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Posts Tagged ‘Spanish wines’

Jake’s Corner: Tasting a Spanish Wine for Summer

June 26th, 2013 1 comment

Bodegas O. Fournier Urban Ribera 2009, TempranilloWith the prospect of long, warm summer nights stretching before them, many people automatically reach for a white or rosé, something chilled to counteract the day’s heat lingering in the air. But just because it’s warm outside doesn’t mean that you should give up on red wine for the season.

In fact, summer is a great time to enjoy red wine. Grilled food often calls out for a rich red that can match that deep smoky flavor. And those ruby colors look particularly pretty against the setting sun, too.

For me, the wine hit of the summer so far is the  from Ribera del Duero, Spain. We couldn’t stop opening bottles, so I ordered 4 more cases today.

Here’s what I think: This wine is a deep ruby in color with fantastic aromas of red fruits, cherry, raspberry and freshly-cut flowers. The palate leans to black fruits like black cherry and blackberries, with hints of oak and vanilla. There is a very noticeable minerality, soft silky tannins and a lively juicy finish. It’s also a top value pick at $15 a bottle.

Tempranillo is the most widely-grown grape varietal in Spain. The name “tempranillo” is derived from “temprano,” the Spanish word for “early,” and it’s so called because tempranillo grapes tend to ripen several weeks earlier than other Spanish red grapes. Tempranillo is an ancient varietal; it’s been grown since Phoenician times on the Iberian Peninsula. It is the main grape used to make Rioja, one of Spain’s most popular wines, and can also be used solo as in the Bodegas O. Fournier Urban Ribera. Once considered only fit for jug wine in California, Tempranillo grapes are now planted around the world, and Tempranillo is respected as a fine wine.

Tempranillos are often medium to full-bodied, with bold fruit flavors and mild acidity. Berry flavors such as those seen in the Bodegas O. Fournier Urban Ribera are common, along with plum, cherry, and strawberry. Many Tempranillos can also be described as earthy, and with mineral qualities. Tempranillo is considered a very food-friendly wine, pairing well with all kinds of food. It’s especially good with grilled fare, making it an ideal wine to enjoy with friends and family at your next backyard get-together.

Wine Review: Atalaya Almansa 2007

April 22nd, 2011 No comments

Atalaya Almansa 2007

Atalaya Almansa 2007


The Atalaya Almansa 2007 will surprise you not only with its ridiculously low price tag, but also with its richness in flavor. The Atalaya Almansa is a distinguished blend of Monastrell, Garnacha Tintorera, and other grapes.  Brought to you from Spain, and aged eight months in French and American oak, its impressive nose consists of violet, blueberry, black cherry, leather, and spices, that seem fitting and appropriate given its rich royal purple hue.  On the tongue, this wine is enveloping and elegant.  Its delightful complexity contains the flavors of succulent berries and dark fruit, and its exquisite tannins are balanced by pleasant acidity.  With a finish that is long-lasting and satisfying, containing coffee, oak, and other flavors, this is truly a wine with depth.  Because of its considerable presence, consider pairing it with bold, flavorful foods like steak, pepperoni and cheese, pasta and chicken, or even spicy shrimp.  Of course, it is also quite sufficient on its own!  At such an affordable price, this is one of those wines to buy by the case (need some inexpensive, moveable storage for your extra bottles? How about a metal lattice wine rack?).

With an expressive bouquet and regal purple appearance, this is a wine sure to impress without making an impression on your budget.

Wine Review: 2008 La Cocina Tempranillo

February 1st, 2011 No comments

la cocina tempranillo

To me, there’s nothing like a good Tempranillo.  Tempranillo is often referred to as Spain’s “noble grape,” and it is used to make bold wines with lots of character.

Tempranillo is one of a combination of wines that makes Rioja, the famous red wine of Spain.  But Tempranillo is wonderful by itself as well.  It’s a full-bodied red wine that is well-balanced by a signature dusty, earthy taste.  It’s a great sipping wine, perfect for sharing amongst friends.

The 2008 La Cocina Tempranillo is a great wine for red wine lovers in search of a good deal (and who isn’t?)  For around $10 a bottle, it’s a great weeknight wine.  This is a ripe, rich wine that would pair equally well with a simply grilled steak or pasta in a simple tomato sauce.  It’s got a pleasant earthiness that’s reminiscent of dust and leather backed up by juicy raspberries.  It’s a no-frills wine perfect for a night of toasting good times with friends and family.   Pick up a bottle and savor it.

Love Champagne but Hate the Price? Try Cava.

July 20th, 2010 No comments

I love to drink champagne.  It doesn’t have to be a special occasion, in fact, sometimes I’ll make one up just to have an excuse to celebrate with the bubbly stuff.  Whether I’m toasting to a job well done or a job I didn’t quite get done, champagne always puts a smile on my face.  But what doesn’t make me smile is the price: champagne isn’t cheap!  So today on the VC blog, let’s talk about a delicious and more affordable alternative to the fancy french stuff: cava.

I discovered cava on a recent trip to Spain.  It’s a Spanish sparkling wine, and something that Spaniards take quite seriously.  Spain is renowned throughout the world for their excellent wines: they are known especially for the care they take in growing wine grapes perfect for their different regions.  Their wines are generally excellent and highly regarded throughout the world.  Not as popular in the US, but just as important to Spaniards, is cava.

Cava is produced in the Catalonian region of Spain, concentrated in the northwestern Penedès area.  130 million bottles of cava is produced each year by 250 Spanish cava makers.  The grapes they use are predominantly Macabeo, Xarello, and Parellada, which give cava light, bright, and perfumed characteristics.

Cava is made in the traditional French method used to produce champagne: méthode champenoise, and in fact was called champán or xampany after true French champagne until champagne was given Protected Geographical Status.  In fact,  there are very strict rules governing what can and cannot be labeled a cava (just as there are such rules for champagnes) and one of them is that it’s not a cava unless it is made in the proper méthode champenoise. Thus, in terms of production at least, it’s really no different than a true champagne.  The same, of course, can’t be said for its grapes and growing conditions, but Spain’s reputation in these categories definitely makes cava a tough competitor.

Because cava isn’t as well-known as champagne, you can generally get significantly more bang for your buck by reaching for the Spanish, rather than the French stuff.  Be aware that cava comes in different degrees of sweetness, with Brut Nature being the driest (no sugar added) and Dulce being the sweetest (more than 50 g/litre of sugar added.)  Also be aware that not ever sparkling wine from Spain is a cava (and those that aren’t are not subject to the same production quality regulations).  Here’s an easy way to tell: all true cavas have a 4-pointed star on the cork.

So, fellow champagne lovers, get out there and try some cava, and let us know what you think!