Showing posts with label Rioja. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rioja. Show all posts

Saturday, April 6, 2019

A Romance with Rioja

I am in love with Spanish wine, especially Rioja.

This isn't the first time I've shared this sentiment, and I'm sure it won't be the last time, either! Wines from Rioja reflect high quality and craftsmanship, while offering accessibility for all wine lovers at reasonable prices. 

On Thursday, February 21, I was fortunate enough to attend a Wines of Rioja reception in preparation for one of Calgary's largest annual wine festivals, aptly named Winefest. Winemakers and Rioja representatives came together to share their passion and knowledge of this prestigious region with local wine media, writers and bloggers such as myself. Here are my personal standout wines of the tasting:




The Conde de los Andes Blanco 2015 is composed entirely of the Viura varietal. An intriguing vibrant gold colour in the glass, melon and vanilla aromas invite you in to a complex palate that also offers notes of kiwifruit, fresh pear and a hint of white blossom. The tannins are fine-grained and well integrated, with mouthwatering acidity leading into a long, bright finish. This is a stunning sipper that would marry well with a wide variety of savory foods, and has the potential to age in cellar for 5-10 years.


The Valserrano Rioja Reserva 2012 carries a bouquet abundant with red fruit, molasses, and hazelnuts into a body consisting of prominent yet velvety tannins and a smooth, rich body. The uncompromised quality and care the family takes in crafting their wines is clearly evident with each sip. 


The true highlight of the reception was the CVNE Imperial Rioja Reserva 2014. This stunning treasure boasts a lush, full body, silky-smooth tannins and racy acidity, combined with flavours of red currants, plum and black olives. The finish is long and sultry, with a hint of baking spice. Pairs well with a myriad of cheeses and charcuterie, but also fantastic on its own!

The wines I tasted that fabulous, fun February evening reaffirm my love for Spanish wines, and the memories of this wonderful experience will last well into the future. Rioja wines are an excellent choice to bring to a dinner party, curled up in front of the fire on a cold night, or even on a weeknight after a rough day at work! To learn more about the Rioja wine region, its terroir and upcoming events in your area, please visit https://us.riojawine.com/en/

Special thanks to Tiffany Pence, Dhane Chesson and Ana Fabiano for their wonderful hospitality and passion for sharing Rioja wines with the world.

Cheers!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Weekly Wine-Down August 1-7: The Wine in Spain Falls Mainly On My Lips

I used to think that the quality of Spanish wines wasn't comparable to French and Italian wines. I once mentioned this to a fellow winelover at a Vintage Port tasting I attended with him a couple of years ago. He laughed, and said I must try more of them to really appreciate the wine's quality through it's terroir, and "bang for your buck".

I am so glad I listened to him!

Over the past few years, I have found some wonderful Spanish gems, and after focusing on more Spanish wines in the past month, here are some of my personal favourites with a few other producers to try out.

Spain's wine regions spread sporadically throughout the entire country. A wide variety of red, white and rose wines are produced. The most notable regions include:



-Rioja: The most well-known region in Spain, oaked red wines made from grape varietals Tempranillo and Garnacha (aka Grenache) are produced here. The Ribeira del Duero and Toro also feature some wonderful expressions of Tempranillo.
-Jerez: Home of Sherry wine made in a variety of styles
-Catalunya: This is where Spain's signature sparkling wine is produced, called Cava. Some notable wine appellations nearby are Priorat and Montsant, which offer red wines with elegance and structure.
-Rias Baixas: The maritime climate coupled with mineral-rich soil is the perfect homeland for a white wine called Albarino, which carries aromas of stone fruits and melons combined with a mineral structure and zesty finish.

White Wine: Albarino


August 1st was considered "Albarino Day" in the winelovers' world, and my sister-in-law and I celebrated with an interesting take on the varietal. Deep gold in colour, the Pirueta contains aromas of honeydew melon and orange blossom tied into a palate of underripe pear and grapefruit. The body shows more weight than most Albarinos, with a blend of mouthwatering acidity and zesty finish. Pairs extremely well with lighter cheeses like havarti.

Another good Albarino to try is Paco & Lola, which is lighter in style and offers flavours of red apple and crisp citrus. The label is created to catch your eye in store, adorned with black and white polka dots!

Rose Wines



The "dog days of summer" allow for Rose wines to really shine as they pair well with the sunny summer heat. Bodegas Breca delivers a dry rose called Garnacha de Fuego that delivers excellent value perfect for sipping on a hot summer day! Bright and refreshing, with notes of papaya, fresh strawberries and minerality mid-palate. Note: All rose wines should be consumed within 24 hours of opening-otherwise, they lose all their flavour.

Bodegas Muga, based out of the Rioja region, also produces a dry rose that is fuller in body, with concentrated citrus and fresh red berry flavours.

Red Wines: Rioja

And speaking of Rioja, this is the trademark red wine that comes out of Spain. Most are composed of the grape varietals Tempranillo and Garnacha, with Graciano and Mazuelo sometimes blended in. An oaked white blend is also made here; however, I'll focus on the reds this time.

There are 4 types of Rioja red wines: Joven wines are bottled the year after the grapes are harvested, Crianza wines must age for 2 years with 6 months of that in oak barrels, Reserva wines are aged for a minimum of 3 years with 12 months in oak, and Gran Reserva wines must be aged for at least 5 years, including 6 months in oak.


The Beronia Rioja Reserva 2014 is an expressive blend of wild strawberries, red roses, coffee and an earthy note that leads into the long finish. Lively acidity and mocha tannins add structure and complexity. The 2014 is still showing its youth, and would be a wonderful addition to the cellar for another 3-5 years! Pairs well with grilled red meats like lamb chops.

Other Rioja wines to try include Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva and Vina Bujanda Rioja Crianza.

The next time you stop by your local wine store, stop by the Spanish aisle and give some of these value-packed gems a try. I can't say I've ever had a bottle from Spain that I didn't like! You just might find this to be your wine truth as well ;)

Stay tuned for next week's wine-down, when I focus on the Reserve line of Mission Hill's wines.

Cheers!

Monday, December 28, 2015

My Favourite Wines Tasted in 2015

This year is now coming to a close and although 2015 was relatively quiet in my world of wine, it brought much joy and surprise in other facets of life for me. On April 30, I discovered I was pregnant with my second child and in August, I was delighted to learn my baby is a girl! She will make her big arrival on December 30. She had me craving beer most of the pregnancy, future beer lover?

January 1-April 30 still had me busily exploring the world of wine. Some highlights included starting up a tasting group with fellow wine lovers in the late winter/early spring, visiting Jamaica's Appleton Estate Rum Distillery in February and attending a few local tasting events that focused on great value wines. I also made it back to the Okanagan in August and did some wine touring - thank goodness for spit buckets! 

Even with only 4 months of official tasting, I was able to put together a list of wines and pairings that stood out to me during the year. Here are my top wine picks of 2015!

Top Red Wines

Because my drinkable months occurred during the winter, my top picks favour red wines this year.  In fact, there were very few red wines I didn't enjoy in the first 3 months of 2015! The top two wines are priced in the premium category, while the other 3 are priced between $20 and $35 CDN.

1. Burrowing Owl Meritage 2011 - Oliver, British Columbia, Canada 

2. Joseph Phelps Insignia 1996 - Napa, California


4. Silkscarf Malbec Cabernet 2009 - Summerland, British Columbia, Canada


Top White Wines

Spain took the top 1 and 3 spots and French whites, including a Premier Cru, took 2nd and 4th place. All wines are priced under $40 CDN with the exception of the Burgundy, which is premium priced.

1. Bodegas Muga Blanco 2011 - Rioja, Spain



4. Domaine Fouassier Les Romains 2012 - Sancerre, Loire Valley, France 

Because of my shortened "tasting season" this year, I wasn't able to spend as much time with sweet wines, sparkling wines or rose wines and will therefore not be adding these categories to my list this year. However, I did get to experiment with wine and food a fair bit, and here are my top picks for pairings.

Top Wine and Food Pairings

1. Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer 2013 with Seafood Salad "Louis Style", served in Lettuce Boats

2. Domino Pinot Grigio 2012 with Honey-Lime Marinated Shrimp (v)

3. Tommasi Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo 2011 with Slow-Cooked BBQ Ribs (v)

Honourable Mention; Cameron Hughes Della Robbia semi-sweet Italian Rosso with Wagon Wheels (v)
*Don't knock this pairing until you try it! This pairing is great for camping!

Three of my top wines in the food pairing category happen to be value wines at under $20 per bottle, so my Top Values list is shortened to include the wines mentioned above. Australian Shirazes dominate the list, with a semi-sweet Tokaji clinching 3rd spot and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc rounding out the category. 

Top Values




4. Seven Terraces Sauvignon Blanc 2013 - Marlborough, New Zealand

This year I'm going to introduce 2 new categories: Top Spirits and Top Beers. You might be surprised at the number of Canadian spirits & beers on each list, but in my opinion Canada is really starting to make their mark on the world of spirits, especially in the world of Whisky. The top beers are courtesy of my husband, who tasted approximately 100 beers in 2015!

Top Spirits

1. Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old Rum - St Elizabeth Parrish, Jamaica

2. Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye - Gimli, Manitoba, Canada

3. Eau Claire Distillery Three Point Vodka - Turner Valley, Alberta, Calgary

Top Beers

1. Phillips Longboat Chocolate Porter - Victoria, BC, Canada


3. Delerium Tremens - Belgium 

4. Granville Island Lions Winter Ale - Vancouver, BC, Canada

5. Erdinger Dunkel - Germany


So what's next for 2016? 

I plan to return to wine school through Fine Vintage Ltd and take their Canadian Wine Scholar Certification course in late 2016/early 2017. Therefore, my main focus will be on Canadian wines. Our major trip this year will be back to the Okanagan, where I will sample my way through the region and soak up as much knowledge as I can to study and prepare for the course. I am also hoping to spend some time in the Niagara region, should we make it back to my parents' place in Ontario.

Other regions I plan to focus on include Champagne, California, Italian food and wine pairings and Rioja, Spain. 

Huge thanks to all those who still follow me despite my long absence from the blog and twitter! May you have a 2016 filled with good food, good friends and great wine. Cheers!















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