Currently, we are floating approximately 2 miles off the coast of Baiona in the northwestern coast of Spain. The water is slightly undulating under our ship with a gentle breeze sweeping off the shore, making our floating office pure heaven to experience. One can’t complain when your days are spent exploring one of the 14 natural parks in Spain called the “Islas Cíes“, meandering through the ancient cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, seeing the internationally renowned Guggenheim at 8am just as the morning light streams technicolored rays across its perfectly curved steel, or floating with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand just off the coast of Baiona, Spain. To put it simply, it would be really difficult to find something to complain about.
For those of you unfamiliar with our current adventure, Ryan and I were invited to be the Iberian sommeliers on a Lindblad Expedition, which is hosted on a National Geographic Cruise ship called the Explorer. The ship is approximately 1 year old and is considered one of their larger ships holding up to 148 passengers and approximately, 100 crew. Lindblad is famous for their expeditions to far off places such as the Gallapagos Islands and the Antarctic, and while this trip is more the exception, rather than the rule, it is clearly well appreciated with the ship packed to the rims. This particular voyage started in Copenhagen and travels for 17 days down the western coast of Europe until it ports in Lisbon on the 13th of October.
Our “official” job is to provide passengers with information not only on Iberian wine, but on culture and gastronomy as well. Up and until this point, we’ve given only 1 tasting on Spanish wine, which consisted of an informal wine tasting with tapas on the aft deck with the 2008 Bodegas Hermanos Lurton from Rueda, alongside the 2005 Liberalia Cuatro from Toro, followed by a “formal” tasting of 3 wines: 2008 Txomin Etxani from Etxaniz Txakolina, 2005 Sant Bru from Portal de Montsant and finally the 2004 Bodegas Guelbenzu Azul.
What’s interesting to note is that although many of the passengers are extremely well traveled with loads of information about wine under their belt, they are an amazingly curious bunch. We’ve received statements such as, “I’ve tasted wines from Argentina, Chile, California, Italy, France and Australia, but Spain?! I have to admit, these wines are really good. Can I find wines like these near me and where can I learn more?” Other people have mentioned, “Boy, I only drink Sauvignon Blanc, but these whites are really fun! When I think of Spain, I think of red wines, but now I can think playful whites too.”
In part, they are also referring to the wines we’ve hosted at each dinner during their trek along the Iberian Peninsula. Many have been fascinated that the wines are both varied and tend to pair well with a wide variety of food. “When I tasted this Quinta da Gomariz [Colheita Seleccion 2006 from Rias Baixes] with the paella, it reminded me of some of my favorite wines at home with just a bit more flair!” Needless to say, the 18 bottles were gone in a matter of 30 minutes.
Tomorrow, we’ll disembark in Oporto and take a tour of Sandeman Port House followed by a Portuguese wine tasting we’ll host on the ship. And if we’re lucky, we’ll convert the 148 adventure travelers into Portuguese wine lovers. With wines such as the 2006 Niepoort Diablo, 2005 Dona Matilde Douro Red and the 2008 Quinta do Ameal Loureiro, I’m confident we’ll win this battle.
If you’d like to see the exact wines of our trip, we’ll be posting them on http://www.catavino.net/lindblad in a few days time.