The Alimentaria Food and Wine fair only takes place every two years in Barcelona and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
This year, although space reserved by exhibitors is down sharply, the numbers visiting seem to be holding up. It does mean that everything is in one place instead of spread between the old World Fair site at Plaza España and the new purpose built halls in Hospitalet which is far better for all involved.
Some interesting products and trends are emerging here such as alcohol free wines (like with beer convenience displaces taste) and an emphasis on better presentation as well as healthier foods to combat increasing obesity levels worldwide.
Watermelons carved in the shape of a rose and hiring some human statues from the Ramblas to promote your stand is one successful way of attracting attention this year.
Spanish gastronomic tradition is alive and well with pata negra hams, seafood, cavas, wonderful cheeses, olive oils and of course wines of all styles and regions are what makes a trip to Alimentaria a true Spanish fair with flair!
What a storm!
According to news reports Girona province was the worst affected in Catalonia and for the record books this was the most snow locally since records have been kept!
Today, day two, and so far it has been clear and sunny which means the great thaw has set in with problems switching to drains and rivers overflowing. At least 200,000 people are still without electricity and the trains are not running yet. Other obvious damage was mainly to trees where branches fell under the weight of the wet snow and electricity pylons are also down as we had high winds all night long.
My son came back from an afternoon of sledding down the steps of the Cathedral which he rated as more fun than going to a ski resort and my big regret was not taking some pictures as I only heard about it afterwards…
Like the miners strike in the UK in the 1970's when the power was cut every evening we may see a mini baby boom here in Girona although we may need a few more nights to really get in the mood!
Just when we thought spring was on its way, the worst snowstorm for 25 years hits Girona, that's global warming craziness for you!
Schools closed, shops and businesses too and Girona seems like a ghost town except for the sirens of the emergency services and kids shouting with pleasure having snowball fights. Train station and airport shut down and many people stuck in mid voyage with waiting their only option.
The forecast is for the snow to continue most of today Monday but by tomorrow the sun will be out again and this will just be a white memory, a fun one for schoolchildren and not so great one for those trying to complete trips.
All you people from countries where snow is a normal part of winter can have a laugh at how 10 cms of snow can reduce a place to complete paralysis in a few hours, meanwhile we will get even again when we are walking around in short sleeves in a few weeks time!
Some would imagine a really enjoyable experience, others would savour every drop but the reality is that tasting so many wines is hard work for the palate, and you come out with teeth looking like you have been to dinner with Dracula.
True professionals spend more time with their nose pushed deep into the glass than quaffing the wine, and even then it is swirled around the mouth and spat out. Trying to capture what you have seen, smelled and tasted in words is possibly the hardest part and "I like this one" is not acceptable wine terminology.
When the wines you are tasting are all from the same region (Catalonia) and the same grape varieties are present in most of the wines it tends to emphasize the defects present very clearly and the 8 tasters were pretty unanimous on which were the worst wines. Worst in the sense of not technically correct, either through lack of balance, too much wood, lack of acidity or both which in Spanish wines seems to be a constant problem.
At the end of the 3 hour session a few wines emerged in both the under and over 15? division.
In the under 15? bracket:
2 wines from Cadaques (Empordà) which is more famous for artists than wines but these are both new wineries and interesting to taste- Pirata and Perafita; from the Montsant l'Alleu and l'Heravi; from Terra Alta Sola d'en Pol and Templari and Sirsell from the Priorat where most wines are more expensive.
In the above 15? category(some wines went up to 80?):
From the Empordà, Perelada wines were represented with both Finca Malaveina and Finca Garbet; from Montsant a Kosher wine Peraj Ha' abib; from the Priorat the Trio Infernal and Akiles
Undoubtably the most dissapointing showing were for some the expensive wines including Finca Dofi and Vall Llach which just goes to prove that tasting blind means your palate is not biased!