Up in the Terra Alta in Northern Spain, they have an almost religious reverence for white Grenache and a building to prove it. I cycle the Greenway to discover more
Sunset over the mountains
‘I’m not much of a cyclist,’ I tell the man fitting me out with my bike and helmet. To be honest, and I keep this to myself, the last time I rode a bike it had gears labelled Sturmey Archer and my short trousers had name labels.
‘That’s okay,’ he replies, ‘it’s all downhill from here.’ ‘Story of my life’, I think, as I try to get onto the saddle in a dignified manner. I fail and the bike shoots backwards and I make contact with the crossbar in a painful way.
The old railway station
We’re at the Horta de Sant Joan train station in the Terra Alta Tarragona province in Catalonia, or Catalunya if you wish to be politically more (or less) correct.
It’s a small and very pretty town on a hill, inhabited for many, many centuries, and also a place where Picasso used to hang out.
There was once a single-track railway line that ran up to here created by republican prisoners of the war in 1942. Continue reading
Nun’s naughty bits, a wine that’s not a cheese, wine boxes that aren’t square and vino that flows from a drinking fountain, Nick finds Abruzzo is an Italian region that’s full of surprises.
A lovely bun
“They’re called ‘Nun’s’ Breasts’, “Sise delle Monache” in Italian, says Valentina di Camillo unveiling a tray of freshly made pastries in the garden overlooking her family’s glorious vineyards. The origins of the pastry’s name are vague, they were first called ‘Three Mountains’ owing to their triple peaks but the new name came about when a nun… well, let’s leave it there.
Liver sausage, goes great with red wine.
They are delicious, soft as can be and stuffed to bursting with sinful crème patissiere. One of these and a black coffee and your morning is off to a good start. Personally I am eating them just after an al fresco breakfast consisting of superb cured meats, pungent cheeses and a fair few glasses of Valentina’s lovely wines, so I am using the coffee and sugar to offset the alcohol I’ve knocked back. Continue reading
Sweet Bordeaux is reaching out to a new, less formal, drinker and showing off its multiple expressions. Nick meets the winemakers that can pair the wine with more than just pudding.
‘It’s corked!’ says Monsieur Labergere, director of Château Rayne Vigneau pulling a sour face.
He flips out the contents of his glass and it falls like rain down through the leaves of the tree and onto the ground. ‘Pas de probleme,’ is Au Fil du Ciron climber Vincent Galle’s response as he swings off in search of a fresh bottle.
The recoil of his move makes the suspended platform we’re sitting around pirouette wildly and we hang on tight hoping our harness ropes hold. It’s about a hundred feet straight down and we don’t to end our wine tasting by getting out of our tree the wrong way.
It’s not normal of course to have a wine tasting at the top of an ancient pine, having first climbed hand over hand up a rope to get there, but for Château Rayne Vignaud a sweet wine maker here in south west France, doing things differently is the new sweet Bordeaux way. Continue reading