History is written by the victors. I’ve never stopped to think about the layered meanings of this generally agreed upon truth. Of course Columbus got to write about discovering America [even though we all know it was Bugs Bunny] and Hernán Cortés about discovering Mexico when we all really know that there were people living there doing quite well before we brought them smallpox and Walmart.
I don’t know if anyone invented bubbly before French Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon broke silence in the local abbey by shouting, “Come quickly, I have tasted the stars” [I wonder if he got shushed]. Many historians will say that the bubbles were being bottled long before Dom got all the headlines. But whether “first in space” or not, Dom was a master winemaker. By enhancing his white wine’s ability to retain their natural sugars after the harvest, inducing a secondary fermentation in the spring, and then bottling these wines at just the right time to capture the bubbles he did master the art of méthode champenoise. Which begs the question, when did he ever have time for prayer and reading – and how on earth did he ever practice humility after capturing the stars?
While true Champagne remains an almost unaffordable luxury at $50 or more per bottle there are several other excellent sparkling wine alternatives in the $20 range including Cava – the Spanish version and my personal favourite – Prosecco – for the Italophile in the room- and Crémant – the name for French sparkling wine made outside the region of Champagne and an excellent source of tasty bubbles.
My advice to you this year is to try many of them and don’t just wait for “special occasions”. Believe me, there is not a better special occasion than hugging your wife in the kitchen on a Tuesday night with a flute of bubbly. It really is the only way to live your life. Ironic that a monk devoted to a life of celibacy did something in order to help solidify my marriage … don’t you think? Now who’s rewriting history?
Sad news this past month – the passing of Juan Pedro Domecq – a true Spaniard. Juan Pedro comes from the Domecq family that produces world acclaimed Sherry. He was also known for the breeding of the broad-shouldered bull with the tiny waist that has become synonymous with bull fighting – think Bugs Bunny – and producing fine jamon (the famous Spanish cured leg of pig).
Bugs Bunny dressed as a Mexican slapping a Spanish Bull
Now what Bugs Bunny is doing wearing a sombrero while bull fighting in Spain – due to another wrong turn in Albuquerque – I don’t know. But that is probably another thing that makes this bullfight funny.
Domecq is one of the great Sherry houses in Spain (Jerez) and if you get a chance to buy a Fino (bone dry served chilled) or an Amontillado (medium dry and nutty) do it!
Juan Pedro Domecq dies in Spain
By HAROLD HECKLE, Associated Press Harold Heckle, Associated Press
– Mon Apr 18, 5:30 pm ET
MADRID – Juan Pedro Domecq Solis’s fighting bulls helped define the evolution of the bullfight in the late 20th century, adding artistry and then muscle to the ancient breed.
Domecq, who died in a car crash on Monday, was one of Spain’s foremost breeders. He first developed what became known as the “artist bull,” bred to enhance sleek yet muscular lines, and later the “athlete bull,” aimed at giving a more thrilling performance while facing matadors in the bullring.
Known within bullfighting circles simply as Juan Pedro, Domecq had inherited Spain’s oldest breeding estate — Veragua, founded in the 18th century — which his grandfather Juan Pedro Domecq y Nunez de Villavicencio had bought in 1939.
Initially his bulls were criticized for visibly changing an ancient blood sport, but later many other breeders turned to him to buy prize breeding studs and cows.
He had helped develop bulls with broader shoulders and slender waist that came to define the beasts seen on many bullrings.
“He was the creator of the modern fighting bull,” said fellow breeder Victoriano del Rio. “Within bullfighting history he will always retain a foremost position as all of today’s breeding farms contain 30-40 percent of his bloodlines. His death is a tragedy to us.”
Domecq, who was a qualified agronomical engineer and descended from a famous sherry producing family, had in recent years also launched a company selling some of Spain’s finest “jamon” or salt-cured ham.
His company said that Domecq died Monday in Higuera de la Sierra when his vehicle crashed head-on with a truck very close to his Lo Alvaro estate in southwest Spain. He was 69.
His company website still bears a quote from Domecq. “We are a family that began making sherry in the 18th century,” Domecq says. “But we always had a second passion, the breeding and selection of livestock.”