today as it always has been.

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This is from the drinkshop.com website in the UK:

"It is the result of distillation in traditional copper stills, using high quality wine alcohol and carefully selected juniper berries, which come from the neighbouring Mediterranean mountains, together with aromatic herbs. These herbs are the jealousy guarded "secret" of the liquor's original bouquet. Only the heirs of family know the identity and proportion of this valuable ingredient, which is added behind closed doors and without witnesses, at the start of each distilling. The respect for tradition is such that the fuel still used today in the distillation is wood.

The distillation begins when the vapours which are produced in the still's boiler circulate through copper pipes until they reach a coil, where they condense, forming a precious liquid that drips into jars.

An expert tastes the liquid at intervals to determine the pecise moment when the distillation is complete. Once this is accomplished the gin is stored in large oak barrels, where it retains unchanging its colour, flavour and aroma, until finally it is bottled.

Xoriguer, thanks to its unique character and to its distillation from natural products, is free of any unwanted additives which could impair its preservation or spoil any kind of cocktail or mixed drink.

Menorca is a Mediterranean island which belonged to the British crown over 200 years ago, for most of the XVIII century. Thousands of British soldiers and sailors were stationed on the island in those days. They frequented the local taverns, but they were unable to find the liquor that was fashionable at the time in their country: GIN.

Soon someMahón craftsmen found a solution to the problem. They would import juniper berries and produce gin on the island, using wine alcohol from Mediterranean vineyards.

In this way, gin, a nordic drink, was successfully launched in Menorca. During the XVIII and XIX centuries, it became established as a popular drink, and became an indispensable feature at any special event, private or public, on the island. In the early part of the XX century, on the initiative of a Menorcan family of craftsmen, a brand name was born: Xoriguer, which began to bottle and carefully commercialise the product which hitherto had only been marketed locally.

Xoriguer is the name of the old windmill built in 1784, in which many generations of the Pons family had converted bushels of wheat into white flour.

Miquel Pons Justo, heir to a long tradition of craftsmen, wanted to put these traditional values of quality and refinement to use in his liquor company, and for this he chose as an emblem not only the name but also the image of the century-old family business: the graceful windmill with its wind-sails.

Gin Xoriguer ceased to be merely a local curiosity and became a product with an ever widening reach, opening the way in the market with its quality and attractive bottling.

Due to its origins, traditions and Mediterranean characteristics, Gin Xoriguer has gained recognition throughout the EEC, being denominated a guaranteed traditional speciality or specific name of product E.T.G. Mahón Menorca.

Xoriguer is still a family business, looking to the future, faithful to its origins and to a continuing tradition of craftsmanship, with the desire to please all their clients and friends with its carefully elaborated Gin Xoriguer."

Xoriguer is also the name of a falcon-hawk.

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I have essentially no knowledge of Spanish gin, and the only one that I know I've tried was on this trip, at Bar Cock just north of Gran Via in Madrid (recommended to us by Katie Nelson).

10993.06a66e79016cce51a2292919904fcb9c.jpg

While there I had a martini (surprisingly not a gin and tonic) made with the bartender's recommended gin, Giro. The bartender recommended it by saying "This is a really nice Spanish, I'm sorry I can't call them that, a really nice Catalunyan gin." I was probably too many drinks in at that point to give you a really detailed and descriptive review, but it was a perfectly fine martini.

On the topic of gin and tonics, good lord do the Spanish love their gin and tonics. In essentially every bar we were in gins outnumbered vodka by on average 10 to 1, and many bars had upwards of 40 or 50 different gins. Each different gin would have different tonics to match with it as well as specific garnishes (at the rooftop bar in the Mercado San Anton the Mobassa gin was matched with Pimiento Rojo tonic, red peppercorns and a lime peel while the Martin Miller gin was matched with a lavender tonic and apple slices). At Bar O'Clock in Sevilla the Junipero gin and tonicwas paired with halved blueberries, whole blackberries and lime peel.

Only tangentially related because it involves booze, but the difference in the makeup of a typical Spanish bar compared to an American bar is rather large. Their top spirits were always gin, then scotch (or "malts", then rum. We seldom saw more than maybe a bottle of tequila, and the most bourbons, or bourbon-like spirits, we ever saw in a bar were five (at the aforementioned Bar Cock, which had Four Roses, Four Roses Single Barrel, Makers Mark, Jim Beam and Jack Daniels). Four Roses (yellow label) and Jack Daniels were by far the most common American whiskeys (or "Whisk-ays" as they call them) over there.

Well, Mark, I see you found the 'Cock' bar in Madrid!

Obviously, at the Cock, you should have asked for the Dutch Fockink Gin (click on this link to see a hilarious video), which is served all over Spain and worth bringing back, just so you can refill the bottle and serve it guests! B)

5005480371_703bc374b5.jpg

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While we didn't make a concerted search, we actually had trouble finding an actual liquor store, or at least what we consider a proper liquor store, while over there. Because we likely would have picked up some sherry or other different sorts of booze had we found one.

