So, by now you should have read about the Chile leg of our first exploratory trip and you should be thirsty (pun intended) for more. After all the rollercoaster ride through Chile we started planning our Spanish adventure. Again, we were super lucky to have the support of many people. Chief among them was the Junta de Castilla y Leon. They provided a lot of support to meet with over 17 wineries in Valladolid and throughout the region. Many thanks! Before we start with the details of the trip by this point it was no surprise that as we were to land in Barcelona massive protests were taking place in the city from people trying to become independent from Spain. No need to go into the politics behind this, but we started to see a pattern of us bringing trouble wherever we went to. Anyway, before jumping into the juicy part of the trip, let us share some statistics for all you nerds. In Spain we covered a lot of real estate. We landed in Barcelona to cover Priorat and Penedes, then went to Valladolid to cover parts of Castilla y Leon, followed by Rioja, a quick trip to San Sebastian. Then off to Galicia with a quick stop in Ponferrada. From Rias Baixas in Galicas we concluded our trip in Madrid, but buckle up, there are a few curve balls we had to deal with. All in all, after 11 days in Spain we covered approximately 3,300 kms. Mostly by road, but worth every inch we covered, including the couple of traffic tickets we got for speeding on the highway.
By now you already know the regions we covered so we can tell you what you can expect roughly from our Spain portfolio: something from Priorat, a Cava, Rueda, Ribera del Duero, Toro, Bierzo, Rioja, Navarra, Rias Baixas, and Monterrei. People say that Spain is made up of the 3 “R’s”, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Rias Baixas. Those regions may be the best known, but Spain is more than that so be prepared to try new things. We’ll throw yet another “R” into the mix with Rueda and we are in the hunt from something from Ribeiro. There is also a good chance we might end up with some wines from Somontano, a small region between Catalunya and Basque Country in the province of Aragon. Stay tuned for updates on the portfolio, but we are happy with the shape it is taking.
Without going into the details of the portfolio just yet, let us just share with you how we see our wines. We told you about some regions we are selecting wines from, namely Toro, Ribera del Duero, and Somontano. The reds from these regions tend to be powerful with dominant tannins. We feel the market now is drifting away from this “aggressive” type of wine so we are working with wines that are easier to drink without having to “chew” them. Once you try them you’ll know what we mean. Bear with us for the time being.
Now time for the juicy stuff of the trip, or the downhills of the rollercoaster if you will. No guns were involved here, but there is some “blood”, wait for it.
As we started our trip from Valladolid to Rioja we encountered a snow storm. It was a nice experience driving through snow and it made truly beautiful scenes worthy of postcards. However the following day we were supposed to visit a winery in Navarra, which got flooded by the snowstorm. Lucky for us, we got to drive to San Sebastian to meet with no other than the President of the winery while enjoying great food from a Basque chef. How many times can you tell that one day you break the bread with Fernando Remirez de Ganuza and the following day with Julian Chivite? We’ll always remember this experience and we just gave out a couple of names that we are considering for our portfolio. We really hope to be able to bring some of these wines. They are true gems.
As we were concluding our visits to the wineries in Galicia, we planned to fly from Vigo to Madrid. When we checked into our flight the lady at the counter refused to take our three cases worth of wine samples we had gathered through our trip. We refused to leave our wine behind so we ended driving the last 550 km or our trip. We finally arrived to Madrid way later that we had anticipated, but with all our wine. The airline on our way back to NY was nice enough to check in our cases of wine, but unfortunately we had a couple of casualties (remember the “blood” we mentioned?). That is the cost of doing this business, but we still have a good array of wines that we intend to share with a few sommeliers to help us give the final shape to our portfolio. We conclude this piece with the thought of learning to deal with adversity. Life has made a good job of reminding us about uncertainty and so far we have had to deal with a lot more than we planned for, but we are very happy we are making progress towards our goal of building a successful wine imports business.