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12/31/2011

Photography: All photos on this blog were taken with Canon cameras, these lenses and equipment (click on this link to see images of my photo gear).

The Distancing Begins: Jancis Robinson's Read on Pancho Campo MW, "the (now ex) Spanish specialist wine reviewer" (Jay Miller) and "the supposed beacon of probity Robert Parker" in her review of 2011



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The Distancing Begins


Jancis Robinson interviews Portuguese winemaker Dierk Von Di Niepoort 
at the WineCreator conference in Ronda, 2008.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2008 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Jancis Robinson, who supported Pancho Campo as an MW candidate, gives her read on Pancho Campo MW, Jay Miller*, Robert Parker and WineFuture Hong Kong in her review of the year:

"The wine topic of the year on blogs and online fora, at least among the wine writers who dominate them, has been
wine writer ethics. Acres of cyberspace have been devoted to the sometimes jaw-dropping conduct of Spain's first Master of Wine and event organiser Pancho Campo. 

Allegations have been made that Campo asked for sums from producer associations for access to the (now ex) Spanish specialist wine reviewer* for America's leading wine writer and supposed beacon of probity Robert Parker. The matter is now being investigated and Campo denies any wrongdoing.  

His last major event was WineFuture, an ambitious international wine conference in Hong Kong at which the three tastings, for 1,000 tasters, were led by me, Parker and Campo. In retrospect it does not look good that much of Campo's tasting was taken up with films of his arrival at various wineries in a Ferrari."**-- jancisrobinson.com©2011

*Is Jay Miller getting dropped down the memory hole here?  He is not even mentioned by name in the article, just Robert Parker, his boss. 

**Italics and underlining by GD.
__________________________________________________________________________________  
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. 

Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés. "

  video
Pilot for a proposed reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
(Filmed in Valencia and Alicante.)


Adventures in Spanish Taste: Insider's Food, Wine, Cultural and Photographic Travel in Spain


The Traveling Gastronomer: A Celebration of Food, Wine, Life, Photography & Quixotic Musings

The Spanish Artisan Wine Group



Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com

12/30/2011

Why corks are popping once more - - The Guardian




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 The Spanish Artisan Wine Group
Gerry Dawes Selections

(Click on the line above, includes a slide show on cork.)

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Adventures in Spanish Taste: Insider's Food, Wine, Cultural and Photographic Travel in Spain


Amorim Natural Corks

Amorim Natural Corks

High Alcohol: Harold McGee

High Alcohol: Harold McGee

12/27/2011

Photo: Chef Michael Chiarello and Executive Chef Ryan Mcilwaith of Bottega Napa Valley with Jordi Mas (Mas Gourmets de L'Embotits) at Quim de la Boquería in Barcelona


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Jordi Mas (Mas Gourmets de L'Embotit), Chef-owner of Napa Valley's Bottega restaurant and Food Network Next Top Chef personality Michael Chiarello and Bottega Executive Chef Ryan Mcilwaith at Quim de la Boquería in Barcelona.  Oct. 11, 2011.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2010 /  gerrydawes@aol.com.

Chiarello and Mcilwaith were on a 4,000 km. gastronomic research trip with me across Spain.  Jordi Mas co-authored the book Boquería Gourmand with Oscar Uribe, President of La Boquería (Mercat de San Josep) in Barcelona.  I wrote the foreword for the English version of the book (see below.)


English Version of Boquería Gourmand (Published in October by Viena Edicions), a New Book about Barcelona's Fabulous La Boquería Market 

_______________________________________________________________________________
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. 
 
Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés, the 2011 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef
 
video
Trailer for a proposed television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

Jim Budd on Jim's Loire "Pancho Campo MW: investigation or witch hunt?" Plus Robert Parker's "This blogger. . ." and Links to Other Stories in The Ongoing The Pancho Campo-Jay Miller-Robert M. Parker, Jr. The Wine Advocate Controversy


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Pancho Campo MW: investigation or witch hunt? by Jim Budd

Pancho Campo MW – Vinos de Madrid: a response from Robert Parker

Top 10 drinks stories of 2011 The Drinks Business (The controversy is #8) 


Links to Other Stories on The Pancho Campo-Jay Miller-Robert M. Parker, Jr. The Wine Advocate Controversy:
_________________________________________________________________

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. 
 
Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés, the 2011 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef
 
video
Trailer for a proposed television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

12/25/2011

Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah from Gerry Dawes & Kay Balun.



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Kay Balun and the Bear at Salvador Dalí's house, Port Lligat (Girona), Catalunya. December 2010. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com


Gerry Dawes & Kay Balun in Barcelona's famous Boquería market toasting with cava (Catalan sparkling wine) a small group that Gerry was leading around Spain. Cava gets breakfast off to a good start! 
Photo by Tyler Schwartz.


The Chestnut Seller, Burgos, Castilla y León.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com.

12/24/2011

Photo Op: Chef Michael Chiarello on One of My Customized Tours of Spain.


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On a private customized tour of Spain with Gerry Dawes.  
Food Network Next Iron Chef contestant Michael Chiarello, 
Chef-owner of Bottega (Napa Valley), Pasterlería Oyarzun, San Sebastián.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com. 

