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Food Arts Silver Spoon Award to Gerry Dawes


 Premio Nacional de Gastronomía - - James Beard Foundation Nomination (Best Wine Writing) - - Premio Cava

Gerry Dawes's Article Medieval Riches of El Cid's City (About Burgos, Spain)
Front Page, The New York Times Sunday Travel Section



6/22/2014

The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections Arrives in US With a Plethora of Low Octane Beauties - - John B. Gilman's The View From The Cellar


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Vineyards overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Empordá.
One of the most beautiful vineyard areas in Spain.

Long-time Spanish wine expert and journalist, Gerry Dawes has finally tossed his hat back in the ring of the wine trade here in the United States, creating a new Spanish wine import company that is focused on searching out old school Spanish wines of great character that have resisted (or studiously ignored) the modern trend towards high alcohol and over-oaked wines that have plagued many of the most well-known properties on the Iberian peninsula during the last couple of decades. Señor Dawes is probably the most vociferous opponent of excessive new oak to be found in the world of wine since the passing of Bartolo Mascarello, and he is no fan of the very heady and overripe style of winemaking that has been championed in many other journalistic circles behind the banner of Spain’s “Mediterranean Wine” fiction, which argues un-persuasively that Spain’s natural wine proclivity is to make overripe and alcoholic wines due to the limitations of its Mediterranean climate. 

  Spain’s important native wine critic, Victor de la Serna of the publication, El Mundo, has long argued for this fantasy in the face of an historical legacy to the contrary, which helped provide the propaganda program behind which so many Spanish wineries sought to maximize profitability by fashioning wines solely for the over the top tastes of Robert Parker’s associate, Jay Miller, who has just retired from covering Spain for the Parker empire. Gerry Dawes has long been a journalistic counterpoint to the “Mediterranean Wine” armada, and in the last several months has created an import company to search out Spanish wines of the old school that steer clear of the alcoholic hubris that has marred so many new and formerly great wine-producing estates in Spain in the last fifteen or twenty years.

I have now had a handful of opportunities to taste through the wines in Gerry’s new import portfolio, which he has dubbed The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections. Not surprisingly, given Gerry’s long history of visiting in Spain and knowing the wine regions of the country inside out, his roster of small and very serious winegrowers is as fine a group of classic Spanish wines as one is likely to find under one umbrella. 

   I had intended to feature these wines as part of a larger piece on traditionally-styled Spanish wines in a coming issue, but thought the breadth and depth of selections in the Dawes’ portfolio was sufficiently exciting to warrant a feature on their own- particularly since many of these wines are made in very, very small quantities, and if I sat on the notes for a few months and included them in the upcoming feature, it is quite likely that many of these superb wines would already be sold out of the market. So, I have decided to get these notes published as quickly as possible to ensure that readers who are so inclined might have the opportunity to track down some of these truly exceptional wines prior to their disappearing from the market.

    The heart and soul of the Spanish Artisan Wine Group’s lineup are superb bottlings of Mencía on the red side of the ledger, and a great set of producers making stunning Albariño on one hand, and another group working their magic with Godello on the white wine side of the ledger. This is not to say that there are not some equally superb wines to be found here amongst Señor Dawes’ selections that are not made from one of these three grapes (in fact, there is a simply stunning, old vine Garnacha from Camino del Villar Viña Aliaga that Gerry is not particularly fond of - given its riper style in comparison to most of the wines found in his portfolio - but which should absolutely not be missed!), so one would be foolish to focus exclusively on the small growers producing Mencía, Godello and Albariño in the roster of tiny estates represented here. 

   But, that said, there is no denying that the Spanish Artisan Wine Group’s lineup of producers of Mencía, Godello and Albariño are all absolutely exceptional and every bit as fine as anything I have ever tasted from these three grape varieties. In particular, his roster of Albariño producers are spectacular, with each estate emphatically showing just how great the wines from this grape can be when produced from low yields and old vines. Along with Albariño producers represented here in the US by José Pastor, such as Pedralonga, Raul Perez and Do Ferreiro, the likes of Spanish Artisan Wine Group producers such as Lagar de Broullón,  O Forollo, Avó Roxo, Cabaleiro do Val and Rozas are redefining just what Albariño can and should be and are amongst some of the most exciting new (at least to me) dry white wines that I have tasted in several years. In fact, Gerry’s roster ofAlbariño producers is so superb that he generally saves them for the end of tastings, starting with reds and rosado bottlings and letting the Albariño producers finish off the festivities at the two events I attended!

    I first tasted several of these wines at the start of March of this year, as the wines were just scheduling to depart from Spain (and I for a month-long swing through France and Germany), and then followed up with a second tasting in late May when the wines had fully arrived here in New York. Both tastings emphasized that Señor Dawes’ lineup is chock full of outstanding producers new to the export markets and who are fashioning absolutely stellar, old school wines that are long on terroir, purity of fruit, tangy acids and great personality that are derived from their traditional places of origin, rather than from a tony French tonnelier or trendy international winemaking consultant. 

   While I have not yet had the pleasure to visit and taste in the cellars with these producers, it is now at the top of my list for future tasting trips and it will not be long until I have the pleasure to meet these vignerons in person and get a better feel for their philosophies and vineyard landscapes. For, these are really superb wines and some of the most exciting new producers to cross my path in several years. For subscribers not located here in the states, I am sure that these small artisan producers would be delighted to be contacted directly about the availability of their wines, as there is little doubt that they are currently swimming upstream from the more “typical” Spanish wine market at home (still seemingly enamored of alcoholic clout and tons of new wood) and would be amenable to sharing a few of their great bottles with sympathetic private clients from around the continent.

Cava

    While I will be doing a full-fledged feature on Cava in the next issue, I wanted to include notes here on The Spanish Artisan Wine Group’s fine Catalan producer, Jaume Giró et Giró and their excellent label of Can Festis Cava. Like virtually all of the top producers I have tasted in recent months, Jaume Giró et Giró is part of the “Six Percent Club” who own their own vineyards and produce Cava solely from their own grapes. 

   As I will elaborate on in my article on Cava, in my experience, this is one of the fundamental building blocks for producing truly world class Cava, and if one were to simply limit one’s consumption of Cava to producers who grow their own grapes and make their own wines, one could steer clear of disappointingly bland examples and come to appreciate just how beautifully delicate and complex top flight Cava can be from members of this “Six Percent Club.” 

