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5/19/2017

The Four Black Bulls of the Spanish Wine Apocalypse: Severe Weather Hits Numerous Spanish Wine Regions Causing Potentially Catastrophic Losses in Several Regions


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For the past several weeks, The Four Black Bulls of the Spanish Wine Apocalypse have been raging through the vineyards of Northern Spain wreaking havoc.  Their names are Helada (Frost), Lluvia Torrencial (Torrential Rain), Pedrisco (Hail), and Viento Fuerte (High Wind)  have caused dim prospects for the 2017 wine grape harvest in areas such as La Rioja Alta, La Rioja Alavesa, Ribera del Duero, Bierzo, Ribeiro, Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra and Monterrei and some losses in the Albariño vineyards of Rías Baixas.  

The Black Bull of Spain looms over one of Luís Alberto Lecea´s freeze-damaged vineyards around the Rioja Alta village of San Asensio, May 7, 2017.  The leaves on the vines nine days later are secondary growth that will produce little and are, under normal conditions, usually stripped off the vines by the grape farmers.  All photo by Gerry Dawes©2017.

And in their wake, they have brought a great wave of demoralization, one which the brave men and women who farm the vineyards of Atlantic Spain will no doubt overcome.  Still, at this point, many predict crop losses of from 70-90 percent.
 

 
Then on the night of April 28 a late freeze that will go down in the history of the viticulture of this region hit La Rioja during the night of April 28 devastated much of La Rioja Alta and La Rioja Alavesa, causing 90% to 100% damage to this year’s grape crop prospects.  Luis Albert Lecea, owner of Bodegas Lecea in San Asensio, told me, “I have bad news.  There will be no wine next year.”  



 
 

Luis took me on a tour of his devastated vineyards.  Lecea and his crew laboriously laid water lines into his vineyards and spent 800 Euros on gasoil (diesel) to run the pumps, trying to irrigate the vines, which had also been suffering from drought, hoping that the water would provoke the growth of more leaves to replace those shriveled by the freeze. 


The irony of Lecea´s  freeze-damaged vines, with no leaves left, surrounded by the dried-up remains of once perfectly healthy ripe grapes (the now dried-up dark bunches on the ground) that had to be cut off and left to dry up on the ground to meet the Rioja D.O. yield require- ments during the 2016 harvest.  Had the producers been able to use these perfectly good grapes to lay in more stocks, they would have been compensated for the big losses they will suffer from this freeze in 2017 and maybe beyond.  The new grape leaves are secondary shoots that will produce little or no grapes and are under normal conditions are usually stripped off the vine.   All photos by Gerry Dawes©2017.

 Rows of vines belonging to Bodegas Lecea in San Asensio where leaves should be beginning to flourish by May 7, 2017, when this picture was taken, are almost bare, their leaves frozen and withered by the cold wave on the night of August 28, 2017.  All photos by Gerry Dawes©2017.


Three days later, I arrived in Villafranca del Bierzo and found roads still being cleared from mud slides, the Camino de Santiago in front of La Puerta del Perdón strewn with rocks washed down by the torrential rains, and mud across many roads, plus reports of hail and freeze that, especially in lower lying vineyards, will mean a very short crop in 2017.

 AVE FENIX: Mural on a wall just beyond the famous La Puerta del Perdón in Villafranca del Bierzo on the Camino de Santiago.   One hope that Spain´s grape farmer - winemakers will rise like the Phoenix from the devastation of the weather this Spring.  All photos by Gerry Dawes©2017.



 
Later the same day, I visited Hacienda Ucediños in O Barco de Valdeorras, whose owners Eladio and Marcos Santalla Freile reported that one of their prime Godello Vineyards was hard hit by the freeze and will produce little or no wine and they were also hit by torrential rains, but even at that they were luckier than many.  



Eladio Santalla Freile and Marcos Santalla Freile with a bottle of their truly stunning Hacienda Ucediños Valdeorras Godello 2016, which was a great match for a dozen remarkably good zamburiñas, or baby scallops, a cazuela or two of gambas al ajillo and a wooden plate of exceptional pulpo a feira, steamed octopus dressed with olive oil, Spanish pimentón (paprika) and sea salt. At Pulperia El Dorado in O Barco de Valdeorras, May 10, 2017.








 
At D’Berna in Córgomo in Valdeorras, higher up than some of their neighbors, escaped the freeze, but were hit with mudslides during a downpour in which three inches of rain fell in just a couple of hours and brought tons of topsoil down from the vineyards that surround the winery and deposited several feet of mud and rocks in the parking lot at the side of the winery, buried their cooling unit and knocked out their water.  









