EWBC2008 Highlights

The European Wine Bloggers’ Conference 2008 was a massive hit, it has to be said, much to the surprise of the organisers.

So much happened in one weekend of my life, I can barely pick out my favourite bits.  Let’s start with the lowlights – landed in Bilbao, bag (including wine samples) landed in Palermo.  Arrived back in UK, bag arrived one hour later, one bottle of wine smashed, clothes ruined and bag stunk of wine, had to drive home overnight with a blood stained handkerchief wrapped around my finger, nearly sliced off from glass shards.

OK, that’s only one lowlight really.  The rest of the weekend was awesome – here are my top 11 highlights:

11.  Teaching Ryan Opaz (US citizen and all round good guy) to say “arsehole” instead of “asshole” – what is the matter with Americans? I suppose we could agree to use “George W Bush” for the same meaning.

10.  Eating tapas and wonderful belly pork at La Chata in Logroño.

9.  Meeting Doug Cook and André Ribeirinho, entrepreneurs and founders of www.ablegrape.com and www.adegga.com respectively.  Both excellent wine resources and, being in the IT trade myself, I wish them both all the best.

8.  Being voted best dressed man at the event (the only one whose every outfit was brand new, having been purchased in an emergency trolley dash in Bilbao on Friday).

7.  Visit to Miguel Merino‘s winery.  Funny guy – serious wine – it is quite rare so if you can find some buy it.

6.  Tour, lunch and wine tasting at Bodegas Bilbainas courtesy of Raimat.  The Zaco 2005 was a welcome low tannin escape route from the usual muscular, oaky Riojas.

5.  Welcome evening wine tasting – despite my embarrassment at having no bottles of my own, I met many new friends and tasted some excellent wines.  Followed by superb dinner at El Lorenzo, courtesy of La Rioja Turismo.

4. Tour of Marqués de Riscal – more here.

3. Visit to Laguardia – sample photo below – lunch at Mayor de Migueloa with Rob McIntosh.  Learning that it is Spanish custom (in certain establishments), to help waiters clear up more quickly by chucking all your waste directly onto the floor.  Unsightly but efficient!


2.  Saturday evening wine tasting.  An Iberian wine frenzy.  Tondonia, Regina Vides, Muga, Vivanco, Cortes de Cima were amongst the many wineries that had sent bottles.  My favourites of the night were both from Portugal – Malhadinha 2006, and Esporão Private Selection 2004, both of which from Alentejo, a wine region I know absolutely nothing about but obviously should find out!  The latter I found at the Wine Society for £23.

1.  Dinastía Vivanco tour and lunch in the winery restaurant.  Superb wines, great food, top notch hospitality, wish we had had more time!  Followed by a visit to the wine museum (Museo de la cultura del vino) – including a stunning exhibit of 3,000 corkscrews in one room?  Weird.  Incredibly interesting museum packed with wine history.

10 Responses to “EWBC2008 Highlights”

  1. gianpaolo Says:

    I really hate the fact that I couldn’t be there for the winery tour, but 3 little guys wouldn’t have been happy without mum and dud (not to mention the grandparents that were so happy to see us again…).
    If the the next EWBC is to be in Italy next year we have to try really hard to impress you guys with special effects after what they have done in Spain (with just a few bucks invested by us partecipants, it must be said, thanks to the sponsors).

  2. Robert McIntosh Says:

    I didn’t know about the broken bottle and the finger – those bottles were cursed!

    Thanks for the write-up. I swear you should give up that IT stuff and concentrate on wine writing. IT has no future, didn’t you know? Wine rules!!

    Thanks again “arsehole” for being such great company and one of the brightest wine beacons in the blogospheric fog

  3. ryan Says:

    Great wrap up, seriously a great look at what happened, and eventually I’ll be able to tell an arsehole from an asshole, just need more wine and training! 🙂

  4. Andre Ribeirinho Says:

    I’m afraid that English Wine (Bottles) are just not good enough. 🙂

    It was great sharing all 11 highlights and meeting you!

  5. Ane Miren Says:

    I see you enjoyed everything about the European Wine Bloggers Conference – except the Conference bit! Next time we should just call it the European Wine Bloggers Fun Weekend..

    Incidentally, to the best of my knowledge, the only online retailer of Miguel Merino’s wines is Excel Wines.

  6. Alastair Bathgate Says:

    Hi Áine 😉

    Other people can write up the serious bits much better than I ever could.

    Do you ship to the UK by any chance?

  7. Ane Miren Says:

    Listen here, Alastair, have you looked at our site at all? Yes, we do ship to the UK (and elsewhere in Europe) and the costs are listed in the transport table.

    Miguel Merino is a good friend and was a huge help when setting up the business so we wanted to try to repay the favour, at least a little, by introducing Catavino to him and, through Ryan and Gabriella, to the EWBC group. He has just brought out the 2001 vintage so we’ll be updating our site in the next few days to reflect that.

  8. Doug Cook Says:

    Hey Alastair,

    Nice post! Great meeting you too, and sharing a great weekend.

    Sorry your travel was so sh*tty (pronunciation of that word not in transoceanic dispute). I ended up leaving my small amount of purchased wine at the airport, thanks to the infinite kindness of Ryanair, who wanted twice the value of each bottle in overage fees, despite the fact that my bag weighed less than on entry into the country, also on Ryanair. Wouldn’t trade that for your experience, though. Hope your finger has recovered.

  9. José Eduardo Says:

    Hey Alistar,

    It was a real pleasure to meet you. I see that we need to meet again and let you taste the Cortes de Cima wines more quietly. Who knows I make you change your opinion about your Alentejo favorites 🙂
    And remember if you ever drop by give me a buzz or visit us. You are always welcome.


  10. Alastair Bathgate Says:

    Hey José

    Good to meet you too and I loved the wines from Cortes de Cima. I should schedule a visit to Portugal and, of course, Alentejo and when I do I will call in to see you.

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