Saturday, 27 April 2013

What wine has joined together

Just arrived to Aachen, and before leaving Germany, I decided to visit for the fifth time the beautiful Charlemagne's Aqvisgrana.

Wrapping up my last week in Germany, it has been all about farewells. Many glasses have been lifted this week, to celebrate friendship and to express good wishes.

Despite the strength and the motivation, it is never easy to say 'bis bald'. At least not for me.

Since the age of 9 I have been moving, so you would think I am used to it. Well, maybe used is the word, but I do find it always, without exception, difficult.

When I first arrived to Germany, I knew not one person. I came to this place on my own and with not even an acquaintance, not to say a friend, so over the past seven years, I have met many people from scratch.

Wine has always been a great ally, and long lasting friendships have been forged under the warmth of a shared bottle of wine. It has given me the chance of meeting people of many nationalities and backgrounds, I have discovered and appreciated the diversity of our cultures and upbringings.

Through the wine shared, I have embraced our differences that make every experience more enriching and unique, I have learnt a lot through what many have very generously shared with me.

I have greatly enjoyed every moment spent together and I have become very fond of, now, very dear friends.

This morning when I loaded my car to start my journey home, it was not the only thing that felt heavy. My heart also does, it is overpacked with the love and the friendship you have given me. The demonstration of all those strong and assorted feelings I have received over the past few days, that have moved me to tears of overwhelming emotions.

Thank you for the friendship, for the presents, for the moments spent together and for the wine. It ha made every minute of the last seven years, worth living.

Bis bald my friends, stay in touch.

In Vino Veritas.


Thursday, 25 April 2013


After a recurring incidence with my car put me on the way to the garage in Rüsselsheim, a sunny day and the rental car drove me to Rüdesheim am Rhein, to see for the first time, the place free of the usual hordes of tourists.

After a pleasant walk under the sun and wondering once again, what makes Rüdesheim such a popular attraction having Germany much nicer villages, I landed in Schloss Vollrads in the neighbouring Oestrich-Winkel. Nice Schloss with a -fond to me word nowadays- vinotheke.

Ready to put into practice my recently learned skills, I asked to taste four wines. It felt a bit awkward doing this in a place outside the classroom, with the added difficulty that the tasting glasses provided by the winery were way too big, with way too little wine. That really gives a professional (to be) taster an added challenge.

I looked around, they even had a spittoon on the counter top and all I needed was time, and a break from the lady serving the wines, whom I guess does not get people with my aspirations on a daily basis.

So I did my thing, at first a bit hesitant and in a shy way, and bought a case of wine and headed towards my next tasting experience.

After 7 years in Germany, not only my German is not the best (to say the least) but I must confess, I will leave this country not understanding the 'Umleitung' signals. So I landed in centre of a road literally under construction with an amazed group of workers looking at me and not believing I had gotten that far. In these occasions it just comes so handy to sound awfully not German and even pull out a couple of apologetic words in a foreign language... Oooopsy.

Back on a practicable road I made my way to Schloss Reinhartshausen, a must 'go back every year place since 2008' to buy my very much liked Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen Riesling.

Once in the vinothek, I had a look to the wines in display, took a seat, asked to taste four wines, asked for a glass of water and started with the procedure. This time everything went smooth, when the lady saw that I was going to take my time, that I was not in a hurry whatsoever, writing down my comments, she left me there and ended up encouraging me to taste six more.

So this is how, by 4 o'clock I was the proud owner of 25 new bottles of wine. Such is life.


Friday, 19 April 2013

Viti, vini, vici

Where did the two weeks go?

It was only, what it seemed, yesterday, that I was sitting in this same chair, having just arrived to London and writing my first post. And now it is over.

And what has happened in two weeks, you might wonder. Well, a lot, I can say.

On Monday I started my first day at school. I was all excited and to be honest, also a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect, if I was a suitable candidate, what was exactly what I had enrolled for and how my classmates would be like, their backgrounds and experience and a long list of questions that popped-up in my head, so many things to find out.

