From Sea To Vines

Valencia may have lost its river to a lengthy patch of park lands. But the nearby beach certainly makes up for it.

A pleasant 20 minute bike ride from the heart of the old city takes you to the enticing beaches on the Mediterranean Sea. But it’s clearly not a proper sea. There’s nothing there to eat you. What an odd experience. Swimming without fear of sharks or even crocs. What is this place?  And it may lack the OMO white of Aussie beach sand, but the seemingly endless stretch of beach goes a long way to make up for it.

Home to the 2007 and 2010 Americas Cup, modern hotels contrast against the old heritage looking buildings, typical of an old bygone era port town.  It’s a delightful stroll and treddly ride along this bustling sea front. Particularly weekends when it brings to life the vibe of this long coastal strip with beach sports, even outdoor tango dancing and all the buzz from the strips of café restaurants.

With an endless choice of bars and cafés, its clear Spanish enjoy their wine. It’s no surprise. Spain is the most widely planted wine producing nation in the world. The world’s third biggest wine producer. No wonder. They’ve been at it for a few years. Apparently vine yards dating back 2,700 years have been unearthed not far from Valencia. Interestingly while Australia ranks fifth wine producer in the world, it only produces a third of Spain, which is behind Italy and Spain¹. I was born in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. Arguably Australia’s birth place of wine. I feel this has given me a strong birthright connection to vino. Particularly when served in a glass. As such an opportunity to experience the Bodegas Mustiguillo winery, about an hour’s drive away in one of the local wine regions, was a natural given.

Like many of life’s true pleasures there’s a certain ritual one has to first go through. The same for a wine tour before one can experience that first aromatic sip. First there’s the history. We didn’t get to see that ancient old vine, but there was plenty of history to explain about the region’s vines. Then there’s the vineyard walk through. “The smaller the grape the better. It’s the skin where all the flavour and characteristics comes from. Not too much water”. Make ‘em work for the water they need. Mmm, yeh, that’s my kind of thinking.

Then the barrels. We’re getting closer now. Oooh yes. We spot the wine tasting room. Not yet though. There’s the room full of wine awards to be admired first. A few more barrels. Another room of barrels. This room’s a bit cooler. Stops the wine getting too excited. After all wine needs to learn its a waiting game. And so do we. Like it’s not as if you can just squash a bunch of grapes into a bottle and enjoy its exquisite qualities. No. It’s all about patience.

Fortunately our patience was inevitably rewarded. We politely take our positions at the huge tasting table. Not wanting to look like we were making up for our prolonged patience, each sip is appropriately spaced with our new found qualified judgement of the wines qualities.  Looking into the glass, holding the glass to the light, bit of a tilt here, a tilt there. A roll here, a roll there. Ah yes. definitely from that second vine we passed, don’t you think? And I think the aromas I’m picking up would have been from that last oak barrel, you’d have to agree?  Even if you have no idea, it’s always fun playing the game!

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