A Saunter Through Spanish Wines
On a side street in Barcelona, I find a wonderful wine shop. Thus starts an adventure in Spanish Wines.
Early July saw my family and me in Barcelona, a haven for Spanish wines. Straight off the plane, we headed to La Boqueria, the famous fruit and vegetable market, with an eye-popping array of sea creatures and sausages. Being mostly vegetarian, we lamely bought some apricots, fresh and dried, and a few plums. A confession: Although always unwilling to hear anything negative about my state, California, when it comes to produce, I have to say that these were some of the best I’d ever tasted. The dried apricots were definitely the best.
Then it was on to the things that first-time tourists to a famous city do – a visit to Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and, of course, the little museum shops, Pablo Picasso’s gallery, tapas much enhanced with Spanish wines, the promenade, the Gothic quarter.
In search of Spanish wines.
For some reason, what I remember most fondly is my visit to the Vila Vini Teca, a wine shop my hotel recommended. (As I googled the shop to check information for this post, I saw that TripAdvisor ranks it high.) It was on a narrow street – an alley among a labyrinth of alleys. You can get lost in the maze, even as you walk along with directional certainty. Suddenly, in the clearing you see umbrellas protecting patrons of an outdoor eatery. Ignoring the olfactory pull of tapas, you look ahead with great purpose, except you don’t know which of the many radiating roads to take.
But I meander, tracing verbally the path I took physically. From the main road, we took a left into an alley and there it was. Not one, but several Vila Vini Tecas. I quickly figured that one was a tasting room, another, a delicatessen offering charcuterie and olive oils. We entered the one that sold wine.
Maybe because it is not warehouse-looking in the manner of so many California wine stores, but a manageable, intimate shop that I felt immediately at home. Or maybe because I received immediate attention. Could it be that though relatively new to wine, I find the shelf-upon-shelf of bottles comforting?
At home my husband and I had enjoyed a few bottles of wine from the famous Rioja wine region of Spain. So I asked the manager to show me wines from other regions. First off, he pulled out a bottle from Priorat. That region is a couple of hours southwest of Barcelona, he said.
Here’s the strangeness of it. I am surrounded by wine regions in California, yet they have never elicited the same ‘wow’ as did being close to Priorat, an appellation unknown to me before I had set foot in the store. How novelty attracts, even as we draw comfort in the familiar.
Buying Spanish wines.
We bought two bottles from Priorat, a Catalan Denominació d’Origen Qualificada. Also a white wine made from the Xarel.lo grape, which is used in making cava. The label bears the name Espenyalluchs, which sounds more like a character from classical literature than a wine. A Rioja, of course. As I drink in the weeks and months ahead, I will write what I think.
Regarding opinion: A 2015 survey of American Wine Consumer Preferences showed that 83 percent of Americans drink wine for the taste. Very heartening. I may not be able to taste leather or slate, at least at this early stage, but I’ll tell you if the wines please the palate. Stay tuned.
In case you’re interested, here’s a link to the store: