Just across the border sits La Jonquera, a small Catalonian town whose name is now attached to a massive array of opportunities to spend euros - department stores and specialty shops, garden centers, liquor stores, tobacconists, groceries and butchers. You want it? You can buy it somewhere along the main drag heading south out of the old town.
We usually make our winter run into Spain after resting up from Thanksgiving but before Christmas craziness hits La Jonquera full force. We decided to fly past the outlets first this time and head farther south, just east of Girona, to Palafrugell, a small town on the Costa Brava that has the distinction of being home to the largest wine boutique in Europe, vins i licors Grau.
Grau is family-owned, founded in 1951 by Miquel Grau i Lluís as a tavern and wine cellar delivering bulk wine. Children and grandchildren have joined the business, moving and building and expanding to the massive enterprise that it is today. To give you an idea of the size of the establishment, imagine the biggest liquor store in Texas. It's called Spec's. The flagship store is in Houston. Grau is twice as big.
The feature is the wine. Shelves and shelves and shelves of Spanish wine. Liz was so overwhelmed by the opportunity to purchase fine reds of every stripe that she flat forgot to check out the whites and rosés. A wall of dry sherries backed by a wall of sweet. Champagne and cognac and liqueurs and more. And let's not forget the liquor. Every stupid flavor of vodka that Absolut produces. Fine scotch. Small batch whiskey. A playground for the discriminating purchaser of hooch imported from around the world.
One caution. If you are looking for a run-of-the-mill spirit, that bottle of Torres brandy not for drinking but for spicing up holiday baked goods, the groceries at La Jonquera are actually cheaper. The same goes for lesser bourbons like Four Roses. But Grau can't be beat for its selection of wines and for the broad range of fine sippin' whiskey on the shelves.
The corporate website HERE tells the whole story with better pictures than the ones that I've attached below. To visit their online catalogue - not by any means a complete listing of what is available at the store - click HERE.
To learn more about our adventures in France, from walking tours to observations on life as an expat, click HERE.