In addition to Michael Chiarello and his Executive Chef  Ryan Mcilwaith, the following food personalities have been on customized wine and food tours with me to Spain:

Thomas Keller
Ally Barker
Michael Lomonaco
Terrance Brennan (twice)
Mark Miller (five times)
Mark Kiffin
John Gottfried
Michael Whiteman

Chefs and food personalities whom I have accompanied on shorter excursions such as mini tapas hopping tours, luncheons and dinners in Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastián, Valencia, Alicante, etc.: 

Norman Van Aken
Stephen Kalt
Rick Moonen
David Burke
Michael Ginor
Michael & Ariane Batterberry
Tim and Nina Zagat
Jeffrey Steingarten
Greg Grossman
Ruth Reichl
Cindy Pawlcyn
Charlie Trotter
Tetsuya Wakuda
Drew Nieporent
John Sconzo
Karen Page
Andrew Dornenburg
Michael Weiss
Greg Drescher 
Jimmy Schmidt
Peter Kump
Maria Guarneschelli
Antoinette Bruno 

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Gerry 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.

 
video
Trailer for a proposed reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected): gerrydawes@gmail.com

12/23/2011

The UK "Drinks Business" Top Ten Stories of 2011; The Pancho Campo-Jay Miller-Robert Parker Wine Advocate Controversy & the Masters of Wine Institute's Investigation into Campo's Activities in Spain is Number Eight



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As the year draws to a close, a scandal currently holds the wine industry in thrall.

The Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) announced in December that it was opening an investigation into the conduct of Pancho Campo MW following allegations the president and founder of The Wine Academy of Spain charged Spanish wineries up to €40,000 for a visit from Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate.

Announcing the formal investigation, an IMW statement said: “Membership of the Institute and the right to use the title Master of Wine is reserved for those individuals who have passed all aspects of the Masters of Wine Examination, agreed to abide by the Institute’s formal Code of Conduct and who remain members in good standing.

“In the event that a breach of the Code is proven, a range of sanctions is available to it.


“Having received a formal complaint into Pancho Campo MW’s alleged conduct, the Institute of Masters of Wine has opened an investigation.”


Campo had already moved swiftly to deny any wrongdoing, issuing a statement through The Wine Academy of Spain which said: “The Wine Academy of Spain never requested from any wineries monies for the visits of Jay Miller or for tasting their wines.


“All the expenses for Jay Miller to travel to Spanish wine regions to taste and review wines were covered by The Wine Advocate, including his transportation, accommodation, meals and any other related expenses,” the statement continued.


According to Campo, the only occasion when fees had been charged were for “the organisation, setup and management of events that included seminars, conferences, masterclasses and guided tastings, which were open to the public,” but that “None of these fees were ever paid to The Wine Advocate.”


Miller has since resigned from The Wine Advocate, but denied his stepping down had anything to do with the Spain debacle. “Some may believe my stepping down is in response to my critics, nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.


“I have never accepted (or request) fees for visiting wine regions or wineries.”


The wine world will wait with baited breath for the outcome of the IMW enquiry in the new year.


Related posts on: 


Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

 




12/22/2011

Photo of the Day: Fishmonger at Pontevedra Municipal market, Galicia.





Fishmonger at Pontevedra Municipal market, Galicia. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook & Twitter.
_______________________________________________________ 

Gerry 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
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

12/21/2011

Photo of the Day: Pan Gallego, Galician Bread

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Pan galego, Galician bread at the Santiago de Compostela market. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

(Note:  All photographs on this blog are available for purchase.  For publication rights, contact me at my e-mail address below the photograph.)

Spain's giant Osborne bull heads for Dallas: Demand for Spanish roadside feature in US and Denmark, but Not Without a Little Revisionist Politically Correct Bullshit from Osborne's Spokesman.



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An article in Britain's The Guardian by Giles Tremlett
Madrid  guardian.co.uk)

Osborne bull alongside a Spanish highway. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

"It is one of most memorable sights in Spain, a huge black bull with horns and prominent cojones that sits on hilltops and roadsides watching over the passing traffic. . . 

(Osborne spokesman) Llanza says the bulls are not meant to represent the bullfight. "These are not fighting bulls, they are roadside bulls – large pieces of metal, painted black and with very long lifespans," he said." -- From Tremlett's article in The Guardian.

Yes, the Osborne bulls alongside Spanish roads (over 500 of them) do have big cojones, but it is BULLSHIT to say that they "are not fighting bulls," which has to be some kind of PC revisionist history. The Osbornes, who made their fortune in Sherry and now own other wineries such as La Rioja's Montecillo, plus the Sánchez Caravajal Cinco Jotas jamón Ibérico brand and chain of Cinco Jotas ham-themed restaurants and tapas bars, has long had fighting bull ranches in the Osborne family. 

These ubiquitous emblems of Spain that were first installed along Spain's highways as Osborne Veterano sherry brandy advertisements, are indeed modeled on the Spanish fighting bull.   

