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I was born on a summer night, fifty years ago. By coincidence, a few days before celebrating my birthday, I tried Marques de Griñon Vendimia Noctura 2012. This is a white wine that is made with grapes harvested at night. Following the wisdom of the French enologue Émile Peynaud, the Griñón family chooses the best possible moment to start the wine making process, when the grapes are in great physical condition and the night temperature is soothing. Well, you can tell that it is a wine born to be enjoyed, a Rueda Verdejo with more personality and charm that the usual ones. It is not only storytelling -I was born on a summer night…

I had many other moments of celebration around my 50th birthday. At a wonderful dinner in the magical coast of Deia, Majorca, some friends introduced us to Macán Clásico 2011, a super red from Rioja, so smooth that I first thought it was a Ribera. Back in Galicia, we drank Obalo crianza, a fantastic discovery of an every day Rioja (8 euros), thanks to the recommendation of El Ensanche, a restaurant and wine place in La Coruña well worth visiting.

To understand what it means to turn 50, I re-read a fantastic essay written by my friend Javier Gomá: “when you have already encounter the bitterness of life but you know very well how to direct your energies”. His advice is to re-discover forms of idealism, to keep alive enthusiasm for the good things ahead and to avoid becoming blasé or cynical about everything. Wine tasting and writing are clearly among the activities that I intend to pursue further in that spirit of healthy naivety.

by Guest Contributor Pablo Echenique

Winter is certainly a good season to recall past summers and to make plans for the next one. I believe that happy memories play a very important role in contributing to build what I would call the “mood of happiness”. One of the good memories that always comes to my mind when I think about summer holidays is the gorgeous wine aperitifs that me and my family (in the broadest sense of the word) share in the garden of what it used to be our grandparents summer house in the south of Galicia, facing the Cíes islands, a place of breathtaking beauty that, in my opinion, offers the best sunsets that can be seen on Earth.

Summers in northern Spain are quite different from the Spanish cliché of sun and sangria. Still, we in the rias baixas (the southern coast of Galicia) are lucky enough to enjoy sunny days in which we spend mornings in the beach and dedicate the afternoon to other activities. The routine remains unchanged throughout the month of August. At around three o’clock p.m. we all gather around Aunt Margot’s porch table (now that grandparents have unfortunately passed away and the place includes four summer homes) and, still wet from our sea swims, enjoy different Spanish white wines, always served very cold, together with some Galician gastronomy pleasures.

As we travel from Madrid, we always stop by at Palacio de Bornos, a cellar belonging to the Rueda region (Old Castille), and buy plenty of bottles of its renown “Verdejo Vendimia Seleccionada”. Borno’s verdejo, an affordable wine that sometimes looks yellow-coloured and sometimes seems green (perhaps after having three or four glasses), is obtained from vineyards that are over 80 years old. Verdejo is the name of an original grape from Rueda. This wine is just the perfect companion to our long and fruitful family discussions about all the good things and the bad things in life. Also a necessary step before the after lunch outdoors siesta. There is no doubt that, if the wine aperitif is followed by a glass or two of Arzuaga (one of my favourite red wines, from Ribera del Duero, about which I promise to post a comment very soon), then the siesta is much more enjoyable. Sometimes I am even able to hear in my dreams the prodigious Galician bagpipes played by Carlos Núñez, the virtuoso Celtic musician that was born and lives in Vigo.