When I arrived at D'Berna, several members of the family were hand shoveling the mud into wheel barrows and taking it away, while a front loader Caterpillar plowed mud out of the parking lot and road leading into the winery. 
  
 


And, in Ribeira Sacra, where I was last week, more reports of hail and torrential rains.  José Manuel Rodríguez, President of the Ribeira Sacra D. O. and producer of the superb Décima Mencía, suffered damage to one of his prime vineyards to add to the loss of much of his crop last year to a powerful hail storm.   Here there were also reports of freeze and more damage from hail and torrential rains. 

 



Undamaged vineyards of Manuel Rodríguez, President of the Ribeira Sacra D. O. and producer of the superb Décima Mencía, who lost much of his crop to a severe hailstorm last year.

In mid-April, high winds in Galicia ripped off branches of vines in Rías Baixas according to Manolo Dovalo, owner of Adegas Rozas, who produces one of Galicia’s greatest artisan Albariños.   I spent an afternoon with my Bodegas Artesanas Albariño producers in Rías Baixas, where though Dovalo of Adegas Rozas reported some wind damage in his vineyards, all six of my producers seemed to have escaped serious crop-crippling damage. 
  
Manolo Dovalo, producer of Rozas (third from left), with the Bodegas Artesanas Albariño producers' wines, which are some of the greatest Grand Cru quality white wines produced in Galicia.

 



 



Not so in Ribeiro, to the east and inland, where Manolo Formigo (pictured above) showed me freeze damage and estimated that he may lose as much as 80% of 2017’s expected production.









In Monterrei, one of the last regions I visited Antonio Triay, his wife Puri García and their son Ivan showed me their freeze-damaged vines and were very demoralized.  They are small very high quality producers of Triay Godello and Mencía and they believe that 85-90% of their 2017 crop was wiped out in the late April freeze that hit the Monterrei D.O. particularly hard. 



 Antonio Triay and his son Ivan showed me their freeze-damaged vines and were very demoralized.
All photos by Gerry Dawes©2017.

Of all the regions I have visited so far, Viña Catajarros in Cigales and José Pariente in Rueda reported to me when I visited those area that they suffered little or no damage and, early in my trip, southern Navarra seems to have escaped damage.  In Corella (Navarra) Carlos Aliaga at Bodega Aliaga reported no damage.  

All photos by Gerry Dawes©2017.
___________________________________________________

About Gerry Dawes

 Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
video
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

3/31/2017

A Homage to Patxaran (Pacharán): The Pretty Ruby-colored Macho Drink of Northern Spain



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Patxaran (from the Basque paitar and aran ("sloe"), called pacharán in Castilian Spanish, the red sloeberry anís made by macerating arándanos, or endrinas, (sloeberries) from the blackthorn shrub in fine anisette spirits for several months (one part fresh sloeberries to three parts anisette).   Patxaran Navarro is controlled by an official denominación de origen, or D. O., like wine, and must contain no artificial flavorings or additives.  Sometimes a few coffee beans or cinnamon sticks are added to the patxaran casero housemade styles.   The maceration period can run from one to eight months.  Some homemade patxaran leave the berries in the anís.

Patxaran would seem to be the last drink on which to base macho memories, but in northern Spain everyone from Basque woodchoppers and daredevil bullrunners at Pamplona to the star chefs of El País Vasco’s great Michelin-rated restaurants drink this stuff - - often over ice. I first tasted Patxaran in 1971, when my old friend José Ramón Jorajurría, the “printer’s devil,” as I called him (he worked in a print shop), decided to make me only the second American to be invited into the Peña Anaitasuna (the other was the famous bullrunner Matt Carney, who was featured in James A. Michener’s Iberia; Joe Distler, the great bullrunner and my dear friend was the third). 

Anaitasuna is one of Pamplona’s legendary social and drinking peñas,or clubs. During the Fiestas de San Fermín, the peñas carouse all over town behind their raucous, but accomplished, band of musicians, drinking, singing and dancing the infectious northern folk dance, the jota, and generally raising Hell for eight days. The peñas all sit in the same section in the sun at the bullfights and drink, eat, sing, dance, throw flour and food all over one another, generally raising some more Hell. On the 11th of July, they have DIMASU (Día del Marido Suelto), which means Husband’s Day Out, an excuse to stay out for 24 hours straight, do even more drinking, singing, dancing, and, you guessed it, Hell raising. But, at midday on DIMASU, they retire to their clubhouse, which is like an Elk’s Club, only much bigger and with a health club, an Olympic swimming pool, plenty of rooms and facilities for family activities. There the men of Anaitasuna have a gargantuan lunch followed by cigars and heroic amounts of Patxaran.

