Monday, May 26, 2014

there will be no white flag above my door ...

2011 Venus Dido 'La Universal' | DO Montsant

I witnessed a great kindness from a stranger this morning. The sky was grey, all was cloudy - a storm in Barcelona. There wasn't rain, so I made the call to leave the ridiculous golf umbrella at home. But sunshine isn't sunshine without a bit of rain, no? So not 15 minutes later, I stepped out of the metro into a downpour. Like a wet dog, I waited for the bus ... when I felt the rain stop. A girl was holding her umbrella over me. With a smile, she kept a stranger dry until the bus came. Angel.

We sometimes ask for too much from wine. We want it to be intense, to be rich ... to be value-priced, yet taste 'expensive', whatever the hell that means. I can't even begin to emphasize how hard I disagree with that perspective. My blood boils, my insides tighten. Do we no longer have the capacity for imagination, to allow ourselves to be surprised? Are we so cynical that we assume we know everything about a wine before tasting it, and anything surprising about it is a flaw?

I want to share a wine I had a few months ago, but am still processing. The Venus Dido - and you have to check out their story. From Montsant, a region of Catalunya that I'm discovering, and that I'm becoming head over heels crazy about. On first taste, the wine is what it is - unapologetically Spanish, that rich voluptuousness of vines grown in hot, dry climates. But like all good things, all good people, a true measure of character and quality comes with time. With an open mind, over a few days - the wine, initially throwing off stiff alcohol fumes, becomes more integrated, more in harmony. The acidity becomes a bit more focused, contributing as well to that balance. There's complexity, a minerality and chalkiness on the finish.

The 'La Universal' is a blend of 75% garnacha, 15% syrah, 5% merlot, and 5% cabernet sauvignon. Grown in an organic way, 40% of the wine is aged in concrete tanks, while 60% is aged in oaks of different origins and sizes (300-4000 litres) for 16 months, with a small amount in clay amphorae. Looking forward to seeing the direction owners Sara Perez and Rene Barbier take this wine. An honest interpretation of garnacha, full of vigor and character.

Man, that Champions League Final was a nail-biter, wasn't it. And this from a guy who really couldn't care less about soccer. A full range of emotions on display, especially from the Real Madrid fans. Confidence, excitement, fear, despair ... until finally elation, first cautious, then a full eruption of joy. That winning goal was what they paid €100 million for, I suppose. I'm quickly realizing that although the spirit is willing, I've reached my physical limits with partying here. So although no white flags will be raised (just yet), I do need a full 12 hours of sleep the night before a partying night. This week will be heavy - 5 days straight of events planned. Not that I'm complaining. Of course not. Of course not ...


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