Indeed, the magnificent 19th-century bullring in El Puerto de Santa María, the atmospheric Andalucian Guadalete river port and Bay of Cádiz town where Osborne's historic sherry bodegas are located was built in 1880 by a group headed by D. Tomás Osborne Böhl de Faber.  In front of the bullring stands an excellent statue of a fighting bull, done by the late Spanish sculptor Antonio Navarro Santafé, the same sculptor who did the famous Oso y el Madroño (the Bear and the Strawberry Tree monument [the symbol of Madrid] that stands in Madrid's Puerta del Sol.  

Another pair of Navarro Santafé modeled fighting bull sculptures are installed in front of one of Osborne's bodegas at the entrance from the road coming in from Jerez de la Frontera. 

The brief opening shot in the video below shows one of the Osborne bulls along the highway. 


video
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

12/20/2011

Chef Jordi Cruz, One of the Fastest Rising Stars of the Post elBulli Epoque Gets a Second Michelin Star at ABaC in Barcelona.




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Persistence of Memory* (Salvador Dalí) Five-Watch Rating

Jordi Cruz is one of my favorite post elBulli-era chefs. I have predicted that he will get a third-star.  After less, than two years at ABaC, he just received his second.  !!Enhorabuena!!


Chef Jordi Cruz empasize a point as he talks about his cooking techniques after dinner at Restaurante ABaC. Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

ABaC Barcelona (From my article in Departures, May 2011)

Want to catch a true rising star in the Spanish food firmament, one that many predict will soon be awarded three Michelin stars? Jordi Cruz first cooked at the restaurant L’Estany Clar in the village of Berga, north of Barcelona, where at the age of 26 he became the youngest chef in Spain to receive a Michelin star. He then moved further into the Catalan hinterlands, to Món St. Benet, near Manresa, where he cooked at L’Angle, the restaurant attached to Ferran Adrià’s food research center Fundació Alícia. Anyone who ate there immediately recognized his rare talent. Cruz is now lighting up the sophisticated Barcelona culinary sky at the glittering new ABaC Restaurant & Hotel, which opened in 2008. Dishes might include smoked salmon with cauliflower purée served under a smoke-filled cloche, or an ethereal mushroom-and-truffle focaccio accompanied by a little tumbler of champignon bisque with hazelnut foam. Not to be missed is Cruz’s extraordinary extraterrestrial gin-tonic, made with cucumber and a dollop of lemon sorbet. Cruz is not just creative; his food is as delicious as that of any Spanish modernista cuisine chef today. Dinner, $215. 1 Avenida Tibidabo, Barcelona; 34-933/196-600.


Bottega Napa Valley Chef Michael Chiarello looks over a bottle of wine. Chef Jordi Cruz's ABaC. Oct. 11, 2011.  Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Where to Stay: The restaurant is located within the sleek new ABaC Hotel (rooms, from $460), whose owners also have two others places in Barcelona, the Hotel Cram (rooms, from $250; 54 Aribau; 34-932/167-700) downtown—home to Michelin-starred restaurant Gaig)—and the new Hotel Mirror (rooms, from $250; 255 Córcega; 34-932/028-686) in the Eixample district, whose restaurant, The Mirror, just hired two-star chef Paco Pérez. -- Gerry Dawes

20111112-cover-article-thumb_archive_thumb

12/18/2011

San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010, A Basque Trilogy: Kaia, Elkano and Etxebarri


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Persistence of Memory* (Salvador Dalí) Five-Watch Rating

* * * * *
A Basque Trilogy
by Gerry Dawes
(Published in Food Arts, March 2010)
Gerry Dawes
Posted: March 1, 2011
I was on another multi-tasking mission to Spain last November, and high on my list was attending the San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010 chefs conference, where several New York City food folk—Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, Drew Nieporent, Anthony Bourdain, Colman Andrews, David Chang, and Wylie Dufresne—would be appearing. Especially appealing was the prospect of seeing what the conference organizer, Grup GSR, run by the Catalan dynamo Roser Torras, had up its sleeves for the annual event.

   
Roser Torras and Drew Nieporent at Elkano Restaurant, San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010. Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

Nieporent and I planned to meet in Bilbao Saturday evening, November 20, the night before we were due at San Sebastián Gastronomika. I was to get us a dinner reservation at the legendary Asador (grill-house) Etxebarri, southeast of Bilbao. I called Victor Arguinzoniz, the now-renowned owner/grillmeister of Etxebarri, called by some the best restaurant in northern Spain, and heard, “Sorry, but I don’t have a single seat”—not even for Nieporent, the famoso restaurateur. My fallback was Elkano, which has been called the best fish restaurant in the world, located in the magical fishing village of Getaria, near San Sebastián. “Elkano is closed for vacation,” a voice message said. Fallback position numero dos was Kaia, also in Getaria and also famous for whole wild grilled turbot.

   
Whole rodaballo (turbot) grilling at Kaia, Getaria.
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

At Kaia, we had house-cured anchoas (anchovies) and excellent txangurro (a classic Basque dish of centollo, or spider crabmeat, sautéed with leeks and garlic, spiked with brandy, put back in the shell and browned under a broiler). Our main course was whole wild rodaballo (turbot) grilled over wood coals and filleted at the table, a glorious dish for which Getaria is justly famous. We accompanied the anchoas and txangurro with Getariako Txakolina, Getaria’s slightly pétillant “green wine,” and with the rodaballo we had a still impeccable Monte Real Reserva 1970 at a laughably reasonable price. After dinner, Nieporent’s driver appeared and whisked him off to San Sebastián. Because my conference lodgings were unavailable until the next day, I had booked a room in Getaria at the charming Pension Getariano, just across the street from Elkano restaurant.

