Archive for September, 2017

September 17, 2017

Some news from France CLXVIIII

And on a cool humid gray Sunday I write to you again from France. The temps has gone down to 9C (about 48F)  this morning,  and clearly Fall season is here already. I will be going away from Sept 24th again so catching up on the latest in my belle France is a must ::)

We have this weekend the Heritage Days where many places usually or never opened to the public are done so. An opportunity to see some jewels which we have enjoyed over the years time permitting,not this year.

Some of the latest ones and to keep in mind for the next year’s Heritage Days are:

The open spaces such as the Théâtre de Verdure, Musée des Arts Forains, Théâtre du Merveilleux and the salons Vénitiens will be available this year. These are in the back of the Bercy  Village, 53 avenue des Terroirs de France, 12éme. More here :Musée des Arts Forains

The Caserne des Célestins (4éme)  that houses today the cavalry regiment of knights of the Republican Guards. Ready to show you how they do their living such as steel work, leather horse mounts makers, helmets and sabre pouches etc. All in a beautiful architecturally done building where you can see the big stable or grande écurie, built end of the 19C .  Located at Garde républicaine-Quartier des Célestins. 18, boulevard Henri-IV, (4éme). More in French here: Garde Republicaine

 The interesting museum or  musée départemental des sapeurs-pompiers at Osny , Val d’Oise dept 95, you will find material and objects links to the firefighters going back to their history. Located at  Musée départemental des Sapeurs-Pompiers du Val d’Oise. Rue William Thornley, Osny (95) ;more here in French: Firefighters’s museum at Osny

At least see the exterior or wait for the heritage days event to be at the Palais Cambon, 13 rue Cambon, (1éme) the treasury/auditors court or Cour des comptes. More here in French: Cour des comptes Paris

While the centenary of the famous sculptor Rodin is going on, you can take a cruiser in the Seine river from one museum in Paris to the other in Meudon . Retracing the way he did it himself from the quaint villa des Brillants in Meudon to the Hôtel de Biron at rue de Varenne Paris. There will be a story telling of his life while in the cruise and the entry to both museum will be free. The event “En bateau avec Rodin” with reservation and 7€ admission to the boat.  More here: Rodin’s museums

Take a look at a rare jewelry house, la Maison Bucherer, 12 blvd des Capucines (9éme) and Maison Omega, 35 blvd des Capucines (9éme). You will be able to see rare pieces of jewelry and very much glamour of Paris. Both sites hereMaison Bucherer Maison Omega

 On a city dear to me (used to work here) you find a wonderful collection of cars , a must for any car aficionado like me ! Auto Rétro Suresnes, 6th edition with over 200 cars! on the Terrace de Fécheray, 174 blvd Washington, Suresnes , Hauts-de-Seine dept 92. More here: Retro Auto Suresnes

Looking at the glass vessel of Frank Gehry to understand the architecture of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne (16éme). Wonderful arts display and usually now open on heritage days for free.  More here: Fondation Louis Vuitton

See the giants models of Playmobil telling the story of what it was in the medieval times at the Collége des Bernadins 20 rue de Poissy (5éme). More on the Collége here in French: Collége des Bernadins

 Come to see the smallest circus in the world  or le Plus Petit Cirque du monde ,with the Colokolo company and their amazing surprises at the Impasse de la Renardiére in Bagneux, Hauts-de-Seine dept 92. More here: The Smallest Circus in the World

It was built during the Belle Époque period by the end of the 19C, the seat of the house of Lancel, the leather accessories bag firm. Located at 48-50 Rue Ampére, (17éme) ; it was open for the first time this year to the public and should be the beginning of a tradition. More here: Lancel

It was finally finished in 2016 and now open to the public on Heritage Days already. Done in the style of the Cathédrale Russe Orthodoxe  or the Russian and Byzantine architecture of the Holy Trinity. This is the Orthodox Russian Cathedral (7éme) ;located at 1 Quai Branly  More here: Russian Orthodox Cathedral Paris

And why not coming into the French government house/White House, or the Palais de l’Elysée. Visit the gardens and honor courtyard ,and the main rooms including the salon Murat where the council of Ministers meetings are held ,the reception rooms and the office of the President . More here: Palais de l’Elysée

An interesting building and nice history is the one of the Ordre national des pharmaciens, the National Order of Pharmacists house in two mansions of neo gothic style and pastiche of the 18C at the 4 avenue Ruysdaêl, (8éme). More here in French: National Order of Pharmacists

You can see the deserted metro station of Porte des LIlas (19C)  The station is closed since 1939 but the scene of many movie shots. More here from the city of Paris in French: metro station porte de lilas

