It was interesting to read a plea from the distributor of three of Valencia´s newest Vermuts for more coordination of events related to wine and food in the region. This week saw us invited to at least five events, June has always been a manic month for new product launches, new menu events, International food Competitions and our normal work carries on!
We started the week with a visit to Bodega La Viña in Font de la Figuera in DO Valencia. We have had a relationship with the bodega for four years and our first public visit took place there. Since then we have followed a lengthy process of renovation of and improvements to the facilities. Last time we were there a new tasting room and visitor facilities had just been completed and a new bottling line was being installed.
￼￼On Monday we caught up with the latest stage and saw the impressive new line at work and the new palette storage facility at work..the result of some 4m€ investment…and it looks to have been worth every centimo!
Suitably dressed to avoid contaminating the super-clean plant we entered the new warehouse where it is fitted. Here the process starts with the new bottles being unpacked from the pallets they are delivered on and then placed onto the line before being washed and having the labels added.
The line passes to the point where the bottles are filled, the wine coming from tanks via filters and temperature controlled to ensure exactly the right volume is entered into each bottle. The screw tops were added next ( it has the option to insert corks as an alternative.) The filled bottles are then lifted pneumatically and inserted in their cases ( which have been opened from their flat pack delivery status) , six at a time, the bottle separators placed in the centre and then the cases shaken to ensure the separators settle properly.
The cases are sealed and passed down the line where they are automatically palleted and wrapped then passed to the pallet warehouse. During the bottling process samples are regularly taken to ensure the wine is the right quality, temperature and the bottles are perfectly filled, to the micromillemeter.
At the time we visited the line was completing the process at 10,500 bottles an hour and during the time we were there the first bottles we saw being unloaded must have passed to the pallet we saw being packed! All of this is now highly mechanised and automated with just four staff responsible for monitoring the process apart from the laboratory staff checking the samples.
In the warehouse adjoining the pallets are packed onto a seven story and five deep automated rack with each lorry load being afforded its own space. The rack is filled from the back and unloaded from the front, the pallets automatically moving forward into the next available space. It effectively means the loading time is dramatically reduced.
Our thanks once again go to José Agustin Martinez, Managing Director for making his time available to show us this incredibly impressive facility.
Winecanting, DO Alicante
We drove on to Alicante. Monday night was the first of the Denomination of Origen’s exhibition nights where the new wines from the bodegas are shown to the public. The `Winecanting´event is held in the open in the grounds of MARQ, Alicante’s archeoligical
museum and has proved to be very popular. Initial editions wTere held with a session for professionals and the press before the public were admitted. However the DO had decided to hold two professional salons in Alicante and Denia earlier in May so that this could be a purely public event. Unfortunately the MARQ had imposed a limit on the numbers entering and there were some queues and inevitably unlucky people who did not get in.
Those that did get in enjoyed an evening where some 20+ bodegas were showing new vintages of their wines and some local artisan food producers provided sustenance for them. Our report of the wines appears in our previous post.
43º Concurso International de Fiduea de Gandia
On the Tuesday we made our way to the port of Gandia where the 43rd International Concurso de Fiduea de Gandia was taking place. This is the first time in a couple of years that we have been since its change of location from the Bayren Hotel on the seafront.
The event is now much more available to the public on the dockside with free entry but for the purchase of tickets they could purchase wines and beers , fiduea and some impressive beef chuletons and ribs cooked on the brassa as well as other exhibitors and sponsors stands. The concurso followed a weekend gastronomy fair in the same location.
The format is very much the same as beforehand however. There is a competition in the morning for students of the various CdT´s in the Marina Alta, Benidorm and Alicante. This was won by Ángel Nieto and Juan Carlos Martinez from Benidorm.
The main Competition starts at 12.00pm and the participating restaurants start cooking in stages to ensure their finished fidueas are delivered to the judges in optimum condition. Amongst regular competitors were Chaparral from Serra and Juani y Miguel from L ‘Alcudia
Fiduea is a seafood dish with elbow pasta (fiduea) cooked in a paella pan with Dublin Bay prawns, prawns and monkfish in a rich seafood stock including rockfish and saffron. It has long been associated with the town having been invented and eaten on local fishing boats and is now a major element of the towns tourism attractions.
The gala lunch that preceded the award of prizes has now been shelved so there is a bit of a wait before the last fiduea is delivered and the results are announced. Nonetheless there was still a very large crowd at around 16.00pm when the ceremony started.
The best international competitor was Chef Amadeo from Andorra. The parallel competition for best dessert made with oranges went to Prado from Gandia
The three major prizes awarded by the judging panel which included Evarist Miralles and Juan Carlos Galbis were as follows;
- Casa Palacio de Córdoba, Chef Roque Carmona, 2,500€ and the Collar of Santa Isabel.
- Casa Granero de Serra, Chef Victor Navarro, 100€, and
- Hotel San Luis de Gandia, Chef Joaquin Cerezo, 500€.
Once again the competition in its new format has proved a great success and with the public now able to observe more closely and eat the competing fidueas is set to continue down this route into the future.