Can Festis Cava “Bronze Label” Brut Nature- Jaume Giró et Giró $15.99
Can Festis Cava “Silver Label” Brut Nature Reserva- Jaume Giró et Giró  $19.99
Can Festis Cava “Gold Label” Brut Nature Grand Reserva- Jaume Giró et Giró $22.99
(Notes to follow.)

Assorted Vino Blanco


    The 2010 Finca Teira Blanco from Bodegas Manuel Formigo is a blend of seventy percent Treixadura, twenty percent Godello and ten percent Alvilla. It weighs in at a cool 12.5 percent alcohol and is a lovely middleweight, offering up a complex nose of lemon, grapefruit, salty soil tones, citrus peel and a touch of beeswax in the upper register. On the palate the wine is medium-full, bright and very well-balanced, with perfectly respectable depth in the mid-palate, good focus and fine length and grip on the finish. This is not exactly snappy today, but it remains fresh and vibrant for near-term drinking. I look forward to tasting the 2011 version of this wine, as it is clearly meant to be drunk in its youth. 2012-2014.  89.  $19.99


    Young Manuel Formigo de la Fuente is the winegrower now in charge of his family’s vineyards in Ribeiro, tucked in a corner of Galicia just above the Portuguese border in northwestern Spain. The estate’s “Teira X” bottling hails from some of their oldest vines in their top vineyard site, Finca Miño Teira, and is a blend of sixty percent Treixadura, fifteen percent each Albariño and Alvilla and ten percent Loureira. Only a few hundred cases are produced each vintage. This is a more structured and slightly riper (thirteen versus 12.5 percent) wine than the estate’s Finca Teira Blanco, with more mid-palate depth and a superior backbone of acidity. The 2010 is an absolutely superb wine, jumping from the glass in a vibrant mélange of lemon, fresh bay leaf, stony white soil tones, orange peel and a dollop of petrol. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and beautifully soil-driven, with sound acids, lovely focus and simply exceptional length and grip on the finish. A superb bottle. 2012-2018. 92.  $26.99
   

    Terra Remota is owned by the husband and wife team of Marc and Emma Bournazeau, who are residents of Perpignan, France (just over the border), as Marc’s family was forced to emigrate from Spain to Perpignan during the Civil War. This very pretty and stylish white wine is a blend of forty-five percent Garnaxta Blanca, thirty-five percent Chenin Blanc and twenty percent Chardonnay. The nose is deep and complex, offering up a very classy blend of lemon, pear, white soil tones, a hint of green olive and a topnote of spring flowers. On the palate the wine is fullish, crisp and nicely transparent, with sound framing acids and good length and grip on the focused finish. This is not the most complex white in the portfolio, but it is a very satisfying bottle that offers up good depth and breadth of flavor, which, I suspect, will grow exponentially in complexity as the vines get older here. Very elegant juice. 2012-2016+. 88.  $28.99


http://www.terraremota.com/PAGES%20ESP/Resources/equipes(sansdanie.jpg
Pierre, Brigitte, Emma, Marc, Veronica, Diego & Voyou (the dog).
The winemaking and vineyard team at Terra Remota in Empordá.
Owners Marc and Emma Bournazeau in center.

Godello
 

    The 2010 Sabatelius Blanco is a blend of sixty percent Godello and forty percent Treixadura and is a terrific bottle. The stylish and complex nose wafts from the glass in a blend of pink grapefruit, beeswax, tart melon, lemon peel, salty soil tones, a touch of green olive and a topnote of resinous herbs. On the palate the wine is vibrant, medium-full and complex, with a fine core of fruit, bright acids, excellent focus and grip and a long, pure and transparent finish. Fine juice. 2012-2018.  92.  $21.99


    Don Bernardino is the wine label for restaurateur, Emilio Rodríguez Diaz, whose O Grelo restaurant is located in the town of Monforte de Lemos - effectively the capital of the Ribeira Sacra region. His 2010 Godello is excellent, weighing in at a ripe and pure thirteen percent and offering up a beautiful nose of peach, lime peel, a lovely base of soil, just a whisper of honeycomb and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish, pure and very classy, with excellent mid-palate depth, fine focus, crisp acids and outstanding balance and grip on the snappy and soil-driven finish. Just a superb bottle of Godello. 2012-2020.  92. 


    Adegas D. Berna is owned by the young husband and wife team of Berna Guitián and Elena Blanco, who together with their talented consulting enologist, José Luis Murcia, produce an absolutely lovely bottle of Godello. The deep, complex and very pretty nose wafts from the glass in a mix of lime, tart orange, salty soil tones, a hint of white peach, olives, white flowers and a bit of citrus peel in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, medium-full and vibrant, with lovely intensity of flavor, a fine core, crisp acids and lovely length and grip on the beautifully focused finish. This is a really lovely bottle. 2012-2018. 91+.  $24.99


    Adegas O Barreiro is owned by Pepe Rodríguez, who retired from his first career to tend vines and make wine in this isolated corner of Valdeorras which looks down upon the Sil River valley. Señor Rodriguez’s 2010 Godello is flat out stunning, offering up a deep and classy bouquet of tart peach, orange peel, beeswax, white soil tones, a touch of green olive and a lovely, delicate topnote of fresh rosemary. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish and very pure on the attack, with impressive complexity and mid-palate depth, laser-like focus, sound acids and outstanding length and grip on the bouncy and very refined finish. This is a superb example of Godello and one taste of this wine makes it very easy to see why so many Spanish wine aficionados argue that Godello is the country’s greatest indigenous white wine grape. 2012-2020.  93.  $19.99


    While Ribeira Sacra is obviously best-known for its outstanding red wines based on Mencía, this lovely Godello shows that the steep slate vineyards here are also a fine location for Godello and other white wine varieties. The 2010 Godello from Viña de Neira is a lovely middleweight, offering up an impressively complex and vibrant bouquet of lemon, bread fruit, beeswax, salty soil tones, lemon peel and dried flowers in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish, crisp and complex, with a lovely base of soil, fine focus and good, but not great length on the bouncy finish. If this were a bit longer on the backend it would rate outstanding, but there is an awful lot to like in this classy and complex wine. 2012-2016.  88.  $18.99


    Albariño has long been considered one of Spain’s finest white wine grapes, but much of its history has been marked by unfulfilled potential, as the low prices that most of these wines sold for on the international market simply dictated that the grape had to be cropped high in order for winegrowers to survive economically and make a living sufficient to keep their families fed and sheltered. Happily, one is beginning to see more examples of Albariño these days that are clearly focused on maximizing the potential quality of the varietal by keeping yields much lower and searching out blocks of old vines, with the resulting wines showing a dramatically different profile of complexity and depth of flavor than was the case when the only way for a winegrower to survive with this variety was to over-crop and try to get by on volume. 

Much the same phenomenon can be seen in a French appellation such as Sancerre, where there continues to be oceans of rather dilute, simple and easy-drinking wine produced from very high crop yields, but where the greatest producers of the region- people such as Edmond and Anne Vatan, the Cotat cousins, Gérard Boulay and others have shown just how profound a wine can be produced from sauvignon blanc in the best terroirs of Sancerre when yields are kept down and the wines are crafted to maximize quality and complexity, rather than simply aiming to make a profit through volume. 

A similar push upwards in quality can be seen in the region of Rias Biaxas with Albariño, and the last couple of years have seen some absolutely brilliant examples cross my path from some of the top producers in the region. Prior to tasting these wines, I never imagined that Albariño could produce such profoundly complex, intensely flavored and ageworthy wines, and this new trend may well be one of the most exciting today in all of Spain. Two decades ago a group of fourteen growers who specialize in Rias Biaxas Albariño decided to form a quality-oriented growers’ association, which they dubbed the “Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas,” and six of these estates are now part of Señor Dawes’ portfolio. 

One of the chief tenets of the producers in this association, besides low yields and old vines is the use solely of indigenous yeasts for the fermentation of their wines. These top estates also differ from much of the more commercially-oriented Albariño out there in choosing to bottle their wines significantly later than is customary in the more quantity-oriented houses, allowing the wines to nurture on their fine lees typically until mid-summer of the following year after the harvest. The growers reported on below from The Spanish Artisan Wine Group are certainly amongst the very finest of this new genre of “quality over quantity” Albariño producers, and there are very few other vignerons working with this grape with whom I have experience that can match the stunning quality of these wines. 


The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections Albariños 
from the Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas, Rías Baixas, Galicia.

    Adega Avó Roxo is currently run by Antonio Gondar Moldés, who took over the management of the family estate only in 2007.  His grandfather, Serafin Gondar began production here in the 1930s and this was at one time one of the most famous wineries in the region, winning several awards as late as the 1970s. The family vineyard is one and a half hectares in size and planted entirely to Albariño and Antonio Gondar Moldes is dedicated to taking the quality here to the highest level, and Avó Roxo is one of the most recent inductees into the growers’ association in the region. His 2010 Albariño is a stunning wine, soaring from the glass in a blaze of tart orange, lime, stony, salty minerality, a touch of green olive, ocean breeze and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very transparent, with a great core of fruit, crisp acids, outstanding focus and balance and superb grip on the very, very long finish. This is a stunning example of Albariño! 2012-2020.   95.  $24.99

    The Adega of Cabaleiro do Val is owned by Francisco “Paco” Dovalo López, who founded and is the current president of the Growers’ Association here. While the winery was only officially incorporated in 1989, the family winegrowing traditions here go back centuries and Señor Dovalo López has some extremely old vines in his vineyard. He has taken selection massale cuttings from some of his one hundred and fifty year-old vines to use for replanting purposes, thus retaining the unique character of his outstanding Albariños. The 2010 offering from Cabaleiro do Val is absolutely outstanding, jumping from the glass in a deep, complex and gently leesy mélange of grapefruit, orange peel, stony minerality, lemongrass and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and rock solid at the core, with snappy acids, laser-like focus and simply exquisite length and grip on the perfectly balanced and soil-driven finish. This is a brilliant Albariño! 2012-2020+.   94+.  $24.99


Paco Dovalo and Gerry Dawes drinking Cabaliero do Val, Doval's great Albariño at the Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas Encontro de Vinos de Autor in Dena-Meaño, Val de Salnés, Rías Baixas, Galicia.



    Lagar de Broullón is owned by José Pintos, who farms this two and a half hectare vineyard in the village of Meaño, which is one of the very finest for Albariño in the Val de Salnés section of Rías Biaxas. The vineyard is situated with a south by southwest exposition, allowing the grapes to reach fine ripeness each year and still maintain a great base of minerality. The 2010 from Señor Pintos is a beautiful wine, offering up a deep and vibrant nose of fresh lime, green apple, salty oceanic tones, citrus peel, a bit of lemongrass and a great base of stony minerality. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and classy, with a superb core of fruit, crisp acids and lovely length and grip on the perfectly focused finish. High class juice! 2012-2020.  93.  $23.99


    Eulogio Gondar is the owner and winegrower at Lagar de Candes, and he represents the fourth generation of his family to head this small estate, which is also located in the village of Meaño, in the Val de Salnés section of Rias Biaxas. The soils here are granitic in nature, producing beautifully mineral expressions of Albariño. The 2010 from Lagar de Candes is a lovely wine, wafting from the glass in a complex mix of tangerine, elegant leesy tones, pulverized stone, lime zest and a saline topnote of the ocean. On the palate the wine is pure, medium-full and zesty, with lovely complexity, very good mid-palate depth, sound framing acids and lovely length and grip on the focused and classy finish. This does not quite possess quite the same “electricity” on the backend as the very best Albariños in this lineup, but it is a superb bottle of wine. 2012-2016.   90+.  $23.99


    Bodega Meis Otero is owned and operated by the Fernando Meis Otero, who is one of the very youngest members of theAsociación de Bodegas Artesanas. He took over the reins of the family bodega in 2001. Like many of his fellow members of the growers’ association, his vineyards are located in the Val de Salnés. The family’s one and a half hectares of vines used to be planted to a mix of regional grapes, but Fernand Meis Otero’s father took the step to plant exclusively Albariño here in the early 1980s. Thus, the vineyards are just now coming into their prime as they close in on thirty years of age. The 2010 O’Forrollo Albariño is an outstanding wine, delivering a deep and very complex nose of sweet grapefruit, pulverized stone, orange peel, briny oceanic overtones, lemongrass and a touch of acacia blossom in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish, complex and very classy, with a superb core of fruit, laser-like focus, outstanding intensity of flavor and superb length and grip on the beautifully-balanced finish that closes with a distinct note of orange peel. Lovely juice. 2012-2020.   93.  $23.99


    Adega Rozas is located in the village of Meaño in the Val de Salnés and is run by winegrower Manolo Dovalo. This family estate goes back several generations, and its 6.3 hectares of vineyards are loaded with old vines - many dating back more than two generations! Señor Dovalo insists that it is the very high percentage of old vines in this very favored section of the Val de Salnés that allows him to make such outstanding Albariños. The 2010 Rozas is simply stunning, soaring from the glass in a complex blaze of lime zest, tart orange, kaleidoscopic minerality, lemongrass, gentle leesy tones and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very racy, with a rock solid core of fruit, brisk acids, laser-like focus and simply stunning length and grip on the very minerally and magically complex finish. This is as magical a glass of Albariño as I have ever had the pleasure to taste! 2012-2020+.  96+.  $25.99

Rosado


    The 2011 Rosado from Viña Aliaga is a beautiful bottle of dry Rosé that is drinking superbly out of the blocks, but shows every indication of improving with a year or two of bottle age. Made from one hundred percent Garnacha, with its color arrived at by a bit of skin contact, the 2011 offers up a deep and stunning nose of blood orange, cherries, rose petals, lovely, chalky soil tones and a bit of orange peel in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and beautifully balanced, with a lovey core of fruit, bright acids and excellent focus and grip on the long and classy finish. Just a beautiful bottle of rosado, with great purity and no “candied” aspects on either the nose or palate. 2012-2016.   92.  $13.99


    The Viña Catajarros Rosado from Bodegas Hermanos Merino is made up of a blend of eighty percent tempranillo, five percent Garnacha, and fifteen percent of two white wine grapes, Verdejo (ten percent) and alvillo (five percent). This winery is run by two brothers, Eugenio and his brother Merino, and the estate is a Rosado specialist, with the vast majority of their production comprised of dry rosé (augmented by a bit of red wine). The 2011 Viña Catajarros Rosado offers up a superb and vibrant nose of cherries, orange peel, salty soil tones and a topnote of dried roses. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and tangy, with a superb base of soil, excellent focus and bounce and a very long, complex and classy finish. I would give this superb wine another year of bottle age to really let it blossom, as the 2010 shows that there is more yet to come as this wine develops with a bit of cellaring. High class rosado here! 2013-2018.   93.  $13.99


    The 2010 Viña Catajarros Rosado from Bodegas Hermanos Merino is made up the same blend as the 2011, and the additional year of bottle age has really let this wine come into its own. The 2010 version is a superb bottle of rosé, jumping from the glass in a complex and classy nose of cherries, melon, pomegranate, a touch of spiced meats, orange peel, complex, soil tones and a nice touch of smokiness in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and beautifully balanced, with a  lovely core of fruit, with gentle framing acids, superb soil signature and excellent length and grip on the complex finish. High class and serious rosado that shows every indication of continuing to drink well for several more years. 2012-2016+?  93+.  $13.99

Assorted Vino Tinto


    Carlos Aliaga’s tempranillo never sees any oak and is raised entirely in stainless steel tanks. It hails from the family’s limestone-based vineyards located in the center of Navarra and is a superb value. The 2010 tips the scales at a very civilized 13.5 percent alcohol and delivers a lot of aromatic and flavor complexity for its very modest price tag. The bouquet is a blend of black cherries, new leather, a touch of chocolate, lovely spice tones, a bit of meatiness and a topnote of violets. On the palate the wine is medium-full, complex and has a bit of ripe tannins on the backend, with a sappy core of fruit, good focus and fine length and grip. This will be even better with a year’s bottle age, but it is already an awful lot of wine for a bargain price! 2012-2020.  87+.  $13.99


    The 2009 Camino Vi Negre from Terro Remota is a lovely red wine from Empordá, with its alcohol nicely scaled at fourteen percent and the beautiful terroir found here front and center in the wine. The blend on the 2009 is comprised of forty percent Garnaxta, thirty percent Syrah, twenty percent Cabernet Sauvignon and ten percent Tempranillo. The outstanding nose offers up a deep, pure and very refined blend of cherries, blood orange, a touch of cocoa, lovely spice tones, fresh nutmeg and a violet topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, medium-full, bright and tangy, with lovely intensity of flavor, melting tannins and a long, complex and beautifully focused finish. This is a beautiful bottle that shows off just how special this region can be when new oak is not the focal point of the equation. 2012-2020.  92+.   $29.99


    This lovely red is a blend of Samsó and Garnaxta. The wine offers up a deep and classy bouquet of red and black cherries, new leather, nutskins, garrigue, a lovely base of soil and a nice touch of fresh herbs in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very suave on the attack, with a lovely core of fruit, soft tannins and a long, complex and very classy finish. Lovely juice. 2012-2020+.   92.  $22.99


    Montsant is the mountainous region that surrounds Priorat and shares many of the same grapes with its better known neighbor. There is very good potential here, but it is a hot region and there is, of course, still more incentive these days to fashion wines of power that might capture the attention of Priorat fanciers looking for a bit better value in this neighboring region, rather than try to harness the ripeness here and look for a Montsant version of elegance. This 2008 from Herestat Navas is one of the more restrained examples I have tasted from Montsant- which admittedly is a very small sampling. The 2008 Montsant Tinto from Herestat Navas is comprised of a blend of forty percent Garnacha, twenty percent Cariñena (Carignan), twenty percent Cabernet Sauvignon and twenty percent Syrah. It is a deep, ripe and classy wine on the nose, offering up scents of cassis, garrigue-like spice tones, baked black cherries, a bit of tariness and a nice base of new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and rock solid at the core, with good focus and a bit of uncovered wood tannin currently poking out on the complex backend. There is enough stuffing here to eventually carry its new wood and the wine is not particularly out of balance, but this is a wine that would have been dramatically better with a bit less oak. But, not bad. 2012-2020. 87+.


