- The first day of The Wine Edition Wines from Spain 2024 welcomed chefs, sommeliers and winemakers for a fourth edition of the global congress
- In a session focused on the Silver Route, Spanish winemakers spoke about the wines produced along the historic Roman road, from north to south
- Henrietta Lovell, known as The Rare Tea Lady, outlined how restaurants can make better use of tea as part of beverage programme while supporting the workers in tea plantations and making a profit
- From Denmark, the team behind Kadeau presented a vision of new Nordic cuisine and its singular approach to pairing wine with the intense flavours and fresh produce from its gardens
- Mohamed Benabdallah, the sommelier of world famous grill restaurant Extebarri* focused his presentation on sulphites in winemaking
The first day of The Wine Edition Wines from Spain gathered wine enthusiasts and experts to debate, learn and share lessons in wine and wine making through the lens of gastronomy.
This fourth edition of the international wine congress, hosted by Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España, the most significant gastronomy congress in the world and now in its 22nd year, presents the most international programme yet and features over 30 speakers and presenters from seven countries. The packed programme include roundtables, tastings, presentations and educational and inspirational sessions.
For the first session of the day, in the Silver Route from Seville to Asturias, Ferran Centelles, the former sommelier of elBull, and chef Carlos Casillas of Ávila’s Barro*, presented together a fascinating session on the famous Silver Route, which runs from the south to north of Spain. On stage with them they gathered five winemakers from different stops on the route and explored wines from each of them – from Sevilla to Asturias. Presenting through a historical lens, Casillas paired each wine with a dish from Barro, focusing on the ingredient of the region and the season.
In the presentation How tea can add value without the human cost, Henrietta Lovell – known as The Rare Tea Lady and with the UK-based company of the same name – spoke to the audience about the untapped potential of tea in a beverage programme as she beat the drum for more thought and consideration to be paid to tea.
Lovell who works with some of the world’s best restaurants and hotels painted a picture of a drink that should be seen side-by-side with wine as a product, process and experience, more so today when there is more focus on non-alcoholic pairings. Now, she said, is the time to offer a genuinely high quality drink that doesn’t compromise on flavour or sustainability – whether economic, environmental or social.
Tea, said Lovell, should not be on a menu merely described as black, white or green tea. “Imagine a restaurant offered the diner red or white wine with no mention of origin, provenance or without any flavour notes,” she said.
“Once you take a little care, it becomes an amazing customer experience. If you treat tea like you treat wine and coffee, it can become this extraordinary and elevated experience that also gives chefs this whole new cornucopia of flavours.”
She advocated for a move away from serving tea of the lowest common denominator and instead choose quality, which in turn supports the 15 million workers of tea plantations across the world, many from marginalised communities.
Her plea to restaurants? Put tea on the menu with flavour notes and tell them the story of the farmer and where it comes from. “People would get as excited as they would about wine,” she said.
From Denmark, Chef Nicolai Nørregård, sommelier Alberto Segade and sous chef Pancho Cardenas from Kadeau Copenhagen** and Kadeau Bornholm* in Denmark focused on Nordic Pairings, explaining how they approach pairing wines with the intensely flavoured food on their menus. Making use of the lush landscape of Bornholm, which is very different from other parts of Denmark, they spoke of the berries, fruits and vegetables they collect from the vegetable garden.
Nørregård outlined how Kadeau Bornholm opened in 2007 om the small island in the Baltic sea where he grew up. Focusing the menu around two seasons: picking and preserving, Segade shared his approach to finding the perfect wines to pair with the menu, which features 17 dishes and just seven wines.
Working with producers ranging from group of friends in Denmark making small quantities of wine to winemakers in Northern Spain Segade, Nørregård and Cardenas described the way they adjust to a market of fluctuating prices and in a small country with a restricted capacity for importing wines.
They proudly spoke to the natural relaxed spirit of Kadeau. “We want to enjoy it and have fun. Some people like to save the special wines or the ones that are produced in smaller quantities, but I like to serve them,” he said.
Among the dishes served at Madrid Fusión was Kadeau’s most famous serving of a home-smoked salmon elaborated on the basis of a family recipe. “This is the dish that represents Kadeau perfectly and is always on the menu in both locations,” said Cardenas.
In a presentation titled With or without sulphites?, from Extebarri, the world-famous grill restaurant in the Basque Country, sommelier Mohammed Benabdallah, took to the stage to share a presentation on the topic of sulphites in wine. In a fascinating tasting session, he presented four wines in two versions: with and without sulphites, as he discussed the qualities relative to each and the dilemmas they can pose for a sommelier – without making a case for either one or the other. “We don’t have special requirements either way, we just want good wines,” he said.
Those who venture into natural wines are likely to find more new ideas and concepts, he said, while traditional or classic winemaking is more of a closed world. “When you are interested in natural wines, you are open to everything. It is easier to find news things, but we also find things that are not so pleasant,” he said.
Benabdallah spoke about a sector in flux with new generations joining the wine industry with new ideas – one of the wines on tasting featured a version with sulphites and another of the same grape but with added sulphite, introduced by the son – and an evolving product range on offer.
Also on day one saw an educational session on Spanish wines in London by Álvaro Ribalta, the most recent Master of Wine to join this distinguished group. With a background working in the UK, he shared a comprehensive overview of the market for Spanish wines in the UK, before and after Brexit.
Away from the main auditorium, on day one of The Wine edition Wines from Spain, the tasting room featured a vast range of presentations, from a run-through the wines of the volcanic island of Tenerife to signature wines of Marqués de Cáceres and the wines and gastronomy of Córdoba.