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!
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!