D.O. Montsant: Decade 2 of a Spanish #wine region & #DrinkMontsant!

DO MontsantFirst off, welcome to the new Vinopanion.  A massive thank you to HoustonWino (Another Wine Blog) for the clean facelift and major troubleshooting.

The second bit of big news is that I am headed back to Spain, woot! The good folks at D.O. Montsant, a somewhat younger wine appellation centered around the town of Falset, southwest of Barcelona, is bringing a big contingent of wine writers, bloggers and trade for a tour of the DO. The free media trip is compliments of DO Montsant, so our time will be intensively focused on this small, but exciting DO. You can follow along with #DrinkMontsant! 

Wine DO of Spain
Created by Emilio Gómez Fernández

I have been quite blessed to attend multiple wine media junkets to the incomparable lands of Spain, visiting DO Navarra, then another to the highly DO contained within Murcia (Bullas, Jumilla, Yecla), and most recently, those containing properties owned by MG Wines (Alicante, Bierzo, Bullas). Joining me on this tour of Montsant will be #Vinopanion‘s old and new (and some previous Spanish wine companions): 1WineDude, James the Wine Guy, Just the Bottle, Grape Experiences, Snooth, Another Wine Blog, The Academic Wino, Drink What YOU Like, and Drinkable Grape.  In addition, representatives and MW/MS/WSET wine students from the Wine Scholar Guild and the venerable (and local) Napa Valley Wine Academy.

DO Montsant Map
Image courtesy of DO Montsant.

So, what can we expect from DO Montsant? Well, this little moon-shaped wine region is found facing east towards the Mediterranean, which is about 15-20 miles away. It is contained within autonomous community of Catalunya, noted for its great city of Barcelona to the NW. The DO was founded in 2001 and is comprised of 65 wineries and 16 villages.  The Ebro River flows through DO and exerts its influence on the roughly ~4700 acres of vineyards, much of which are planted along hillsides with varying inclinations and elevations up to 2500 feet. The climate tends to be warm to hot Mediterranean, but the river, the sea and the mountains all combine to also cool the vineyards down in the later afternoons and at night, maintaining good acidity.  Six white grapes are allowed in the DO, with garnacha blanca and macabeu dominating those blends.  Meanwhile, the reds can be any from 10 varieties, and garnacha tinta and cariñena are the predominate varieties. We will be staying in the largest village in the region with a whopping 2,900 population (similar to my hometown of Yountville :-), Falset.

That’s all fine and dandy and can be gleaned from any international wine tome, however.  I want to find out why this region worked so hard to ratify their own DO…do they still feel connected to the winemaking history of the region that dates back to the Romans? What goes into their bush-trained old vines and how do they tackle sincere craftsmanship in their wines, while still trying to export to international markets? Who are the men and women that are behind these wines, who are the families that have made their mark in this region?  What drives them, day to day, to continue to improve their wines, while still maintaining their traditional, Montsant identity?  These are the questions I want to answer during this incredible trip. Follow along by searching #DrinkMontsant! ¡Salud a todos!

This trip is a fully paid media junket, courtesy of DO Montsant.

#Vinopanion #wine Bits & Pieces

#Vinopanion has been a wild ride these past 8+ years (so hard to believe!).  Towards the end of last year, as life got exceedingly busy and I was unable to put my best efforts to my love of #wine writing and education, I pondered what step this blog would next take. I have always treated my wine life as a privilege and have felt grateful for every turn that it has taken.  Each little or big step was only partially planned/hoped for…most things like paid wine consulting, wine judging, being flown around the world for media trips, all have been joyous surprises, though they didn’t come without hard work (on the side).

I have missed my wine world these past ~4 months, but the introspection has been useful.  I’ve come up with new plans, reapplied old ones and have concocted new post formats, such as this new one: Bits & Pieces will cover multiple topics in short, 1-2 paragraph bites.  Prepare for more news in a more concise format. And so… ¡Vámonos mis Vinopanions!

CabFest Napa Valley Returns 3/4 – 3/6 (tickets)

cabfest_logo_color-01CabFest Napa Valley (WL, FB, Tw, IG) still ranks as one of my favorite wine festivals of all time.  The Lady and I attended the entire first incarnation weekend, back in 2014. The event hit on all cylinders right off the bat, with a fantastic opening night, all the way through 2 grand tastings, and multiple unique breakout tastings.

This year, the highlights again include a fantastic opening concert in the main hall, this year by Mat Kearney, followed by the infamous Cigars & Guitars VIP Party. Saturday features multiple 4hr tastings, including the San Francisco Magazine Grand Tasting and the Boutique Tasting, along with multiple breakout sessions and food & wine tastings, including Cab on the Couch with Karen MacNeil. Sunday features its own suite of tastings and VIP sessions, including the Sonoma Magazine Grand Tasting and a tremendous VIP Platinum Wrap Party, featuring cuisine by local legend Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc crew.

