The Wine Merchant in the World Pigeon Centre
19 – 22 of October, I’m flying Barcelona – Brussels. Would I know thousands of pigeons raced the same trajectory before me! Belgian's winner of the last Barcelona International, the most important among pigeon races, in July 2007 was ‘Camille’. A pedigree pigeon released on the Montjuic to find instinctively the fastest way back home. Funnily enough I myself am flying to my home village in Belgium.
I discover a beautiful part of Limburg where I haven’t been before: Gors-Opleeuw ( ‘Leif’ pronounced in Limburg’s dialect) and Vliermaal (‘Vlermoël’ ), belonging to the Earldom of Loon. Little villages with churches and farms are spread over a bucolic landscape of green hills with tall trees, I even came across some grapevines of chardonnay. Limburg was in 1433 obtained by ‘Filips de Goede’ a Duke of Burgundy, who left South-Limburg a well-known reputation of enjoying food, wine and beer…
I’m presenting four Catalan wines at the annual presentation of ‘Wijnhuis Christiaens’ at no place else than the ‘World Pigeon Centre’ in Hoeselt. A hotel for race doves, with international guests from Japan to México, as well as a restaurant, brasserie and festive halls for all kind of occasions.
Primicia, a garnatxa – tempranillo blend of the Batea Cooperative of Terra Alta is a price-quality topper between the 45 wine producers and more than 300 wines present in the WPC.
The second Terra Alta, Fill del Temps 2004 from the
Covilalba Cooperative is showing a powerful, deep woody character with garnatxa - carinyena vines from over 40 years old.
Heretat Navas, D.O. Montsant, is attracting the wine lovers among the public for its wide palette of flavours and good structure. A wine instantly loved for its mystery and freshness in the mouth.
Lo Givot 2004 was the star of the event. The complexity of this wine goes beyond Parker, and he loves it ! As well women as men were attracted by the decanted wine at my table and were fascinated by the story of Priorat: steep hills with ancient terrace built vineyards on slate stone ground in a very dry climate. The carinyena in the blend of Lo Givot belongs to an 80-year-old plot near La Villela Baixa and gives the wine this extra deepness of spicy black fruits and minerals. Full bodied in a remarkable red dress, this wine is a Goddess!
I spent Saturday night in Hasselt with my dear friend Nico. We dine at the astonishing Spanish-Italian ristorante enoteca ‘La Vigna’ by Chico. The wonder boy chef is running the kitchen for 30 people on his own, hard enough for a menu with fresh seafood, paellas, zarzuela, pasta, veal and pata negra lomo. Believe it or not, the chef is 72 years old but cooking spicy italo-spanish food like he is Jamie Oliver's son.
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Over 2500 guests, wine lovers, restaurant holders and sommeliers visit this impressing organized fair during four days. I discover some very nice wines. The first, of course from my neighbour at the table Enrique Concejo from Bodega Pilcar: Viña Concejo, a 100% Tempranillo strong and straight terroir wine. Deep, well equilibrated, showing the full potential of the tempranillo variety, this is not a Rioja but D.O. Cigales.
Next to him I meet Aurélie Neveux, oenologist and public relations for
Devaux Champagne. The Cuvée D ultra is love at first sight. I thought Penedès was the master of dry bubbles, but this pinot noir (south of champagne region claims to be the best pinot noir area) gives roundness and fruitiness to a very dry finish.
Another interesting winery I came across was
Le Loup Blanc from Nícolas Gaignon. Visit his web and you will hear and see the story of the white wolf, drinking very inspired terroir wines.

23 October – Antwerp.
My favourite Flemish city, where the Witzli Poetzli is my ever lasting bar in Belgium. Always exciting jazz, quality beers and liquors and the best cava in town. Guido, owner since I first set foot and inspirer of this eclectic bar in the shadow of Antwerp’s cathedral, takes me to one of the most outstanding Mediterranean restaurants of Antwerp: ‘
A la Ville’. Definitely my new favourite! Steamed seashell and fresh anchovies on toast, followed by truffle filled pasta and rilettes de canard. Very nice rose and red house wine and outstanding white sweet wine: Pacherenc Rive Haute Reserve 2005.
25 October, arriving back to Barcelona. It takes me almost six hours to get back home. The very fast works for the very fast train Barcelona-Madrid cause numerous delays on train schedules and cuts the railroad Barcelona South. I fill my time reading an article on the more than 130 days of Belgium without a new government since elections. I wonder if a government is necessary at all ?