Retrospective: the Great Chili Cookoff
Last weekend’s Chili Cookoff was a huge success. True, our new vintage of “Screaming Seagull” vegetarian chili did not win any prizes, but the event was Festive and well attended, as the accompanying photos confirm. And the music was great, a bluegrass/R&B band from ( I think) Skagit County, with great rhythm and style. It was a beautiful day, the event was well attended, and a good time was had by all. And after these festivities, we figured, okay, No One is going to want to come to the wine shop, but no, we were wrong about that! Since of a lot of the cooks at the Chili Cookoff were “Artisan Gallery Regulars” (the best kind of militia!), after the cookoff we were joined by many of the chili teams: Beth and “Never met a Pepper I didn’t want to put in my Chili” Blake, Mary Jane and son John (two prizes!), Barbara and Tobey, Mary Beth and Steve, Ian and Robin (another prize!), and of course Pat and yours truly. The interesting thing is that our expected Quiet Afternoon in the wine shop after the Cookoff turned out to be quite a party, very festive indeed. You just never know how things will unfold…so, really, why bother to make plans at all…???!
Celler Capçanes & “Nit de les Garnatxes 2012″
One of the highlights of our trip to Spain in May was a week in the little village of Capçanes. It’s small, it’s totally charming, and it has its own winery, one of several small cooperativa through which many grape growers combine their efforts to produce wine. Started in 1933 by five families, more recently, Celler Capçanes has taken the path of many Spanish coops, with a centralized management and production team that sets standards for the member vineyards.
What is important about Celler Capçanes is that it is at the very entrance to the town, and looks pretty sleepy, a couple of nondescript, modestly sized block buildings of indeterminate age. So it seemed peculiar that the three-day annual Falset Wine Festival celebrating the wines of the Montsant and Priorat regions was to kick off with a Friday night event at Celler Capçanes beginning at 11pm (yes, PM!) called “Nit de les Garnatxes” (Night of the Garnachas). So we drifted down the hill from our lovely apartment to find a pretty astonishing party, spread over both buildings and the space between them; we kept finding more stairways and more levels, with throngs everywhere, lots of delicious wines, food (including the Chocolate Fountain (image left)!), music, and art. AMAZING! Unfortunately, we haven’t figured out how to get any of their wines here, but we are working on it! (SEE MORE PICTURES)
We have been slightly more successful finding wines from another Montsant cooperativa, Celler Masroig, the first winery we visited after we arrived. (Btw, Masroig is a Catalan name which is pronounced “mahs roych.”) We didn’t have an appointment, just wandered in, and were greeted cordially by shop manager Eulalia, who spoke excellent English (whew!), and who told us about the many wines made at the coop while she poured samples. We wound up buying several bottles of their wines which we drank over the next several days, and we ran into Eulalia several times in the ensuing days of the Wine Festival…it’s a small region, and an ongoing celebration, so lots of faces became familiar.
At present we have only been able to find one of the Masroig wines here, and all you need to know is that we will be pouring it this weekend. It is called Sola Fred, which doesn’t make a lot of sense for a wine. It is NOT named for someone named Fred, I am sure of that, although I can’t quite remember the story of the name, only that it was created particularly for export. (Figure out what it means and get a free tasting!) more about Masroig
This weekend’s wines:
Alvise prosecco Italy $13
Prosecco is Italy’s famous dry white sparkling wine, offering fruity freshness, notes of green apple and a nice minerality…refreshing and delicious!
Lafond Tavel Rosé ’09 France $18
Light, bright red. Fleshy and smooth, with concentrated red fruit flavors and a touch of orange zest. Rich enough to pair with strong cheeses, grilled poultry, or fish.
Clua Domenech pedres ’09 Spain $10
An eclectic blend of cab, merlot, syrah, grenache, and tempranillo, pleasingly ripe fruit, this wine is fresh and easy to enjoy, with alluring minerality and a dark, smoky complexion.
Masroig Sola Fred ’09 Spain $12
100% carignan. Bright purple, with intense, perfumed aromas of cherry-cola, black raspberry and violet, with a suave mineral underpinning; juicy and precise, with very good clarity and lift to its dark fruit and floral pastille flavors. more about Masroig