    The Aliaga family’s old vine Garnacha bottling, which hails from forty to fifty year-old vines is outstanding. Not particularly ripe by contemporary grenache standards, the 2007 weighs in at 13.9 percent alcohol and is raised in a blend of French and American oak- a small percentage of which is new- for six months. Gerry Dawes is quite funny in commenting that he really does not like this wine, but his customers keep asking for it! It is really an exceptional bottle of Garnacha, offering up a deep, impressively complex and sappy nose of crushed raspberries, a touch of meatiness, gentle notes of chocolate, garrigue, bonfires and a lovely base of chalky soil tones. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and complex, with melting tannins, a fine core of fruit, superb focus and balance and lovely length and grip. This is a high class bottle of grenache that never strays over the line into jammy obsequiousness and is another dynamite value from this superb producer. 2012-2020+.   92.  $19.99


    The 2007 Colección Privada Tinto from Camino del Villar Viña Aliaga is a blend of eighty percent tempranillo and twenty percent cabernet sauvignon and is aged again in a blend of French and American oak, this time for twelve months duration, and with the percentage of new wood slightly higher than for the Garnacha Vieja. The nose on the 2007 is deep and complex, with a nice, old school feel to its mélange of black cherries, grilled meats, coffee grounds, cigar some and a lovely base of dark soil tones. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and “nobly rustic”, with a superb core of fruit, modest tannins and excellent length and grip on the backend. This is not quite as complex as the Garnacha 2007, but it too is a very good bottle of wine. 2012-2020.   89.  $18.99

Ribeira Sacra (and other Mencía-based Reds)

   As noted above, Don Bernardino is the wine of restaurateur, Emilio Rodríguez Diaz, whose O Grelo restaurant is in the town of Monforte de Lemos. The steep vineyards for his red wine lie in the village of Amandi, overlooking the Sil River. I tasted two vintage of this terrific Mencía, with the 2011 being the slightly riper of the two vintages at thirteen percent (in comparison to the 12.5 percent of the 2010), but with both wines proving to be absolutely outstanding. The 2011 Don Bernardino offers up a vibrant nose of pomegranate, black cherries, a beautiful base of slate, a touch of lead pencil and a gentle topnote of woodsmoke. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish and very classy, with excellent intensity of flavor, bright acids and excellent length and grip on the focused and bouncy finish. Just a classic example of Mencía. 2012-2020.   92+.  $16.99


    José Manuel Rodríguez is the head of the growers’ association and regulatory agency of Ribeira Sacra, and makes one of the finest examples of Mencía I have ever had the pleasure to taste. Like the Don Bernardino Mencía, these two lovely vintages of Décima hail from very steep vineyards overlooking the Sil River in the village of Amandi. The 2011 Décima weighs in at a very classic octane of 12.5 percent and roars from the glass in a sophisticated and utterly classic nose of pomegranate, lead pencil, slate, a nice touch of gamebird, coffee bean and a gentle medicinal topnote that is vaguely reminiscent of Hermitage. On the palate the wine is fullish, complex and very intensely flavored, with laser-like focus, fine mid-palate depth, tangy acids and great length and grip on the very softly tannic finish. Utterly classic Mencía! 2012-2020+.  94.  $21.99


    Roberto Regal’s production is miniscule, as he owns only about one hectare of Mencía vines here in a very steep vineyard overlooking the Miño River. There are just a handful of older indigenous varieties also in the vineyard here, so Señor Regal makes a field blend of these with his Mencía to produce this superb wine. The 2011 Toalde is outstanding, offering up a deep and complex bouquet of black cherries, pomegranate, a touch of nutskin, a lovely base of slate and granitic minerality, smoke and a gentle topnote of fresh herbs. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish, long and very sappy in the mid-palate, with fine focus and balance and a long, suave and bouncy finish. This is a lovely wine. 2012-2018.  91+.  $24.99


    The Viña Barroca Mencía bottling from Bodegas Adriá hails from thirty to sixty year-old vines grown on hillside vineyards that range from 450 to a 1000 meters above sea level. The soils here in Bierzo are not the pure slate one finds in Ribeira Sacra, but rather a mix of quartz, clay and slate. The 2010 Viña Barroca Mencía was aged entirely in stainless steel and given four months additional bottle age prior to release and weighs in at a ripe 13.5 percent alcohol. The nose is deep and classy, offering up a youthful mélange of dark berries, medicinal black cherries, a touch of tree bark, graphite, garrigue and a fine base of soil that seems to show a slightly ferrous complexity. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish and intensely flavored, with lovely transparency, a solid core, fine focus and excellent length and grip on the complex and classy finish. I should note that I tasted this wine twice, with the wine once popped and poured and on the other occasion given one hour in decanter prior to serving. The additional aeration made a world of difference in allowing this young wine to blossom fully and decanting is very much recommended for this fine wine. This is a stunning value! 2012-2020. 92.  $14.99


    Adegas D. Berna is a specialist in Godello, but their 2010 Mencía d’Berna is also a splendid wine and not to be overlooked with all the white wine fireworks being crafted in the cellars and vineyards here by the estate’s (regionally) well-known and very talented consultant, José Luis Murcia. This is an absolutely classic example of Mencía, offering up a superb aromatic mélange of dark berries, pomegranate, a touch of tree bark, spice tones redolent of cumin, a bit of bitter chocolate  and a lovely base of complex, stony soil tones. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish and very intensely flavored, with a sappy core of fruit, tangy acids, excellent focus and grip and a very long, complex finish that stays light on its feet all the way to the conclusion. There is just a faint touch of volatile acidity to this beauty when it is first opened, so a short stint in decanter is quite beneficial. Fine, fine juice. 2012-2017.   92+.  $19.99


    I am not sure if it is the extra year of bottle age or the slightly lower octane level, but the 2010 Don Bernardino Mencía is even a small step up from the excellent 2011 version. The stunning nose soars from the glass in a blaze of black cherries, dark berries, a touch of tree bark, dark chocolate, smoky overtones and a gloriously complex base of slate soil tones. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish and superbly complex, with outstanding focus and balance, tangy acids and truly exceptional length and grip on the scintillating finish. This is a beautiful bottle of Ribeira Sacra! 2012-2025.   94.  $16.99


