Enjoying Malvasia Wine with Chocolate in the Company of Royalty (Sort of) At Vega de Ribes

20 08 2009

Wine tourism in SpainMalvasia has a place in history, Shakespearean literature and Vega de Ribes, as I learned on a recent trip to the winery. Legend has it that the Duke of Clarence, brother to King Edward IV, chose to die of drowning in a cask of malvasia when sentenced to death for treason. Napoleon supposedly brought malvasia wine with him to enjoy in exile in St. Helena. Shakespeare makes several mentions of malmsey, the English term for malvasia wine, in his plays; in “Henry IV”, the Prince of Wales is accused of having sold his soul for a glass of malmsey (“an absolutely penetrating wine”) and a chicken leg. At Vega de Ribes, malvasia is their featured wine. Twenty years ago the Bartra family began growing the grape, which was taken from the only other vine in the region (at the Hospital Sant Joan Baptista in Sitges).

The family’s ownership and involvement on the land, however, dates back Family tree Vega de Ribescenturies – specifically, the 16th century A.D. In the tasting room, Enric Bartra proudly showed us the family tree drawn up in 1869, which traces his ancestors and the property back to 1540. Just as impressively, some parts of the house though are from the 13th century when a castle and its fortifications stood on the land. While we strolled through the vineyard and winery, Enric pointed out some examples of the history that visibly remain: the dry stone walls still standing, the carob trees that are hundreds of years old, and the old and “new” wine cellars. The new cellar is Cellar Key Vega de Ribesunlocked by an oversized key that could be used in a movie set in the Medieval Ages. Engraved on the key is the year the new cellar was built – 1766. He estimated that the old cellar, still functioning and in use, is from the 15th century.

Vega de Ribes produces several other wines besides malvasia, including a sauvignon blanc, a merlot and syrah. Wine Pleasures was lucky enough to try their newest wine, a sparkling malvasia (likely the only one on the market so far). The 100% malvasia bubbly is less than a year old, undergoes only one fermentation, has no added sugar, and derives its bubbles naturally from the pressure built in the bottle rather than artificial injection. As Enric said, the best way to judge it (and the only way to enjoy it!) is to taste it. Sadly, for those of us not in Northern Spain, due to limited production the sparkling malvasia will be available only at the winery for the time being.

The Bartra family still lives on the land today and grows a large variety of chocolate tree Vega de RibesMediterranean fruit trees and aromatic plants. Aside from producing grapes for wine, Enric spoke of the family-pressed olive oil used at family dinners and the fruits picked and enjoyed during the warmer seasons. All plants are grown organically as a result of the family’s respect for and sustenance from the land. The family also appreciates their history and place in the local community. In fact, the Slow Foods Foundation for Biodiversity has awarded Vega de Ribes with its Presidium title for the cultivation of a local grape to accompany locally grown foods.

Anne Shih Wine travel writerOn offer at Vega de Ribes are several options for touring the vineyard and learning more about the estate or wines. Each tour is five euros and lasts approximately one hour. The tours range from wine tasting (a general tasting of their wines, or a tasting of their malvasia paired with chocolate “Malvasia de Sitges Tour”) to bird watching (“vineyard Birds Tour”) to specific vineyard tours (“100 Vineyards Tour”, “Centennial Carob Tree Tour”, “Dry Stone Walls and Cabins Tour”, “Mediterranean Aromatic Plants Tour”). Additionally, the property is wheelchair accessible. And of course, the only way to try the sparkling malvasia wine is to visit the winery!

Anne Shih, wine travel writer for Wine Pleasures

Enric Bartra tells us about the Malvasia de Sitges grape variety:

Tasting Vega de Ribes wines including the famed Malavasia:


Paella de Requena alguién?

28 03 2009

Durante los Wine Pleasures Workshops, el Hotel Subur Maritim nos preparó una paella para una de las comidas. En mi mesa tenía una valenciana a mi lado y la preguntamos como estaba la paella. Adivinar su respuesta.

