DWCC Overview


Marques de Riscal (hotel)

So I’m back in the real world – the one that has lots of washing (hooray for sunny weather), meal plans to write and a toddler with a cast iron will (not quite as cast iron as his mother’s, unfortunately for him).

But a week ago I was heading from Logroño in Spain’s north, back to Madrid to fly home after a whirlwind trip to the Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC).

I’ll save the hard core wine geekery for posts on Cellared, but I thought that Eating Adelaide deserved at least a brief overview.

This year was the conference’s sixth incarnation. It started life in 2008 as the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference (EWBC): a very grand name for a motley group of about 30 mostly UK and European bloggers who holed themselves up in a hotel in Rioja and … um … probably drank some wine.

But six years, one rebranding and at least one baby later, the trio of original organisers, Gabriella Opaz, Ryan Opaz and Robert McIntosh, were able to offer around 300 participants two packed days of conference, several days of side activities and a final grand tasting hosted by none other than Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz (yes, I don’t know how to pronounce that either). If you’re not a wine enthusiast who’s getting excited by reading that – don’t worry – trust me, those are some impressive names!

A series of pre-conference press trips was held to places like Priorat, Porto and Rioja but time constraints meant I missed out on these. My conference kicked off with a day visit to Dinastia Vivanco, a winery which is home to not only a very impressive tourist set up, but also a collection of rare and interesting grape vines called the Bacchus Garden.

The conference proper was a very hectic, jam packed two days. It was impossible to fit in everything I wanted to do so at the end of the first day I felt very frustrated that I’d missed out on a lot. However, once I recovered from that I was determined to pare down my schedule for the second day to ensure I didn’t miss anything.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll pick just one highlight: the amari masterclass held by Andrew Quady, an American vermouth producer. I keep on thinking I should get in to apéritifs and digestifs but I never quite manage it. This class showcased some really top notch vermouths and we were all provided with base wine and tinctures to have a go at blending our own. It definitely changed my perception of this class of wines (one of the reasons I am always keen to taste/experience wines I think I don’t like!) and the interactive nature of the workshop made it very different from what you typically experience at a conference.

The final day was another winery trip: this time to three different wineries. My choice of trip included the Marqués de Riscal winery, perhaps best known for its Frank Gehry designed hotel (see the picture above).

It was a really spectacular way to wrap up the conference!

El Jamonal, Madrid


date of visit: Tuesday 23 October 2013

When I lived in Leeds I studied Spanish quite intensively through the Instituto Cervantes. For a year I went to two classes a week with a couple of guys from work. I wouldn’t like to say how proficient or otherwise any of us became (my workmates used to go to the pub both before and after class). Bar one long weekend in Barcelona, it’s a skill I’ve had very little opportunity to put into practice.

And now, I find myself in Spain on a flying visit to attend DWCC – the Digital Wine Communications Conference. The conference is being held in Logroño in Spain’s north but I managed to squeeze in an overnight in Madrid before heading to wine country.

Madrid is a very pretty city with an incredibly compact feel to it (this may have been helped by the fact my hotel was very centrally located!). The buildings are mostly beautiful and incredibly clean but you also don’t have to look too hard to find signs of the economic troubles that grip much of Europe at the moment. Even on my first afternoon, when skies were grey and it was raining, it felt a comfortable and welcoming place.

One of the things I noticed immediately (as in, in the bus on the way from the airport) was the huge number of shops selling ham. They are just everywhere. And porcine products are clearly something the Spanish take extremely seriously, and in which they take enormous pride. So it was obvious that dinner should be pig related.

I cheated and asked the internet where to go and it sounded like El Jamonal on Calle Jacometrezo would be a good starting point. Forewarned that the staff didn’t speak English I knew that my rusty Spanish would get a work out.

Ham & beer - what it's all about!

As always, the problem was not in communicating what I wanted, which was pretty simple, but in understanding the flurry of Spanish returned to me. After a little hand waving, helped along by me looking very disappointed when I was told the boquerones was a very large portion, I soon had in front of me a plate of ham, a plate of boquerones and a beer. A result all round, I’d say.


Boquerones appear to be something of a Spanish thing – I’ve yet to see them anywhere else, bar the time in Adelaide I paid $7 for the tiniest portion of them. They are fresh anchovies in vinegar. I daresay this sounds unappealing but combined with parsley, garlic and a bit of oil they are absolutely delicious. A lovely combination of fish, mouth puckering acidity and garlic: perhaps not for those who don’t like strong flavours but one of my favourite things in the world to eat!

My dinner set me back just 11,50€ – a very welcome change to airline food!

El Jamonal
Calle Jacometrezo, 7
28039, Madrid
phone: +34 695 81 59 56