Among the few things I remember about that day, aside from feeling supremely honored at having been invited, was that I didn’t like Patxaran. That was then, this is now. Like Scotch, drinking Patxaran is an acquired taste. Over the years I have acquired it; I love Patxaran. It’s nutty, sweet red fruit and anisette flavors are a great counterpoint for a good cigar.

One year, while touring the Basque Country with Chef Mark Miller (who then had Coyote Cafes in Santa Fe, Austin, and Las Vegas and Red Sage and Raku in Washington), on a cool misty afternoon at Kaia, a fabulous seafood restaurant in the port of Getaria near San Sebastián, I ordered a Patxaran after a stunning meal that featuring fresh house-cured anchovies, grilled sardines, and a whole wood fire-grilled turbot. Our server poured, over ice into a large brandy snifter, a very generous portion of Baines ‘Etiqueta de Oro (gold label),’ the Aston Martin of Patxaranes. A fine Montecristo completed the picture and all was well with the world by the time we finished lunch - - at 6:00 p.m.! (Some other brands of Patxaran to look for are the easier-to-find regular bottling of Baines, Basarana, Etxeko, and the brands you are more likely to find in the United States, Atxa and Zoco).





Then there was the glorious afternoon of the 14th of July, 1998, I believe, when John Ewing and I brought two liters of patxaran that we had been given by the sisters at Restaurante Hartza.  I got the fine folks at Hotel Maissonnave in Pamplona to partially fill a garbage bag with ice, put the jug of patxaran in it and put that into a wine box.  Somewhere we procured a couple of dozen plastic copitas so we could share the patxaran with the whole tendido.  We took the box with us to our seats in Tendido 9 and after the merienda, we began distributing the iced-down, Hartza house-made patxaran to about 20 people around us.  We indeed, lit up the whole tendido.  After most of our tendido had cleared out Ewing and I lingered in our seats, telling stories and drinking more patxaran. 


Below us, Tom Gowen and "Australian George" Danick appeared in the bullring callejón in front of our tendido, so we gave them some, too.  One of them took the picture above--George, I believe.  It remains one of my favorite memories of San Fermín.


Remember the Sloe Gin Fizz? Patxaran, which once a homemade concoction, has become one of the most popular drinks in Spain, bit it has only a remote relationship with that American sloe gin sensation of decades past. Patxaran, a ruby-garnet colored, Navarrese-Basque destroyer of brave men and levitator of adventurous women, is made by macerating sloe berries (called endrinas, arandanos, or arañones in Spanish; patxarán in Basque) in a sweetened, anís-flavored aguardiente. Patxaran de Navarra (from Navarra) even has its own protected Denominación Específica (DE - - which refers to the method of production, whereas in wine, denominación de origen (DO) refers to the area). The endrina fruit grows wild throughout Europe, but 110 experimental hectares of sloe berries have been planted in Navarra to insure a continuous supply from within the denominación for some of the nearly eight million liters of Patxaran produced annually.

DE Patxaran de Navarra, which averages 25 to 30 percent alcohol by volume, is produced by infusing orujo (aguardiente or marc) or agricultural-based alcohols with the essence of anís oils, then macerating sloe berries in the anís-flavored alcohol for a minimum one month to a maximum of eight months for each liter of Patxaran produced. Old-timers back in the hills of Navarre say that eating the berries after they are macerated in the anís cause you to go loco or develop a permanent dislike of patxaran, the latter of which I personally do want to risk, so I don’t eat the sloe berries.

Only the commercial Patxaran brands Zoco (made by Larios), Atxa and a few others are presently available in the United States. The attractively packaged Etxeko and Las Endrinas brands, found in duty-free shops in Spain, are quite good. Top Spanish wine and licores shops, such as the Club de Gourmets shops in Spain’s El Corte Inglés department store chain, stock the superb Baines Patxaran de Arañon and the top-of-the-line Baines Etiqueta Oro (Gold Label) bottling.


Once looked down upon as a blue-collar regional drink from Navarra, patxaran is now popular with everyone from Pamplona bullrunners, Basque woodchoppers, and heirs apparent to Hemingway’s Lady Brett to discriminating Spanish winemakers. An incident at a private luncheon held in Madrid before a fútbol match a few years ago underscored the popularity of Patxaran. Mariano García, for 30 years the winemaker at Vega Sicilia and now a much sought-after enologist considered to be Spain’s top winemaker, invited me to lunch with a group of his friends at Mesón Txistu. They had come to the capital to root for the Valladolid soccer team, in what was thought to be a hopeless match with powerful Real Madrid (the game ended in a 2-2 tie, which under the influence of patxaran, I had correctly predicted).




