By noon, we were on our way to the interior of the province of Alicante, south of Valencia, where Rafael Poveda, Director of Bodegas Salvador Poveda, was waiting for us at his Alicante D.O. (denominación de origen) winery outside the town of Monóver. We were offered tastes of his Fondillón from the 1947 solera, a rare, sherry-like, aged red wine of a type mentioned by Alexandre Dumas pere in The Count of Monte Cristo.
We got to write our names in chalk on the huge 1986 vintage barrel as did many other visitors over the course of the last 100 years of vintages on the many casks available in this cellar. In America a bodega refers to a Hispanic convenience store but in Spain a bodega is a winery.
Rafael Poveda and one of his friends-partners in the winery, Pedro Cáceres (who, because of that chance meeting has become one of my partners in The Spanish Artisan Wine Group),
At Casa Elias, a long table was set for us with little bowls of almonds, sweet, slow-cooked tomato compote, and aioli, which laid the groundwork for the dishes to come: superb local charcutería (sliced cured sausages), snails grilled with rosemary and the star of the afternoon, paella con conejo y caracoles, rice with wild rabbit and snails cooked in a paella pan over grapevine cuttings.
In the next installment, I will chronicle our adventures in Alicante city and the following day in Alicante province again, on the way to Madrid, where we had our last adventure of the trip with a typical Castilian dinner, excellent flamenco and other highlights.
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