This week sees the annual Wine Fira in Gandesa, so we are off to visit and possibly try some wines. I say possibly as it is not yet decided who will drink and who will drive, but I expect it will be as normal. Decision made the one who picked driving will do the tasting and the one who picked tasting won’t drink so will drive. That, as they say, is the way we roll…
When I last visited the Celler at Gandesa they had just renovated it, setting the three large presses in pride of place. The traditional concrete vats were lovingly restored, cleaned and the outsides painted white. All this was done by traditional methods using craftsmen and the result is stunning. This being one of the Gaudie inspired ‘Cathedrals of Wine ‘ the vaulted ceiling has been lovingly cleaned, restored and where necessary repointed. We wandered over on Friday but because it was a national holiday the fira was not open till 6pm, so we decided to spend Saturday evening there. As we were leaving we saw a diagram hanging on the wall which led us to believe the fira was in the Celler itself. As usual we should have put our glasses on….
So today being Saturday we are off to the Fira. The day dawned sunny but cool so as we decided to go in the late afternoon, we wrapped up a little. We headed west arriving in Gandesa just as the Mossos (police) were waiting for the early revelers to leave. Parking was a little bit difficult but we managed to find a spot in the road behind the Co-operativa and walked into the main street. On the other side opposite the Co-operativa was the pavilion tent and inside set out along each side were the exhibiting Cellers.
It was a surprise to find that compared with say Falset or Mora la’Nova there were not many stands in the tent. However, we wandered through and found three cellers that need a second look. Vins del Tros, V Altavins and Aiguardent de Prat Comte, the last of which makes some excellent liqueurs. Do you see what is next to this stand? an original still…. oh I just love it. Batea was exhibiting some of their excellent wines which meant their stand was very busy. But this gave us an opportunity to take a look at these three Cellers, we will take Vins Del Tros first. My wife is looking forward to this visit as they make an excellent Grenache Blanc Wine, with its light-golden or straw-coloured juice Grenache Blanc is increasingly produced as a blend wine, its use as a softener when blending is quite common. It will be an interesting visit. Next we will take a peek at V Altavins: This Celler is in Batea and produces a range called Pretty Wines now they sound interesting. The last Celler is not your usual winery it produces some rather lovely liqueurs. Aiguardent de Prat Comte is something of a mystery so it will be an adventure I do so love wine mysteries….
With these in mind we wandered out into the street to find cheese sellers and the doughnut sellers, then on into town. At the corner of the street is a shop selling bags and things, today they were also displaying the local wines. Then just round the corner looking at a Halloween window where these two young charmers in traditional costume keeping a proud mum and dad busy.
Then into the square where we found they were roasting chestnuts and sweet potatoes whilst a giant mother, baby and two lads on their bikes were entertaining everyone.
Then we wandered off to have a beer at a local bar. Now the look on my face says who’s that? – I don’t know any pretty young girls. We have not seen this pretty young lady for nearly a year and she has grown up in that time. It took a few moments and the question to place her, the daughter of one of my petanca partners.
We finished our beer and wandered back through the tent and made our way home. Not before stopping to buy some wine I might add. As always there is more to these wine fairs than just wine, three Cellers to visit and new wines to talk about, I do love this time of year.
(c) Michael Douglas Bosc
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It’s almost the end of October the time when I gird up my loins and visit the local Agricultural Fair. It’s strange really because I have not liked fairs since I was in the RAF and visited Marlborough Mop. Here I walked in at one end with a wallet and out the other without it. But these fairs are different. They are a mix of fun fair, stalls, bars and farming equipment spread out around the streets of Mora La’Nova, and who knows we might just have a go on some of the rides….
We wandered in and came to this little ride. We stood and watched it being loaded ”do you want to go on it?” I asked my wife “yes but I want to see what it does first” she said. Am I glad she did! As you can see it looks lovely and calm with the arms down, but once it got going it not only went up and round IT BOUNCED!!!! ohhhh I could see us both throwing up. It was fun for the youngsters they squealed and laughed then a big sigh came as the machine stopped and the lights went out, next minuet it started going again BACKWARDS.. bouncing, spinning in the dark, well we may not have been on there but just watching was fun.
We went to have a look at the horse shed and this little chap caught our eye. Although they are all together there is plenty of room and lots of hay in the racks. None of these horses were undernourished, the one thing the people here are fond of are their horses. In fact I would say they were a little over weight. It’s just that with the wire fence – to stop people being kicked – and a horses bum nudging him he did look fed up.
There were quite a few makes of tractor on display but I noticed that John Deer did not seem to be represented. Now this is strange as last year they had quite a display. But then I noticed tucked at the end of the line two Lamborghini’s, the sports tractors of the tractor world? Where are Top Gear when they are needed….
Just opposite the tractors were the various bits of equipment needed to farm here. Compressors, sprayers, rotivators generators, tree shakers and much more. I am not sure what the large machine is but as you can see it is rather like and octopus with its 8 arms.
We walked on and came to some rides we thought we could go on. This was a particular favourite unfortunately we were to big but there was no lack of fun for the youngsters. One of the rides was mechanical bulls. Three abreast and could seat around 6 people, it started up moving back and forwards then it gave a lurch and the riders all fell off onto the cushioned floor. The laughter never stopped. So being two big for the rides we wandered off to the other side and the wine section.
We visited the hall where dried meats, stalls for household stuff were on display and in the middle of these I found ’Celler Maset Del Lleo’ and yes I hope to visit. Then out into the balmy night and the entrance to the wine section. People were crossing the bridge to this area to buy their tickets - which includes a glass - so they could taste the various wines of the exhibiting Cellers.
I went to visit Pascona’s stand but unfortunately could not get near enough to talk or take a picture as they were busy selling their reds.
We could see Batea was in the same situation and were reminded that Gandessa Wine Fair is on this week, so more visits. Such a wide range of wines here.
Now with the harvest just finishing – due to the cool weather at the beginning of the year – I had visited El’Masroig and learnt they have two new wines for export being launched soon. So when we arrived at their stand we had to wait as people were busy tasting and buying wines. It is so nice to see old friends and even better when you find they have won awards. The nuclear plant in Asco had given them 4 awards for their wines, wonderful. There is another visit on the cards so I am looking forward to that.
To reach the wine area you can either cross the bridge or, as we did, walk round past the church. Here we found some craft stalls and a few more tractors. Also spread out along the street were traditional wood burning fires, plus new ones especially for burning the new pellet type of fuel which is made from the husks of almonds and the residue of the olives. Here you also find a small bar with it’s tables and chairs set out in front and across the road next to a stall selling Iberian Ham and cheeses. It was to here we came after walking round and decided to have a couple of glasses of wine whilst trying some of the ham and cheese.
It was fun sitting there watching as people came and went moving the tables and chairs to make bigger seating areas. Once or twice friends would turn up invite others join them at their table. So without hesitation table, chairs and drinks would up sticks and march to join the party, I do love this country.
After this we decided to head home so took a leisurely stroll back to the car park. I noticed how few people were around although this large eatery was doing very well. When we reached the car the reason was made clear, when I turned the engine on the clock said it was just past midnight. So although the Agricola section was shut the fun fair, bars and eateries were going strong. Here’s to next year.
(c) Michael Douglas Bosc
We all have our favourite places and in regards to hotels this is ours. I have written in the past about the Hungry Horse and Lodge Inn in Portsmouth, well we were back again last week. It was like coming home, friendly smiles and whats more the staff actually remembered us, and when you consider that they have hundreds of people walking through their doors that is no mean feat. After our journey from Torquay it was nice to be able to relax between travelling and stay somewhere you not only had clean rooms but a good menu. I can honestly say that their curries are some of the best we have eaten, so much so that we had them two evenings running. We decided to do the tourist things again so bought a day ticket and rode round Portsmouth looking at the various attractions. The dockyard was very busy with groups visiting not only the Mary Rose exhibit but Victory and Warrior as well. The University was heaving but it was the Spinnaka tower that took the night. During the day you can go up to the top and the view is spectacular but at night when it turns blue you get to see it at its best – well I think it is – as all you see in daylight is a concrete building.
But it is to the girls who keep the rooms at the Inn Lodge clean and tidy that I would like to extend my thanks and apologies for not mentioning such important people before. Everything was in order and when my wife asked for extra milk, sugar etc., they were given with smiles and the question “was there was anything else she needed?”, this is why we like staying here when we visit.
Thank you ladies, see you next year.
(c) Michael Douglas Bosc