The one thing I don’t miss about life in North America is the composition of wine tasting events. My experiences have amounted to cool little experiences in Napa going around to the different vineyards and sampling. By the time I’m finished sampling, I’m usually suffering from a nasty case of car sickness. The alternative is the stereotypical tasting events, held in sterile convention centres, stadiums, strip malls, or the a big hotel conference centre somewhere buried in suburbia.
None of this was applicable to my experience at Tocs de Vi (TdV) in the heart of Girona.
This was the second year for the event. I won’t bore you with the details of Emporda, as you can read our information on the region here. TdV was the result of a combined effort between the City of the Girona, ALL the restauranteurs in Placa Independencia, and 17 wineries from Emporda. The event lasted three days from May 31st until June 2nd.
Let’s talk about Placa Independencia. It’s the tourist hub for culinary experiences, festivals, events, and one of the top 5 destinations for tourists coming to town. The plaza itself is surrounded on all sides by buildings of equal height, in a traditional neoclassical style. It was meant to be a connection between the “old town” of Barri Vell, and the new town which sprang up during the early 20th century. It’s, to borrow a phrase from Meg Ryan in French Kiss, “Gorgeous. All of it. Gorgeous.”
For only five euros, you received 5 tickets for drinks. Wine samples were either 1 ticket or 2 tickets. You also could buy tickets for the multitude of tapas put out by each individual restaurant at their stations around the perimeter of the square. Placa Independencia features everything from traditional tapas, to sushi, to Italian, and even a few burgers thrown in for good measure.
As Michael and I sauntered up to get our tickets for sampling, we were surprised to not only receive our tickets, but we also received a full sized wine glass. Now this wasn’t just any cheap wine glass that chips when you look at it the wrong way, but a full-on Bohemian Crystal wine glass. Not a bad way to start off.
Girona is a pretty interesting town, and really is an international tourist destination. This event truly exemplified this as we heard French, German, Chinese, Catalan, Spanish, and English being spoken throughout the event. Most of the vineyards we spoke to had a great grasp of English, which more than made up for my very poor Spanish (I’m working on it, since Michael is always giving me a hard time).
All the vineyards present had a good balance of whites and reds. There wasn’t a bad glass in the bunch. And when I say glass, I mean glass, because when you handed over your drink ticket, you just didn’t get a taste but a full glass. The hospitality of the Catalan people was certainly reaffirmed through the Bohemian Crystal.
So what was my favourite wine of the evening? A smooth red from Can Sais, seleccio2010. The wine itself is 70% Merlot, 20% Garnatxa negra, and 10% Ull de llebre. A great blend that starts out smooth, stays smooth, and finishes smooth. Michael always asks me to say the first thing that comes to mind when I drink a wine, and with this one I blurted out “Walter Payton.” The wine ran down my throat the way Walter Payton danced down the sidelines in his heyday with the Chicago Bears.
Sure, I can wax the philosophical about toffee, coffee, with a little hint of tomato, plus a deep bouquet of some sort of flower from Emporda, but I’ll stick with Can Sais seleccio2010 and Walter Payton. My metaphor was lost on Marta, proprietor of Can Sais, but she still laughed and smiled along with us. My penchant for obscure and usually obtuse references and metaphors requires patience from my CatalunaWine.com cohort, Michael. This time was no exception.
For us, the event was a good introduction to Emporda wines, as we’ll be exploring the region in the coming months. Michael and I are looking forward to share some of the hidden gems of Emporda.
According to the City of Girona, the event was a smashing success, with 8000 attendees over three days and 40000 tickets sold. We hope that DO Emporda will offer out advanced information on the event for next year as we didn’t know about its inaugural voyage. If we hadn’t been constantly checking the Emporda DO website for events, we might have missed it entirely.
The one question I do have is why DO Emporda has chosen to have a Greek boat in their logo. Sure, the winemaking history dates to Greek times, but I think the Emporda wine traditions have more to do with Ramon Pere de Noves than with the Greeks. Maybe this will be one question I’ll strive to answer as we tour the Emporda vineyards during this summer.