See the wonderfully interesting wind tunnel of Gustave Eiffel  at 67 rue Boileau . They were built by Eiffel in 1912 for the first trials in aerodynamics and now you know he did more than a tower lol! The wind tunnel could produce winds of up to 100 km/hr or about 62 mph. More here: Gustave Eiffel wind tunnel

The wonderful Palais du Roi de Rome in Rambouillet ,Yvelines dept 78. Built from 1807 upon the request of Napoléon Ier to be the residence of the sons of the emperor. However, it never was. Today , it is vastly change after the fire of 1830.  The pavillon du Verger, houses today the offices of the Cultural bureau and the municipality Heritage monument administration ; it is from 1718 and conserve the decorations of wood and medallions from the end of the reign of king Louis XVI; located at Place du Roi de Rome, 78120 Rambouillet. More here in English: Palace of the King of Rome

While just across Paris, in Hauts-de-Seine dept 92 , at Boulogne-Billancourt you see architectural works such as the building of Immeuble Molitor , 23 Rue de la Tourelle, 92100 Boulogne Billancourt , where he lived in the upper floors, and not far in Ranelagh inside Paris, the Maison La Roche 8/10, square du Docteur Blanche, (Entry by 55, rue du Docteur Blanche) ; both built by Le Courbusier. More here: Maison La Roche   Building Molitor

The architecturally nice Hôtel Thiers to see the historical library of the Institut de France with more than 156 thousands works of arts with rare engravings, and books on French history. It was destroyed during the uprising of the Commune in 1871 like many buildings in Paris some never again saw the light; this one rebuilt in 1873. It was the home of politician and historian Adolphe Thiers who bequested it to the Institut de France in 1905 by his sister-in-law Félice Dosne to have it transform into a library dedicated to the history of France and Research. It is located at 27 Place Saint Georges (9éme). More here in French: Hôtel Dosne-Thiers

 Back again to  Boulogne-Billancourt to tell you of the opening of a new museum dedicated to the work of Paul Landowski, sculptor in town and famous for doing the Christ Redemptor we all see in  Corcovado Rio de Janeiro Brazil.  Many times unknown to the general public even if did over 50 of such marvels of architecture in Paris. Some of these are the statue Sainte Geneviève on the pont de la Tournelle (5éme), statue Montaigne, rue des écoles (5éme), and the  Monument à la gloire des armées françaises, place du Trocadéro (16éme),  Fontaine de la Porte de Saint-Cloud (16éme). Paul Landowski ,also did the work of his life according to himself , the  Le Temple de l’Homme , that is preserve in part in his museum musée Landowski and other parts in the Petit Palais of Paris. You see his work at the new museum, Musée Landoswki , Espace Landowski, 28 avenue Morizet, Boulogne-Billancourt, tel +33 (0) 1 55 18 46 42 from Tuesdays to Sundays from 11h to 18h admission adult is 6,50€ Free all the first Sundays of the month. More in French here: Musée Paul Landoswki

And I close this post with two foodies events in Paris

FoodTemple at the Carreau du Temple, 4 Rue Eugéne Spuller (3éme) until 22-24 September. Banquet menus at 30€ upon reservation not including drinks. Ateliers foodies at 25€ with reservation, Free admission to the market. You have plenty to choose with the family or with friends from small dishes to big meals on the lawn done by well-known chefs.  On site a market, gourmet grocery, cooking lessons, and shops for big and the little ones. The opening will have a bal 5€ dancing with Colombia as the country of honor on Friday night starting at 20h. More here in French: FoodTemple

And the eclairs are back at Maison Fauchon going on until September 23rd on the 10th Edition the “L’Eclair Week”. They will make a coffret of 10 eclairs including the chocolat noir, strawberries, caramel au beurre salé and in honor of French pastries with the Paris-Brest, Saint-Honoré, and the original creations such as Rainbow, Bleu-blanc-rouge, Joconde, 130 ans, and Hokusai!!! Yummies all.  Eclair Week by Fauchon 2017, 30 place de la Madeleine, (8éme) ,my old walked around area of my Paris! Great combination. More info here in English: Eclair Week by Fauchon

Oh well Paris, France. Can I say more, all starts around it ,goes around it and ends around it, on my belle France. Cheers and have a great week; I am leaving on the 24th.

 

 

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September 16, 2017

Some news from Spain XLX

And after a great August summer vacation in my  beloved  Spain, here I am back for an update on the scene there. The weather has been nice still even going into the 30’s C there. In my neck of the wood is beginning to be like Fall, rain (heavy at times), clouds, gray and cool around 13C and even 8C in the mornings. Oh well, got to give a rest for a while;but can’t , travel is on the horizon to the Americas and south of France coming up.