Sunday evening, after a press conference featuring a panel of Basque star chefs—Juan Mari Arzak, Pedro Subijana, Martín Berasategui, Andoni Aduriz, and Hilario Arbelaitz—16 emerging Basque country talents prepared some wonderful degustaciòn plates for a reception. I saw Boulud and Brazilian journalist Alexandra Forbes watching as chef Ramón Piñeiro from the Frank Gehry–designed Marqués de Riscal hotel restaurant in La Rioja Alavesa put the finishing touches on his soufflé of Idiazabal cheese with organic olive oil, herbs, and citrus. Huevo frito con patatas, a still liquid egg yolk wrapped in thin strips of potato, then flash-fried, from chef Beñat Ormaetxea of Jauregibarria was perhaps the evening’s top mouthful.

 
 Daniel Boulud and Alexandra Forbes watch Ramón Piñiero of Marques de Riscal 
restaurant put the finishing touches on his Souffle of Idiazabal cheese. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

San Sebastián Gastronomika took place during Thanksgiving week, with the contingent from New York appearing for their big day on Tuesday, November 23. Bouley, Boulud, Bourdain, Chang, Dufresne, and Nieporent all played to large appreciative audiences. Andrews was there for the presentation of his book, Ferran: The Inside Story of El Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food. Also drawing large followings were the contingent of Spanish superstar chefs: Ferran Adrià, Joan Roca, Carme Ruscalleda, and Christian Escribà from Catalonia; San Sebastián home-grown estrellas such as Arzak, Subijana, Berasategui, Aduriz, and Arbelaitz (12 Michelin stars in total); Italian chef Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Modena); and Australian Neil Perry (Rockpool Bar & Grill, Melbourne). A conference highlight was the homenaje (homage) by all his fellow Basque chefs to Spanish television’s Karlos Arguiñano, who is probably more famous here than Adrià.

 Anthony Bourdain presenting at San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

Interwoven between the daily presentations was the star-studded scene at the Joselito Ibérico stand, where Spain’s ham king, José Gómez, and his crew of ham slicers served some of the world’s best air-cured hams, chorizo, lomo (loin), and salchichón (salami) trucked over from his aging plant in Guijuelo (Salamanca). Gómez likes to serve top Spanish red wines and French Champagne with his Ibérico pig products. It was not unusual to see the likes of Keller, Boulud, Adriá, and Arzak sitting together, toasting with flutes of bubbly while munching on Joselito’s stellar jamón Ibérico de bellota—air-cured hams from the acorn-fattened pata negra (black foot) breed of Iberian hogs.

  
 
 José Gómez, Joselito the Jamón king at San Sebastián Gastronomika. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.


To honor the New York presenters, Christian Escribà, the legendary Barcelona pastelero-chocolatero (pastry and chocolates) maestro, rolled on stage his large chocolate and marzipan creation of the New York City skyline with marzipan figures of the New Yorkers with their initials on their chef’s jackets. Andrews’ figure held a tiny copy of his book Ferran. “I really felt special, humbled, and honored to have Escribà’s amazing, extraordinarily meticulous New York piece presented to us,” Keller said. 

 
 Christian Escribà at San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

 
New York contingent posing with Christian Escribà's sensational pastry-and-chocolate creation of New York, New York at San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010. Boulud, Nieporent, Dufresne, Andrews, Chang, Keller & Bourdain. Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.


Boulud cooked his famous foie gras/short rib/beef burgers on stage and passed out at least 200 portions to an appreciative audience in the VIP section of the 1,800 seat Kursaal Auditorium. Keller’s cooking demonstration was “certainly a departure. Everybody at San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010 was doing demonstrations based on formulas and  techniques,” he said. “Rather than trying to intellectualize or formulate something, my Per Se sous chef David Breeden and I went to La Bretxa market in the old quarter, and from ingredients available that morning, we just spontaneously prepared some beautiful dishes.” Beautiful indeed: citrus-cured mackerel with cipollini and compressed sour apples; uni with avocado, orange suprêmes, and arugula; Idiazabal with artichokes cooked sous-vide with compressed Paris mushrooms and watercress.

 
Three-star Michelin Chefs Juan Mari Arzak & Thomas Keller at San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010. 
I first took Thomas Keller to Arzak in 1990, before he opened The French Laundry. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

As the conference broke for lunch, Arzak hailed me: “Gerry Adams! [that’s what he calls me], you have a rental car, no? I got a reservation at Etxebarri!” (See Departures profile of Etxebarri.) I jumped at the chance to have lunch there. It was after 3:30 when I pulled into Etxebarri’s parking lot in the Basque hamlet of Axpe. I hoped to photograph Arguinzoniz working at his specially designed grills, but I was informed by the woman running Etxebarri’s dining room that he didn’t want the distraction of photographers during service. Arguinzoniz’s style of grilling is a precise discipline that requires his full attention, especially when he performs such miracles as smoking caviar in a self-designed grill pan with microscopically fine mesh laser-bored openings that allow smoke to come through while holding in moisture.