After a long, laid-back luncheon that featured almost every wine García has a hand in (Mauro, Mauro Vendimia Seleccionada, Maurodos San Román, Leda, Luna Beberride), coffees were ordered and cigars were lit. The proprietor then suggested post prandials. I ordered Patxaran on the rocks in a brandy glass (as it is often served in Spanish restaurants after meals).  The owner was aghast. With a somewhat patronizing tone, suggesting that a foreigner should be properly instructed in what constitutes a proper drink to end a meal, he suggested that I couldn’t possibly want to drink Patxaran after having drunk Mariano Garcia’s superb wines, some of which are among the most expensive in Spain.

I held my ground, however, and asked him to pour my favorite, Baines Etiqueta Oro, if he had it. Garcia, who had been somewhat distracted in conversation during my exchange with the owner, chimed in, “Make that two.” Shaking his head, the poor man went off to get Patxaran for the foreigner and for Spain’s legendary winemaker.


_______________________________________________________________________________________________ 
About Gerry Dawes  


Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 


". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
video
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series 
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.



3/30/2017

The Great Donn Pohren: His Passing & His Significance "Embedded in me like a memory chip is the spirit of Donn Pohren and his book."




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Madrid, Spain - American writer and well-known Flamencologist Donn Pohren died in Las Rozas [a Madrid suburb] on November 5, 2007. His wife, Luisa Maravillas provided a brief statement: "I regret to inform you all that Donn passed away the 5th of November, during the night. Sometime in the near future I intend to organize a gathering of friends and aficionados in Las Rozas."  - - Contributed by: WMC_News_Dept.  11/07/2007 08:35AM

Donn Pohren was regarded as one of the leading experts in Flamenco in the English language and wrote several influential books about the subject. "Donn Pohren's book was the first thing I bought when arriving in Andalucía, before I even knew how much my life would be involved with and changed by flamenco. It helped me understand a lot that was to come," says British expatriate Kate Edbrooke, who runs a recording studio in Granada and has produced several Flamenco recordings by local artists.


The Significance of Flamencologist Donn Pohren
and His Impact on Spanish Wine & Food
Que descansa en una juerga de “pura ma're” with a copita in front of him
and Diego del Gastor playing alongside him.

Copyright by Gerry Dawes 2017. 

In 1972, Donn Pohren, a Minneapolis-born American who lived in Spain for decades and was the world's greatest foreign expert on flamenco, published his idiosyncratic underground classic, Adventures in Taste: The Wines and Folk Food of Spain. I was living in southern Spain when I first encountered Pohrens's book (privately printed in Spain) soon after it was published and it had a profound effect on me. In the early years, I never traveled without it. At first, I merely wanted to have some of the wine and food experiences that he had described. Soon, I was having new experiences of my own, experiences that would eventually lead to my becoming a widely published writer on Spanish wine and food and a recognized authority in the field.
  
Donn Pohren's Adventures in Taste: The Wines and Folk Food of Spain


Adventures in Taste, self-published by Pohren in 1972.


Pohren wandered around the Iberian Peninsula in the 1960s exploring the nooks and crannies of Spain's 4,000,000 acres of vineyard lands, the largest acreage of any country in the world. He would pop into a village bar, ask for a glass of the local vino, then casually ask who made the best wine in town. On many occasions, Pohren would soon find himself being offered several samples as one vintner after another vied to show this foreigner that his wine was the best in the village. In his book, Pohren described encounter after encounter with artisan winemakers who were making excellent wines, many of which were unknown to the outside world in those days.


Pohren's Map of the Wine Regions of North Central
 (He did not cover Galicia!)

However, many of the wines Pohren described were wines whose charm soon faded if anyone tried to transport them beyond the boundaries of their home region. The winemaking techniques were often primitive. In many places the grapes were still crushed by treading, then fermented in open stone or cement vats, and aged in less than meticulously cared for barrels. The result was a flawed wine, which often tasted good with the local food, but was simply not stable enough to "travel" and was not the stuff to thrill sophisticated wine connoisseurs. Still, Don Pohren swore by the inherent quality of many of these Spanish wines and he was right.

His experiences have always been in the back of my mind and have served me well on numerous occasions, such as an encounter on my first trip to then unknown Priorat in 1988. Firmly in Pohren's shoes, I entered an old-fashioned, untidy cellar, where I was given a flawed wine to taste, but the underlying base wine was clearly very good. I judged the prospects for this region to be so promising that I came back wrote the first major article about the potential of Priorat. Alvaro Palacios and crew arrived the next year and began to make history. Recently, in Ribeira Sacra, I have run into some flawed wines (less so every year), just as a did in Priorat nearly twenty years earlier. Tasting "underneath" the sometimes inexperienced wine making techniques, I found enormous potential. I know Donn would have as well.

