Vol. 2 No. 9 Lisbon to Penafiel

The trip is on! Left Monday and arrived Tuesday morning in Lisbon (Lisboa). Picked up our car and drove to Salamanca, a beautiful old city with a famous university and history. We stayed in a small hotel in part of the buildings surrounding the huge Plaza Mayor, The Petit Palace Las Torres. Highly recommended for location, location, location and uber modern. Being a university city the Plaza is constantly alive…and can be noisy at night. We tried to find a restaurant but it was almost 5pm so they were all closed…except we found a bar that served tapas (pintxo’s in the Basque country and sometimes called pinchos – phonetic for the Basque spelling). the bar was at the opposite end of the plaza from us and  called Tapas de Gonsalas. The tapas were excellent and the server friendly, but what was really impressive was the wine (none price over €3.50 a glass!). We started with a Rueda which is made from Verdejo grapes in a region along the Duero River but not quite in the Ribero del Duero region. This is my favorite Spanish white wine..if you find one make sure it says Verdejo on the label as some in the region are made with inferior grapes. It is a beautiful wine with some minerality and a slight lemony finish. Talking with the barkeep, I was going to order a glass of La Rioja but noticed two wines on the board I had not had before. They were Toro’s. I have never seen one in the U.S. They are produced in an area just to the west of Valledolid (from Salamanca head north to Zamorra, then east to Toro). It is a quaint old town. We walked into a bodega (wine shop), and found there were dozens of the these wines which are produced in small quantities and mostly drunk in the region. It turned out the two we had at the bar (Romanica and Primo, priced at about €12 a bottle!), weren’t the best and bought two others at about €20 each to bring back). After a nice lunch of tapas we drove to Vallabuena which is situated in the Ribero del Duero district. There we stayed in an incredibly hard to find old hotel (but worth it!), and the next day had an appointment at Pesquera, (the Duero’s Vega-Sicilia is the most expensive wine in Spain), then to drove to the town of Pesquera and on to Penafiel which is the heart of the Duero region. It is a beautiful town with a huge limestone castle at the top that can be seen for miles. After driving around for a while we got hungry but once again, everything was closed until at least 8pm. Frustrated, we asked everyone we saw for a restaurant and had several false leads, and finally after driving for a couple of hours found one that was open about 15 miles away! It was mainly a bar with a dining room but since we were the only customers the barman set up a table in a corner and we met a really nice Spaniard named Dino, who swapped stories on wine with us. The dinner was lamb chops and they were good but be advised that very few people speak English in this region, even fewer than in the Basque Country. We left Dino at the bar and drove back to our home base and went to bed exhausted at 11:30pm!

It was hard to get up the next morning but we did in time to make an 11:30 appointment at Pesquera, but when we arrived were told it would be at 12:30, so we went down the road to Emile Mora where I went in and had a short tour. It is one of the better Ribera’s.

Our tour consisted of eight people and our guide Alejandro (not the owner, just the same name), did an excellent job of explaining about the winery in English followed by Spanish. As we were about to start the walkaround, in came Alejandro Fernandez, the founder, in 1982, of the winery. I have only met a few other people with as much passion for winemaking as him. He greeted us and talked for awhile then we began our tour. First stop was the original wine press which dated back to the 1800’s and was used by Alejandro in making his first two vintages, before building to the  current winery which is adjacent. Then we toured the modern winery which has about 30 stainless steel fermentation tanks, a huge crusher and de-stemmer, and underground tanks that have small hatches on them to pump the hoses from them to the tanks after about a week of fermentation. From there the must (wine after being pressed and fermented) is put in oak barrels and depending on the wine aged for one to three years before being bottled. Note that every four months the wine is transferred to other barrels so the sediment can be removed and the barrels washed for reuse.

Alejandro’s (the owner not the guide) philosophy is pure and simple. First, he believes in using 100% tempranillo grapes (Vega-Sicilia uses 80-90% tempranillo and the rest either cabernet sauvignon and merlot – they are the only one who blends Bordeaux grapes with tempranillo while others here use garnacha and a few other grapes). He uses only natural yeasts and no pesticides or herbicides are sprayed. He also believes wine is best without filtration so decanting is required before serving. This man, like Robert Mondavi in California and Alfredo Currado in Piedmont, Italy, was responsible for a revolution in Ribero to make quality wines. I was fortunate enough to meet both men. Before him, there were few wineries here and quality was miserable due to unclean conditions and equipment. Now, Ribero’s are a recognized and respected name in the world of wine. Alejandro was born in 1932 and is still active and energetic in the winery’s operation. His career began as a carpenter and then he started a business making and repairing farm equipment until he saved enough to pursue his dream. He started making wine in 1982 with his first vintage in 1985.It and the second vintage were pressed in the old winery but then everything shifted to the modern facility. Consider the accomplishment when California’s span as a respected region along with La Rioja’s is just 50 years.

