If you’ve been to Barcelona, you’ve probably encountered two beers at any and all bars: Moritz and Estrella-Damm. It’s hard to say which one is more preferred, but people are generally happy drinking both as they’re considered to be (somewhat) “Catalan beers”–an important distinction for a nation of people that would much rather not be part of Spain.

While both brands started up around the same time in the mid-19th century, Moritz is a bit older and has a very deep foundation in Barcelona, first being produced in the Raval District and then moving to Ronda de Sant Antoni. While the beer is now actually produced in Zaragoza (in the neighboring region of Aragón), the family held on to the factory on Ronda de Sant Antoni, renovated it, and in 2011 opened it up as their company offices, museum, and tasting bar.

In 2012, they’ve taken this a step further to open the new Bar-à-Vins, an intimate wine bar inside the main area. While a wine bar in a city where you can get a glass of wine for less than 2€ at any café may not seem like a big deal, it is. The style of the bar is much more in line with the bars you currently find in the US. There are unique food pairings matched to very carefully selected wines that are of a much higher caliber than what you find at any of the ubiquitous tapas bar in les Rambles or much elsewhere in the center of Barcelona.

To celebrate what is their soft opening of the wine bar (which will officially open in September 17), each week during the whole summer they are selecting a wine from a different locale along the path that founder, Louis Moritz Trautmann took from his native Pfaffenhoffen in Alsace to Barcelona in 1851. So basically, we’re talking about a pretty awesome run down of French and north Catalan wines. We managed to stop in last Monday for the Côtes du Rhone presentation.

The wine was the 2008 Clos Saint Jean Rouge paired with a gratin dauphinois. Naturally, everything worked fantastically. This wine was something of a departure for us given that we’ve been swilling Catalan and Croatian wines a great deal lately. A blend of some 13 different varietals (none of which were listed on the bottle as they do in France), the primary components were apparently Grenache and Mourvèdre. It was full-bodied, earthy, and warm, yet at the same time with a dose of acidity that paired well with the creaminess of the potatoes in the gratin. A bit potent at 14.5% alcohol, it was a wise choice for a bar setting where you’re more likely to have just a glass on its own as opposed to a full bottle with a meal.

A pleasant experience? Just a little and for those looking to get a taste of it, Languedoc is next week followed by our beloved Empordà, and then finishing with Alella. After that, Bar-à-Vins will officially open and all manner of tastiness shall come forth.


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