    2010 DécimaMencía from José Manuel Rodríguez is another absolute classic in the making. The deep and utterly refined nose soars from the glass in a mélange of black cherries, pomegranate, a touch of road tar, bonfires, fresh herb tones, cracked pepper and a gloriously pure and complex base of slate. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish and very intensely flavored, with a sappy core, tangy acids, exquisite balance and a very, very long, focused and refined finish. The 2010 DécimaMencía is a beautifully crafted, complex and refined wine that is very pure and precise on both the nose and palate. It is still a young wine that will continue to blossom with further bottle age, but there is nothing structurally forbidding about the wine today and it will be a very difficult task keeping this wine in the cellar and not drinking it right away. Great juice. 2012-2025.   94.  $21.99


    Primitivo Lareu is a superb winemaker on the far western end of Ribeira Sacra, located in the sub-region of Chantada, which happens to be the coolest vineyard area in all of Ribeira Sacra. In addition to his winegrowing responsibilities, Señor Lareu is also a sculptor and painter, but first and foremost these days, he is a serious viticulturist bent on extracting as much terroir from his vineyards and producing as transparent a glass of wine as possible. His 2010 Mencía is outstanding, offering up a stunning and sappy nose of pomegranate, black cherries, woodsmoke, beautifully complex herbal tones, espresso and a superb base of stony, slate soil. On the palate the wine is deep, medium-full and dancing on the palate, with superb lightness of step coupled to excellent intensity. The wine is impressively complex and focused, with bright acids, little tannin and outstanding length and grip on the bouncy finish. Superb juice. 2012-2020+.   93+.  $21.99


    The 2010 Toalde from Roberto Regal is excellent, wafting from the glass in a smoky mélange of dark berries, black cherries, espresso, tree bark, stony soil tones, fresh herbs and woodsmoke. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish and intensely flavored, with lovely transparency, very good mid-palate depth and superb length and grip on the focused and complex finish. This wine is very light on its feet and yet packs plenty of intensity. I suspect it will prove to be a touch longer-lived than the equally fine 2011 Toalde bottling. Classic Ribeira Sacra. 2012-2020+.  92.  $24.99


    Viña Cazoga has a long history of fine wine production in the Ribeira Sacra and was once one of the largest and most important estates in the area, but during the nadir of the region’s fortunes- which really started at the dawn of the twentieth century, when so many of these steep vineyard sites were abandoned and young people emigrated en masse in search of more profitable work- Jorge Carnero’s family’s vineyard holdings in the village of Amandi dwindled down to almost nothing. Jorge’s grandfather, Raimundo Vidal, was instrumental in starting to resurrect the Ribeira Sacra region in the 1970s and today the family owns a single, 3.9 hectare parcel of vines right above the Sil River that was long recognized as the finest vineyard in Ribeira Sacra. Almost the entire vineyard is planted with vines in excess of one hundred years of age, with ninety-five percent planted to Mencía and the balance made up of a mix of Tempranillo and Merenzao. The 2010 Viña Cazoga Mencía is a beautiful wine, offering up a deep,  very intense and complex nose of black cherries, pomegranate, black pepper, a touch of spiced meats, slate soil tones, espresso and a topnote of cigar smoke. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very sappy at the core, with great focus and grip, excellent balance, bright acids, virtually no tannins and outstanding length and grip on the dancing and palate-staining finish. Great Ribeira Sacra! 2012-2020.   94. $26.99


    The Don Diego bottling from Jorge Carnero spends six to twelve months of its elevage in four year-old, five hundred liter French oak barrels prior to bottling and is released after further bottle age. Even using four year-old barrels, the Mencía grape still shows a fair bit of wood influence in this wine, which does make for a markedly different impression than the stainless steel-aged regular bottling. The 2008 offers up a very deep and classy nose of black cherries, bitter chocolate, woodsmoke, lovely soil tones and a nice, generous touch of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and quite suave on the attack, with a bit less overtly terroir-derived soil tones in evidence. The finish is very long and moderately tannic, and though the wine is focused nicely, there is not quite the same purity and blazing transparency here as is found in the 2010 regular bottling. This is still a very well-made wine, but it seems that the oak takes away a bit more than it adds to the final blend. 2012-2025.  90. 
$46.99

6/01/2014

Barbecue Pitmaster Stars Exclusive Trip The Grand Jamón Ibérico & Pig Tasting Tour of Spain 2015



Barbecue Pitmaster Stars Exclusive Trip

The Grand Jamón Ibérico & Pig Tasting Tour of Spain

 (Limited to qualified Barbecue team members and their family members and crews.)

 Horno de Asar, oven for roasting, part of the famous murals of La Chata restaurant on Cava Baja, old quarter of Madrid. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2009. Contact: gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter.

Suggested Dates: 
Dates to be Determined 
(Below is a sample itinerary.)

Pricing on request at gerrydawes@aol.com
(Based on a minimum of 20 travelers.)

Led by Spanish Food & Wine Expert Gerry Dawes
Spanish National Gastronomy Prize 2003
(Originally from Southern Illinois, born in the same town as BBQ Legend Mike Mills.)

17th Street Bar & Grill / Memphis Championship Barbecue's Mike Mills "The Legend" with Gerry Dawes at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party 2012. 
Photo by Kay Balun©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Correspondent on Spain for Food Arts Magazine,
Contributor de Departures, Conde Nast Gourmet Live, Sommelier Journal
Tour Leader to Spain, Commonwealth Club of California (2), World Trade Center Club
Michael Chiarello & Many Other Top Chefs

See Pinterest for Gerry Dawes photographs of BBQ stars, Big Apple BBQ Block Party, NYC

* * * * *
A Gastronomic & Touristic Visit to Spanish Pig Country

Home of Jamón Ibérico (the World's Finest Cured Hams)

Superb Embutidos (Cured Pig Meats; Sausages; etc.)