What Pohren tasted in those wines while researching his book forty years ago was the materia prima (raw material; grapes, soil and climate), the exceptional juice from grapes which often came from old vines, whose average yield of wine per acre of vines was less than half that allowed by the best appellations of Burgundy and Bordeaux.  Even backward winemaking techniques couldn't keep the underlying quality from showing through; Pohren's Spanish wines were diamonds in the rough.

In the years since Donn Pohren wrote his book, exciting things have happened which promise an incredible future for both Spain's traditional wines and those of emerging wine regions. Spain's nearly four decades-old democracy has been the catalyst for a modern renaissance in fashion, art, literature, cinema, and gastronomy and it has ushered in a technological revolution in wine making as well. A key element in this was Spain's acceptance in 1992 as a member of the European Economic Community, the Common Market (now the European Union), which posed a special challenge to Spanish wine producers: compete on a quality level with the other wines of Europe or enter the over-saturated European wine "lake," and be lost in the crowd.

Fortunately, Spain opted for quality. Many forward looking people in the Spanish wine trade began to see Spain's entry into the European Union as both a new challenge and a new opportunity for their wines. These challenges and opportunities would require a reassessment of their positions in both the domestic and export markets, an upgrading of their winemaking technology, and consistent quality in their wines. Emile Peynaud, Alexis Lichine, and other consultants were brought in from France to advise winemakers in the Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Rueda. The best enologists from Rioja, Penedes, and Navarra traveled to other regions share their expertise. Young Spanish winemakers trained in Bordeaux, Burgundy, and at the University of California - Davis. Miguel Torres Riera, the maestro of Catalan winemaking, and Jose Peñin, Spain's foremost wine authority, wrote important books about Spain's future in the wine world. New wine books, periodicals, and gourmet journals proliferated. Seminars, international wine symposiums, and wine competitions began to be conducted on a regular basis. And, importantly, wine clubs and societies were formed as an increasingly affluent and growing middle class in Spain began to appreciate the wines of its own country.

During the past three decades, investments in new wine making technology (especially in the area of fermentation control), better barrels (although accompanying by a lot of oak abuse!), experiments with new grape varietals, and the replanting of vineyards in some areas have begun to have a geometric effect on the overall quality level of Spanish wines. This progress in winemaking technique in Spain would not in itself account for such a dramatic effect–in fact, it is now often a detriment to authenticity--if it were not for the fact that Spain is a splendid natural vineyard endowed with many areas whose grape varietals have become perfectly acclimated over centuries to the micro-climate and soil in which they grow. 

All that was needed in many cases were winemakers dedicated to quality and the technology to achieve it. The grapes produced in the best wine areas of Spain–Rioja, Jerez, Cataluna, Ribera del Duero, Navarra, Rueda, and in many up and coming regions–have shown they are capable of producing wines which can stand alongside the best of France, Italy, and California. The Tempranillo of the Rioja and Ribera del Duero, for example, is coming to be recognized as a grape which can produce wines to rival those made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Pinot Noir.

The established, classic wine regions of Spain like Rioja and Jerez, while refining the techniques and polishing the skills which made them famous, also created exciting new areas of interest with small estates like Remelluri and Contino in Rioja and the emergence of such high-quality wines as the almacenista sherries of Emilio Lustau and the late harvest Navarra moscatels from Julián Chivite, Ochoa and Viña Aliaga. Other areas whose wines were once underground legends in Spain, like those described by Donn Pohren, but whose viticulture was based on tiny artisan producers and ill-equipped cooperatives, began to realize their potential for making great wines.

Ribera del Duero, home of Vega Sicilia, Pesquera, Mauro, and Viña Pedrosa; Navarra, the producer of perhaps the world's finest rosés; Priorato (Cataluna) and Toro (Castilla-Leon), whose rich, concentrated, blockbuster red wines have drawn international attention; Rueda, a surprising white wine region; and Rías Baixas, whose Albariños now count the U.S. as its most important export market, are just the most visible of the emerging wine regions capable of making first rate wine from native grapes. There are many more to come. 

Previously unknown regions–not many of which unknown to Donn Pohren–such as Bierzo, Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras and Monterrei, along with Jumilla and many others–have either jumped onto the world wine stage or are just in the wings awaiting their call to stardom. Producers like Miguel Torres in Penedes, Julián Chivite in Navarra, Carlos Falcó at Dominio de Valdepusa and Codorniu's Raimat estate, just to name a few examples, have achieved new heights with foreign varietals, though even the best examples often fall short of the intriguing, delicious, uniquely Spanish wines made from indigenous varieties–the kinds of wines that Donn Pohren loved.