Unos días más tarde y con un grupo de importadores participantes en el workshop fuimos a visitar la DO de Utiel-Requena y en una de las visitas, una bodega (Vera de Estenas) nos preparó una deliciosa paella de Requena que, según el chef es totalmente diferente a las de Valencia. Desde luego era totalmente diferente a la de Sitges! Cómo se hace una paella de Requena? Véase el vídeo y el chef nos explicará.

VINTESA Consorzio includes La Luna del Rospo – Loacker – Punset – Fasoli Gino – Antica Entoria. Wine Pleasures International Organic Workshop

15 02 2009


Next month sees the 3rd edition of the Wine Pleasures International Organic Workshop to be held in Sitges (Barcelona), Spain. Several Italaian organic and biodynamic wine producers have got together and formed  Consortium called Vintesa. Vintesa will be participating and representing the interests of their members. In the next few days we will be featuring each winery which forms part of Vintesa.

To date there are more wineries from Italy enrolled than there are from Spain which means there is clearly more interest (or even could it be more commercial sense?) from Italian wineries to export their wines. Given this situation Wine Pleasures is looking to programme the 4th edition of the workshop event ie in 2010 in Italy – place and date to be decided. Any suggestions for a place and venue?

Here is how Vintesa present themselves:

vintesa-senza-consorzio1Vintesa is the result of a friendship of a few winemakers who have joined together with the aim to overcome the most common inconveniences faced by their professional clients.

Restaurants, wine bars, wine shops have been complaining for years about the difficulty of finding proper warehouse facilities (especially in the ancient city centres where high rents considerably increase the management costs); difficulties in managing a lot of paper documents from different suppliers (orders, transport bills, invoices, payments etc.); and last but not least the need to taste different wines without overloading  the warehouse or simply to enrich the wine chart with new sorts of wines, without running the risk to store up in the years great quantities of old bottles.

Vintesa Union offers its customers a rich wine selection from several Italian wineries located all over the national territory (from Piedmont to Tyrol, Veneto, Tuscany and Apulia). The wineries joining Vintesa Union are all small to medium size wine estates and the product range they can offer to their customers can easily be considered as an abstract of the best Italian wine production, furthermore they also have a wide range of organic and biodynamic products.

Customers have the possibility to re-assort without being forced to place a minimum order. With one single order (which also means one single shipment and one invoice and one payment only) they can receive several different wines at a time. The problem of keeping a great stock of products has found an easy solution thanks to Vintesa logistic organisation, Vintesa warehouses grant delivery within 24/48 hours, also of small orders. This solution also grants a constant price control and a considerable reduction of  costs. These services along with the high reputation of each one of the wineries joining the Union represent an added value for all our commercial partners.

The portfolio of the companies joining the union has only been changed once, which means that today the group is very compact and that all the wine makers united in this project are very close to each other and share the same philosophy and the same commercial values. A group of people working together but also studying together the best solutions for their customers to offer them profitable commercial services and an appealing and rich product portfolio.

If you would like to contact Vintesa please do so through their website.

La Oferta Enoturística de Bodegas Torres

29 12 2008


torresPonentes: Anna Manchon y Joan Carreras – Bodegas Torres

Presentación del departamento de Enoturismo y Eventos de Bodegas Torres: nuestra misión dentro del contexto de la estrategia de comunicación de la empresa, áereas profesionales y objetivos. La visita a las bodegas y toda la oferta complementaria: restaurante privado, actividades para grupos, alquiler de salas para eventos, etc. Resumen estadístico.

Actualmente, Bodegas Torres cuenta con todo un departamento dedicado exclusivamente al enoturismo, entendiendo esta nueva disciplina como un valor añadido a la comunicación del vino. Bajo el nombre de “Enoturismo y Eventos” hay todo un equipo de 24 profesionales, cubriendo 6 áreas: RRPP y atención al visitante, Promoción/ Comunicación, Administración, Reservas, Tienda e Infraestructuras/transportes. La oferta enoturística de Torres es muy amplia, variada y para todo tipo de público. Desde hace algunos años, se ha ido innovando e introduciendo oferta complementaria para satisfacer las necesidades del enoturista. Con esta oferta se pretende cumplir con los objetivos que se establecen en el departamento: consolidar el crecimiento en número de visitantes, incrementar la calidad de nuestros servicios y diversificar la oferta creando nuevos productos. Las estadísticas, con cifras de hasta 120.000 visitantes anuales, nos posicionan como una de las bodegas más visitadas de España.