Roast Suckling Pig & Pig Tapas

Plus We Will Dine on Some of the World's Finest Fish & Shellfish,
Lamb & Beef and Bean Dishes for Light Relief

With Opportunities to Sample Other Superb Regional Cuisine

Great Wines, Refreshing Beers and Excellent Regional Cheeses

 Travel to World-Famous Tourist Sights &

The Little-Known, Unspoiled Villages of the Spanish Conquistadores
(in the heart of Spanish Pig Country)


 Gerry Dawes, Pat Martin of Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint, Nashville, TN  with Gerry's fiancee Kay Killian Balun 
at The Big Apple BBQ Block Party 2013, New York City.  Photograph by John Sconzo©2013

Day 00 Thursday, Feb. 1, 2015 - Flight to Madrid from gateway cities.

Day 01 & Day 02 Friday, Feb. 2 &
Saturday, Feb. 3 Madrid

Arrive in Madrid, Spain’s capital, where we will rendezvous at our hotel, which will be near the Prado Museum. We will allow everyone to freshen up, then we will meet at 2 p.m. for a short optional tapas tour of the area near our hotel.  In the afternoon, there will be free time for siestas, shopping or touring.  In the evening, we will eat cochinillo asado, roast suckling pig and/or roast suckling lamb in the world’s oldest continually operating restaurant (Hemingway wrote about it). 



Cochinillo asado, roast suckling pig, specialty of the house at Casa Botín, an old Hemingway hangout where a major scene in The Sun Also Rises was set, on calle Cuchilleros, old quarter of Madrid.  
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2009. Contact: gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter.

In Madrid, we will also visit the Prado Museum and other sights, have time for shopping and getting over jet lag, get our first introduction to jamón Ibérico, the world’s best hams from acorn-fed, pata negra (black foot breed) pigs; to a wide variety of tapas (small plate specialties); and to some of the best shellfish in the world, not to mention a couple of egg and potato dishes that may soon become staples on some of your menus back home.


 Cutting jamón Ibérico at Mas Gourmets, El Mercado de San Miguel.  
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Day 03 Sunday, Feb. 4  Madrid - Segovia - Ávila

From Madrid, we will go to Segovia, the roast suckling pig capital of Spain and home to an amazing 2,000-year old Roman aqueduct that still crosses the city.  For lunch, we will have exceptional roast suckling pig, so tender they cut it with the edge of a plate, in a restaurant that has been a must visit for celebrities and just plain folks for decades.  
  
 Segovia, Mesón de Cándido, a major roast suckling pig restaurant alongside the Roman Aqueduct. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes ©2008

 After lunch we will visit the amazing Medieval walled town of Ávila, stop off to see one of Spain’s greatest jamón Ibérico ham cutters–he travels the world showing how these hams should be cut–and sample his hams.   We will spend the night in Ávila and dine on this city's version of roast suckling pig.

The great cortador de jamones (ham cutting artist), Florencio Sanchidrián, at Florencio's Rincón de Jabugo restaurant in his Gran Hostal San Segundo in Ávila, Spain. Jan. 21, 2014. With John Sconzo (Docsconz: Musings on Food & Life), L. J. Sconzo and mi pareja, Kay Balun. Flores explains there are seven different flavor profiles in each ham. Video by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon 5D Mark III

Day 04 - Monday, Feb. 5  Salamanca -  Guijuelo - Cáceres - Trujillo


We then move on to spend the morning in the historic university city of Salamanca, whose Plaza Mayor (main square) is the most beautiful in Spain, and sample the area specialty, tostón, roast suckling pig with crackling skin.  (You may recognize the Plaza Mayor square in Salamanca from the 2008 movie Vantage Point.)


 
Plaza Mayor, Salamanca. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com


Before lunch, we will head south through the major pig town of Guijuelo, where we will stop to visit one of Spain’s top jamón Ibérico producers, sample some primo jamón and sausages, then travel south to the monumental medieval city of Cáceres, where we will have lunch and sample the sensational local Torta del Casar cheeses.  After lunch, we will tour the old quarter, then move on to nearby Trujillo to spend the night. 

The hilltop town of Trujillo, hometown of Pizarro (conqueror of the Incas) and Orellana (the first European to make the 2400-mile trip down the Amazon), has a major cheese fair every year in May and producers here make great goat cheeses, including Ibores.  Here we will take a break from pig, have some roast goat and try other regional dishes and Extremaduran cheeses.


Equestrian statute of Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of the Incas, in the Plaza Mayor of Trujillo, Extremadura.  
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.
 
Day 05 Tuesday, Feb. 6 Trujillo - Montánchez - Mérida

What an exciting day we have in front of us! After a walk around picturesque Trujillo, the next stop is Montánchez, an incredible hilltop town, where we will sample the prime hams, including some of the best in Spain, from this village and visit a hermitage with stunning views. 
 

Iberian pata negra pigs, the ones used for Ibérico Jamones de Bellota, foraging for bellotas (acorns) near Montánchez (Cáceres). Photo by Gerry Dawes©2013 / gerrydawes@aol.com / http://www.gerrydawesspain.com Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 70 200mm f/4L USM with Canon 1.4 Telextender.


We will roll on to Mérida, one of the best preserved Roman cities in Europe. The Roman bridge across the Guadiana River, a superb amphitheatre and arena and well-preserved remnants of this important Imperial city are scattered all over town.  (One shop in this city has the figure of a Roman Centurion whose shield is an Ibérico ham.) 


 Depiction of a Roman centurion with a ham in Mérida, which has the most important collection of Roman monuments in Spain and is at the center of pig products in Spain's western provinces.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2013 /  gerrydawes@aol.com.

We will stay in the Parador de Mérida, in a renovated convent, just a couple of blocks from the main square (excellent evening lollygagging territory) and within an easy stroll of all the major Roman ruins.  This afternoon will be free to relax, tour the Roman monuments, stroll across the river on a pedestrian-only Roman bridge and take the evening off.

 Mérida’s Roman bridge, mirrored by a modern bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava, spanning the Guadiana River.  Mérida has the most important Roman monuments in Spain. 
 Photo by Gerry Dawes©2013 /  gerrydawes@aol.com.

Day 06 Wednesday, Feb. 7 Mérida  - Jerez de los Caballeros - Jabugo - Sevilla

We will leave Merida in the morning, stopping off for a short visit to Jerez de los Caballeros, the evocative and picturesque hometown of Vasco Nuñez de Balboa (discoverer of the Pacific Ocean) and De Soto (explorer of the Mississippi River). By lunchtime, we will arrive in Jabugo, the jamón Ibérico capital of the Andalucía. We will tour a jamón processing plant and have lunch in a picturesque nearby village with local specialties and some of the best pig products in the world. 


