Spirit of Bacchus in Cuba
Text and Photos: Tino Manuel
Cuban tourism is experiencing a spiral growth of 13 percent, with the gastronomic sector showing truly satisfactory ratings including everything related to wines, that world of Bacchus that represents a sign of quality for a discerning traveler and connoisseur of an important culinary culture.
So it should be no surprise that experts from five continents are planning their professional meetings, significant encounters, discussions and exchanges in Cuba.The Wine Festival
At the beginning of October 2008 Cubans celebrated their 9th International Wine Festival with the presence of important wine cellars (bodegas) from Spain, Chile, France, Italy and Germany. This meeting takes place each year in Cuba's Hotel Nacional, a pioneer in gathering Bacchus experts and bestowing its distinctive touch for the professional interests of sommeliers and tourism executives.
The main venue is always the hotel's Salon 1930, the name referring to the year in which it opened, which brings together, besides wine cellar representatives, oenologists, specialists, distributors, vendors and consumers in search of opportunities and contracts.
Participating this year were: Juanita Mateo S.L. (one of the founders of this type of exhibition), Bodegas Joan Sardá, Bodegas Torres, Bodegas del Caribe, Destilería MG, D and B Group S.R.L., Adrada Ecológica, and Río Zaza, among others. Products such as Matarromera, Viña Maipo and Concha y Toro, as well as brands from Bodegas Joan Sardá were presented in the Taganana Salon. The tasting judges, prestigious members of Cuba's Sommeliers Club, founded in 1995, selected from an ample list for “Best Booth” and “Best Product.”High recognition
A group of Spanish business people participating in the 9th International Wine Festival acknowledged the development and quality of tourism on the Island, noting that this meeting attracted wine cellars from various countries, above all Spain. Confident in the efficiency of the country's gastronomic system, the Iberian company producing Pinord wines decided to bet on the Cuban market, where it anticipates selling its over 50 brands.
Pinord oenologists commented that Cuba is a very special market because it counts on a great potential for establishing its products and enjoys worldwide prestige for tourist results.
Experts showed surprise at the Cuban professionals' knowledge of wines, and of the brands and production companies existing in France, Spain, Chile, Germany, the United States, Italy, Spain, and other nations.
Olga Fernández, internal administration of the Haza County Bodegas of the Pesquera Group, expressed satisfaction at the great knowledge shown by Cuban sommeliers and the development of the country's tourist industry. Fernández said she was optimistic for the impact on Cuba of the four cellars that make up the Group, because of their price-quality relationship.
This company emerged in 1975 in Pesquera de Duero, a small town in Castilla La Vieja, Spain, and, after consolidating its operations and international accounts, became a cellar of worldwide reference for the quality of its wines.Nobel Prizes in Gastronomic Literature
Another momentous piece of news announced at the Festival was that Cuban Yamir Pelegrino was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Gastronomic Literature, which will be presented this year in the German city of Frankfort. Although the Cuban did not obtain the coveted prize - this year's awards went to the United States and France - it was enough to be on that list of the world's greats for the sector.
Pelegrino, who has received recognitions in several parts of the world over the last ten years, is Food and Beverages director at Hotel Habana Libre Tryp, sommelier and president of Cuba's Sommeliers Club, author of two previous publications on wines and cookery.
He informed about the Nobel Gourmand or Best of the Best Gourmand World Cookbooks & Wines Books, awarded in 2008 in the Old Opera House in Frankfort; a presentation that corresponded with the opening ceremonies of the Frankfort Book Fair between October 15th and 19th.
His career in research and his publications' rich and quality contributions to the world of gastronomy and wines earned him the nomination from an international jury of experts.
The organizers of the international event, for the first time carried out at such a high level, also decided to choose him as the only representative for Latin America. They took into account that Pelegrino was the consecutive winner (2005 and 2006) of the Culinary Literature Prize, at both the regional and world level, with his books: Mi pasión Gourmet and Cono100do el vino.