On the Bodegas Hidalgo front, I lobbed an e-mail in to their distributor, so hopefully I'll have some luck on that front.

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More on Gin and Spain (and Washington's own José Andrés)

Food Arts, El Quencher: Mad dogs and Spaniards? How did the quintessential quaff of British colonials become a runaway hit in Spain? Gerry Dawes reports.

IMG_3678%2520Jose%2520Andres%2520with%2520gin-tonic%2520at%2520Bar%2520Blanca%2520at%2520The%2520Bazaar%2520crp%25202.jpg

José Andrés with "The Ultimate Gin & Tonic," made with Hendrick's gin and Fever Tree tonic water,

at Bar Blanca at The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills.

Photo by Gerry Dawes ©2012; contact gerrydawes@aol.com for publication rights.

Spain—and lately its high-flying vanguard of chefs—has long had a love affair with Gin & Tonic, or “Gintonic,” as they call it. Who knew? No wonder, then, that the proliferating tapas bars in the United States are introducing Gintonic menus.

Estadio, a Spanish restaurant near Logan Circle in Washington, D.C., mixes Old Raj Gin with house-made orange thyme tonic and Tanqueray 10 with house-made elderflower citrus tonic. In Brooklyn, New York, Cynthia Diaz’s Bar Celona celebrates “Spain’s most popular tipple” by using artisanal gins, house-made tonics, and nontraditional ingredients: The Sea Monkey calls for Death’s Door Gin, house-made celery/apple juice, lemon, anise, Fever Tree Tonic, and fennel salt; El Matador has spiced gin, house-made tonic, cava, and bitters.

Andrés’ newly renovated Jaleo Restaurant and Tapas Bar in Washington, D.C., will likely outdo them all. His ThinkFoodGroup lead bartendar, Owen Thomson, has a Gintonic menu that includes Death’s Door and Fentiman’s Tonic with fennel, radish, cubeb, and kumquat; Ransom Old Tom and Bittermen’s Tonic with pickled ginger, allspice, orange, and lemon; Ridge Silver Tip and Fever Tree with tarragon, lemon, lime, and borage; Botanist & Q Tonic with coriander blossom, lemon, and lime; and Tanqueray 10 and house-made tonic with grapefruit, mint, lemon, and white pepper.

Since a Gin & Tonic is a drink ostensibly made for hot climates, many people have been drinking it—most often gin with Schweppes Tonic and a twist of lemon—for decades in Spain, where more than 200 brands of gin are sold.

Read the rest of the article here: Food Arts, El Quencher, May 2012

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Gerry,

Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts and show everyone the Spain beyond Madrid and Barcelona, i can sense in your writing that Spain means a lot to you. I am from the canary islands, moved back home after many years in dc and am curious about your thoughts on wines from the Canary Islands. There is so much tradition here, everyone makes their own wine but they are never mentioned. I have enjoyed the whites here made with old Malvasia grapes, as well as a few reds.

The varietals here are all local as the islands are free from phylloxera and they have just discovered seeds from grapes that date back to the roman empire (so I hear). Whats the good word on canary wine? Thanks!

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Gerry,

Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts and show everyone the Spain beyond Madrid and Barcelona, i can sense in your writing that Spain means a lot to you. I am from the canary islands, moved back home after many years in dc and am curious about your thoughts on wines from the Canary Islands. There is so much tradition here, everyone makes their own wine but they are never mentioned. I have enjoyed the whites here made with old Malvasia grapes, as well as a few reds.

The varietals here are all local as the islands are free from phylloxera and they have just discovered seeds from grapes that date back to the roman empire (so I hear). Whats the good word on canary wine? Thanks!

I am on the run, so this is all I have time for right now, but I will post some more info later.

Canary Islands: Exotic Spanish Islands with a Unique Culinary & Wine Heritage

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Tenerife's Teide, the volcano that is the tallest mountain in all of Spain

and third tallest volcano in the world. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012.

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Another article on The Canary Islands

The Wines of the Canary Islands - Article in Wines From Spain News

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Canary Islands wines in the market at La Laguna, Tenerife.

All photographs by Gerry Dawes © 2009. Use of photos prohibited without written permission.

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Vines growing on volcanic ash deposits near Stratus winery on Lanzarote.

All photographs by Gerry Dawes © 2009. Use of photos prohibited without written permission.

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Giant rock that fell onto the property at Los Berrazales during an earthquake. They built around it and incorporated it into the winery.

Agaeda, Gran Canaria. All photographs by Gerry Dawes © 2009. Use of photos prohibited without written permission.

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Canary Islands Seafood - Fish Available in the Markets of Las Islas Canarias

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Boquerones, pickled fresh anchovies and "unicorn" fish.

:rolleyes:

All photographs by Gerry Dawes © 2009. Use of photos prohibited without written permission.

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Sargos, white sea bream, caught off Senegal.

(Note: Since the water is so deep right off these volcanic islands, many of the fish are caught in the shallower waters of the African coast.)

All photographs by Gerry Dawes © 2009. Use of photos prohibited without written permission.

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