As for Spain, here are the latest.

The tourists come to Spain for the beaches and the rest is almost empty. I did took advantage of this,with easy flowless traffic and great prices not to mention all the sites we were looking forward to see were open. ON a study done by Eurostat where the density of trip per km2 in 2015 the top spots were the Baleares islands, Canary Islands, Comunidad de Madrid, regions of Catalunya, Valencia while one of the least visited was the one I went last August, Castilla La Mancha with only 55,09 visitor per square kilometre. The region is ,also, the third least visited in the European Union! Lots of info here official EU site:  Eurostat tourism

The town or old town of Belchite (Zaragoza) devastated by the Spanish Civil War and where one of the fiercest battles were held with over 5K dead in only 14 days. There were people that stay here afterward until 1964. There , many films were done such as “EL Laberinto del Fauno” of Guillermo del Toro in 2005, a videogame started by Arnold Schwarzenegger and a photo shot session by Monica Naranjo. Only 19 km from Belchite you find Fuentedetodos (Zaragoza) here you find the birth home of famous painter Francisco de Goya born here in 1746. The house is kept in three levels and was identify in 1913 by painter Ignacio Zuloaga and a group of artists. The great admiration of Zuloaga for Goya . There you see the Sala Zuloaga design to host temporary exhibitions and on which walls you can see great painters such as Picasso, Miro, Chillida, amongst others. You can visit the Museo del Grabado, graphic arts in homage to Goya that currently has two of the originals by Goya, the La Tauromania and Los Disparates.. You can see as well the Ornitologic reserve of El Planeron or the reserva ornitológica de El Planeron, a wonderful place to know the natural scenery of the region   with 700 hectares of wild birds such as   Royal Eagle or the Mochuelo; by the Hoz Mayor de Fuendetodos. You see the fallen off a a ceiling of an old cave and in addition you can see foxes, wild pigs, bears and mountain goats. From Madrid by car you take the highway direction Barcelona and go out on the exit or salida 271 once reach Almunia de Doña Godina, you take the road A 220 until Belchite. More on the old Belchite here: Old Belchite

To see the Goya of Fuentedetodos in English here: Fuentedetodos Goya

This year there is celebration of the Centenary of the first boutique of fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga opened in San Sebastián. It was exactly at Calle Bergara, 2 and he called it Eiza,in memory of his mother, Martina Eizaguirre. In the neighborhood of the Ensanche that began to be built by the end of the 19C   after the wall that surrounded the town was destroyed; there is a plaque to remember this on the buildings now available for rent. There is a museum in his native Guetaria where the exposition “Rachel L. Mellon Collection” under the direction of  Hubert de Givenchy, brings together the legacy of this American socialite that was one of his favorite clients . You can see the exposition until January 28 2018. More here in English Balenciaga museum

And for a bit of winegrowing in me, the harvest the vendimia the best time of the year, in Spain and elsewhere. Here are some of my favorites.

One nice one is at Ribera del Duero with the big Gran Fiesta de la Vendimia Sept 23rd a whole day dedicated to the wine, music ,and many traditional activities like the prayer, stepping on grapes, and first tasting. The activities are held at the Plaza Mayor and other points even with Cuban Salsa music. Also the first concert of Tequila on their tour of their last record Maldita Nerea. More here in Spanish : Vendimia Ribera del Duero

In the patron Saint festivities of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios celebrated until Spet 17 in Tequeste (Tenerife) ( a bit late I know sorry) there are many activities of vineyards and winegrowers such as the traditional Vendimia de la Esperanza that is done by schoolchildren in a contest of farmers on the 17th. Agricultural trucks, tractors equipments etc are taken to the road with decorations like a carnaval and plenty of paella, wine , music for all. More here Vendimia de la Esperanza

By a place I past this last August, Cariñena (Zaragoza) the weekend of Sept 23rd they party celebrating the initial of the harvest or vendimia. Stepping on grape, and lighting of the fountain or Fuente de la Mora from which wine comes out not water! ; you end up the party with Bodega visits , wine tastings and tapas. There is ,also a tourist bus of wine leaving every Saturday and Sunday from the center of Zaragoza. More info in Spanish here: Fiesta de la Vendimia de Cariñera

You will enjoy the festivities at San Mateo from Sept 21th in Logroño in the Paseo del Espolon ,grape harvest or vendimia with stepping on grapes with two men holding arms and grapes deposited in a vase that they dance with. The must of the grape that is taken out is offered to the Virgen de Valvanera. All week you have carriages in a carnaval atmosphere ,tastings, food extravaganzas organise by the different associations, bullfight events, basque pelota game, concerts, stree music, firecracker shows over the river Ebro etc. Complete program downloadable in pdf file here: Fiestas de San Mateo Logroño

