Barolo on the Sun Coast

Normally, my trips and wine tastings are always oriented with the compass pointed north, east or west – very rarely south. But this time we are making an exception and I am flying to the Sun Coast in Spain, specifically, Malaga! As you can imagine, selling Italian wine in Spain is far from simple, and when speaking of Andalusia it’s even worse.  The very kind Francisco Rubiales, vice president of the sommeliers of Malaga, organized a tasting at the very famous Spanish restaurant Montana: an event featuring Rivetto wine and 15 wine professionals from Malaga. It was a very intense experience for me, as it was my first time leading a tasting entirely in Spanish, as well as for the Spanish sommeliers, who were very interested in getting better acquainted with the most important Italian wine. I presented them with three Barolos: the 2006 Serralunga, the 2005 Leon and the 2004 Riserva. It was a success. The positive comments about the Dolcetto were a surprise; this is a wine that is very suited in such a climate as, as the Spanish say, wine da copa (by the glass).

In private conversations with my dinner companions, everyone asked me if I know Juancho Asenjo, journalist and number one Spanish expert on Piedmont; he is an institution and esteemed by all. As you can see from this old post, I can indeed say that I know Juancho, and how!

The day after the event, I visited Granada and got an idea of the area: the situation of Italian restaurants in general is not very good there; mass tourism has carried with it the easy rise of pizzerias that use products of poor quality and dubious origins. On the other hand, however, there are excellent international restaurants such as Roberto in the Puente Romano hotel and the various Marbella golf clubs where well-to-do Brits, Germans, and Scandinavians love to enjoy, in addition to the local wines, great Italian wine. For the most part our products, in fact, are not selected by the people of Andalusia, but rather by foreigners on vacation.

The next challenge, therefore, will be the outstanding Spanish restaurants which, whether for ignorance or nationalism, leave scant space on their wine lists for great Italian or foreign wines. I noted, however, that the new generation is timidly changing and this is a significant sign.

It is the hour of departure, and while I pack my bags I still have the taste in my mouth of the extraordinary Bejota ham, which makes me regret having to leave. I really do have to return home, howver … in three days the festival of Prowein awaits me … hasta luego Sun Coast – see you next time!

Photos by Bosco Martin