Embedded in me like a memory chip is the spirit of Donn Pohren and his book. Following his example, I still ferret out little known producers and drive many kilometers out-of-the-way just to eat a dish in a little-known regional restaurant and, like Don, look beyond rusticity (or fancy trappings in some places) to find the core of something that is undeniably wonderful and unique to Spain. Only adventurers and indefatigable travelers can do what Donn Pohren did. I can attest to how indefatigable and adventurous he was from averaging six trips a year to Spain (eight per year in the past five years).

Without Don Pohren’s book (and to a great degree, James A. Michener’s Iberia) I may have never caught the spirit of the Spanish road that has sustained me now for more than 40 years. For that I owe Donn a now un-redeemable debt of gratitude and so do people such as Steve Metzler, who built a great and exemplary Spanish wine importing company, Classical Wines, based on his Pohren-inspired wine travels. Because of Donn, Metzler was inspired to find not only Pesquera and make Alejandro Fernandez's wine world famous, he even met his wife, Almudena. Neither of us saw Don Pohren as much as we would have liked to over the years, but fortunately several years ago in Madrid, I had an opportunity to let Donn know just how much his work meant to me and to the many who carry Spain in their hearts.


Pohren visited my late former wife Diana and I for lunch at our house in Mijas (Málaga) in 1974.  
Donn autographed Adventures in Taste to us.


I will miss the fact that Donn is no longer with us in body, but he will never die in the spirits and hearts of those who followed his incredible Quixotesque passion for Spain, flamenco, Spanish wine and traditional food and all things Spanish. (Quixote may have been a dreamer, but not a madman; those windmills he was tilting at were brought from the low countries and represented the domination of the foreign House of Austria, a powerful, inquisition wielding force that crushed those who dissented like Don Quixote after his encounter with the windmill sails.)

Donn Pohren was a dreamer and he may have seemed like a madman when he lived his life like a candle in the wind during his awesome flamenco juerga years, but to me Donn Pohren was a profound inspiration and he always will be. Vaya con Dios, Don Donn. I will raise a copita to you often in my journeys. I can see the angels lining up now for a juerga--a Spanish wine, food and flamenco party--the likes of which even heaven hasn’t seen.

The End

Gerry Dawes©2017
gerrydawes@gmail.com

3/15/2017

Quim de la Boquería, La Boquería Market, Barcelona. Five Dalí POM (Persistence of Memory) Melting Watches (Update)


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Five Dalí POM (Persistence of Memory) Melting Watches

to Quim de la Boquería, Where You Eat Like a King on a Taburete (Barstool)



 Gerry Dawes's Persistence of Memory* (Salvador Dalí) Melting Watch Awards.

All photos by Gerry Dawes©2017 / gerrydawes@gmail.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.

Quim Márquez, Quim de la Boquería, La Boquería Market, Barcelona with his costillas de ternera (veal ribs) with potatoes, Maldon salt and black Chinese garlic.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. 


English Version of Boquería Gourmand, a Book about Barcelona's Fabulous La Boquería Market (Foreword by Gerry Dawes)
 
(With an opening quote from Quim Márquez, Quim de la Boquería. Click on link above.)

 

Yuri Márquez, son of Quim Márquez, Quim de la Boquería, La Boquería Market, Barcelona.
 It seems only like just last year, when I took Quim, Yuri, then barely a teenager, and his little brother to Chinatown in New York City for dinner.  Now the guy is the heart-throb of La Boquería.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4. 

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This article on Quim de la Boquería in Barcelona, is another in  a series of articles on restaurants and tapas bars from around Spain that I think, from my very personal experience, deserve Five of Five Dalí POM (Persistence of Memory) Melting Watch Award pins.  I frankly don’t give a damn about Michelin ratings, Repsol or any of the rest.  I have been traveling and eating and drinking wine all over Spain for nearly 50 years and I have been to the restaurants in these articles multiples times.  Yes, I am influenced by the friendly relationships I have with many of the chefs and owners of these establishments, but I would not have built these friendships if these chefs, restaurants and establishments were not as good as they are.  And I take into consideration the downside for those who might not be connected in some of the restaurants I am writing about.  Nonetheless, I personally have had repeated Five Melting Watch experiences in all the places I am going to write about. 

