España Day 3: Mapica & Madrid

España Day 3: Mapica & Madrid

Malpica is in the La Mancha Castilla region, just south of Madrid, near Toledo. It is here that Osborne built their $45million winery. But to call it a winery would be to mislead you. It's more like Disneyland meets Windsor Castle... for wine. They make their New World wines here, with technology I didn't know existed and several fascinating women at the helm.

We toured the 2000 plus hectares vineyards and massive facility, carefully stocked with thousands of oak barrels. Cesar Fernandez, the charming and humble winemaker, lead us through a tasting of their Solaz White, Solaz Rose and three reds (Shiraz Tempranillo, Tempranillo Cabernet and Plural, a blend). Compared to the previous day's wines, these in the New World style were not as appealing to me. They were quite tannic, and as a fellow writer sitting next to me noted, "quite robust." But at $8/bottle, they are a great value. Their production is what allows the higher-end, Old World style of Montecillo, to continue to flourish in the market.

The generosity in the portion-department of this lunch was over the top. The largest slab of seared fois gras appeared atop a salad mostly made of Iberian Ham. I was loving the little shreds of lettuce to be encountered beneath the meats. If you can't tell yet, this was the day my digestive system began to cry out for help. The steak that followed sealed the deal.

However, the openness and kindness of the Spanish people has been, across the board, completely delightful, and overshadows any slight exaggeration of portions.

It seemed that between this tasting and dinner nothing much happened, except that suddenly we were back in Madrid and it was 9:30pm, which is the early end of dinnertime in Madrid. We went to the Hotel Puerto America, a recently opened high-end hotel where each floor is designed by a different modern architect. We saw rooms on three of the twelve floors, those by Zaha Hadid, Ron Arad, and Arata Isozaki.

The restuarant downstairs, Lagrimas Negras, was our playground for the next several hours. Eight courses made their slow march onto our table and into our bellies. I was most impressed with a barely grilled Toro tuna piece served with a warm caramelized fig, and also with the graceful way with which the tears (what we call legs) on my glass of 2003 Vintage port drizzled down for at least 30 minutes, without my even re-swirling.

It was a beautiful day, and the moments outdoors were cherished. Placing one's foot into the cracking warm soil of a vineyard cannot be matched. And to top it all off with incredible food and wines, makes me grateful to be able to call this all work.

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