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A true friend

A true friendAll of us might come up with a different definition if we were asked to specify what the term “true friend” means to us.

When you think about it, it meant different things in different stages of our life. When we were young, the true friend would be somebody who held our hand when we were afraid. Or maybe somebody who stood next to us when we were in trouble.

Later on it might have been someone who you tried your first cigarette with, someone who never betrayed you. Perhaps true friend to you was a good listener and someone you spent hours on the phone with, discussing all the important issues of your life. How do you describe the true friend today?

Is it somebody who is always there for you? Is it somebody who brings you food when you are sick, who makes you smile when you are sad and who shares your values and success with you proudly? Does your true friend care when nobody else does? Is he someone who doesn’t judge you when you failed and offers a shoulder to cry on instead? Is he someone who will always have a helping hand for you even at times he needs one himself?

I must say, I feel blessed to have a few true friends in my life. The closest ones are of  Italian heritage, French Canadian, Spanish and Polish. They are a substitute for my own family that lives far away. They have always been there for me. When we were moving few years ago, they came to help us for several days, sacrificing their own time, driving hundreds of miles not to mention working like dogs, so we can get back to normal as soon as possible. When I think about it, there are not many people throughout my life that would have done more for me than my friends already did.

A true friendWe spent this Labor weekend with a couple of my friends. We have shared our passion for food, wine and fun with them on every occasion we had.

This couple came to almost each of my wine events to support me. They would bring their friends along. They even joked that I spoiled their palate – so now they can’t go back, drinking wines they once used to like.

When times were not so good, they were there again, helping, praying, checking on me, and offering a hand. I never took it for granted. I am not sure if I ever told them that but I hope they know. Lately, they were even considering putting their own house at risk to help me to pursue a dream to open my own business. I wouldn’t be comfortable with that thought anyway, but that’s just the kind of friends they are.

 A true friend

We have laughed a lot this last weekend (which I needed really badly), ate a lot – although I decided to prepare all kinds of finger food – tapas to accompany our “special wines” – we ended up eating much more than if we just had a regular dinner. (I was fixing my stomach later at night with Fernet-branca – what a good medicine that is). But most importantly, we have opened some spectacular wines together.We took our time to enjoy it – started slowly with Cava and whites, so by the time we got to “the real stuff”, the reds were just about ready for us. You probably know that opening a special bottle with the wrong company can spoil the enjoyment for you. I think we all have done that mistake before. But when the opposite happens, it is a pure heaven. This weekend will most likely be very hard to beat (although we can always try) and this is how they changed my prospective on a true friend definition:
The true friend is someone, who lets you spoil their palate. Someone, who trusts you enough to let you hook them on wines you adore yourself and now they adore them with you.

Someone who allows you to turn proud Italians into Spanish food and wine enthusiasts. And when the times are not so great, the true friend will go out, buy that special bottle (when you can’t do it yourself) and brings it over to your house to enjoy it together. The bottle they have never tasted before. The bottle they only heard you bragging about.

A true friendSo this weekend, our wine list sustained of Segura Viudas Brut, Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc (Californian exception), couple of bottles of Muga Blanco, a bottle of Alto Moncayo Veraton, and we finished this Spanish dream with a bottle of Clio.

For a desert we have opened a bottle of Jorge Ordoñez Victoria, an outstanding sweet Moscatel from Malaga and yes, we have finished the whole thing. There you have it! We loved every drop of it!

It tasted so much better when shared with people that appreciated it as much as we do. Life is good when you have true friends. I am really grateful for that. Believe me, that’s the kind of true friends you want in your life. I truly appreciate to have them in mine.

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So, what’s so special about Clio?


So, what's so special about Clio?Never heard of Clio? I wouldn’t be surprised. This wine doesn’t have such a long reputation as for example Caymus, Spottswood, Silver Oak, Chateau Latour or similar “high end superb collectibles”. In fact, history of Clio is not even a decade long. Yet, it created quite a wave right after its first released vintage of 2002.

Clio is a spectacular red wine made by Bodegas El Nido in Jumilla, Southern Spain. It is a team work of Gil brothers (famous winemaking family, involved in several successful wine projects throughout the Spain), Jorge Ordóñez (in my opinion the top importer of Spanish wines to the United States of America) and famous Australian winemaker Chris Ringland.

So, what's so special about Clio?The blend of 2007 vintage was sourced from 32 years old vines of Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and 76 years old vines of Monastrell (70%). If you are lucky enough to get it, the price averages about $ 40.00 per bottle. So why is this wine so passionately sought after by wine experts?

Is it the outstanding quality, old vines, the terroire, rapidly changing temperatures, not enough rain, aging potential, very limited availability, high scores and reputation, the extensive manual work in the vineyards, the winemaker? What is it that makes it so special? All of the above!

When I visited the vineyards of Clio and El Nido, I was shocked. The first thought that came to my mind was: this wine is too cheap! How could anybody make a living? (take it from somebody, who constantly complains about overpriced, over-marketed wines that are not worth it).

So, what's so special about Clio?
The picture you see, is not a desert – it is an actual vineyard. You can not see the soil because it is covered by stones up to who knows how deep.

One can only imagine what the roots of these vines have to go through to reach any nutrition and water.

So, what’s so special about Clio?

A very interesting lady winemaker once told me that wine is just like people. The more struggle, problems and stress it experiences during its time, the better fruit it develops. Just like we become better people through our own struggles. Yes, it is proven truth.

Bodegas El Nido’s Cabernet and Monastrell are harvested continuously, within 4-5 weeks, as they ripe. The already low yield was pruned down during a green harvest (when clusters were eliminated to 1-2 per vine to develop the most concentrated flavor). When the harvest begins, workers will pass through each vine several times, to pick the most mature brunches only, and leave the rest to develop more.

(Just to have some prospective on the yield – a typical high end Cabernet in California, priced $ 100.00 and more per bottle – would average about 6-8 clusters per vine. And that’s considered “a boutique style winery”).

Their excessive work goes even further – harvesting into very small baskets so the grapes wouldn’t bruise, press and lose some precious juice. This is followed by another selection at triage tables at the winery – where they only pick the healthiest, ripest grapes.

After that the wine ferments in open small vats for 7 days. The grapes are than basket pressed and fermentation is finished in oak barrels. New French and American oak barrels are used for a second, malolactic fermentation. Each variety age in oak separately and the blend is made at the end, after tasting every barrel by Chris Ringland and rest of winemakers of Bodegas Juan Gil. They pick and choose what will go to the final blend. When all this is finished, wine quietly ages for 26 months in new oak.

“And than Jorge Ordóñez comes, and tastes every single barrel separately…. and eliminates about the half of it,” smiled Miguel Gil, explaining us about the whole process. I don’t know about you, but I truly believe that this wine deserves a super special attention as it was given such a special care.

Considering how old the vineyards are, this is a very modern, exciting wine with a great aging potential. And I am sure it’s only beginning! If you are lucky to get your hands on some Clio, do not think twice. You will be rewarded!

Known ratings for Clio 2007:
The Wine Advocate 94 point rating
International Wine Cellar 93 point rating

2006 W/A 95 points
2005 W/A 95 points
International Wine Cellar 93 points
2004 W/A 97 points
2003 W/A 96 points
2002 W/A 93 points