Back in Madrid, and enjoy some nice quaint markets . You can stop by the old railroad station of Delicias and where some of the scenes from the movie Doctor Zhivago (1965) was done, and today houses the Museo del Ferrocarril or Railroad museum.   Several expositions and of course trains. You find design furniture, arts, gourmet products, leather shoes, hats, toys, original items as well as vintage clothing, records, photo cameras etc. They held here on October 7/8, and November 11 to 22, from 11h to 22h a great flea market call the Mercado de Motores; free admission. Paseo de las Delicias 61 : more here : http://mercadodemotores.es

Another big flea market type in the Barrio de Las Letras and they celebrate the Frog’s Market on the first Saturday of the month. The market takes its name from the street or Calle Cantarranas – currently call Calle  Lope de Vega-, because in the 17C there were many frogs in the potholes of the vegetable gardens of the Convento de San Jerónimo that occupied the place. Again first Saturday of the month except August and from 10h to 21h. Done by the Asociación BDLL at Calle de las Huertas 39 free admission/ more here! http://www.barrioletras.com

The first Saturday of the month except August and from 10h to 14h30 in the Centro Comercial La Ermita., and the 3rd Saturday of the month except August from 10h to 21h in the Centro Comercial Plaza Aluche. Centro Comercial La Ermita, is at Paseo de la Ermita del Santo 66, and the Toy market in the Centro Comercial Plaza Aluche at the Avenida de los Poblados 58 all free admission. More info here: http://www.juguetedemadrid.es

Then, we come to celebrate something dear to me, the Casa de America , a place to share, learn , and understand the fabric of Spain and Spanish America since 1992 the year of the 500 years anniversary of the discovery of new lands by Europeans.  For the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Casa de América there are many activities, my favorite is on until Sept 23rd 2017. Plaza Cibeles, 2 Mondays to Fridays from 11h to 19h30 Saturdays from 11h to 15h and Sundays and Holidays closed. Free admission more here on the Casa de America 25th Anniversary Casa de America is 25 yrs old

New findings in Cantabria. The management of the Museo de Prehistoria de Cantabria, have announced the discoveries of four small caves with new rustique paintings of 20-30K years old so older than those at the famous Cueva de Altamira that are between 12-15K years old . They have found paintings at the caves of El Rejo, in the municipality of Val de San Vicente; also, in Los Murciélagos, Entrambasaguas; Las Graciosas I and II, Medio Cudeyo; and Solviejo(Voto). The paintings are in red color with isolated points or threads that in some case figures are form of animals. To find out more about this museum and others in Cantabria check this site in Spanish ; Museo de Pre Historia de Cantabria

Ok so you come to Granada to see the Alhambra. Fine. However, there are many nice things to see in the city. These are ; going to the lookout at El Carmen de los Martires and at Realejo , you can take a look at the Mirador de San Nicolás. The laundry, Squares and buildings around it all very well preserved from the 17C given you a medieval ambiance see it for free and very romantic. Go over to the Las Cuevas de Sacromonte and see the museum in front of the Alhambra and half of Sacromonte. You can walk around the caves, there are guided tours and a space dedicated to the history of Flamenco; in summer ,there is an open air cinema with a terrace foodies. See the wonderful La Madraza a palace founded by Yusuf I caliph in 1349 hidden behind the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel. It was the first University of Granada where laws, maths, and medicine were taugh in the Arab/moors period;also, served as a city/town hall during a long period and today houses again many dependancies of the University. Go see my favorite spot at the Corral del Carbon , the oldest monument left by the Arabs/Moors dating from the 14C, at the time it was a warehouse of goods for the sale of medicine and also house persons and animals. During the Christian era it was changed into a corral de comedias or comedies circle with a central patio that hides the story in the heart of the city. More on visiting this wonderful city from the official tourist office here: What else to see in Granada

In all, it’s an avalanche of choices, inmense historical value, and the best quality/price ratio in Europe. Come to see Spain, everything under the Sun. Cheers, and enjoy your weekend.

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September 10, 2017

Some news from France CLXVIII

This is a cool cloudy Sunday, and already back to the work routine. We have about 16C now or about 61F and rain is in the air. We are still soaking in from our vacation in Spain this past August ,and as always the re start is difficult ::)

Something to get going in my belle France.

