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Tannic Panic! Issue #21: You've Really Got to Sort Out Your Priorat-ies
2 Days in Barcelona On Someone Else's Honeymoon
Last week I went to sleep in Boston and I woke up somewhere completely different. Everyone had lisps and seemed to speak almost entirely in Spanish. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened — about 10 years ago I woke up in Mexico with no idea how I’d gotten there. But this was different, because believe it or not, I planned this.
I (Isaac) am currently in the midst of a 3+ week tour of duty in Europe that began in Spain (the central focus of today’s “episode,” if you will), and will continue through France, Italy, Belgium, and ultimately wrap up in the UK. For the first leg of this journey, my wife and I are traveling with our good friends Noridge and Kaley who are here on their honeymoon after I graciously offered my services as an ordained minister of the church of love, and married them.
Immediately upon arriving at our hotel (1:00 PM-ish) the good times began. A little fridge at the check-in desk had a smattering of Cava bottles to pick from, so we snagged one for about 15 Euro. ‘Twas just what the doctor ordered — simple, crisp, cold, and refreshing. It was bone dry and sported shockingly high acid (THE GOOD KIND).
We commenced to wander around the city by hoof, enjoying the unique architecture and overabundance of wine bars.
In the eve we stopped in at a place called London Bar which we weren’t sure was open (it looked closed and the bartenders seemed a little surprised to see anyone starting their night before 12AM). The vibes were amazing and the cocktails followed suit. We only had about 15 minutes before our dinner reservations, so we had to make haste and guzzle, but ∞% will return next time we are in Barcelona (AND YOU SHOULD TOO!)
For dinner we went to an iconic local restaurant called Bar Cañete where there weren’t exactly ample vegetarian options for me and Victoria, but what we were able to try was great — among the spread was the classic tomato bread (a staple in Barcelona and perhaps beyond), gazpacho, a green bean dish... But, of course, the real highlight for little old me was the wine list.
We kicked off with a bottle of the 2020 Salanques Priorat (a blend of Garnacha, Cariñena and Syrah) that was outstanding. Pronounced floral aromas open up to red plum, strawberry, vanilla, black pepper and red licorice, very mineral with some copper penny on the palate. Really well balanced and delicious with vibrant acidity. Dry, high tannin and full body with a long finish.
After dinner, it was Pedro Ximénez season. This Ximénez-Spínola sherry from Jerez de la Frontera is made from 100% Pedro Ximénez grapes that were raisinated in the sun before fermentation, which concentrates the sugars and flavors. We’re talking caramelized banana, molasses, maple syrup (THE REAL KIND), wet autumn leaves, and walnuts. Outstanding wine — if you haven’t blessed yourself with a PX Sherry, rectify the inequities.
The following morning we stomped around town and got real Gaudi. En route, we hit up a well reviewed brunch spot we found called Faire that turned out to be completely vegetarian/vegan. It was too early for wine (BY SOME MEASURES) so we ate the bloody Marys instead.
We partook in the local custom of “siesta” after a long morning/afternoon of relentless clopping, and after recharging the accumulators, returned to the Gothic quarter to meet up with Noridge and Kaley. We thence initiated further clopping to an extremely charming pocket of the neighborhood for a wine tasting at a little wine shop called Vivinos.
The tasting was led by one of the wine shop’s owners, Vincent. We tried some interesting wines, including a white from Penedès (~45 minutes west of Barcelona) made entirely from the Xarel•lo grape (commonly used in the blend for Cava) — something which in my experience is almost impossible to find in the U.S., so that was pretty swell. It was a very dry, oaked wine that featured some herbaceous character, lemon and almond. Pretty unique profile, so if you have a chance to taste one, I dare say you should!
The shop owners generously let us taste several more bottles after the tasting wrapped up (these turned out to be our faves), and ultimately we left with 2 bottles of Priorat, and a Montsant. Montsant DO essentially surrounds Priorat DOQ and most of the wine produced there comes from closer to the base of the slopes, yielding wines that are not typically as concentrated or high quality as that of Priorat. The bottle we procured however came from a vineyard from the higher slopes, and features a profile a bit closer to that of its neighbor.
Vincent recommended a couple of places for dinner nearby, and in spite of the one we settled on — Bar del Pla — being completely packed and us not having a reservation, dropping his name convinced the hostess to squeeze us in. The food was delish — we had patatas bravas, arancini, and, needless to say, more of that bomb ass tomato bread. The wine list here was extensive and did not disappoint neither. Strong recommendation from our boy Vincent. Hats off to the chef.
After dinner we bumbled on back to our respective domiciles, because the following morning, the next leg of our travels were to commence.
You’ll hear more about those next week!
As always, happy drinking y’all.
Hasta la mañana.
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