Recently I have been lucky enough to try two very different examples of País, it is not exactly the most important grape in the world, but it is crucial to the history of wine in Chile, as well as being interesting in its own right.
It seems that País (pronounced Pie-ees) – along with Argentina’s Criolla and California‘s Mission – is directly descended from the grape that the Spanish Conquistadors took with them when they stumbled across the new world. The original grape has for long been called the ‘common black grape’ and until recently we had no idea what it was, but it seems that research has now shown it to be the Palomino Negro / Listan Prieto which now pretty much only grows in the Canary Islands. For two or three hundred years País was, along with Moscatel, the work horse grape of Chile, but was eventually supplanted by the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon and relegated to an invisible rural existence.
I am feeling increasingly marginalised in the wine world, my view of wine just does not seem to fit the modern market:
The Expensive Side
Books and critics, magazines and the twittering classes talk about the Cru Classésand En primeur Campaigns (what an ugly phrase), but to me that has as much to do with wine as investing money in Laithwaites. It is not really any longer about the wine, but the money and potential for profit. Much the same can be said about the sort of wine that the American magazines often discuss, these rich ‘collectors’ – the word means someone rich enough to buy a lot in this instance – smiling in front of their new purpose built cellar complete with a glass-walled showroom for their Petrus collection – that isn’t about wine either. Neither are the hugely expensive California Cabernets or Super-Tuscans anymore, they are all about esteem, branding, marketing and other people’s perception of your taste and wealth. It is the modern obsession with brand writ large and describing these as wine is a bit like saying that staying at the Peninsular Hotel in Hong Kong is travelling.
These wines can be great, but very few of us can afford to drink them and as they are more often bought for investment hardly anyone does seem to drink them, so in reality there is hardly any point to them from a wine perspective. That is why I mainly ignore such wines and focus on things that are more affordable and interesting – to me.
Summer is, intermittently, here and so my thoughts are increasingly turning to beer. Nothing is quite as refreshing or cleansing on a hot day as a cool beer, so I tend to think about it a great deal at this time of year.
In truth I am a bit of a beer wuss. Because I like beer to refresh I am normally drawn to lighter, criper brews, especially Pilsner type lagers. However such beers can be quite wonderful and I object to the lazy, but widely held belief that all lagers taste the same. Mass market lagers brewed in the UK do, but that is not the same thing at all. Try a König, a Paulaner and a Warsteiner side by side and compare them with an Urquell or an Alhambra Reserva 1925. In fact pop over to the Netherlands and taste all the different types of Grolsch, including seasonal versions – they are all still lagers though. In fact this does raise the question as to why all the big name lagers do become completely bland once they are brewed in the UK, when they have become famous enough to be brewed over here precisely because of their flavour and character!
Los Caracoles in Barcelona, you enter the restaurant through the back of the bar...
...and go through the kitchen to your table
I love Spain and am passionate about Spain’s food, wine and history, so I wrote a very personal piece about Spanish food and some very traditional restaurants and I think you might enjoy it, its published on Catavino.com and you can read it here
I was working on my notes from my trip to New York’s Finger Lakes the other day and I was reminded of something that I had wanted to share with you. My first wine visit of the trip was to Swedish Hill Winery and it was a real eye opener for a non American in many ways.
wine regions of New York state – click for a larger view
Swedish Hill is a most attractive winery and vineyard in the northern section of Cayuga Lake – named after the Iroquoian people who lived around its shore before Europeans settled here. Indeed as far as I can discover all the lakes, except Hemlock, have names of native American origin.