The museum Louvre Abu Dhabi has been announce to open on November 11, 2017. Another branch to spread the inmense work of arts and also give rotation to the existing ones for further showcase to the world. There is already one in Lens ,north of France as well as the original in Paris. http://www.louvreabudhabi.ae/

The theatrical show of the film Grease will be the opener for the renovated theatre Mogador. Closed for a year after a fire the theatre will open again September 28 with Grease. Very exciting to have it open again as visited and passed many times by it while living near and working in Paris. https://www.theatresparisiensassocies.com/salles-theatre-paris/mogador-92.html

At this place, Claude Monet collected works of impressionists art from the great ones like him such as Boudin, Corot, Renoir, Cézanne, Manet, and Morisot. The Marmottan museum reveal these works for long unknown of the public in a secluded area of the chic arrondissement 16 of Paris.  The exposition in the museum will be a grand premiere that tracks works of art such as these ,hidden before within the most famous collection of the world. The work to find them was a real detective story and done with the help of  the Museum d’Orsay, art historians, and the Marmottan museum itself. http://www.marmottan.fr/uk/

Away from Paris at Normandy, Cherbourg, there is the 9th Biennale 9 du Art , celebrating the father of the  Little Nemo in Slumberland. An American pioneer of the comics not well known to the public but it has inspired other authors. Winsor McCay was the one who created what was the interior scenes of our dreams many years before the Surrealists found soft clocks in a tree :J Until October 1er. http://www.ville-cherbourg.fr/themes/culture/musees/biennale-du-9e-art-mccay/

The wine exportations have increase by 13% to 4B euros in the first 6 months of 2017! While the spirits have increase 9% to 1,9B drawn by an increase of 14% in Cognac according to numbers provided by the Fédération des exportateurs de vins et spiritueux de France (FEVS).  The big names such as Hennessy  (groupe LVMH), , Martell (Pernod Ricard),and  Rémy Cointreau have benefited from the solid growth in the USA and China. The sales to North America have remained very good with 17% increase as those to China ,Hong Kong, and Singapour 18%. They have just increase by 6% in the European Union countries. http://www.fevs.com/fr/#/communiques-de-presse?idPage=13

Hunting is still big in France; just to get yourself a hunting permit to go hunting in a forest costs starting in 200 euros per year in near coast to several thousands inland such as the forest or forêt Solognote. They are located in all regions and for all pocketbooks ,you can add 150 to 1000 euros according to the game animal. Still cheaper than in other European countries except the East. I know coming this past summer from Spain , the cost of a monteria hunting spree in the west of the country can cost several thousand euros without anything exotic to go. In France, they were 1,8 million hunters down to 1,2M today, with an expensive price for the hunting permit of 400 euros with the federation.  The hunting of wild small game is very popular here with stag deers, rabbits, foxes, wild pigs, hares, and  buck deer hunted in Senlis, Rambouillet, Orléans, Compiégne, and Villers-Cotterêts from September to April. One of the more famous hunting run is the Le Rallye de Bonnelles in the forest of Rambouillet  with the colors of the duchesse of Uzèz where participating cost 3000 euros a year.  Last year in France were hunted 700-800 000 wild pigs, 550-600 000 stag deers, 50 000 buck deers, 5-10 000 rabbits/hares.  The best to know is the magazine Le Chasseur français with 260K copies per month.. The official group is the Fédération nationale des chasseurs.

https://www.lechasseurfrancais.com/chasse

http://chasseurdefrance.com/

No need to tell you the Parc de Sceaux, is a castle, parterre garden, bassins ,trees and just great for walkers and visitors to see just north of Paris in the plains of Hauts-de-Seine. A wonderful escape from Paris on any weekend is well worth the trip; we did often and highly recommended. http://www.hauts-de-seine.fr/cadre-de-vie/patrimoine-vert/les-parcs-et-jardins-du-sud/le-domaine-de-sceaux/

And castle museum here: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71394/Musee-du-Domaine-Departemental-de-Sceaux

The adventure is coming to an end at the street Impasse Berthaud (3eme), here Samy Odin, co founded with his father the museum of dolls or musée de la Poupée. Right now showing the exposition  « Poupée des années 1980 »,as well as the permanent collections. You can still see it Tuesdays to Saturdays from 13h to 18H until September 15.  On this date  it will close due to the high rent and upkeep prices . There is a braderie or flea selling on some dolls going from a dozen euros to 950€ . However, the association will continue and will be done by reservation in his home in the 3eme arrondissement of Paris . It will still be worth checking him out there. http://www.museedelapoupeeparis.com/?lang=en

