I’m writing from the (very) interim Moodie Report Bureau in Madrid at the delightful Hotel Palacio del Retiro (don’t you just love the mural outside my window? I promise you it’s not an overly inquisitive local.). My Spanish is lousy but the hotel name kind of sounds like (but isn’t) ‘the palatial hotel where I shall retire’, and I just might.
Madrid is my kind of city, especially at this time of year, full of lovely tapas bars, beautiful old buildings and a timeless elegance that secures its position as one of the world’s great capitals.
I’m here for less than 24 hours to witness the Grand Opening of Aelia Retail España’s new luxury offer at Adolfo Suárez Madrid Barajas Airport Terminal 1 (below). This 1,050sq m, 21-brand top-of-the-range jewellery, watches, accessories and prêt-à-porter proposition is a very big deal indeed for LS travel retail and Aelia and the opening promises to be a grand occasion.
Last night I dined, courtesy of Lagardère Services Communications Manager Alexander Twose (below) at one of those brilliant restaurants that so characterise the culinary scene here. It was called Vinoteca Garcia and it comes with my highest recommendation when you’re next in Madrid. Don’t expect palatial finery of fixtures or fawning formality from the waiting staff. Do expect excellent meat and fish dishes that practically leap off the plate in their vibrancy and succulence and friendly, natural service. They also have a great Head Sommellier, who I discussed wines with at length last night.
He is so good that a Spanish diner from the next table came over to me when he saw me perusing the wine list and said with a smile, “Just leave it to him – he knows everything about wine.”
In the end, I compromised. I am a big fan of a till-recently unheralded Spanish grape variety called Godello from northwest Spain, notably Galicia. At its best Godello produces outstandingly fresh, flowery yet bone dry white wines, notably in Valdeorrsas. Godellos was almost extinct in the 1970s and early 1980s but it’s back with a bang (no, make that a gentle caress) now.
The Head Sommellier was delighted at my choice of grape (there were five Godellos on offer) and instantly recommended the choice of Louro. Scour the web and you’ll find an excellent article by Luis Gutiérrez called ‘The Greatness of Godello’. Try this wine and you’ll know why.
Here are my tasting notes: A breathtakingly pure potpourri of minerality and an understated touch of grapefruit. Dry as a Bible-belt town in the deep south of the USA yet beautifully balanced by the subtlest Spanish kiss you ever received, just a feather-like touch upon your lips, but of vanilla oak not of lipstick. Swoon, close your eyes, swill the wine on your tongue and be transported to the clean, green northwest of Spain.
After the opening today, I’m Barcelona-bound for another celebration, this time of beauty-to-fashion house Puig’s 100th anniversary. I’ll be bringing you my own version of a travel retail exclusive, part of it written while I am (not for the first time in my life) all at sea.
LIVE Images from The Fashion Gallery Opening: