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Party Like The Moon

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Now you may well be wondering what this has to do with fiestas, well as we are involved it has everything to do with it.   I have forgotten a little bit where I’ve got up to with the news so if I repeat myself its old age and late hours……

DSCF5210 (640x480)First there was the Petanca social in town so we went to that if you remember ham is very nice, we were home around 3 pm this time.

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Then we went to the seaside and found their fiesta going strong with fair ground and bands, we got home around 2am .

 

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Then we had a small party at the Petanca club which meant we played a few games I won a small bag of goodies then we sat down to eat under the flood lights.  All in all a very pleasant evening, we got home around midnight.

But our annual visit into town for the correfoc meant that in true Garcia style we wound up getting home at 3am.  This is a big night in town as they close the streets, set up stages for the bands and shows. Then tables come out in front of bars and restaurants, chairs are put for people to sit and watch the shows and a dance area is made. Lights are on, bunting is hung, bands are ready and everything begins.  We always go to the river bar which is run by Ramon’s youngest daughter. Here there was a singer, all the songs were from the 80/90’s, and the minute the correfoc was over he started and we were dancing.

There are no pictures of this event as we were with friends and dancing plus with so many people about it was not practical. But I can say that when our friends left around 2am – they had been travelling for most of the day –  we danced on.   Two happy but tired people who wended their way through the crowds towards their car and home.

It Rained – Honest!!

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You will have gathered by now that the weather and climate change in our valley has been one of my oft mentioned gripes.   I look at the weather outside, watch the weather on tv and wonder why the hell they don’t match up.  The weather chart shows a cloud with rain coming from it and out of the window I see…. sun ….  So having said my usual “oh look it going to be sunny” bit to my wife I decided we would go to the club for a few games then on to the coast.  Then along comes the clouds!  “you going to take in the cushions?” I asked “no we’ve seen it all before, dark clouds no rain” came the reply so off we set.  We were playing nicely when the first rumble was heard then a few flashes, game ended just as the rain came.  “where the hell did this lot come from it certainly wasn’t forecast” was heard from the lady running ahead of me.  So we headed for the coast by which time it was really raining parked up and went for a coffee.  I didn’t fancy driving around in this lot so we headed home as we came out of the pass we could see – wait for it – sunshine….  It had rained and yes the cushions were soaking but the garden looked refreshed and the forest smelt renewed. So that’s about it, I will have to make sure I write about our adventures as they happen otherwise I forget or repeat myself, the  weed killing – no that’s for next time.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Well another week with the weather people promising rain and not delivering. Mind you all around us its been pouring, and my wife even did the washing in the hope it would rain but it was all dry before the clouds got here and no still no rain.  Oh well at least the drop we had during the Tuesday night watered the garden, and yesterday afternoon it got so hot and humid that I really thought we were in for a storm, but even though the clouds gathered nothing came of it as they decided to bog off somewhere else mind you I did my impression of ‘The Flash’ as I dodged the six drops of rain that did fall.

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Now this picture of me working at the airport is about as near as you’ll get to me in class.  Last day at school today and we got our certificates to say we can speak and understand Spanish (oh yeh??).  Oh yes and here’s something you did not know Walthamstow has moved to Ireland, they had got me down as Irish…I do so love these people. Mind you its not as if they don’t know me I spent two years trying to learn Catalan Oi Vey…..

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I found this old photo of the tree outside the house so I put a few together to give you an idea of how things have changed.    From an overgrown lump to a clear space for the birds water bar and ‘Sam’s’ garden, with a new wall plenty of bulbs plus the odd plant.  You can also see the beginnings of the new flower bed (just in front of me) this was taken through the netting of the fly free zone and the grape vine which this year has taken off.

 

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DSCF4915 (640x480)Now the reason I have included this last picture is because a friend of mine will appreciate it,  This is the tree I have been pruning and managed to pull my shoulder muscles – and no Pat NO chain saw…  So the result is that I shall be missing the petanca competitions this year but no matter there is always next year.

Right we are off on a road trip. I have always wanted to see the white horses of the Camaguey and as France is just up the road we are off for three days.  Now it should be an interesting trip as once we are on the E17/AP7  it goes all the way there but I bet we get lost we always do so cars filled up clothes packed maps at the ready hit the road Mike…….

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

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At last Christmas, New year and Three Kings have passed now things can return to normal. Here on the 5th of January the Three Kings herald the end of the festivities and the christmas lights are taken down.  Although we did not go to the Three Kings we decided to take a wander round the town to see the lights before they disappeared.

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I must explain that Three Kings is celebrated here as the night the Three Wise Men took gifts to Jesus.  The square in front of the Adjuntament is cleared and a nativity set up behind a small warm bonfire – it is enclosed and tended – then three thrones are set out on the steps of the church.  When the Kings arrive the children go up and tell them what they would like for presents and if they have been good, bit like Father Christmas.  Now if they have not been good they are given a piece of coal – black honeycomb – I often think the kids would like the sweets anyway.