 
Victor Arguinzoniz at the grills he designed himself at Etxebarri. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

I opted for the shorter tasting menu: smoked house-made mozzarella perched on a single slice of eggplant; a perfect house-cured and seasoned anchoa on a thin strip of grilled bread soaked with olive oil; exquisite pieces of nécora crab grilled in the shell; a pair each of lightly grilled, rosy pink gambas de Palamós (highly prized shrimp from the Costa Brava); a pair of lightly smoky grilled oysters with oyster liquor espuma (foam), perched on a slice of pickled eggplant; and grilled becada (woodcock) with its detached head and beak presiding over an assortment of grilled fall vegetables, a chestnut, and carrot puree. My only caveat was the repetition of smoke in every dish.

 
Necora crab a la parilla at Etxebarrr.
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

The meal at Etxebarri was yet another Spanish Basque triumph of exceptional product sourcing married to simple, but exceptionally refined, techniques, which, in the best places, trumps cocina de vanguardia sleights-of-hand nearly every time. In the hands of experienced maestros at Extebarri, Elkano, and Kaia, such dishes, because of their exquisite simplicity and pure flavors, remain etched in memory long after many of the cocina de vanguardia pyrotechnics evaporate like an espuma in the dessert. Perhaps that’s why so many Spanish vanguardia chefs have opened modernized traditional tapas bars in the past few years.

Fortunately, dinners begin late in Spain, which allowed a couple of hours after Etxebarri before dinner at Elkano (click to see Departures profile on Elkano, the third gastronomic thoroughbred in my trifecta. I arrived to find Elkano’s father-and-son owners, Pedro and Aitor Arregui, and their longtime grill chef, Luis Mari Manterola, sweating “la gota gorda” (the big drop) at the prospects of serving 130 people, including the culinary heavyweights attending the conference. 

  
 Luís Mari Manterola grilling turbot at Elkano. San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

From previous meals at Elkano, I had no doubts that they would impress even this crowd. And they did, serving us superb almejas (clams); a tartare of chipirón (small squid) with sea urchin and trails of chipirón ink sauce (a Getaria speciality); two preparations of kokotxas (hake glands), one grilled, the other battered and deep-fried, both ethereal; small samplings of fat sea-tasting percebes (goose barnacles); wood charcoal grilled langosta (lobster); and whole wild rodaballo (turbot) filleted at the table, all accompanied by light, refreshing small producer Txakolis from Getaria.  We finished by dipping into whole, wonderfully oozing Torta del Casar sheep’s milk cheeses from Extremadura and texturas de manzana reineta a la parrilla, a sensational grilled apple dessert.

   
Elkano owner Pedro Arregui, El Maestro, with two of the whole grilled rodaballo (turbot). San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010. Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

I sat with Nieporent, who agreed that Elkano was indeed the best fish restaurant in the world. Boulud took the microphone at the end of the meal and reaffirmed that appraisal. Chang was impressed: “The last thing I wanted to do was eat again, but I am so glad I went. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.” 

 
Wylie Dufresne and David Chang at the Elkano dinner. San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.
___________________________________________________________________  

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
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

Una Pura Fábula ¡Bienvenido, Mister Parquet*!: (in Spanish) A Humorous Look Back



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 (In Spanish.)
This parody from 2009 by Ernesto Venerables has some striking similarities 
to the Pancho Campo-Jay Miller-Robert M. Parker, Jr. Troika controversy of 2011.

The Wines of the Canary Islands - Article in Wines From Spain News


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(Originally posted 8/29/2009)

The Wines of the Canary Islands

Article by Gerry Dawes in Wines From Spain News Fall 2009
(Click on above link to see the article.)

(Double click on images to see enlarged version on Picasa.)

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Adventures in Spanish Taste: Insider's Food, Wine, Cultural and Photographic Travel in Spain

The Traveling Gastronomer: A Celebration of Food, Wine, Life, Photography & Quixotic Musings

The Spanish Artisan Wine Group


Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected): gerrydawes@gmail.com

12/17/2011

La Rioja: R. López de Heredia, The Wines of Yesterday



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Literary Inspiration for A Traveller in Wines

"Here," cried Don Quixote, "here, brother Sancho Panza, we shall be able to dip our hands up to the elbows, in what is called adventure. . ." – Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes


"People talk of the glorious dreams of opium-smokers, the frenzied exhilaration that hashish can give, but I, who have studied both, assure you that neither can for a moment compare with the delirious joy of fifty or sixty Spaniards applauding a dancer in the upper room of a café in Seville!" – From Paris to Cádiz, Alexandre Dumas pere



"Of one thing the reader may be assured, – that dear will be to him, as is now to us, the remembrance of those wild and weary rides through tawny Spain. . ." – Gatherings From Spain, Richard Ford.

"The traveller in wines, finding these topics a little beyond his comprehension, remarked loudly that Sénécal was forgetting a lot of scandals." – Sentimental Education, Gustave Flaubert, whose work was greatly influenced by Cervantes's Don Quixote.



