Barcelona is hands down one of the most exciting cities in Europe when it comes to food and wine (and clubbing, and arts, and so on). As a Barcelonian born and bred, you might argue that I am naturally slightly biased. And yet when I bring this up with foodie friends that have travelled extensively, the consensus is that Barcelona offers some of the best value restaurants around, partly due its excellent produce, available at a fraction of the prices in London. On this recent trip I came back with two new discoveries: Gresca, a small restaurant in Eixample, and Els Tres Porquets, an ‘enotaberna’ in Poblenou, as the owners like to describe it. Both are worthy of being added to your next trip’s itinerary
The reason for my trip was La Musica del Vi, Vila Viniteca’s biannual tasting. Vila Viniteca is the biggest wine merchant in Spain, and they have been trading since 1932 when a small corner store opened in the Born quarter of Barcelona. Originally they sold groceries, wines and spirits, but nowadays they operate a successful business retailing, wholesaling and exporting wine, and also collaborate with scores of projects in many Spanish appellations. The Musica del Vi brings together 160 producers from all over Spain and beyond, and is attended by 4,000 buyers and consumers. This year I was part of a small Indigo contingent sent to meet, greet and hang out with the crème de la crème of Spanish winegrowers!
The event is held in La LLotja de Mar, a neoclassical building with a Gothic nucleus that served as Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Shipping of Barcelona since the mid-19th century – an impressive site that can only be compared to the Vintners Hall in terms of beauty and prominence. The main room on the ground floor held the totality of foreign producers from countries like France, Italy or South Africa. The most famous ones were Chateau Latour, Domaine d’Eugénie, Salon Champagne or Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, the calibre of which indicates the reputation that this event has acquired over the years. On the first and second floors were the Spanish wineries, grouped by region and producer, with famous names such as Alvaro Palacios, his brother Rafael, Telmo Rodríguez, Recaredo, Equipo Navazos, Clos Erasmus and many more. It goes without saying that the top wines from these and other estates were extremely sought after, with individual bottles being opened at certain times of the day, attracting waves of oenophiles fighting for the smallest drops.
This tasting coincidentally takes place at the same time as Alimentaria, Barcelona’s big wine and food fair, which attracts loads of national and foreign buyers looking for the newest, hippest and trendiest wines. The city is brimming with wine professionals for the good part of a whole week, filling up every hotel, wine bar and restaurant with proud wine lists. We hung at the most iconic place in the entire city: Monvínic—a wine bar and restaurant that can only be described as of a wine Mecca in Spain. The wine list is extensive, service is excellent and the food is solid. And it’s where the most relevant people in the trade hang out every evening, socializing and raiding the outstanding cellar. Living in London we all have a number of places in mind that fit this description, however in a smaller city like Barcelona, and in the midst of this crazy week, it felt like the centre of the (wine) world.
A view of the Monvínic cellar
Tired, hungover, and in desperate need of a detox, we dragged ourselves back to our desks in London. That detox didn’t last very long though, and flicking through the pictures on my phone of wines drunk during that week, I know exactly where I’ll be this time next year.
Wines tasted during our last night at Monvínic (needless to say they weren’t the only ones)
Wines drunk at Gresca and Monvínic
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