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Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

25 Days of Christmas: Day 8

It’s not all about the gifts – it’s really about love…right?  I gotta say, there was a lot of love for Spanish red wines in our casita in 2011!

Here are 3 Spanish Delights that’ll have you and your friends singing Feliz Navidad all season!

The first selection is no stranger here at  It just keeps bringing Sexy Back, again and again, with remarkable consistency.  Just like past vintages, the 2010 Altovinum Evodia Old Vines Garnacha is, yet again, pure liquid gold in the under $10 wine category.  

If you’re looking to crank up the dial and prefer a comfortable and friendly Old World feel, then the 2007 Ramon Bilbao Limited Edition Tempranillo offers familiar flavors of cherry, vanilla, leather and black pepper.  For around $18 per bottle, it’ll elevate a plate of assorted meats, cheeses and olives to new heights.

Finally, our late season find (thanks to a recommendation), leads us to an amazing, mouth-filling red from the sub-region of Priorat.  The 2010 Bodegas La Cartuja Priorat is a delicious blend of 50% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo (aka Cariñena or Carignane), 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah.  After trying all three wines, a friend of mine said, “I LOVE all three, but if you want to go all the way and furthest, then the 2010 Bodegas La Cartuja Priorat is the one that will take you there!”  $15 and I get to go all the way?!  Sounds like a good deal to me!  ;)

BTW – no need to worry about a few broken ornaments when you come to my house! Mi casa es su casa, dear friends!

I’ll Be Back!

If you’re kickin’ yourself for missing the 4th Annual New York Wine Expo this past weekend – you’ve got good reason!

My wife and I made the annual trek to NYC to sample a remarkable array of wines from Old World producers from places like France and Italy, to New World wines from South America and the United States –  to name just a few.  Attendees had a whopping 760 different wines to choose from; and over 190 wineries from around globe were on hand to pour their newest creations.

I’d either be lying or still passed out drunk somewhere in a New York City alley if I told you that we were able try all 760 wines, but we did our best to try at least a few of the wines at each exhibitor’s table.

Here were just a few of the wines that left us tipsy in their awesomeness:

  • Winemaker, Miguel Jesus Gonzalez Sahuqillo of Bodegas Villavid traveled all the way from one of Spain’s more obscure wine regions, Manchuela, and dazzled our taste buds with both the Blanco Villavid (D.O. Manchuela)  and the Woman Soul (Made for a woman –and good enough for a dude! :) ), both consisting of 50% Macabeo and 50% Verdejo grapes.  

  • On the red side of things, both Wines of Argentina  and Portugal Wines brought their A-games.  They were well represented by dozens of exciting and a few barely pronounceable reds like the Portuguese 2007 Esporão Reserva that was a blend of Aragones (Tempranillo), Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alicante Bouschet.  Try saying that 3 times fast! 
  • We also loved, I mean LOVED the 2007 Saurus Patagonia Select Pinot Noir from Familia Schroeder in the Valley of San Patricio del Chañar (Argentina). 
  • For the very wealthy wine collector or someone who really wants to splurge, there was a lot to Ooh and Aah over with the nearly $100 bottle of 2008 Achaval Ferrer Finca Bella Vista Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina that oozed with seductive elegance and refinement. 
  • For dessert, wine lovers with a sweet tooth had lots of treats to choose from.  Our favorite was the 2008 “Naturally Sweet Wine” Vinsanto from Santorini’s Santo Wines.  Comprised of 75% Assytriko and 25% Aidani grapes, this barrel aged, very rich wine provided a happy ending after a long afternoon of tasting.

Notwithstanding the many great wines at this year’s expo, there were also some terrific wine personalities as well to help pour on the education.  We had the pleasure of meeting Mark Oldman, best-selling author of Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine and the beautiful and energetic Leslie Sbrocco, otherwise known as Thirsty Girl.

Finally, we happened upon a great local wine story this year.  Or, should I say that “it” found us! :)    As we were preparing to wrap things up for the day, we were stopped by a gentleman named Craig.  As it turned out, Craig was the boyfriend of Alie Shaper, president and winemaker of Brooklyn Oenology.

Shaper, a former aerospace engineer, decided a few years back to turn her hobby and love of wine into a new full–time career and began Brooklyn’s first urban winery.  Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “they make wine in Brooklyn?!”  Well, not quite yet at least.  BOE currently doesn’t have its own vineyard; the company rents space and winemaking equipment from Long Island’s Premium Wine Group to produce its own line of wines made from grapes mainly sourced from local Long Island grape growers.  What I also found particularly interesting about Brooklyn Oenology wines was the incredible and unique artwork on their labels.  To help showcase local artists, Brooklyn Oenology features artwork on each of their bottles created by an artist living or working in Brooklyn.  Another cool thing about their artistic labels is that they easily peel off in case you’re interested in saving the label.  The company recently opened its first tasting room where they showcase their own Brooklyn Oenology Wines and also feature a rotating guest selection of both wines and artisanal spirits from around New York State.

