The first notable thing about the Cata del Vino de Montilla Moriles in Córdoba is that there is no red wine!!! <Insert shocked face emoji here!>
Montilla-Moriles is a Spanish D.O of wine (denominación de origen) found in the villages of the province of Córdoba. Here, they produce sweet dessert wines very similar to sherry, known generally as fino. It is a taste I am still becoming accustomed to after almost three years of living here but I guess it’s as with all wines that you have to take time to find the ones you like. Regardless, I’m a red girl and always will be!
Luckily, this year I was given a list of the nicest normal white wines to be found at the Cata (Cata just means a wine tasting event) and this was a saviour! No more wasting precious wine tokens on your reloadable card on bitter-tasting sherries with a handy list in your pocket. Thanks Jim! The staff will also talk you through their wines and allow you to sample it first before you pay for a glass.
“People dance ‘Sevillanas’ which to the onlooker seems like rows of spinning tops or carousels as they spin around each other with their arms circling as their feet kick the dust up into the air.”
This is how it works: you can attend either the day session or the evening session but it is much more trouble getting into the latter. You buy your tickets online for 12 euros which also entitled you to FIVE glasses of wine. Yes, five. I am from Liverpool where nowadays a glass of standard wine will set you back £7 or so and you can’t always guarantee that it will even be nice.
In Spain, I am now used to spending 2 euros on what is always a lovely glass of red. At the white-wine monopolised Cata, although I’m not a massive fan of them, I still think 5 glasses of wine for 12 euros is a ganga as they say here (a bargain).
The appeal of this event isn’t so much in the wine itself; it forms part of the annual spring festivals line-up of Córdoba when the arrival of the sun (before it becomes intolerable) is celebrated by people and there is a joyous vibe in the streets and in the air.
The Cata kicks this off, usually a week or two after Semana Santa (Holy Week, or Easter). Everybody gets excited for this because they know it’s the start of two months of celebrations. Inside the festival, it gets pretty cramped at times and for some reason it’s so much hotter here than just outside in the street. People don’t seem to mind this though and embrace it, dancing Sevillanas which to the onlooker seems like rows of spinning tops or carousels as they spin around each other with their arms circling as their feet kick the dust up into the air.
Of course, all the usual Córdobes dishes are available here including ‘rabo de toro’ (beef), ‘flamenquin’ (ham rolled and wrapped in cheese and fried breadcrumbs), cured cheese and jamón. They all go so well with the wine and provide a bit of sustenance for being able to continue on into the night. I will write another blog entry on Andaluz dishes very soon!
Previously, I preferred to attend the night session but queuing up for over an hour despite having pre-bought tickets online was a big deterrent. For the day session, you walk in freely without queuing and you then also have the best of both worlds because after the Cata, we went on to a fabulous newish bar nearby called La Estación where a live bad played latin beats right into the night. Fabulous!
The Cata del Vino is now an integral part of the Córdobes spring calendar, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. I would still love it if they served red wine here but it’s just not cultivated so much in the province. I’ll save that for a drive around the bodegas of La Rioja in the future 😉 .
What’s the best wine tasting event you’ve ever been to? Where was it? Leave all wine related comments below!