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Mora is a small town but although there is a squeeze in Spain the lights they put up would not have disgraced Oxford Street and they did not cost as much either.  The main street had balls of coloured lights in varying sizes strung diagonally across the road giving the impression of the universe. The street leading to the Adjuntament (town hall) was hung with sheets of white lights that sparkled and gave the impression of sheets of diamonds.  Whilst three other streets were hung with bows with the lamp-posts decked to look like diamond and ruby earrings with a blue fountain at the end. Mind you I did notice the reindeer had been hungry as some of the apple lights had been nibbled.  But telling you is not the same as showing you so here are a few pictures hope you enjoy.

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Well there they are I hope you enjoy them.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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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…

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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….

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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.

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Yesterday we visited the annual honey and olive oil fira in El Perello. We like this fira it shows the produce of the area and gives people a chance to taste both the honey and oil locally produced.

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amongst the stands displaying honey and oil were wines, breads, cheeses, a large herbal display and various other items.  I found old friends there

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Celler Pinell de Bre  which is just up the road steeped in the history of the Spanish Civil War and producing some very special wine of the Terra Alta  http://bit.ly/LJWX4V you can contact them here.

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Also in their usual place I found the Co-operativa Batea, displaying their magical wines. We were informed trade was going well and were asked if we would like to sample some of the wines – sadly their offer was declined driving and the Mossos – but if you would like to sample some of their magic http://bit.ly/QmshfT talk to them.

But this year the large hall was curiously barren. The honey sellers were there but even the stall where you can purchase bee keeping equipment was smaller.  Also missing was the herbal stand, here you could buy various herbal medicine and teas along with those for cooking.  The stand which demonstrated various massage chairs, the music stand where you could see fine instruments,  neither were there.  Even outside the stalls were muted and no wood carving demonstrations by young men with chain saws.

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We wandered around the town square for a while then as it was getting late I decided to take my wife for a meal in L’Ametlla de Mar, the little town just up the coast.  We rather like this town, it was the first place we stayed at when we arrived before buying our finca.  I parked the car in the car park by the marina and we climbed the steps to the town.  After wandering around looking for a restaurant we came across a small one down a side street called The Gramophone.  The inside is nicely decorated with tables enough for  28 people inside and 16 outside.  There is an old-fashioned gramophone and radio which have been converted to play discs and which played old standards whilst we ate. The food was excellent we shared a blue cheese and apple salad the dressing was superb and a plate os patatas bravos, followed by a plate of various fresh seafood all washed down by a bottle of really good full-bodied red wine from Marca http://bit.ly/KuRyC8.   We then drove home through the mountains, all in all it was a perfect day.

© Michael Douglas Bosc

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Well what a strange night and day we are having/had. I blame the wife myself.  Yesterday she was out in the garden in the sunshine 15dgs watering and looking at some rather dubious clouds that were skirting the valley whilst mumbling  we need some rain get over here……

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Later on the drumming of a good rain storm could be heard she had got her way BUT when I got up this morning SNOW! SNOW!  The forest looked really wintry with its light dusting of snow maybe not a lot, but there it was. A bleary eyed bod got out of bed saying your daft “where’s the snow” wandered to the front door opened it looked outside closed it came back to bed snuggled down saying “yep that’s snow”! Not the normal response and no dash for the camera, but still it was around 4am…..

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True to form she who watches the weather – did not see this coming – was out before brekky getting the logs and starting wood in – thinks saws, axes and me don’t go well together – wonder why? any way words of “we will not be cold”  were heard and she was enjoying herself so I made the tea and got brekky.  We are having a curry for dinner the pan is on the fire and we are cosy and warm  not bad.  Just going to see what the weather is going to do tomorrow then a glass dinner and Rugby.  Ohhh  dont like the look of this  more snow could be on way guess who’s off to the wood pile, girl scout or what…..

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It may not look like much to you but believe me this is an event.  Usually when it snows no matter how deep its gone by midday so to us its something.

Keep warm and safe everyone,  “Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since we’ve no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”  Keep warm peeps

 

© Michael Douglas Bosc

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After leaving Gandesa (not in this cart i might add, the barrels are empty), I headed for Batea a small town situated in the  mountains about 19kl further on. You approach Batea along a country road past vineyards gently lazing on sunny slopes being tended by their owners and workers.

What I did not know was this town seems to be built on wine, it’s a wine lovers dream with a celler on almost every street, so many in fact that I shall be wandering in and out of here for some time.

As you enter Batea along its main road, you pass several neat and tidy buildings before noticing a small shop selling wine and olive oil. It is just past this you see a small press sitting in its own garden, a symbol that says a lot about Batea.  Here the road begins to climb towards the town centre and looking down some of the small side streets, I noticed several large painted posters advertising wine from another Celler.

