Blind tasting and more in Barcelona

There is a lot going on these days. The problem this week is that it is all happening in Barcelona.


All kicked off yesterday with the 9th edition of Vila Viniteca’s “Cata por Parejas” (tasting in pairs). As you can imagine, it consists of the pairs being given seven wines blind (two white, three red and two “specials” such as bubbles or fortified wines) and asked to identify country, zone, cepage, vintage, maker and name, with tasting notes used as tie breakers. There are two rounds – a qualification stage and a grand final of only 10 pairs – and there is no less than €30,000 in prize money – €20,000, €7,000 and €3,000.

I have no doubt that a contest like this is the best test of wine tasting skills – the knowledge of the characteristics of wines, grapes, makers and vintages and the ability to recognize and identify them – that there is. I personally have never been much cop at blind tasting (to be fair on this blog I only talk about my fails – there have been some successes) because I just do not know enough about the wines I drink, and although recently I have notched up a few in sherries that would only have helped me – maybe – in one of the seven wines (or maybe not, some pretty good tasters up there managed to miss the Inocente, no less).

And this, although only nine years old, is about as prestigious a competition as there is in Spain – previous editions have been won by the likes of Jesus Barquin and Luis Gutierrez. This year the competition was even stiffer than ever: 130 pairs of tasters, compared to  120 in previous years, with more pairs were added given the phenomenal interest, and to judge by my twitter timeline half of Spain was up there yesterday. So frankly hats off to some of the lads for a really great result yesterday: the pair formed by Colectivo Decantado and Jimmy Bubbles bringing home 3rd place (at the first time of asking).

Then today Vila Viniteca follow it up with another brilliant event: La Musica del Vi. A biennial gathering of 180 really top class bodegas:

4Kilos • Aalto • Abadía Retuerta • Abel Mendoza • Adega Pombal A Lanzada • Alemany i Corrio • Alfredo Arribas • Allende • Alonso del Yerro • Alta Vista • Altamana • Alvaro Palacios • Alzinger • Artadi • Artazu • Astrales • Atalayas de Golbán • Batlliu de Sort • Barbeito • Belondrade • Berta • Bodega Contador • Bodegas Antídoto • Bott-Geyl • Ca N’Estruc • Cámbrico • Camino del Norte • Can Grau Vell • Can Ràfols dels Caus • Capçanes • Cara Nord • Castaño • Castell del Remei • Castillo de Monjardín • Celler Credo • Celler del Roure • Cepa 21 • Ceretto • Cérvoles • Chandon de Briailles • Château Cap de Faugères • Château Climens • Château de Laubade • Château Dereszla • Château Faugères • Château Fosse-Sèche • Château-Fuissé • Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey • Château Latour • Château Rocheyron • Clos d’Agon • Clos de Mez • Clos del Portal • Clos des Fées • Clos Erasmus • Clos Puy Arnaud • Colet-Navazos • Comando G • Còsmic • Daniel Landi • Delamotte • Descendientes de J. Palacios • Domaine Andrée • Domaine d’Eugénie • Domaine de Bellivière • Domaine de Fontbonau • Domaine de l’Ecu • Domaine de la Janasse • Domaine de Marcoux • Domaine de Montcy • Domaine de Pallus • Domaine François Chidaine • Domaine Vacheron • Domaine Zind-Humbrecht • Domaines Landron • Domaines Lupier • Dominio de Atauta • Dominio de Es • Dominio del Águila • Dominio do Bibei • Dupont • Eilan Gillan • El Escocés Volante • El Jardín de Lucía • El Perro Verde • El Regajal • El Sequé • Emilio Moro • Emilio Rojo • Enric Soler • Equipo Navazos • Espelt • Etter • Eulogio Pomares • Família Nin-Ortiz • Fenomenal • Finca Nueva • Finca Sandoval • Finca Villacreces • Guitián • Hacienda Monasterio • Hugas de Batlle • Izadi • J.J. Confuron • Jaboulet • Jiménez-Landi • Joseph Drouhin • K5 Argiñano • Kreydenweiss • L’Origan • La Locomotora • La Maison Romane • Lagar de Sabariz  • Las Rocas de San Alejandro • Le Vieux Donjon • Léopold Gourmel • Les Cousins • Llopart • Lorenzo Cachazo • Lustau • Macizo • Maculan • Màquina & Tabla • Marcel Deiss • Marie et Frédéric Chauffray • Marqués de Murrieta • Martín Faixó • Mas Alta • Mas Doix • Mas Martinet • Mas Oller • Mas Romeu • Mauro • Maurodos • Mikulski • Mineral del Montsant • Movia • Muga • Newton Johnson • Niepoort • Numanthia • Orben • Ossian • Ostatu • Pago de Carraovejas • Pagos de Híbera • Pagos de María • Paisajes • Palacios Remondo • Pardas • Passopisciaro • Pazo Barrantes • Pazo de Señoráns • Pingus • Pittacum • Portal del Montsant • Prieto Pariente • Psi • Quinta Sardonia • Rafael Palacios • Raventós i Blanc • Recaredo • Remelluri • Roberto Voerzio • Sa Forana • Salon • Sanclodio • Schloss Gobelsburg • Sei Solo • Señorío de San Vicente • Sicus • Sierra Cantabria • Sindicat La Figuera • Solabal • Sospechoso • Tardieu-Laurent • Telmo Rodríguez • Tenuta di Trinoro • Terras Gauda • Teso La Monja • Thanisch • Tomàs Cusiné • Torelló • Traslanzas • Trimbach • Uvas Felices • Venta las Vacas • Venus la Universal • Vetus • Vignoble du Rêveur • Vincent Girardin • Vins de Terrer • Viña al Lado de la Casa • Viña del Albaricoque • Viñedos de Páganos • Viñedos Sierra Cantabria • Vizcarra • Zárate.

Just imagine being stuck in the office in Madrid while your friends are tucking into that lot: it would be enough to make a lesser blogger weep.

And for those with exceptional stamina and/or time on their hands over the next few days there is  Alimentaria, a massive food industry conference including an excellent series of wine related events with the dubious moniker of Vinorum Think. The program has some really top quality tastings lead by the likes of Luis Gutierrez, Guillermo Cruz, Jose Penin (original author of one of Spain’s leading wine guides), Andres Proensa (original author of the other one), and Victor de la Serna and Juancho Asenjo of ElMundoVino. There are some pretty good sherries in amongst them (including El Cerro, beloved of this parish), although the highlight would surely be the masterclass by Cesar Saldaña and Jesus Barquin on Tuesday evening – just look at that lineup of sherries.





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