Showtime! (Part Tres)

100+ year old Verdejo

Yes, Part Tres (that’s “three” to you non-Spanish-speaking readers).  What, more shows?  Yep, yet more chances to drink tons of crap before (hopefully) finding the delicious needle hidden in the haystack.  The wine business trade show season is for the most part lined up earlier in the year, and a large number of them are all at the same time, of course.  Makes our lives, the ones who need to select and find stuff to sell back in our markets, that much more fun (insert sarcasm).  Then summer comes and everyone hibernates except to push rosés and whites.  Fall is when the importers/distributors do their big tastings to showcase the wines they picked up in Winter/Spring.  The New Year arrives, and the cycle of wine life begins anew.

This time I found myself in Valladolid, a few hours northwest of Madrid, for the Alimentaria show.  I tasted my way through a lot of different wines, only finding one that I thought was worth my time/effort, a small family-run Ribera del Duero.  Of course, they spoke no English, and my Spanish is pretty rusty, though it does lube up nicely with a few glasses of wine.  So I pantomimed my way into getting all the info I needed and wandered off to taste more nice but usually over-priced wine.  And sometimes crap.

70+ year old Verdejo

I did get to visit some local wineries, where we had the chance to try some interesting stuff and see some unique sights (like Antonio Banderas’ wine- I kid you not, see pic below).  The coolest thing for me, as a wine geek, was tasting 70+ year old Verdejo.  A crisp, aromatic white grown in the Rueda region, this came from a winemaker’s grandfather’s stash (got that?).  Basically, this never moved until we disturbed its sleep.  Dark in color, very nutty but light on its feet, this was really cool to try.

Antonio Banderas' Wine

Oh, that really is Antonio Banderas’ wine, though he doesn’t really “make” it, he just has some juice bottled for him at a coop we visited.  I love coops as much as I love a hole in the head, so I’m happy to say I did not try the wine.  However, from a marketing point-of-view, who came up with that nightmare?  I mean, really?  Fluorescent green cork?  Kill me now.

The coolest pig in Spain

We ate very well, this being Spain and all.  I gave myself an extra day and a half to revisit Madrid and eat/drink my way through this lovely city.  Especially the San Miguel Mercado, this place is so cool and delicious.  I could live there (granted, considering the amount of Bellota I ate, I wouldn’t survive long).  I even did a tasting of 3 vs 4-year old Bellota (I preferred the younger version).  The local wine bar had some cool stuff and made for some nice crowd-watching.

Mercado San Miguel

I wandered about town, did some shopping and saw some interesting sights (see pic below).  I’m not sure who had the balls to start a vegetarian restaurant in Spain of all places, but kudos to them.  Of course, I’m assuming it’s good, you wouldn’t find me in there when there are tons of tapas joints with meatily delicious dishes to explore.  If you’re vegetarian or vegan, well, I’m not apologizing.  As I like to say, my ancestors didn’t claw and fight their way to the top of the food chain for 65 million years, only to eat grass.

Isn't this illegal in Spain???

Did I mention I ate lots of Bellota/Pata Negra?  Just in case you had any doubts…


Lastly, it was so nice to be in warm weather.  While I was there, it was about 65F and sunny, while in NYC it was cold (35-40F and rainy/snowy), which is par for the course this year.  Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older and crankier, but man the weather just rubs me the wrong way this year.  So any sign of Spring was welcome, and Madrid thoughtfully offered me some.


Gracias, España.


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