Susan Leiber and husband Kenneth traveled from Texas USA to do what her great granffather had done before. They were welcome at the musée de la Grande Guerre du Pays de Meaux (museum of the great war WWI in Meaux) In her luggage there were personal belongings of her great grandfather  Lawrence Eugene Leea  kept secret in a chest for many year until his passing in 1975.  All his memories of almost 60 years from his service in World War I ; uniforms, helmet, paris map, translation book English-French, , spats , etc  . The chest, also had letters to his family and to a certain  Germaine, a French women of which he felled in love . Lawrence Eugene Leea served in France from October 1 1917 to August 11 1919 with 24 yrs old when he joined . He describes his passing by Versailles with the peace treaty was signed and later took the road into the  French Riviera or Côte-d’Azur, as mentioned in his postcards still preserved  . All will be display in the museum from November 11 when the exposition of photographs on the entry of the United States in the Great War (WWI). I have been to the museum and it is on my posts in my blog, this is the native town of my wife, so obviously I know the area very well ! Nice story too like many between the two countries. http://www.museedelagrandeguerre.eu/en.html

The race track of Chantilly (Hippodrome) organizes many running of horses and one of the most prestigious in France. They do have prelims for the most important race the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (with over 40K visitors) , the biggest race track run in the world held October 1st 2017. Another of my favorite places in France, here you have gorgeous views over the Castle and the Grandes Ecuries stables . The race track  is bordering the forest of Chantilly with lots of tradition and elegance as well as the birthplace of horse racing in France. Chantilly gets about 40 days of racing per year with such famous races as the Jockey Club and Prix de Diane Longines in June. There is a training center with over 2500 horses,unique in the world.  A demanding racecourse on the principal lane on a positive levelling on the last 600 meters claiming a selective course by the pros. That makes them come here to test the best ,since 1834! When the racecourse or hippodrome opened. http://www.domainedechantilly.com/en/private-events/our-spaces/hippodrome/

http://www.france-galop.com/en/node/60

This will get me going, and looking forward already for my next travels in the Americas. Stay tune, and enjoy your Sunday, many are not so lucky with so many earthquakes and hurricanes going on, best of luck to all. Cheers!

 

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September 10, 2017

The wines of La Mancha, Castilla La Mancha that is !

I like to make my small contribution to the wines of La Mancha, and a bit story on wines of Spain in general.

My first ever taste of wine was by my maternal grandmother at my tender age of 8, and of course , it was Spanish wine from Tenerife. Ever since, my love for the drink has increase exponentially to the point of taken professional courses from the ICEX commercial office of Spain, and SOPEXA Food and Wine from France government entities over the years. I have tried tasted it wines from many countries and even arrive of having my own small cellars averaging 50-100 bottles in the cave or basement cellar of my home as I write.

Wines are part of us, part of our culture ,and accompany with food of any kind they are always sublime, even on a hot day a glass of white or rosé is very good. Studies have repeatedly shown that the anti oxidant in red wines especially is good for your health, of course in moderation.

Spain has a strong old tradition on wines going back especially to the Romans. The wine business developed slowly with small families and the quality shows deficiency. However, as the country move up the ladder and investments came in, and more technically educated families began to get involved the quality has increase exponentially. Now the wines of Spain are all over the world even here in France my wine merchant has Spanish wines! And we buy them too!!!

My recollection of Castilla La Mancha was of very high alcohol content wines, cheaply made and quantity prime. As the years went by ,and my visits to the region increase, my tasting grew to the point that now there are several properties worthy of me buying and can recommend very good to all.

La Mancha is a Denominacion de Origen or DO area , an area designated to be of quality wines and you can see on the bottles the grayish black label on the back.  The areas are Toledo, Albacete, Cuenca, and Ciudad Real.  Going irrigated by the rivers Guadiana, Tajo, and Jucar ,and you have the biggest vineyards in the world with  about 400-600 000 hectares of grapes of which about 170 000 are under the DO La Mancha denomination. This makes it into the biggest vineyard area in Spain ,and it is known as the winery of  Europe or  “La Bodega de Europa”.  There are about 182 towns and more than 250 bodegas in it ,some with huge sizes. It is ,also, the biggest Spanish exporter of wine with 22% of their production exported.

You have them as in Spain in general the reds or Tintos  (we do not say red tinto comes from how we name the grape tinto del pais ! that here it is call tempranillo ::)) . You have them jovenes or youngs, 60 days of ageing minimum, and crianza with 6 months ageing minimum, and reserva with 12 months of ageing minimum and gran reserva with 18 months ageing as minimum.  Of course, also, rosé or rosados, white or blancos, sparkling or espumosos, naturalmente dulces or naturally sweets. The region uses many kinds of grapes such as the whites: Airén, Macabeo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez, Parellada, Torrontés, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Viognier. The Reds or tintos such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, Moravia, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlo, Petit Verdot, Graciano, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. The last few years the harvest have been great and very good wines were produced, such as 2010 (Very Good) 2011 (Excellent), 2012 (Excellent); 2013 (Good) 2014 (Excellent) and 2015 (Very Good).

