Day 2 dawns in Montilla.
We love the coffee in Spain and one of the best places we have found for coffee in Montilla is at La Cooperativa Agrícola La Unión about 10 minutes walk from our accommodation. These coffees really set you up for the day.
Unusually we had nothing officially planned for the day. So we got our Wine Route of Montilla-Moriles map out, picked a couple of places and decided to go for a drive. September is a busy month in Montilla-Moriles, with the harvest and paseras in full swing. So we decided that it was time to visit some bodegas that we had never been to before and to explore parts of Montilla-Moriles we have never reached in our previous 6 visits.
So where to? Our first stop is Montemayor and the Cooperativa Vitivinicola, home of Bodegas San Acacio. We had tried some of their wines at the Cata del Vino in Cordoba back in April.
We took the opportunity to wander around the shop and we bought a bottle of their Parlamento Fino en Rama (review coming soon) and a PX vinegar (admittedly for a friend who has a love for MM vinegars).
After consulting the map again it was time to move on. Our next would be Baena, home to Bodegas Jesús Nazareno.
The beauty of door-stepping places is you do not know what to expect when you rock up somewhere. Unfortunately this time we were unable to take a tour as production was in full swing.
Hospitality is never disappointing in this region and of course we were encouraged to try a couple of their finos. One was the award winning Cancionero en rama which we bought to bring home and review.
We stopped for lunch up the road from the bodega then took the long way back to Montilla.
Little did we know what we would have in store for us.
One of our favourite events of the Fiesta de la Vendimia is the Venencia Competition. This is an art form and requires precision, concentration and a great deal of practice. If you have ever been a bodega and are encouraged to try this, do it. More wine will end up on the floor than in the glass but it will give you an idea as to the skill level involved in this profession.
When we arrived at the venue at the Plaza de la Merced there were familiar faces everywhere. A very welcome sight was Alfonso, our translator from the Technical Specialists course, the photographer, olive oil expert and more significantly our friend. He also very kindly has allowed us to use some of his photos
He directed us to the front right hand side of the stage where we met Antionio Lopez of Bodegas el Monte in Moriles. He would be competing and was very focused and serious. Not a bad thing, he is a perfectionist having competed since the age of 7.
The competition has two categories, under 18s and adults. It started with the under 18s and the dexterity of these young enthusiasts was really impressive. The main aim is to perform as many different techniques with precision and accuracy within a 2 minute time frame.
Then it was on to the adults and of course we were cheering on Antonio. In this category the bar was definitely raised. The time was increased to 3 minutes and the manoeuvers and tricks with multiple glasses left you gasping. At the end of each performance the Venenciadors were then asked technical questions about the region’s wines and their production.
A relieved Antonio came to speak to us after his impressive performance, and in our head and hearts we knew that he had won. Fortunately the judges agreed and Antonio was placed first in the adult category.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Inma Carmona, the under 18 winner.
It is a must see event if you are in Montilla during the Harvest Festival.
But just while relaxing and taking in the atmosphere, Alfonso told me that we were being announced onto the stage and that we had to go to receive a presentation.
Miguel Villa and Paco were there to meet us and present us with boxed wines from the Consejo in recognition of the promotion that we do for the DOP and our passion for the region. How humbling, we always say we do this out of our love for the region and the people but knowing that they recognise this makes it all the more worthwhile.
Then on leaving the stage, to our surprise, we were faced with a journalist and cameraman from Montilla Digital, a local news . A short interview took place leaving us somewhat bewildered.
Then to cap the evening off we were called back onto the stage to join the group photo of all the participants in the competition.
We have now came to the conclusion that we should never be surprised by the unforgettable experiences that we have in Montilla-Moriles.
Day 3 was to be no exception as our next article will explain.