* * * * *
From A Traveller in Wines 
(A work-in-progress.)
by Gerry Dawes

“The 1947 Bosconia is the best red wine I have ever drunk.”)

La Rioja: The Wines of Yesterday, the 19th Century bodega of R. López de Heredia 
in Haro, the wine capital of La Rioja Alta.   
Photo by Gerry Dawes, copyright 2008 / gerrydawes@aol.com




R. López de Heredia Slideshow
Double click on the slide show, then when the Google album comes up, 
click on slideshow link to the right and go to a full screen view.

During the 1970s when I lived in southern Spain, the northern wine district of Rioja came to represent an oasis to me during the hot, rainless summers of Andalucia, my spiritual home. By early July, the heat settles in over a large portion of Spain. The sun bears down relentlessly, especially in the Mediterranean portions of the country, driving millions of Spaniards to the beaches and cool mountain resorts. Coinciding with this time of year was our annual, much anticipated trek to Pamplona, where Hemingway's inveterate lost souls come from all over the world to see the sun rise on yet another Fiesta de San Fermín, which he immortalized in The Sun Also Rises. Since my former wife Diana and I counted ourselves among the admirers of the venerable Don Ernesto's fiesta, we too joined the migration each year.

We always set out at least a week before the commencement of festivities at Pamplona, so we could explore the Spanish countryside along the way. On one of these trips, we discovered the Rioja and it became our favorite place to pass some quiet time before surrendering to the wild, week-long festivities at Pamplona, where peace, tranquillity, and sleep are rare commodities and not even particularly desirable ones at that. We looked forward to the Rioja country, where we could taste fine wines in cool bodegas, sample superb country cuisine, and enjoy the scenery, history, and milder climate of this high mountain valley.

These were the days long before modern super highways were built across Spain and before most cars, including our magnificent Volkswagen sedan, Rocinante, had air-conditioning, so to avoid some of the scorching road heat of summertime Spain, in late afternoon we would leave Mijas, our pueblo on a mountain overlooking the Costa del Sol. We would drive into the wee hours of morning to escape the steady daytime flow of North African workers and their families, who once released on their month-long holiday from Northern European factories, maniacally pushed their lumbering, overloaded cars and vans down through Spain, hell-bent on reaching the beaches and homeward-bound ferries of the southern coast. Apart from diminishing our chances of being maimed by a Peugeot or a Mercedes van, the night offered some relief from being stuck behind the long queues of laboring Spanish trucks belching noxious black exhaust.

After stopping for a brief sleep at a Valdepeñas pensión, we would drive on through Madrid in the early morning hours to reach the ancient Castilian capital of Burgos–the city of El Cid–by midday. There we headed East towards the Rioja. In less than an hour, as the road climbed, the vegetation became increasingly verdant, the air fresher and cooler. The greener landscape, now showing some vineyards, soothes the soul as well as the body as the heavy layers of oppressive road heat peel away. The promise of a thundershower bringing the cool, night breezes of the Rioja would soon put the dust of the southern summer behind us.

We had arranged for two old friends, Alice Hall, the dowager empress of American bullfight aficionados of Milledgeville, Georgia and Carolyn Moyer of Davis, California to join us in a tour of the Rioja on our way to Pamplona. On this occasion, in 1973, we had written the firm of R. López de Heredia at Haro, the wine capital of La Rioja Alta, letting them know that we again wished to visit their bodega. The reply had come in the charming, graceful Spanish of a more genteel age. It went something like, "...We cannot tell you what joy the news of your imminent visit has produced in our bodega. It would be our great pleasure to receive you."
By 10:00 on the morning of our visit, after a breakfast of rolls and café con leche, the four of us were down in the bodegas of R. López de Heredia for our "second breakfast" - - a wine tasting. Here, in surroundings as incredible as any I have known in the world of wine, Sr. Anastasio Gútierrez Angulo, the firm's export manager, let us taste some of his twenty-year old reservas–wines made in the style of a different era–wines of yesterday.


The 19th Century bodega of R. López de Heredia 
in Haro, the wine capital of La Rioja Alta.   
Photo by Gerry Dawes, copyright 2008 / gerrydawes@aol.com

The bodega had all the trappings of a nineteenth-century operation patterned on the chais of Bordeaux (and in 2008, still does). The winery workers even wear blue coveralls as many of the staff at French chateaux still do. In time-honored fashion, barrels are still crafted in the winery's own cooperage. We saw workers cracking eggs from the firm's chicken farm to get fresh egg whites for fining the wines. Other employees laboriously filled bottles with reserva wines by hand and corked them with a hand-operated corking device. 

The cooperage at the 19th Century bodega (f. 1877) of R. López de Heredia.
Photo by Gerry Dawes, copyright 2008 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Anastasio led us through a man-made maze of cool, barrel-filled limestone caves to the deepest part of the bodega - the room known at R. Lopez de Heredia as the cementerio - the cemetery. The cementerio is the resting place of the old vintage reservas dating from the founding of the firm in 1877. This cellar gets its name from the storage bins lining its walls, which very much resemble the burial niches in the Roman-plan cemeteries of Spain. Bin after bin is filled with dusty bottles from the greatest vintages of the past. At one end of the room is a large round wooden table whose centerpiece is a huge, gnarled, cobweb-covered old grapevine surrounded by bottles of wine. 