The official wine regulation DO webpage is here in English: http://lamanchawines.com/en/

Some of the pioneers of this region and the most famous is the Marqués de Griñon ,Carlos Falcó. Here is a brief story:  There is about 43 years ago that he planted the first grape in the area; it was a cabernet sauvignon that he hidden in his apples as at the time it was illegal to bring foreign grapes into Spain. Within the olives and flower trees of Toledo he set up the winery in the farm call  Pagos de Familia Marqués de Griñón, an extension of his family since 1292. The denomination of  Valdepusa, as his wines are label for the first simple wines bottled in Spain and today export to the world.  More here in English: http://www.pagosdefamilia.es/html_en/home.html

There is the cooperative or Cooperativa Virgen de las Viñas, the biggest in Europe and maybe the world, presided by Rafael Torres.  In the bodega of Tomesollo, (Ciudad Real) built in 1961 with 17 farmers and 300K kg of grape, following year 6M kg and now more than 200M kg of grape!  Managing an area with 3000 farmer associates and about 7000 families in  Castilla-La Mancha. More here in Spanish: http://cooperativarua.com/

An anecdote, the wine labels  Oristan Crianza , and  Marqués de Toledo Reserva  from the Bodegas Lozano, were prized with double gold and silver at the  Sakura Wine Awards 2017,the most important wine competition in Japan and Asia with a jury all of women; they tasted almost 5000 wines!! More here: http://bodegas-lozano.com/

However, these are some of the more famous. We drank the local La Mancha wines that were superb! all purchase in Cuenca at the La Licoreria store here: http://www.lalicoreria.es/index.asp

There is a wholesale store just entering Cuenca by the bottle or box, we purchased there, and there is a regular liquor store of them in city center Cuenca.

We tasted/purchased  a bottle of Finca La Estacada, from the Uclés area year 2014 red tempranillo Crianza 5,57€!  this was great yummy full and crafted in an old farm belonging to the descendants of queen Maria Cristina of Spain and widow of king Fernando VII. Acquired by the current owners in the mid 20C the family Cantarero Rodríguez ,winery from 2001. The complex now has bodega, hotel ,and restaurant. The wine like said is heavy powerful red full with raspberries and vanilla, light fruity tannins in mouth full body , great yummy in the end. Excellent price: quality value to grab by the case! The webpage is here in English: http://www.fincalaestacada.com/bodega/13_vinos

The, we attack the Finca Antigua recommended by the rental house owners.  This winery is part of the great Spanish winegrowers Martinez Bujanda, very well known to me. The wines of Finca Antigua were first time tasted and we got several bottles due to the knowledge of the winemaker and the local recommendation. The winery is in the town of Los Hinojosos practically in the border of the provinces of Cuenca and Toledo in Castilla La Mancha of course. We first tried the Finca Antigua Cabernet Sauvignon Crianza 2014 and it was a bit light for our tastes; mineral hints from the cabernet but with nuances of dairy and undergrowth, indicating the freshness we obtain due to the altitude of the estate; grapes from Las Mejias lot. However, only 5,12€! worth it for the price.

We moved up to the Finca Antigua Unico Crianza 2011, with cabernet sauvignon ,syrah, tempranillo, and merlot grapes.  This one was much better for our tastes. Highly intense dairy hints of yoghurt, toasty character with woodland hints oak spicy nutmeg clove and tobacco and slight toasted sensation. smooth creamy on the mouth, full bodied and rounded, well integrated acidity/alcohol and very balanced, long creamy finish, very fresh . Just fantastic at only 6,38€ to grab by the case!

Finally, we have drank the Finca Antigua Reserva 2010 cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and merlot.  Very intense, delightful sensations of fallen leaves with fresh mint, thyme, eucalyptus to the front. Touches of vanilla and dairy ,oak well integrated with the fruit hints of tobacco, leaf, juniper, aniseed, very elegant complex suggestive. The taste full and powerful great body with backbone very rich and pleasant, great for rich cuisine. We love it, and only 10,24€ to grab by the case!!

More on Finca Antigua direct link in English here: http://www.fincaantigua.com/en/

Then, we drank the unique Alejandro Fernandez  (Grupo Pesquera) a winemaker very well known to me and have met him, this was again a first time drink on the El Vinculo 2011 Tempranillo red. The winery is near the windmills of Campo de Criptana (of Don Quijote fame) that was purchase a manchego typical house that was modernized into the winery or bodega in 1999.  The name of the wine is to make it close to the original bodega of the family in the Duero region ; El Vinculo= the tie end or link.

