Noticias de la Cámara

Interview with Adrian McManus, Knight of the Most Serene Order of Albariño Wine

19/07/2017 aa1

Adrian was inducted into the Serenísimo Capítulo do Viño Albariño, a legally constituted knightly order, in August 2007 after writing a in-depth feature on the Fiesta de Albariño in Cambados, one of most important wine celebrations and now in its 65th year. HM King Felipe VI and current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey are just two members of this noble institution. If that wasn't enough, he is one of only five or six foreigners to have had the cape bestowed upon them. Three of those happened to be President Charles de Gaulle of France, President Juán Perón of Argentina and more recently in 2014 the former Japanese Ambassador to Spain Mr. Satoru Satoh. The festival, held at the end of July though to the first weekend in August, attracts over three hundred thousand visitors and Albariño fans from far and wide work their way round all the casetas or stands, getting through over 80,000 bottles in the days leading up to the grand finale on the Sunday.

Q:  So tell us about the knights & dames’ party.

A: The induction ceremony and Xantar dos Cabaleiros (Knights' Lunch) is usually held at mid-day on the first Sunday of August, which is the culminating day of a week long program of cultural events, centered mainly on the winery stands in front of the Parador del Albariño, a huge mansion house converted some years ago into a 5 star hotel.  Those to be inducted are lodged in the Parador del Albariño on the Saturday night, and what a gorgeous place it is too.

Q: How does the day begin for the prospective knights & dames when they arrive?

A: They wait inside the Town Hall. Once the President of Galicia and Grand Master of the Order Alberto Núñez Feijoo has arrived, the procession then leaves the Town Hall where those who are to be inducted are flanked by the Knights of Albariño, the President of the D.O. Rías Baixas wine appellation Juan Gil de Araujo and the Mayor of Cambados Fatima Abal , all accompanied by local pipers and the dancers, proudly walking down to the 16th century Pazo de Fefiñans where the induction ceremony is held. During the actual ceremony, a vine is used in place of a sword and the cape of the order is solemnly placed on the shoulders. The inductee then has to  swear to uphold Albariño as the ‘Legitimate Lord of all the wines in Christendom’ and raise a glass of Albariño to the crowd gathered before them and quickly pose for the photographers.

Q: So once the formalities are over, what next?

A: Once that's done everyone heads to yet another mansion, the Pazo Torrado, for the big confraternal Xantar dos Cabaleiros or Knights’ Lunch where the gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the best wines of the new vintage. An invited speaker then reads the pregón or after dinner speech which should extol the timeless virtues of Cambados, Rías Baixas and its famous golden prince Albariño. Apart from receiving the knighthood I was also chosen as the pregón, writing the speech myself with some technical assistance from my wife Luz and the metaphysical poet Omar Khayyam! Very nerve wracking indeed! Around 700-800 people attend the lunch, mainly from the wine industry, but also restauranteurs, hoteliers etc. After that people generally head back to the Parador del Albariño for coffee or frescos, Salnés Valley speak for Gin & Tonic. The courtyard of the hotel is gorgeous, especially if the weather's with us.  After the strategic G&T stop, we head back out to the Albariño casetas again for the final push. It’d be rude not to really (laughs).

Q: What would you say to potential Albariño lovers in and beyond Spain? 

A:  The Riás Baixas region of Galicia in Spain but also the towns of Monçao and Melgaço just across the river Miño in Portugal is undoubtedly the ‘cradle’ of this grape variety, which has been genetically proven to be native to the north-west of the Iberian Peninsula and not the Rhineland as was previously thought.  Thankfully, this has finally put to bed that hoary old yarn that it was related to Riesling and introduced by a bunch of enterprising Cluny monks via the ancient Pilgrims’ route to Santiago de Compostela. The land of its birth or terruño speaks eloquently through the wine. When you taste a Rías Baixas Albariño, you’re getting the granite, the minerals, the characteristic tanginess of apple and citrus and the all-important briny mist that rolls in off the Atlantic Ocean for most of the year, often enshrouding the vineyards in the process, till the summer sun bursts through again. It’s all very beautiful, come to Galicia and see for yourselves!

Adrian also runs a wine and food tour company that operates out of all of Galicia’s major cities. and specialises in quality, bespoke tours for 1 to 12 people, taking in the very best winemakers in the region, top restaurants both cutting edge and traditional, boat trips out in the beautiful Galician rías where you can learn all about the richest shellfish harvesting area in the world, visits to gourmet seafood canneries – all accompanied by the Legitimate Lord of all the wines in Christendom! 

Contact: North West Iberia Wine Tours SL – info@northwestiberiawinetours.com


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