Barrel being rolled to another location at the 19th Century bodega (f. 1877) of R. López de Heredia. 



Our host, Anastasio, had selected two gran reservas from the fine 1954 vintage for us to taste. The first was Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva, a lovely, elegant Bordeaux-style wine of breed and complexity. The second wine was a more intense, dark ruby wine in a burgundy bottle, Viña Bosconia Gran Reserva, which was showing signs of evolving into a big, warm, rich wine - aterciopelado (velvety), as the Spaniards call it. The Viña Bosconia had a particularly beautiful nose, one which reminded me of a wonderful phrase that Michael Wigram, a wealthy Englishman who lives in Madrid and is and one of the world’s foremost bullfight aficionados, had used to describe another 1954 reserva at a luncheon during the Feria de Sevilla in 1973, "Gets a nice bloom on it after nineteen years, don't you think?"

These wines did indeed have "a nice bloom" on them. They were wines to be enjoyed, not merely tasted and spit on the floor of the bodega, so we sipped them while Anastasio gave us the most charming description of Rioja winemaking I have ever heard. First he described the normal processes of vinification, barrel aging, bottling, and so forth for the bodega's "bread and butter" - the table wines made to sell in the fourth, fifth, and sixth years after the vintage. Then, when he came to the subject of gran reservas, the classic Rioja reservas from exceptional vintages, he began to speak of the wine as a living thing. In this place called the cemetery, he brought his wines to life. Speaking softly, but with passion in his beautifully enunciated Castilian Spanish, he described the wine's "education."

"You see," he began, "in the beginning, a gran reserva is like a young man. Here in the bodega, he gets a proper `education,' then is bottled and becomes a young caballero. At about 25 years he reaches the peak of his youth, then he mellows out to about the age of, say, 35-40, when he gradually begins to tail off. However, some of these fellows do well even after fifty. A few years ago the owners allowed three bottles of the 1914s to be opened for a celebration. The second bottle was in fine condition."

It would be a day to remember - Anastasio's wonderful analogy and his beautiful wines were just the beginning. We were four good friends glowing with wine and in the mood for fiesta. At Merendero Toni in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, we lingered over one of those wonderful Spanish lunches: a simple salad of garden-ripened tomatoes, lettuce, and onions at the peak of their flavor, succulent baby lamb chops al sarmiento (grilled over grapevine prunings), crisp fried potatoes, and lots of vino tinto de la Rioja.

After lunch, with a tape playing jotas, the folk songs of Navarra, La Rioja and Aragón, we took the breathtaking drive up to the Balcon de la Rioja for splendid views of the entire Rioja valley. Diana and Alice, euphoric from the wine, the food, and the splendor of the day, danced the jota on the mountain as a Spanish family stared incredulously at two foreigners–Alice a septuagenarian at that–performing the lively regional dance of northern Spain in their own private fiesta.

Over the years, I drank many bottles of López de Heredia’s wines including the 1942 Viña Bosconia and 1947 Viña Bosconia, which at the time I thought were two of the greatest red wine I had ever drunk. I also visited López de Heredia several times and became friends with Anastasio Gútierrez and Pepe Osses, who succeeded him. 


One day Anastasio and I were touring the bodega. We had just come out of the firm’s picturesque cooper’s shop, which has always reminded me of Diego Velasquez’s Vulcan’s Forge in the Prado. Suddenly, there in front of us was an old man in a wheelchair. He wore a black beret, wore a sweater and had a terribly swollen, bare foot that looked like a encrusted stump.

“¿Ya sabes quien es (you know who this is)?” Anastasio asked me. It was Don Rafael López de Heredia–the son and namesake of the bodega’s founder of the bodega–who, from the looks of his foot, was in the twilight of his life. He still made the rounds of the bodega every day though, coming down from his office in the winery‘s marvelous red-trimmed, landmark arte nouveau tower via the elevator that had been built especially for him. 


 
Rafael López de Heredia, founder of the bodega. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes, copyright 2008 / gerrydawes@aol.com


Anastasio introduced me to him and we shook hands. I was excited to finally meet a family member after half a dozen visits to the winery. I asked him if he minded if I photographed him. He didn’t and I took several color slides. When I put the camera aside, he asked me, “Well, if you took my photograph, you surely won’t mind if I take yours.” He pulled out a camera that he always carried with him and took my picture. I was astounded that this bright, but dying, old man loved photography as much as I did.

Before the encounter with Don Rafael, Anastasio and I had been tasting several of López de Heredia’s wonderful wines in the cementerio and, as I described on my first visit, they were not wines to spit on the floor, nor did I. Perhaps that led to my confusing the two cameras that I was carrying. Don Rafael left and, since the roll in one camera was finished, I rewound it. As I was talking to Anastasio, I started to reload the camera. To my horror, I opened the camera in which the roll was not finished, the one with the photographs of Don Rafael on it. I soon as I saw what I had done, I snapped the back shut and rewound the film. When I returned to New York, I had the film developed. There was the image of Don Rafael, clear and bright, but with rays from the light flashing on the film all around. They were strange pictures, ruined for publication, but I kept them, perhaps to use if I ever needed to describe him in detail. Later I would discover that those photographs were the last ones ever taken of Don Rafael. Shortly after my visit, he died.