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Quim de la Boquería, Mercat de la Boquería, A Culinary Ephiphany

Kay and I had just arrived in Barcelona on a Friday afternoon in early February from a road trip up the Mediterranean Coast, checked into our hotel and hustled down to la Boquería, hoping to have a late lunch (at 4 p.m.!) at one of the world´s great market bars, El Quim de la Boquería, but half expecting the place to be shutting down.  At least I hoped I would get to greet my long-time friend, chef-owner Quim Márquez.  We found the market still packed, El Quim still full of diners and Quim still cooking, as he had been since early morning.  We we were able to score a couple of taburetes (barstools) at the side counter, then as soon as a couple of seats opened up, Quim moved us up to the main counter looking into the kitchen.  Knowing that I usually drink Rosat (Rosé) Cava sparkling wine here, Quim’s staff poured us flutes of the excellent Cava Juvé y Camps 100% Pinot Noir Rosé Reserva Brut.  Our lunch would be liberally lubricated with multiple glasses of this delicious methode champenoise wine, which is usually a fine match for the food you are likely to be served here.

 Quim, his son and now co-pilot Yuri at Quim de la Boquería, La Boquería Market, Barcelona.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. 

Behind the counter, in what looks like an impossibly small kitchen space, Quim, his son and now co-pilot Yuri, Juan and Cristián Mora and at least four other male staff members, even at this late hour, are still doing a culinary ballet, dodging, weaving, pirouetting and cooking without missing a beat.  All the while out of this maelstrom, they pour drinks (our Cava flutes are never empty) and serve the three-sided counter surrounding the kitchen.  Even at this late hour, the taburetes are packed with an ever-changing array of some twenty seated, others standing, diners--market stand owners on their lunch break, well-known chefs visiting the market, local shoppers and a United Nations of tourists--with dishes of incredible food straight off the stove or, if a cold or room temperature dish, from under the glass display cases. Each new diner is handed cutlery and a Quim de la Boquería place mat printed with some history about this incredible place.  Despite what appears a first glance to be a chaotic scene, plates arrive in timely fashion and are cleared when the diners, never given the sense that they should hurry to give precious spot at the counter, are finished.

I have been to El Quim de la Boquería (in business more than 25 years) at least a score of times and though I am always eager to come here, I was not expecting the culinary epiphany that I would encounter this time.  After we had been served the first couple of dishes, I began to realize that Quim, his ingredients, cooking style, and his cooking crew including his son Yuri, had moved in to another dimension.  We had sat down after 4 p.m. to what would be a multi-course meal of five-star world class dishes. 

Our first dish, a favorite of mine, was gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp with black garlic from China), at Quim a modernized version of one of Spain's most ubiquitous dishes that comes on a plate instead of in the tradtional cazuela (clay casserole dish in which the dish is typically served), the shrimps spread across a pepper-flecked pool of addictive, slightly picante seafood, garlic and Cava juices that sent us to the sliced-bread basket a couple of times to mop it all up. 
A dish that was new to me here, but seems to be making the rounds in Spain, was a superb ceviche de corvina, corvina fish ceviche with passion fruit, mango, onions and aji AmarilloNext, a classic here served in a small paella pan, was huevos fritos con chanquetes, two fried eggs topped with pan-tossed tiny whitebait, with the yolk of the eggs as a divine sauce. 

I once took Quim and his two then young sons, including his current co-pilot Yuri to a joint in Chinatown in New York.  They loved it.  Now, believe it or not, Quim also has a place in Hong Kong, so it is not surprising that he has picked up some Chinese cooking skills like the delicious crispy fried dumpling filled with rabo de toro (oxtail) and served with a soy-infused dipping sauce.

My weakness for leeks and romesco sauce (and more Cava Rosat) was indulged with calçots con vieras, chipirones y romesco, young tempura-battered leek-like onions served on a thin black slate slab, resting at an angle atop a scallops on a bed of baby squid and julienned carrots and onions, with a romesco schmear on the side (and an accompanying ramekin; I complain if I get a short ration of romesco) of one of my favorite sauces, romesco, which is made with hazelnuts, almonds, peppers, tomatoes and garlic).

On another slab of black slate, Quim served us our last course, his modernized traditional cuisine version of roasted costillas de ternera (veal ribs) with rounds of roasted potatoes, Maldon salt with dollops of black Chinese garlic aioli alongside. 

With still two-and-a half hours before we were supposed to be at Albert Raurich’s Dos Pebrots for dinner, why not try dessert with that last flute of Cava, Quim’s Tarta de queso con fruta de la pasión, cheesecake with passion fruit? -- GD


Our lunch at Quim de la Boquería in Photographs

Quim Márquez and his crew in the tiny kitchen that turns out the incredible food at Quim de la Boquería.


The blackboards at Quim de la Boquería with menu items and gastronomic pronouncements.

