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My trip to Madrid?
 
Let me start with a few general comments before we get to the point which is a follow up to the article written by Eric Asimov for "The New York Times titled "Madrid's Relaxed Spots for Great Wine." To put it concisely, Madrid is an architecturally beautiful and significant city that is sophisticated, clean and safe. And while the effect of Franco is still in the air, the sense of community in this 3 million plus city is palpable. More on the city later but know this: Madrid is my kind of town: 1700 taxis, museums and artichokes on every menu! 
 
First, no, I did not visit a winery. 
 
Yes, I did see "The Head of the Dog" by Goya at The Prado. Exceeded expectations. The painting encompasses every emotion and every existential (and I mean the word "existential" a la Sartre and not as a word to indicate "existing" or "extant" as the news media and numerous elected officials use it) thought about life and living. And while you may see this painting occasionally called "The Drowning Dog," this is just plain wrong. This title is an invention of some well meaning, I am sure, art historians. But Goya never intended for this and the other so-called Black Paintings to be seen by the public and, hence, never named these works on his walls. It is not at all clear that the dog is in water nor that he is drowning or decendeding as opposed to ascending. He could be, as a friend said, behind the sofa! BTW, this work confirms that depression became Goya.
 
And now...
 
Dear Eric,
 
You nailed it. I must admit that I doubted your assessment of the wine bars in Madrid but you nailed it. Truth be told, I thought you might be wired too tightly to "feel" and not just taste. I thought you might assess these establishments against an unfair rigid set of standards. But I was wrong. And I don't know if it was your article that coalesced the wine establishment owners you featured or just that great minds think alike, but all of the owners know each other by name and association. 
 
Please know that I am aware that Madrid is a European capital and, accordingly, must offer wines that international government officials, tourists as well as their own residents desire. And I do understand that as Americans, it is reasonable to expect and, perhaps experience supports, might first be offered French Wine. But all that said, and balancing it with the fact that Spain has the lowest per capita wine consumption of any country in Europe, we found.....
 
You did not mention it, but we noticed a bit of sadness in the air when talk turned to Spanish wine. Some Madrileños have never developed or gained the respect Spanish wine so richly deserves. The future? We were told that the young people in Madrid have turned to beer! And several owners told us that the marketing of Spanish wine has been sluggish. The French and Italians are everywhere! There are many French wines on every list. And at more than one place, when we asked for wine, the first question back was: "French?" With some force, we said "No, Spanish!" I began to feel like I was fighting with them for them, for Spanish wine! You could say "when in Madrid, do as the Madrileños do but they might be doing French!
 
I don't know who is responsible, some wine organization, the government, whoever, but someone needs to figure out why Spain, or at least Madrid, does not fully appreciate the home team and, externally, tell the world that wines from Spain are extraordinary. Eric, you could get to the bottom of this dilemma! I told all the owners I met that I am now on a mission to promote Spanish wine. I am starting with you, Eric. Shake them up, Eric, drag them kicking and screaming. if necessary, into the often dirty but sadly necessary world of self promotion. 
 
Your list.....
 
We started at Berria across from The Prado in Retiro. You described Berria as a sleek, handsome wine bar with stylized dishes and excellent bottles in every price range. True that. Berria also has an e-wine list with pictures and descriptions of their bottles. Way cool. (We, of course, took the name of the software company.) Berria was inescapably appealing but what was really impressive was the young woman sommelier. No letters behind her name. No classes. No BS. She said she was self taught via books and videos. Her knowledge was amazing and her appreciation of their wines made us appreciate the wine! One of those wines was a Chenin Blanc and Macabeo blend. Here, I will break to say that Chenin Blanc is blended quite freely with an array of other varietals -all, we found, to great results.
 
Next we visited La Fisna in Barrio Lavapies. You said this tiny rustic bar and bottle shop is a great place for food and wine. Agreed. You also said that Berria was a "hyperdesigned version of La Fisna." With all due respect, I totally disagree. This is an example of the "feel" not just the look or the taste. The two bars are wine worlds apart. La Fisna is a comfortable, almost neighborhood bar along a narrow medieval street that surrounds you in warm colors, brick walls, original doors, wafts of perfectly prepared food and history. Berria is new and sleek, lots of glass and tables and wine tech, an ad for Architectural Digest, that sits at a bustling traffic circle. That location is not a bad thing, just different. With the exception of extraordinary wine and food and a woman serving as sommelier, these two bars have nothing in common.
 
At La Fisna, we were welcomed by a young woman sommelier who was also "self taught." She introduced us to a Mencia Rosé. Lovely. And another Chenin Blanc blend. This time with Xarel·lo. We got to talking (Eric, if you knew me, you would know this happens) and she invited us to see the store room with their collection of wines. Wow. And then we got to talking to the owner, Delia. She has a degree in Business Administration and had been working in an office, but her passion was wine and, accordingly, she started the bar. I asked Delia about your visit. She said that she did not know it was you at the time. But one of your staff told Delia to remember your face because you were, essentially, the man with regard to wine. We invited Delia to visit us in North Carolina. She might. Imagine the wine tasting we will have then! Of course, "at the bar" and "on the house!"
 
In between following in your footsteps, we had lunch at El Jardín de Arzábal at the Reina Sofia Museum, where we had a Godello. We found Godello to be very popular rivaling Albariño for versatility and broad appeal. I can tell you it was a great pairing to artichokes and monkfish!
 