Following a tasting, we then had lunch in Penfiel at Meson de San Jose, a asiada, or restaurant the specializes in roast lamb, especially a dish called lechazo which is cooked until it is falling off the bone…amazing with a glass of Ribero, and a specialty of the region.

We are now back at our hotel relaxing before long drive tomorrow to León and Santiago del Campostella and A Coruña on the northwest coast of Spain.

Adios, amigos y amigas!


©Copyright 2016 TBOW, all rights reserved.

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How did Trader Bill originate? It was conceived by me as a way of providing information summaries of global financial markets so that friends and associates could bring themselves up to speed on events and changing market conditions upon their arrival at work. In addition, it provides information on speakers and economic releases that day with consensus estimates and level of last release so that the reader is prepared to react, or knows how the market might react upon the release of information. Who is Trader Bill? Initially any reference to me was as ‘i’. This is to remove the aura of ego and to suggest that i am but a humble reporter, albeit with 35 years of investment experience. Investments are demanding of ego, however, or one would not feel that he was qualified to manage someone else’s money in the first instance. Therefore i needed an ‘alter-ego’. Like Winchell and Mahoney, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and especially Trader Vic and Mai Tai’s! Why Trader Vic? Because he was a likeable man who delivered pleasure to his customers and knew exactly what their desires were. The reason for the alter ego became obvious once I introduced Trader Bill into my commentaries: people started asking what Trader Bill thought. They had never asked me what I thought before, but suddenly they wanted to know what TB thought! Now mind you they KNEW that I was Trader Bill but for some reason he became bigger than life. Maybe it was the small ‘I’? What does Trader Bill try to do?His goal is to educate from his years of experience. Consider that most of the traders and people managing investments weren’t even around in 1987 for the crash! Consider that Graham and Dodd, and even Warren Buffet are not relevant to them, too old hat. Their historical perceptions of markets and fundamentals (earnings, price/earnings ratios, bonds, debt service coverage) are irrelevant in this fast moving world. This is the NEW ECONOMY, or is it? How did your style originate?Years ago i found that i had a knack and talent for writing. In addition, i developed an ability to analyze market news about 15 years ago. It took the Crash of ‘87. Prior to that i was just listening to what others said about the economy. But bond yields had been soaring in ‘87 yet the stock market just kept hitting new highs. That was when i began to learn about markets. i have both a dry and witty sense of humor (some call it inane!). Therefore i attempt to make even the worst news somewhat amusing: whether it is the absurdity of an economic release, or the comments of a CEO. This is trading desk humor (or gallows humor). It isn’t politically correct but it does ease tension. Ironically, it is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (in the Navy they say: it’s always darkest before it’s pitch black!), that allows you to be more objective in your analysis, as bad as a situation is there will still be a tomorrow! You will see that i practice three-dot journalism, a style made famous by San Francisco reporter Herb Caen, whom i idolized. At least to me it is effective. What is so special about your analysis?Frankly, i don’t know that it is special, but at least it beats “the market closed down today on profit taking.” What i do know is that most of what you read is spat out without considering whether or not it is rational, like the above statement. Is it right? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, and that is the key to what is different about my analysis: it is meant to make you think. Is Dan Rather right or is Trader Bill right? If it causes you to stop and think about it, regardless of whether you agree, i win! Because THAT is my goal…not to have you think i am a guru, got that? Bet you never heard that ANYWHERE before in my business! Instead they want you to think just how smart they are but remember in this business if you are right 60% of the time you ARE a genius! Another thing that is different is when i am wrong on an analysis i will tell you, not hope you forget what i said. So now you have the tools to do what the speculators and hedge funds do: challenge authority, and if you make money it is because YOU did it not me. i was just a tool, your flunky to do the grunt work and let you decide…course you could be wrong too but at least you looked at the big picture. But the goal is also to have fun! This shouldn’t be a business of hushed tones and grim faces. It is a living, breathing thing and nowhere else in the world do you have the odds as much in your favor as here. Just beware of the guy who wants to put his arm around you and tell you he is your friend. So there you have it. I hope you select me as one of your sources for market information. If you do I promise to work my best for your financial success. Trader Bill

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