Well, the first day at school was, like any other first day at any other school you have ever attended, or at least that I have ever attended. You arrive, you ask, you are cautious, discreet, you sit down, you smile, but basically you do not speak. But like it has happened most of my life, it was my name the first one on the list. That is the problem when your last name starts with an A... Sigh, here we go again. How do I pronounce my name, a bit about myself and why I am here.

And to tell you the truth, few things in my life have been so clear to me, apart from my name. I want to make wine my way of living. Making a living out of something you are passionate about, sounds like a pretty good job to me.

I got my set of tasting glasses; I already had received the study material and BANG! First day of the “novicetoprofessionalconsecutiveday(twoweek)course” had started and I have written it the way I have lived it; completely out of breath.

The first days I was overwhelmed Viticulture, Viniculture, Maturation, Fermentation, Climate, Weather, Soils, DOCs, DOCGs, PDOs, PGIs, Trellising, Pruning, Training, Spurs, Cordons... terms that even looking them up in the dictionary I did not know in Spanish, nor I knew what they meant. BTW, does anyone know what a blackcurrant leaf smells like? I still don’t.

I used to be one of those ‘narrow minded’ who thought it was crazy to engage on one of those European tours that visit 22 countries in 12 days. Well, I can now tell you, it is peanuts! Now I know you can cover the wines (still, sparking and fortified), the regions and sub-regions, the climate and weather, the soils, the styles, the viniculture and vitification methods, the spirits and liqueurs of four continents, in only 9 days. Crazy, it is. But I must say, it was also fun.

The tastings were fantastic. Well over a hundred renown wines were tasted, assessed and spitted (undeserved end for such wonderful wines). And it was amazing to discover the world of aromas and flavours contained in a glass of wine. Lovely.

Despite of the long hours of class and further study, I loved and enjoyed every second of it, and after a bit of frustration not being able to take in all that information and remember it, telling myself it would not be the end of the world, or my life, if I would not pass the exam... I approached the second week, highly motivated, full of energy and willingness to conquer the world (of wines, at least).

You might ask. So how was London? And I can say: I am wondering it myself!

London will still be here next time I visit and hopefully will get its turn. This time, I spent my days walking up and down Bermondsey Street.

Today I took the exam, and in 8 to 10 weeks time, I will know if I achieved the Level 3 Award in Wines & Spirits.

Alea iacta est.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Every end is a new beginning

That every end, without exception, is a new beginning, "Das ist Fakt!" (as the Germans would say).
Paradoxically, one of the most important lessons I have recently learned is, that in order to start, one must first, end.
These simple words entail not so simple actions, however; once you understand the importance, forward is the only direction.
If you were wondering what has kept me so busy the past few months, now you know. I was working on my endings.
It might sound crystal clear, but it has not been easy. My life has been a rollercoaster of feelings, mixed; thoughts, of all shapes and colours; sleepless nights, endless, and, and, and...
Have you ever done a pros & cons list? What happens when the heavyweight cons have nothing to lose to the featherweight pros, which are just castles in the air or a gut feeling? One simply goes ballistic, because that is just not the answer you want to hear!
Against all odds and after all that logical reasoning, I decided to follow my... heart?
With all my endings done, I am ready, and as excited as a little girl on her birthday party, for this new beginning.
After many years of doing the right (expected) thing, I have gained my right to be “irresponsible”, “illogical”, “bold”... and follow a dream very close to my heart and make it happen.
Wine has always been something I am passionate about, in the most ample sense of the word. For years I have imagined myself, in a winery, a very rustic life, the fields, the vines, the fruit, the earth and the sky, the hard work and, the delicious end result. It all seemed appealing to me.
Being realistic, I have neither the background nor the experience, however; I might have found a way of sneaking into that lifestyle doing something where my experience and skills can hopefully be an asset.
I want to thank all of you for patiently listening to me, for your unconditional support and a special thank you to those of you who have unleashed your own imagination and dram with me.
To all of you, who are already part of this journey, I dedicate this blog.

London, the night before my first day at the wine school.