Cuenllas was next in Barrio Argüelles. The establishment opened, as you said, in 1939 as a delicatessen and gradually became a bar and restaurant. The staff wears starched white jackets, as you also noted, and oversees an international wine list. Cuenllas also has a stash of very hard to find wines and a collection of aged to perfection bottles served by the glass! We shared a 1983 Rioja! Who does that? The owner here, Fernando, studied at University of Kentucky, took over the business from his mother, is a friend of Delia (La Fisna) and knows Eric Solomon. He says he worries about bars like Berria that focus on wine with the young Madrid residents turning  to beer. Eric, do something!
 
Note: We intended to bar hop and visit all nine of your recommendations but once we landed in one, any one! we just could not leave. 
 
La Venencia, the Spanish Civil War era bar that has not been updated since that time, was next.  So here, let me tell you how we fit our oh so American lifestyle into the manaña timetable and, also, try to avoid, tempting as it was, eating our way through Madrid. We would have breakfast about 7:30, then lunch about 3, then sherry, then check in on the news then down for the day. So when it was about sherry time, we set out for La Venencia. You said, as a holdover from civil war protocol, that there were to be no photos and no por favors. There was also no way in the door! People were taking photos outside, of course, and inside, they were packed tighter than a tin of sardines in Spanish olive oil. The crowd seemed to be mostly men, loud, sweaty men. Bottom line: no photos, no por favors and no sherry. We went back to the bar at our hotel and had margaritas rimmed in chocolate with James Brown blaring. Eric, I can highly recommend it! (The popularity of La Venencia at that moment in time may have been driven by the farmer's strikes in Madrid.)
 
We resumed the wine trail the next day after seeing "Monet in Giverny" at CentroCentro at Vinoteca García de la Navarra just around the corner in Retiro. You said this was a pleasant place with a long and deep wine list. Navarra also had a magnum of Juan Gil Silver Label on the bar. Yeah, we got that @MetroWines. This was the place that I discovered artichokes being all they could be. OMG. Underrated, underserved and under radar in the US. Here, we had a white blend of Albariño, Godello and Loureiro. I will say, Eric, I did not see Verdejo on many lists, nor, much to my great regret, was it recommended. Given the obvious commitment of Madrid to Juan Gil, they must have had a bottle of Shaya somewhere!
 
And then there was Ganz Wine Bar in Las Letras, the Barrio where Cervantes is buried. You said: "This comfortable, stylish neighborhood spot is a great source for beautifully chosen bottles at great prices." Indeed it was, but it was so much more.  We told our server, Ludovic, that we are in the wine business and wanted something special, Spanish and different. He brought us four bottles from which to choose. The last bottle of the Albariño made "the traditional way" was the winner. 
 
The diner at the next table said "good choice." As you might expect, we got to talking. Turns out he, Daniel, is a wine importer from Valencia. He also is worried about the turn to beer in Spain. He imports some Italian wine and had just met with Paitin! Eric, we love Paitin @MetroWines. Anyway, we sent Daniel a glass of our Albariño and before he left for his train to Seville for a trade show, he sent us a bottle of one of his wines from the Ganz collection, a young Palomino, the Fino Sherry grape. This style seems to be becoming popular in Madrid as we were served different versions more than once. And, indeed, this is an excellent solution to enjoying the sherry flavor with seafood, avoiding the increased alcohol in Sherry, and still being able to drive home! MetroWines customers can find one of these bottles on our shelves!
 
The last night, we got to talking to the couple seated next to us. Turns out their son is the sous chef at Frasca, Bobby Stuckey's restaurant in Denver. I think we had yet another Godello!
 
The wine world is small.

Orsini "Around the World Holiday Wine Tasting"

Thursday, 02 November 2023 08:07
orsini wines
News Release: Thursday, November 2, 2023
About: Orsini Wines Presents "Around the World Holiday Tasting"

Join us on Saturday, November 11th from 4-6 @MetroWines on Charlotte Street for an "Around the World Holiday  Wine Tasting" presented by Sara Ciofoletti from Orsini Wines. The event is "at the bar" and "on the house" and no reservations are necessary.
 
Bring friends to discover great wines for prices that won't break the holiday bank! 
Hermann Moser, Green Eyes Grüner Veltliner (2022 Liter) Austria 
Lindquist Family Wines Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley (2022) California
Rodaro Friuli Colli Orientali Schioppettino (2017) Italy
Château de la Font du Loup, Côtes du Rhône Signature (2021) France
 
Contact for MetroWines: Gina Trippi
Charlotte Street! It's the Next BIG Thing!
"Big Shop Selection. Small Shop Service"
(828) 575-9525

Piaugier Tasting with Maude Piaugier

Sunday, 29 October 2023 08:54
piaugier sablet rouge
**FIRST and LAST CALL**
Piaugier Wine Tasting
with Maude Piaugier
Join us on Tuesday, November 7th from 4-6 @MetroWines,
to meet Maude Piaugier and taste Piaugier Rhone Wines.
The tasting is "on the house" and "at the bar"
and no reservations are necessary.

 
  Jean-Marc', owner and winemaker, raised his daughters in the vineyards and cellar. Today, his oldest daughter Maude is traveling the world (including Asheville!) marketing French wines. In the words of Robert Parker, "This small estate, managed with intelligence and talent by Jean-Marc Autran, deserves praise for its Côtes du Rhônes the very high quality Gigondas which it regularly produces."