Employees at Consorcio de Jabugo checking the jamones Ibéricos de bellota (hams from acorn-fed Ibérico pigs) curing in their plant. 
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Julio Revilla, President of Consorcio de Jabugo, jamón Ibérico de bellota producers, at his stand at the Madrid Fusión gastronomic conference. ("Signature Jabugo hams. The Ibérico (pig), a singular breed. A place with a unique climate, Jabugo. And special treatment, the arte of Ibérico Ham Maestros.") Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

After lunch, we will arrive in Sevilla, the city of Carmen and one of the most beautiful and evocative cities in Europe.  After checking into our hotel, we can relax until early evening when I will lead a walking tour of this stunningly pretty city where Gerry Dawes lived for nearly six years.  We will sample tapas in a few places, then sit down in a particularly good tapas bar for some grilled shrimp and other special tapas, including, no doubt, a plate or two of Ibérico ham.


La Giralda, the former minaret of the Moorish mosque, now the bell tower of Sevilla's cathedral. 
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com. 

After the tapas tour, we go with some native Sevillanos to an authentic flamenco joint. 


Flamenco, Sevilla. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes, copyright 2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Day 07 Thursday, Feb. 8 Sevilla - Sanlúcar de Barrameda - Sevilla

In the morning, we will have a guided tour of the Cathedral and the Moorish fortress-palace El Alcázar, do some strolling and shopping, then travel south to the superb fishing and wine town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where Columbus set sail on his second voyage to America.  We will prevail upon one of my friends to open his 200-year old sherry bodega and let us taste some of his exceptional manzanilla sherries, then we will have lunch at a beachfront restaurant with more manzanilla, grilled shellfish and some of the best fried fish in the world.  


Javier Hidalgo, one of the Directors of Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana,Sanlúcar de Barrameda. 
All photos by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com for publication rights.

Hopefully, we will see one of Sanlucar's spectacular sunsets from the legendary Bajo de Guia fisherman's beach with a glass of manzanilla in hand (more on this later). Afterwards, we’ll return to Sevilla in the early evening to relax.  Those still game can go with me for an optional tapas crawl of the old city's famous taverns.

Day 08 Friday, Feb. 9 Sevilla - Córdoba - Toledo

We will leave Sevilla in the morning and head for Córdoba, where we will visit the old quarter and tour the Mezquita-- once one of the great Mosques in the world, so huge that it has the Christian full-sized cathedral built into the middle of it. 



The Mihrab in Córdoba's Mezquita (former mosque during the Moorish occupation of Spain). 
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2013 / gerrydawes@aol.com. 

We will tour the labyrinthine streets of the old quarter, one of Spain’s finest, stopping at a special Córdoban taberna, where the berenjenas fritas (fried eggplant) may also end up on your home menus, along with salmorejo (a thick kind of gazpacho that is at its best here).  We will then travel north less than an hour to visit the great up-and-coming jamón Ibérico region of Pedroches, tour a ham-curing operation and see the Ibérico pata negra (black foot breed) pigs grazing on acorns in the picturesque countryside and have lunch with the producers. 


Salmorejo with chopped jamón Ibérico and egg at Taberna Juan Peña, Córdoba. 
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2013 / gerrydawes@aol.com. 
Juan Luís Ortiz Pérez, Secretario General, Consejo Regulador Denominación de Origen Los Pedroches Jamones y Embutidos Ibéricos (Ibérico hams and charcuterie) talking (in Spanish) to Madrid Fusión Mexico Director Blanca Villarello and me about Ibérico pigs and some new rules about the use of the term "pata negra" (black hoof pigs). Videoby Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon 5D Mark III
 
After lunch, we will drive across La Mancha, land of Don Quixote, stop to see some of the famous windmills and arrive in the early evening in the historic city of Toledo, where the following day our barbecue stars will exhibit their cooking skills for the Spanish press and gastronomic luminaries in a spectacular location overlooking Toledo.   Some of our lucky barbecue esperts will go to Chef-owner Adolfo Muñoz's (Restaurante Adolfo) cigarral country house (a couple of miles) overlooking Toledo and the Alcazar and get the pig smoking for tomorrow's event and leave a couple of crew, along with Adolfo's crew, to keep things going.  You will be supplied with plenty of beer, vino, food and probably a bed.  The rest of the group will have dinner in Toledo at one of Adolfo's restaurants.



La Mancha, text and photos by Gerry Dawes, The Wine News.  

 Day 09 Saturday, Feb. 10 Toledo (cooking exhibition) - Chinchón


Chef-owner Adolfo Muñoz's (Restaurante Adolfo) Ama vineyards at his cigarral country house overlooking Toledo and the Alcazar.  Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com. 

This morning most of us will tour Toledo and see the sights, including El Greco's home, then in late morning, we will all go to the cigarral and finish preparing the pig feast for the press and invited Spanish chefs and culinary luminaries.

After lunch, we will load up and travel for about 45 minutes to the enchanting city of Chinchón, where we will check into our charming hotel just a block from Chinchón’s legendary Plaza Mayor, one of Spain’s best restored and loveliest plazas, which is like a page out of the 16th Century.   

We will relax a bit, perhaps have a world-class gin-and-tonic then have dinner overlooking the charming Plaza Mayor, whose romantic restaurants offer classic Castillian dishes, including more pig of course, but with the option of having wood-grilled steaks, bean dishes, fried potatoes with “broken eggs” and other specialties. 

We can linger over a glass of local Madrid D.O. wine or the town’s famous Anis Chinchón liqueur, watch the peregrinations of the people down in the plaza and reminisce about the high points and comedic episodes of our trip to the great pork regions of Spain.


A glass of local garnacha rosado wine served with huevos rotos con patatas (fried eggs "broken" over fried potatoes) at La Balconada restaurant, overlooking La Plaza Mayor of Chinchón.
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2013 / gerrydawes@aol.com. 

Day 10, Sunday, Feb. 9 Chinchón - Madrid Airport (1 hour) - Flights to USA

In the morning our bus will take the tour members to Madrid Airport for the flights back home.


* * * * *

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.
 * * * * *
“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

* * * * *

"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.


* * * * *

"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

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

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