And so ends another great time at the New York Wine Expo!  If you didn’t make it to the expo this year, I highly recommend marking your calendar for next year…’cause you never know who or what you’ll discover!

The Deadly Rock

As I was drinking the 2004 Oriel Setena, the 2007 Vina Gormaz Tempranillo and the 2007 El Jamon Tempranillo, one word that came to mind:  Kryptonite.

All three of these red wines are products of Spain and all three tasted like minerals and rocks to me – more specifically, wet metallic stone.  Not that I’ve spent much time with rocks in my mouth, but there was an almost flinty kind of thing stirring around that completely overpowered any fruit and spice components that these wines might have possessed.  Although I embrace the infinite tastes and qualities offered by different types of wine, I have to admit that I’m a bit challenged by this characteristic.  For now I’ll keep an open mind, but in the case of the 2004 Oriel Setena  (MSRP $18.50*), the 2007 Vina Gormaz Tempranillo ($9.99) and the 2007 El Jamon Tempranillo ($9.99), the metallic quality was acting more like kryptonite robbing these wines of their ‘super powers’.

2 Stars out of 4.
* Sample

All The Flowers That You Planted, Mama…

The flowers were in a full and glorious bloom in the backyard of our friends, Paula and Ryan Barry, this past 4th of July weekend.

And with nothing but clear blue skies, amber waves of cool night air, and a few shades of Spanish wines to taste test, we all agreed that dining al fresco would be a perfect and relaxing way to ease into the holiday weekend.

To kick things off, we started with a few cocktails…

…and made our way through some tangible heaven that consisted of Spanish Manchego cheese, Extra Sharp Provolone and a little something from Trader Joe’s that I personally never had before called Samosas.

If you’re not familiar with this popular TJ’s appetizer, it’s a flaky layer of pastry crust that houses a dollop of tangy, Indian-inspired vegetables in the center.  These crusty little triangles are totally addictive and if you’ve never tried them, you should definitely pick some up on your next visit to Trader Joe’s.

Before we could all just sit back, kick-off our shoes and bark at the moon, we decided to collectively review a few Spanish wines that I received as samples.

First up, was the 2008 Recorba White Wine from Rueda, Spain ($11 MSRP).

This white wine is a blend of 60% Verdejo and 40% Viura grapes that are from 60 year old vines located in La Seca, which is a small location in the heart of the Denomination of Origen Rueda.

So, what was everyone was sayin’ about the 2008 Recorba White Wine?

“A little bit effervescent, great fruit acidity.  Reminds me of a really good Sauvignon Blanc.”

“Awesome, razor-sharp acidity.  Really great lime and orange peel/tropical flavors.”

“I like this wine a lot and would definitely recommend it to a friend.”

“Clean, fresh – a perfect Spring or Summer white wine.  Very good.”

Personally speaking, I’d hook myself up to an IV and have it pumped through my veins on a hot summer day if I could.  I gave it – 4 Stars out of 4.  Paula was also a big fan of the 2008 Recorba White Wine and wanted to give it 3.5 Stars.  Unfortunately, we don’t do half stars here, so Paula opted to go with 3 Stars out of 4.  Both Ryan and Mrs. WineLife365 were in agreement and awarded our Spanish delight 3 Stars out of 4 as well.

Verdict: We all loved the 2008 Recorba White Wine.  Some a little more than others, but in this case, majority rules:  3 Stars.  It’s a terrific buy!

Our second wine of the night was from the same producer – it was the 2008 Recorba Red Wine ($11 MSRP).  This particular wine comes from Spain’s well-known Ribera Del Duero wine region.  The 2008 Recorba Red Wine is made of 100% selected Tempranillo grapes.

So, did everyone love the 2008 Recorba Red Wine just as much as the 2008 Recorba White Wine?  Here’s what we had to say about it:

“Nice vanilla and red berry flavors with a soft finish.  Good ‘starter’ red.”

“No flaws.  Just a more light-bodied wine than I was hoping for.”

“Doesn’t quite excite me in the same way that the white did.”

“If you enjoy a nice, clean, mild red wine for warm weather sipping – this is nice.  Should serve at 58 degrees F.  It’s a red wine drinker’s white wine for the summertime.”

This wine was a hit with Ryan – he gave it 4 Stars out of 4.  Paula, Mrs. WineLife365 and I all gave it 3 Stars out of 4.

Sorry Ryan…majority rules:  3 Stars.  The 2008 Recorba Red seems best suited for many as a starting pitcher rather than a closer.

Ok, I’m starving!  Can we eat now?

Caprese Salad (Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes & basil drizzled with olive oil)

Pisa Tower Salad (Eggplant, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, marinated roasted sliced red peppers tossed with chopped greens and balsamic vinaigrette)

Grilled beef tenderloin served at a perfect 140° f by Chef Barry

Don’t bother counting calories or fat content

Night, night! Sleep tight!

Thanks Paula and Ryan for a fantastic evening!

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