We arrived in the square which has adequate parking for cars on either side of the tree-lined central plaza with benches under the trees to give shade to those sitting and watching their world go by. Here there were groups of old men sitting on benches discussing the world and remembering how it was in years gone by.

Like Gandesa, Batea was on the front line during the Civil War, and received quite a battering.  In the old quarter it has still managed to retain its individuality being one of the few remaining examples in the Terra Alta.  Some of  it’s porches, covered walkways and mediaeval buildings still remain, giving an insight into the architectural styles of those times. The largest example is the main street, with its arcade with ogive arches from the fourteenth century.

Well that’s a condensed history of Batea, but I was after wine and the Co-operatieva in particular.  I parked our wagon in the main square and wandered off in the direction of the Co-op.  It was whilst walking down little side streets there that I passed several other Cellers, three in fact, and none of these was the  Co-operatieva.

Walking down a street the countryside became visible and there was the new buildings and Botiga for Batea’s co-operativa.

This is an imposing modern building, unlike the others I have visited.  There is a soul you can feel when you enter the shop, it is light and airy displaying the wines, olive oil and other products. However, there is an almost spectral aroma, it is not there, yet….  it has to be the spirit of their total love for their wines. Farmers here had been producing wine and selling it individually in the local community for centuries but in 1961 they grouped together and the Celler was born. The wine is produced in the traditional ways using concrete vats both above and underground, which as always adds to the final product.

The working part is mainly on the other side of the road, so we crossed over to take a look.  Here I found the concrete vats standing square and proud with more underground, maceration vats, very much, you might think, like the other Cellers, but there was something different here, once again that presence. These concrete vats are used for the production of the white wines.  The grapes are first placed into stainless steel vats for one day to macerate naturally. Then over night the final press is carried out and the  ‘musk’ is transferred to the concrete vats where it spends 3 weeks fermenting, from here they go to the French oak barrels to mature.   These concrete vats each hold 20,000ltrs of wine with 60 vats underground and 33 above.

The Grapes used here to make the white wine are White Macabeu, Garnatxa, Muscatel, Chardonnay and Parellada.

The red wine is fermented in Stainless steel vats in the new building next to the Botiga. There is a total of 29 imposing structures with each vat holding 50,000 ltr.  The grapes are Garnatxa red, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon red, Tiempre negre and Carinyena. These wines provide some of the nicest sipping wines I have tasted in Terra Alta.  There is also a wine which gets a second pressing, this I will be looking at later in the summer.

The Celler has around 1445 Hectares of vineyards, and uses natural cork in their bottling plant.  The vineyards are located in several different micro climates within this region it is as the names suggests ‘The High Country’, with little valleys giving the wines rather peculiar characteristics but make for some interesting and pleasant drinking.

The Wines: I have selected a few of the wines which I think you might like.

The First is a  Rosat: Vall Major.  This wine is a bright pink cherry in colour, with just enough acidity to appreciate its freshness and elegance. There is the hint of raspberries and roses, a fine combination that served chilled is a good early evening drink.
The grapes used to achieve this wine are  Garnatxa Red and Syrah
The Reds: this is Vivertell Negre
This wine has a rich ruby colour and good legs indicating a high llevel of alcohol.  There is a spicy aroma with the hint of fruit which gives it a Nadal feeling, christmas.  It sent my taste buds on an adventure, being both soft and fresh. This is most definitely a wine to be sipped and enjoyed.
The grapes used to produce this wine are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnatxa Tinto, Tempranillo and Syrah.
The next red is  Tioicitat  This wine has a deep dark colour well bodied.  Here there is an intense nose of fruit and spices, rich and sensuous. The flavour is full with again a hint of spice. This one reminded me of a very good Sherry or Port, definitely one for relishing or complementing a good meal.
The grapes used for this are: Garnatxa Red, Syrah and Tempranillo
I now come to the white wines.  Terra Alta is known for their splendid white wines and I have picked  Primicia Chardonnay and Vallmajor. I will start with the Chardonnay.
This wine is a fresh tasty wine pale yellow in colour tingeing on pale green at the edge.  The nose is fresh with hints of tropical fruits and an underlaying touch of citrus.  It’s fresh to the mouth not too acidic and very moreish with a pleasant lingering taste. One for the fridge and cool evenings.

The grape used in this wine is: 100% Chardonnay which gives it that pleasant sensual feel.
Now the Vallmajor Blanca
This wine is pale yellowish green in colour, and has a balanced taste. It’s nose again reflects floral notes with a hint of freshly cut grass.  This is one to be sipped whilst enjoying the late evening sun and reminiscing.
The grape used in the wine is: Garnatxa Blanco
 You will find these wines on www.cellerbatea.com  or you can contact them on cellerbatea@cellerbatea.com . I can say that you will not be disappointed in fact you may even feel like visiting them and seeing for your self.  Their fax is: 0034 977430589  I hope you enjoy Cheers.

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