You can still buy tickets and can also see the full details at their website.  See you all there!

Bodegas Cepa 21 Virtual Tasting 3/9/16 6pm PT (#Cepa21VT)

sobre-nosotrosBodegas Emilio Moro is a legendary name in Ribera del Duero DO (WL) of Spain. Bodegas Cepa 21 (WL, FB, Tw) is a newer endeavor by the Moro brothers, striving to create a modern Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) wine inside their new, super sleek winery. The winemaking brother of the duo, José Moro, is visiting the US in March and he is kind of to sit down for a virtual tasting of his wines, from his temporary home in NYC.  I’ve had the fortune to try some of their wines in the past, so it will be enlightening to go through these new releases and to speak directly to José about his vinous products.  Follow along that night using #Cepa21VT. ¡Salud!

NVWA WSET II Endeavors Continue…

406064_562298363799327_175257724_nI continue my studies of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust Intermediate (WSET II) certification this year.Napa Valley Wine Academy (FB, Tw), already leaders in wine and spirits education, is leading my efforts.  Their unique position, situated in the heart of #Napa grants them special access for taking their teachings directly out into the field…and I do mean “field!”

Indeed, their WSET Ultimate Level 2+3 course two week immersive course will “take you directly into vineyards and working wineries“, all right nearby in Napa Valley.  I’m looking forward to getting more intensely into my studies!

HITS Napa Valley Triathlon: The Hometown Race 4/9 – 4/10

65760_789077141133939_416503315085470558_nI am also full steam back into my #triathlon training season, since the last week of December. This time I’ll finally be doing my hometown olympic distance triathlon at Lake Berryessa: HITS Napa Valley 2016. The HITS Triathlon Series (Tw, FB, YT) is a long-running, well-respected endurance race production company (HITS Endurance), particularly their multisport series.

Once again I’ll be taking on my awesome brother in-law in a race for the family.  This year, it should be particularly exciting, as we’ll be going off in waves within 3 minutes of each other.  I’m looking forward to chasing and passing his ass! 😛

hitslocation-headers_napavalley

Back across the pond: Navarra, here I COME

It is with no small excitement that I am able to announce a new trip to vino heaven, once again this year.  Navarra, Spain is both an autonomous region (Navarre) as well as an ancient wine region, whose wine roots date back up to 1,200 years.  It was once a great and proud kingdom and sits between what is now the Spanish wine appellation of Rioja and the French wine appellation of Bordeaux.  Consequently, it has grows an awesome mix of grape varieties from both regions that have been approved by the Navarra Denominación de Origen (DO):  Garnacha Tinta, Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Garnacha Blanca, Malvasia, Moscatel, Viura, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.  It also has a long history as an approved DO (the Spanish equivalent of a wine AVA or appellation that has strict, government-regulated quality control and approved grape growing and winemaking methods), celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2008.  And it is to Navarra that I have the great fortune to fly, this coming Saturday!

Update: Post for Day 1.

The kind folks at Wines of Navarra (Twitter, Facebook, Blog) are sending myself and 4 other bloggers (we’ve deemed ourselves the #Navarra5) to their wine region, organized by Balzac Communications.  It is there that we’ll learn about the aforementioned ancient kingdom that once dominated the landscape.  That same region is now a wine industry reinventing itself for the new millennium, while still fiercely hanging on to its (considerable) vinous and cultural roots.  Along the way we’ll visit their 5 sub-regions (one for each of us!), roam some very real castles, eat a fantastic mix of distinctly Navarran cuisine and stay the week in its famous capital, Pamplona, known for the Festival of San Fermin and its running of the bulls.  You can even set up your own future itinerary to Navarra, incredibly similar to ours, using one they’ve recently posted to their blog!

The list of fantastic bloggers that I am be lucky to be a part is given below. Be sure to check out their top-notch vinopanion content throughout our travels, starting Sunday in Bilbao [Basque Country], 9/18.  Until then…cheers!

Fearless Leader: Michael Wangbickler (Twitter, Facebook)

Cuvée Corner: Bill Eyer (Twitter, Facebook)

Wine is Serious Business: Dan (Twitter, Facebook)

Beau’s Barrel Room: Beau Carfel (Twitter, Facebook)

Wine Harlots: Nannette Eaton (Twitter, Facebook)

VinopanionWineLog.net (me!): Ward Kadel (Twitter, Facebook)

Wines from Navarra on WineLog:

[winelist query=”Navarra%2C+Spain&within=wines&order=rating&submit=GO” num=”50″]

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