Only in its second year, Verema Barcelona has already developed a solid reputation of putting winemakers together with restaurants, wine shops, importer/exporters and other related business in the Barcelona region. Needless to say, we were impressed with not only the calibre of winemakers on the roll call of participants, but the calibre of the attendees. Some of the industry heavyweights took time out of their schedule to grace the halls of Barcelona’s Maritime Museum.
If you didn’t attend, you certainly missed out. While some of the big names from Penedes, Emporda, Ribero del Duero, and Rioja were in attendance with their typical entourages in tow, the event feature some of the quality names of Catalan wine with 40 vineyards from the region appearing. While we are slightly biased and would like to see this number go from 40 to 75 in favour of Catalan-based wineries, you have to respect the national name Verema has developed and the winery partners with whom they have relationships.
For the uninitiated, Verema started 13 years ago with its wine event in Valencia, which now is two days every February. You can check out their wine events in Madrid, Malaga, San Sebastian, and a few other spots. Their presence in Barcelona is a fairly recent addition with its first one last year in 2013. The online presence for Verema is a portal for restaurants, wines, tastings, user forums, blogs, and their hosted events. It’s a great resource for the food and wine community, with a great emphasis on Spain.
For us it was a great chance to catch up with three Catalunya Wine dot com friends, *Lavinyeta, Clos Figueras, and Torre del Veguer. All three brought their full roster of wines, and for us it was a chance to reacquaint ourselves with Puntiapart*, MigMig*, Font de la Figuera, Serras del Priorat, Muscat and Eclectic. Michael and I were in awe of all three vineyards as they tirelessly worked the crowd to promote their nectars of choice to the happy crowds. Yes wine makes for a happy time, and at Verema the wine was flowing. Funnily enough there seemed to be more swallowing than spitting at each table, but we’ll leave that debate for a future Michael commentary.
The best part of this event was the fact you didn’t have to buy tickets. Most events you’re stuck with buying drink tickets of some denomination or some amount, which can limit your choices for tasting. As this event was held on a weekday, it caters more to the discerning industry members, but after 6 pm, wine geeks from the public began to filter in to taste what the 100 vineyards had to taste.
Besides our three friends who we’re partial to, we sought out several Catalan vineyards who we haven’t had a chance to contact yet, and we weren’t disappointed. After some positive press for architecture in El Pais, it was great to sample a selection of Terra Remota’s product lineup. Joan Frei, export manager of the winery, shared his passion for their wines and the wine philosophy behind Emma & Marc Bournazeau’s project in alt Emporda. Their Clos Adrien, featuring 90% Syrah and 10% Red Grenache, was Michael’s runaway favourite, considering his love for Syrah. For me, the Camino (a blend of Red Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Tempranillo) was exactly as they advertise – a nice balance between violet and vanilla.
Our other two meet ups were Abadal, from DO Pla de Bages, and Coca i Fito. Coca i Fito is a really unique winery, as they are a boutique winery brand but with a presence in three regions of Catalunya, DO Montsant, DO Emporda, and DO Terra Alta, with their headquarters based in El Masroig. Brothers Miquel (Commercial Director) and Toni (winemaker) have an incredible passion for their wines, and shared the full range on display at Verema. I had to come back a second time just to confirm my opinions, if you know what I mean. The highlight for me was their Coca i Fito Negre, a blend of 50% Syrah, plus old vine Grenache (30%) and old vine Carignan (20%). As far as Abadal, I’ve been looking for their 3.9 in Maresme for quite some time, unsuccessfully, but happy to try it at Verema. Abadal’s Picapoll is a favourite at local Maresme wine shops, but 3.9 has been an enigma. Wine in China magazine recently called 3.9 an extraordinary wine, and they were right. Cabernet with a little Syrah made the balsamic notes dance after its 12 months of cask ageing.
Desperately Seeking Scala Dei
There was only one criticism for the Verema event, and it had nothing to do with Verema itself, as the event was brilliant, and its operation seamless. No, the only criticism is squarely pointed at Codorniu, who advertised the presence of Scala Dei at the event. Now, as many of you who have read our previous entries know, I’m an unabashed Scala Dei fanboy. I was rather excited to maybe catch up with some of the crew from Escaladei, and try a few of the wines from the hallowed vineyard.
No such luck.
After seeing Scala Dei was at “Table 6”, I was excited to see what was on offer. Instead, I was greeted by the typical Codorniu corporate experience, and thought there was a typo. I couldn’t see any Scala Dei information anywhere. No banners. No promotional materials. No nothing. Did I miss something?
So I said hi, and immediately I was offered a chance to taste Raimat or Codorniu cava. I asked about Scala Dei, and the lovely representative seemed surprised that I asked for it, but she managed to unbury it from behind a couple of layers of other wines (and move around the bottles so the photo above didn’t quite look so bad).
Unlike the other labels in the Codorniu stable, there was only one wine offered. Now sure, it’s the Cartoixa, but I mean, it’s Scala Dei! The wine that started the Priorat! The first wine bottled under DO Catalunya in 1974! My advice to Codorniu? You’ve got a gem of a winery of which you own 25%. If you’re going to handle sales, marketing, and distribution for Scala Dei, please give us more! Please! (We thought we’d do our part and hotlink the hell out of Scala Dei to make up for the lacklustre Codorniu representation).
If you’re in the wine business, or just a wine lover, Verema Barcelona should be at the top of your list of events to attend. Many of the wineries brought along their winemakers, so it’s a unique opportunity to not only rub shoulders with key winery personnel, but also a chance to meet the men and women behind some of the best wines in the world. It will definitely stay on our list of events to attend in the years to come.