This is Spain



Last Man Standing

I had every intention of staying sober at this year’s Sober wine fiesta but then again, I always do. The event’s official title is, Feira do viño de Amandi. The zona de Amandi is arguably the most prestigious grape growing region in the Ribeira Sacra and the village of Sober is the area’s administrative capital. Over 90% of the wines produced in the Ribeira Sacra are inky reds; made primarily from the Mencia grape variety.

On Saturday evening, we left home at about 7:30 and made our way up the hill to the village of Sober. For this time of year, the weather was perfect: warm and still with wispy clouds creating a powder-blue backdrop. Small groups of teenagers lined the approach to the main square. They were sitting, cross legged, on the pavement taking a quiet break from the main event.

Despite the early hour, the main square seemed quite busy. For the last five years or so, the council has chosen to hire an enormous tent-like structure to cover the entire village square. The unpredictability of the weather and the potential financial loss to inclement conditions, forced their hand. In so doing, it dragged this rural wine fiesta well and truly into the twenty-first century.

We decided to pass on the wine tasting for the time being, choosing instead to wander around the packed village. Market stalls lined both sides of the streets selling everything from pot-bellied stills to regional cheeses.

Tasty aromas from street cafes filled the air as preparations began for night-time diners.

Floating kaleidoscopes drifted overhead as balloon sellers made their way through the crowds and it just wouldn’t feel like a Spanish fiesta without my old favourite, camas elasticas (trampolines).

The Tasting Tent

Time was moving on and, as interesting as market stalls are, we were here to sample the region’s wines. We made our way back to the square and entered the temporary tent. The noise inside was deafening: amplified by its tunnel like design.

The rules were simple. Located on all three sides of the tent were individual stalls, each one occupied by a different local bodega. This year saw about 20 local wineries represented. In the centre of the tent, council employees were selling souvenir glasses for two euros each. Ownership of a glass entitled the holder to approach as many wineries as they wished and enjoy a free sample. The saying, “Last Man Standing” sprang to mind.

We eventually got to bed at 3:15 am. Thankfully, there’s a full twelve months to prepare for next year’s event.

Balloon Sellers

For more photos see the gallery

Vine Watch – week 2

It’s a week since the vines began budding and thanks to warm spring weather their leaves are starting to open.

Vine Watch - week 2

Copyright © 2014 Craig Briggs

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