Years later, I visited Anastasio at the bodega again and took several photographs of him. It was clear that he was near retirement. In the late 1980s, I was visiting López de Heredia in the company of Pepe Osses and I asked him about Anastasio. Pepe told me that Anastasio had retired and had been ill, but he had told him I was coming and that I wanted to see him. I telephoned Anastasio from the bodega to let him know that I had arrived and he said he would come down. “I have something for you.”

Pepe and I were tasting a fine old vintage of Viña Tondonia when Anastasio arrived. We embraced and I felt how frail he was. I had know him almost fifteen years by then. He had a folder with him and he pulled a photograph from it. “I thought you might want this,” he said, and handed me a photograph of myself, taken by Don Rafael López de Heredia during that chance encounter several years earlier. Tears came to my eyes. I was overwhelmed. I hugged Anastasio again and thanked him, then raised my glass of Tondonia and toasted him, “Mil gracias, mí viejo amigo, mil gracias.” It was a fabulous and thoughtful present from an old friend.

It was the last time I ever saw Anastasio. He died shortly after my visit, but I still visit , because it is one of the world’s most wonderful, picturesque, and traditional bodegas. Now I stop in to see my old friend, Pepe Osses; the current director, Pedro López de Heredia; Pedro’s thirty-something daughters Maria Jésus and Mercedes; and son-in-law, Carlos, all of whom help carry on the tradition.



María Jésus López de Heredia in El Cementerio
Photo by Gerry Dawes, copyright 2008 / gerrydawes@aol.com

During a visit in 2002, just a year short of the 20th anniversary of my first visit to López de Heredia, I was invited to dinner at the winery with some thirty other Spanish and foreign wine writers who were attending a three-day tasting session of Rioja wines called Los Grandes de la Rioja. Formal dining tables were set up inside one of the most spectacular naves of the bodega. We were surrounded by huge 50,000-liter wooden vats that have been used to ferment and store wines here for more than a century. The subdued lighting, from old style, low-wattage and flickering candles created a fantastic ambience. I was seated next to María Jésus López de Heredia, with whom I had become friends in recent years. As we were chatting during dinner, I told her about my experiences with the 1947 Viña Bosconia in the mid-1870s and told her that I still believed after more than 30 years of drinking Spanish wines and 20 years selling the best wines of France, Italia and the United States to the top restaurants in New York, the 1947 Bosconia was still the best red wine I had ever drunk.

“Have you tasted it recently?” I asked.

“No, but, if you think it is that good, there we are going to taste it now. Just don’t tell anyone else,” she answered.

Maria Jésus called a bodega worker over and had a brief discreet discussion. The man left the room and ten minutes later returned with two bottles from the cementerio, one of which he opened on an empty station table between two of the wine vats, the other was a backup bottle in case the first bottle was flawed. It was the 1947 Bosconia, now 57 years old. It had been one of Anastasio’s young lads of 27 when I last drank it in 1974. Now, even with another 29 years tacked on, the wine was still magnificent. I was gratified to find that it every bit as stupendous as had I imagined it to be all these years. It was easily a 100-point wine, even coming on the heels of the great 1964 Viña Tondonia and 1964 Viña Bosconia–itself a 98-point maravilla– that we had drunk earlier at the dinner. No fading rose, the 1947 Bosconia still had a deep black ruby color and fabulous deep, ripe nose. The great acidity was in perfect balance with delicious fruit and still firm tannins, which needed food to soften them up. 



 
R. López de Heredia, Barro de la Estacion, Haro (La Rioja). 
Photo by Gerry Dawes, copyright 2008 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Even though Maria Jésus had sworn us the secrecy, the wine caused quite a stir at our table. We attracted the attention of her sister, Mercedes, who upon quizzing Maria Jésus, demanded that the other bottle of 1947 Bosconia be opened for her table. I called Paul White, an American wine writer who lives in New Zealand, aside and shared some of my glass with him. He, too, was astounded by the quality of this nearly 60-year old perfectly preserved museum piece that has stood the test of time and represents the pinnacle of quality that La Rioja is capable of obtaining–wines that do indeed still have a beautiful “bloom” to them even decades after the wines were made.

During the early part of the millenium, denigrating the traditional wine houses of La Rioja became a significant national pastime among Spanish wine writers, many of whom would have us believe that truly great wines must be dark as ink, overripe, above 14% alcohol and infused with enough new oak flavor to evoke visions of a sawmill.  The time-honored house of R. López de Heredia, who has been making fine wines for more than 125 years came under attack as colorless, flavorless wines made by antiquated methods. I feared that they would have to dramatically change their philosophy and the style of their wines to survive. It has been heartening in the past few years to see young sommeliers from the United States and other countries embrace these wines for what they are: the unique, finely crafted, wonderfully drinkable wines of another era.  I call them the wines of yesterday.

– The End –

___________________________________________________________________________
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.

Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés, The James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Chef in America 2011

". . .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


video
Trailer for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

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