Puede contactar con Anna y Joan mediante la página web de Torrres o en el Wine Pleasures Red Social.

Wine Pleasures Congreso y Workshop Internacional 24 al 27 de enero 2009 en Sitges (Barcelona).

Social Media Group for the Wine Pleasures Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop now available

11 12 2008


porron11Wine tourism professionals, conference speakers, conference delegates and workshop participants can now meet, network, discuss and socialise at the Wine Pleasures Wine Tourism Group on the Open Wine Consortium Network.

Please feel free to join and tell your contacts and friends.

Wine Pleasures Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop: Sitges (Barcelona) 24 – 27 January 2009.

“Ocio Vital-Food WineTours: Una empresa de servicios turísticos al servicio de la industria enogastronomica”

11 12 2008


manel-colmeneroPonente: Manel Colmenero – Ocio Vital – Food Wine Tours

El turismo enogastrónomico es el mas complejo de todos, implica involucrar muchos recursos turisticos y no turísticos, crear un destino turístico de esta magnitud necesita de clusters multisectoriales, necesita de innovación y de un pensamiento transversal que facilite la creación de esos productos que el mercado esta esperando. 

La función asesora, productora y comercializadora son algunos de los aspectos mas destacados en la misión de nuestra empresa,  por eso desde sus inicios observamos la necesidad de crear  productos de calidad, adaptado a las necesidades de todos y cada uno de los clientes.

Dado el perfil de las empresas turísticas siempre hemos apostado por buscar alianzas que permitan ser mas eficientes en la comercialización y en la producción de experiencias. Nuestros mas de 20 años de experiencia dentro del sector de la intermediación turística nos convenció que debíamos contribuir en la profesionalización de las visitas y de las experiencias que se pueden ofrecer en las bodegas.

Para que el turismo enogastronómico realice un salto cualitativo y cuantitativo es vital  transformar los visitantes en turistas , una tarea en la que estamos involucrados estableciendo acuerdos de comercialización con consorcios turísticos y productores.

Nuestras experiencias con Abadal y Marfil Alella, son ejemplos que crean valor en todos y cada uno de los eslabones de la cadena,son casos que expondremos durante la jornada, así como las estrategias que seguiremos durante los próximos años.”

Para intercambiar comentarios con Manel puede hacerlo a uniendose al social network Gastronomicum 2.0

EL Congreso de Enoturismo se celebará en Sitges los próximos días 24 al 27 de enero.


8 12 2008


josep-grauPonente: Josep Grau – Mas Figueras y Celler Dosterras

Por qué Enoturismo en un Turismo Rural ? Equipo de desarrolo de la idea. Hotel + Bodega: Dos proyectos distintos con sinergias comunes. Definir el cliente y desarrollarlo. Arranque del proyecto. Actividades y su repercusión en el negocio. Resultados y sensaciones. Futuro.

Desarrolo de la idea en un Turismo rural y no en un hotel u otro tipo de centro. Un modo de vida. Definición de los aspectos a tener en cuenta y qué profesionales pueden ser necesarios para cada tema. Cómo lo hicieron. Cómo la bodega y el enoturismo se complementan y en que aspectos es conveniente que sean absolutamente negocios independientes. Que tipo de cliente buscamos, de acuerdo con lo que ofrecemos y como somos. Qué nos hemos encontrado. Poner en marcha la idea, los primeros días, inseguridad y seguridad. Cómo los clientes nos fueron mostrando que actividades complementarias que habíamos pensado funcionaron y cuales no. Que resultado estamos teniendo y que sensaciones tenemos de cara a un futuro. El futuro en el sector, cómo lo veo ?

El Wine Pleasures Congreso y Workshop Internacional de Enoturismo se celebrará los próximos días 24 al 27 de enero en Sitges.

Si alguién quiere ponerse en contacto con Josep sobre su proyecto de bodega + alojamiento rural puede hacerlo mediante su página web