Our lunch was liberally lubricated with the excellent Cava Juvé y Camps Rosé Reserva Brut (100% Pinot Noir) at Quim de la Boquería, Chef Quim Márquez Durán's incredible market bar in la Boquería market, Barcelona, Friday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2017.    Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 gerrydawes@gmail.com


Our first dish, a favorite of mine, was gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp with black garlic from China), at Quim a modernized version of one of Spain's most ubiquitous dishes, which here comes on a plate instead of in the tradtional cazuela (clay casserole dish in which the dish is typically served), the shrimps spread across a pepper-flecked pool of addictive, slightly picante seafood, garlic and Cava juices that sent us to the breadbasket a couple of times to mop it all up. 

A dish that was new to me here, but seems to be making the rounds in Spain, was a superb ceviche de corvina, corvina fish ceviche with passion fruit, mango, onions and aji Amarillo.

 Next, a classic here served in a small paella pan, was huevos fritos con chanquetes, two fried eggs topped with pan-tossed tiny whitebait, with the yolk of the eggs as a divine sauce.  


My weakness for leeks and romesco sauce (and more Cava Rosat) was indulged with calçots con vieras, chipirones y romesco, young tempura-battered leek-like onions served on a thin black slate slab, resting at an angle atop a scallops on a bed of baby squid and julienned carrots and onions, with a romesco schmear on the side (and an accompanying ramekin; I complain if I get a short ration of romesco) of one of my favorite sauces, romesco, which is made with hazelnuts, almonds, peppers, tomatoes and garlic). 




On another slab of black slate, Quim served us our last course, his modernized traditional cuisine version of roasted costillas de ternera (veal ribs) with rounds of roasted potatoes, Maldon salt with dollops of black Chinese garlic aioli alongside.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

 Tarta de queso con fruta de la pasión, cheesecake with passion fruit for dessert. 

Photos from other encounters at Quim de la Boquería

 
Joan Mora González pouring rosat Cava (Catalan rosé sparkling wine), Quim de la Boquería, a Boquería market, Barcelona,  Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.


  Alcachofas fritas (crispy fried artichokes) and rosat Cava (Catalan rosé sparkling wine), Quim de la Boquería, a Boquería market, Barcelona,  Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.


 
Alcachofas fritas (crispy fried artichokes) and rosat Cava (Catalan rosé sparkling wine), Quim de la Boquería, a Boquería market, Barcelona,  Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

Patatas bravas with picante red bravas sauce and alioli, Quim de la Boquería, a Boquería market, Barcelona,  Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

 
Club Chefs of Connecticut and New York Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes:  Quim Crab Burguer, Quím de la Boquería, a Boquería market, Barcelona,  Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.


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About Gerry Dawes


Writing, Photography, & Specialized Tours of Spain & Tour Advice
For custom-designed tours of Spain, organized and lead by Gerry Dawes, and custom-planned Spanish wine, food, cultural and photographic itineraries, send inquiries to gerrydawes@aol.com.  


I have planned and led tours for such culinary stars as Chefs Thomas Keller, Mark Miller, Mark Kiffin, Michael Lomonaco and Michael Chiarello and such personalities as baseball great Keith Hernandez and led on shorter excursions and have given detailed travel advice to many other well-known chefs and personalities such as Drew Nieporent, Norman Van Aken, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg, Christopher Gross, Rick Moonen, James Campbell Caruso and many others.

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“The American writer and town crier for all good Spanish things Gerry Dawes . . . the American connoisseur of all things Spanish . . .” Michael Paterniti, The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and The World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

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"Gerry Dawes, I can't thank you enough for opening up Spain to me." -- Michael Chiarello on Twitter. 

"Chiarello embarked on a crash course by traveling to Spain for 10 days in 2011 with Food Arts
contributing authority Gerry Dawes, a noted expert on Spanish food and wine.  Coqueta's (Chiarello's new restaurant at Pier Five, San Francisco) chef de cuisine, Ryan McIlwraith, later joined Dawes for his own two week excursion, as well. Sampling both old and new, they visited wineries and marketplaces, as well as some of Spain's most revered dining establishments, including the Michelin three-star Arzak, Etxebarri, the temple to live fire-grilling; Tickets, the playful Barcelona tapas bar run by Ferran Adrià and his brother, Albert; and ABaC, where Catalan cooking goes avant-garde." - - Carolyn Jung, Food Arts, May 2013.


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"In his nearly thirty years of wandering the back roads of Spain," Gerry Dawes has built up a much stronger bank of experiences than I had to rely on when I started writing Iberia...His adventures far exceeded mine in both width and depth..." -- James A. Michener, author of Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections

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Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 

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Pilot for a reality television series with Gerry Dawes  
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com
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