Alex Baldonado

I am a wine autodidact.  Far from belittling, I feel it reflects the way I like to learn, part of my personal nature: understanding the big picture from different perspectives.  When passionate about a topic, I delve into its history, the context, the components, its causes and its effects.  Such is wine, and fortunately for me, the subject of wine is breath-taking in its breadth, encompassing the philosophy of human perception, the semiotics of the senses, the botany of the vines, the geology of the soil, the tradition-tainted “slow” wisdom of agriculture, the economic, and sometimes comic, interplay of supply and demand, the artistry of the wine-maker, the aesthetics of harmony.

My take on wine is more than just the hedonistic enjoyment of drinking it. I share, as many wine professionals do, the perspective that a wine tells a story, a story about how its birthplace influences the final result, the personality of the few involved in its year-long creation, the history of the lands the vine grew upon, the culture of its making.

If you can agree that one`s perspective in life depends on where you come from, then you must agree that my perspective draws from many walks of life.  In fact, I bring to bear a number of different perspectives when it comes to explaining any given culture.  Even though I feel like an American expatriate living in Spain, this does not begin to tell the whole story.

MULTI-CULTURAL UPBRINGING

This completely modern multi-cultural experience mirrored my own upbringing:  my mother was Spanish,from a small town in Bajo Aragon, a Vino de la Tierra (a non-D.O. appellation) region south of D.O. Somontano and east of D.O. Cariñena (yes, the region gives name to and is the origin of the carignane grape, although oddly enough, there they call it mazuelo); my father was Asian-American, a US Navy sailor stationed in the Mediterranean.

I was born in Barcelona, grew up in London, U.K., and Naples, Italy, going to American schools, and speaking Spanish and English at home, while watching Italian television.  At fourteen, my family moved to California where I went to junior high and high school.  When I started going to UCLA, my family moved back to Barcelona, so I had plenty of opportunities to visit Europe on trips back home.

While living in Italy, my mother learned to speak and cook Italian and my parents, both from agricultural towns, made friends with the local dairy farmers.  Cooking at home became a fusion event, much before the term was ever applied that way.  Spanish, Italian, Filipino (my father´s origins), and American food became the norm at the family table.

The upshot of this amalgam is my being comfortable in a variety of cultures:  I have lived in Paris,  Boston and Los Angeles and even in a cabin in Three Rivers, a small town just outside Sequoia National Park in California.  I feel at home in Los Angeles as well as Barcelona, where I now reside.

Still bilingual in Spanish and English, I understand Catalan and Italian; but I admit: to do math in my head, I do it in English.  This, of course, indicates that English is my principal language, if not my mother tongue.

MY PASSION FOR WINE

Growing up in Europe, it was normal for me to see adults enjoy a glass of wine with each major meal.  In college, my German roommate and I explored wines from his country and mine.  And since then, that exploration has continued, taking wine courses whenever possible, visiting California wine country and the  Champagne region in France, patronizing specialty wine stores in Los Angeles, Boston, Paris, and Barcelona.

All as an avid consumer–a wine lover–until, a few years ago, a good friend attended sommelier school and invited me to participate in his bi-weekly wine tasting “study group”, wherein several students (and myself) would each present a wine to the group and then lead a formal tasting. I learned more in that year than ever before, a technical foundation on which to continue learning, so much so that I now conduct wine appreciation courses for local groups.

How does my history benefit you?  As I stated at the outset, I can view a culture from many perspectives.  And I aim to find the best way to give you a wine experience that you will be able to share and take back with you.