Saturday, June 13, 2015

Spain & the EU; Fending off Putin; Buying wine; Albariño; Charges; & Bonaparte.

Given the squillions received from Brussels over the past 30 years, it's hardly surprising that 70% of Spaniards are supportive of the EU. Which number probably includes all those who, one way or another, have fiddled their way to EU largesse. But this percentage is down on earlier years and, these days, one can even read articles here about the faults of the Brussels regime. Not that anyone wants a Spexit.

Which reminds me . . . Mr Putin has been trying to peel EU members away from their sanctions strategy, starting with Greece but now targetting Italy too. Right now, of course, these states have freedom of choice but this can't be welcome to the Brussels technocrats, who must dream of, one day, taking all decisions of this order for all 28+ states. Even if there's still a democratic deficiency. For that's what 'closer and closer union' must mean. Along with a single army, in case things get out of hand.

But back to today's issues . . . Having read of some good white wines from around Spain, I set about trying to buy some from a supermarket or delicatessen in Pontevedra. As I feared, this was a waste of time; more than 90% of the stuff on the shelves was local. This parochialism is not, I have to say, confined to Galicia. All regions major on their local wines.

Still on wine . . .My observation is that prices haven't risen much in the last decade. In fact, many have reduced. None more so than those of Galicia's premier white wine, albariño. There was a time when you couldn't get this, even in supermarkets, for less than €8. Now, you can buy it there for between 2 and 3 euros a bottle. Though I wouldn't recommend it, unless it's for cooking purposes. 

As it happens, this year will see a record harvest of albariño grapes. This usually means a fall in the price the bodegas pay the cooperatives but it'll be interesting to see if retail prices fall. A €1 bottle of albariño?

Finally on wine . . . One of the bottles I saw in a deli - of another Galician white grape, godello - was labelled Vid Vicious. 'Vid' is Spanish for 'vine'. See the label here. Though not if you're easily offended. 

Not for the first time, a technician I called out this week (leaking boiler) solved a problem within a few minutes and then departed without charging me. It's impossible to imagine this happening in the UK, where a 'call-out' charge would be obligatory. I guess this is the British equivalent of the high fixed charges billed by Spanish utility companies. Though the latter are in a different league, of course. 'Rapacious' would be one word for their approach. 

Finally . . . Something to ponder over the weekend: France bought Corsica from Italy a year before Napoleon was born there. What if this hadn't happened? BTW: Boney is usually regarded as having been short, at 5ft 6inches, or 168cm. But this was the average height for men in France at the end of the 18th century. BTW 2: Josephine was, to say the least, a very flighty wife who had better things to do than respond to her husband's letters. Whereas Boney remained a lovesick swain. I think this explains a lot.

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