The wine El Vinculo 2011 red tempranillo was aged for 18 months in American oak barrel and 6 months in the bottle. In the mouth has sweet tannins mark with a mature fruit and an explosion of cherries, blackberries and blueberries. Wonderful and price at 10,16€ is a bargain to grab by the case! More on it in Spanish here: http://www.grupopesquera.com/index.php/es/bodegas/el-vinculo/k2-categories

Well as I finish this post, my sneaky sons already had the  Calzadilla Classic 2010 out for drinking and we did!  This is the property we tried to visit twice in last two years and always closed in August even if we did call ahead to see it. Well , we purchase the bottles at La Licoreria and try today the red wine.  Their site tells us in Spanish and I translated, the Bodega under the name of Bodega Familiar Uribes Madero is born in 1980 and the first bottle under Calzadilla does not come than in 1992. Today at  PAGO CALZADILLA  you have 26 hectares of which 20 are dedicated to the vineyard with a production of 100K kg of grape to produce the tintos or reds.   The Calzadilla Classic 2010 is done with Tempranillo 60%, Cabernet-Sauvignon 20%,  Syrah 10%, and Garnacha 10%. Harvest from land parcels name Fogón,   Aldehuela, Bildorado, Chocilla del Vinagre, and Viña Olivos.  The taste is of the lighter variety,not our favorite on this bottle but nice nevertheless.  The color is deep red with aromas of prune, raspberries, and white fruits like pear. You see the eucalyptus and tobacco, vanilla, and glycerine. Fruity sensation by the mouth from beginning to end Round  , balance with good acidity , long and expressive final. I just need to add was light texture with hints of wood, and high tannins still in it. Price at 12,71€ is ok but can do better cheaper.  More on the webpage here in Spanish:http://www.pagocalzadilla.com/web/es/nuestros-vinos/calzadilla-classic.html

Of course, all these wines were purchase and brought home !!! and we are not yet done drinking them all lol!! But we have still in bottle (if you care to stop by hurry up ::)) Wines from Cuenca, La Mancha area Dominio de Valdepusa Cabernet (Marqués de Griñon ), Pago Calzadilla Allegro 2007, and from other regions the Viña Real crianza, Ramon Bilbao Edicion etc. We do buy here Jumilla area the Petit Clos Taja that are about 6-7 euros and when they come to our store Nicolas in Vannes we scoop all the bottles!!! own by Frenchmen Mahler Besse of Bordeaux fame ::)

Again, all these wines are great to buy and drink, the price/quality ratio is huge, and bargains of gastronomic proportions; La Mancha is it, and Spain is stepping out. Drink with moderation but drink wines is good for you too. Enjoy your Sunday y’all, Cheers!!!

Cuenca

 Cuenca  Cuenca  Cuenca  Cuenca  Cuenca

 

September 3, 2017

Province of Cuenca, Vuelta in Cuenca !!!

So on my last few days of vacation we went looking for the exotic nature we had around us in the Serrania de Cuenca from our base at Las Majadas; this in the province of Cuenca, region of Castilla La Mancha!

We cruise,walk and climb by several sites to get in the flavor, the air, the beauty of this in country place. The best travel is often off the beaten path and this we know well.

Some of the routes you can take here:  http://turismo.cuenca.es/portal/lang__es/tabid__9371/default.aspx

And more to look up here: http://www.descubrecuenca.com/es/rutas

We set out from Las Majadas up into the mountains by the site of Los Callejones. on the CUV 9113 road and panels lead you there; passing by it, this is a place of nature walkers with plenty of mountain terrain and rock formations from another era ! high mountain and wild animals such as deers abound and were seen.

We came back to Cuenca and saw the preparations and ending of the 7th stage of the Vuelta de España or tour of Spain bicycle race! The whole town was mobilize, really an spectacle to see.  More on it here: http://www.cyclingnews.com/vuelta-a-espana/stage-7/results/

On the way back to Las Majadas we were to see a herd of brave bulls leisurely eaten on the prairies, dare not go in lol!!! We saw a stray young deer on the A40 and needed to zigzag around it !!!

Another great day in back country Cuenca, and Castilla La Mancha. Really a great vacation time and so hard to thing we must come back to work yikes!!!

Here are some photos for the memories and history tracking of our passing by them. Enjoy it and have fun in your Sunday , mine is coming to an end and tomorrow is back to work yikes!!! Cheers!!!

 Cuenca  Cuenca Las Majadas

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