Comfy Spanish wines for the fall weather


One of my simple pleasures during the fall weather is to enjoy a bold and gutsy wine with some comfort homemade food for a weekday or weekend supper. I take out my crockpot and let my imagination run wild with the creation of wonderful stews and roasts. Hell, I even abuse of the oven too!!!. These days, I have been doing a lot of cooking and stocking up for the winter, it seems-thats what my wife says.

For a comfy wine, what i am looking for is two things: great quality with the lowest price that I can get. Basically, I am looking for a pleasure that does not require too much fretting over. In Spain, there are many wine regions that deliver this style of wine. I tend to give preferance though to the wines of the Mediterranean-specifically Yecla and Aragon region.  Yes, I love Monastrell and Garnacha. Both grapes deliver the wines to get you through those cold days.

I also enjoy white wines as well. In a white, what i am looking for is body with a creamy texture. Freshness is important with a medium acidity. Grapes that could do the job include Chardonnay, Macabeo from Southern Spain as well.

Bodegas Castano Hecula Monastrell 2014. SAQ Depot #  10946334 $12.40

Sunny black fruit mediterranean style (black cherry, cassis) with deep accents of licorice, violets and spice. On the mouth, full body and rich with smooth tannins. Flavors are consistent with the nose. A nice wine for a cold weekday evening. Good with roasts or chicken in mushroom sauce.


Solanera Vinas Viejas 2013. SAQ # 11664902.$20.00

A steal for $20 bucks at the SAQ. Decant at least 30 min and leave it to chill  on your balcony. On the nose, great aromatics of black cherry, Chinese five pepper spice with a marvelous minerality streak. On the mouth, plush with firm and round tannins. Have it with braised bee shoulder and polenta.


Castillo de Monseran 2015. SAQ#  00624296 . $9.75

Dont let the small price of this wine fool you. On the nose, the wine displays generous aromas of red berry fruit, pencil shavings and cracked peppercorns. On the palate, charming and ample. Will leave you wanting to have another glass.  I like to have it with pasta and tuna with a drop of pesto sauce.


Castano Chardonnay / Maccabeo 2015. SAQ # 10855758. $14.15

Elegance, character, and freshness define this wine. On the mouth, soft with delicate citrus and floral notes. A wine for pleasure for a friendly price. I enjoyed it very much with a chickpea curry with green peppers and pumpkin.


Bodegas Luzon Blanco 2015. SAQ # 12559987 . $16.45

Fresh and energetic with touches of white anc citrus fruit. On the mouth, round and fresh with a good acidity and a pleasant woody note. Have with salmon in cream sauces.


Wine Trade Monitor 2016: Good news for Spain but a few words of caution


I recently came across the latest findings of the Wine Trade Monitor prepared by Sopexa. In the study, 1100 operators in the international wine industry were interviewed about the worldwide trend of still wines. There are some interesting and reassuring wine observations that I would like to share with you.


According to most captains of industry, France is the country that embodies more the image of  wine. However, if you take a look at the above graphic, Spain is rising fast in the ranks. Customers associate French wine for special occasions and Spanish wine for everyday consumption due to their excellent quality-price ratio. At this point Spains still needs to focus on developing a fine wine market image. In a recent article by Spanish magazine Sobremesa, one of the weak points of the Spanish wine industry is still the image that they have as a bulk producer. After reading the article, I was very surprised to find out that Spain is the largest exporter of wine in the world but the price of their wines have risen slightly in the past 15 years.


Canada will be a key market for Spanish wine from here to 2018. This is the perception of 40% of the industry operators interviewed for this study. In an article by the newspaper, La Vanguardia, the growth of Spanish wine imports have been steady since 2010 ( a good 44%). However, much has to be done in the area of promotion of wine regions. Spain should follow the example of Italy in how they market the wines. Like the trade Italian tasting, Wines from Spain should organize trade cities across Canadian cities such as Montreal, Toronto and Calgary. It was very encouraging to see that the theme of La Grande Degustation 2015 was Spain but what I would like to see is a yearly Spanish wine show.


Spain will continue to improve their whites specially in areas such as Andalucia and Asturias. See the article on Verema for more information about it. However, the biggest asset on Spain in the next few years will be about the Garnacha grape. According to wine trade monitor, the grape has entered the top 5 in the minds of North American wine professionals.

Spanish Garnacha produces red wine that doesn’t get a lot of attention. At my  budget price point, instead of cheap versions of Spain’s great wines, I’ll often simply reach for Garnacha. These wines remain largely under the radar, with plenty of delicious and inexpensive options.

Garnacha originated in the region of what is now eastern Spain. Garnacha proved to be succefull in the hot, dry Mediterranean climate, and soon propagated  to the south and east, first to Catalonia and then to other places where the kingdom of Aragón expanded throughout the 12th-17th centuries. The grape has become popular not only for its gutsy and deep flavors but also for its versability, resistance to disease and low impact on the environment.

With the occasion of Garnacha day worldwide on Sept 16th, I had a chance to taste  a small selection of Garnachas available in the Canadian market. The event was organized by wines of Garnacha. Some of my favorites wines were included on my previous post  celebrating Garnacha day. This wine was a favorite of both my wife and me. I wanted to include it since it does not happen often that we share a favorite wine.   Prados Coleccion Garnacha 2015 comes from the Campo de Borja appellation where Garnacha is king. The wine was amazing with the Paella made in Tapas 24, the place where the event was organized.

 On the eye, the wine has a deep and attractive red colour. The bouquet is quite heady with complex notes of ripe fruits,coffee beans and vanilla undertones tones as a result of oak aging. On the mouth, it is full body with an amazing elegance and soft tannins.

Prados Garnacha is the realization of acclaimed producer Pagos del Moncayo. It is the intimate realization of this bodega along close friends. The wines have gathered numerous awards including Parker and Jose Penin.


A mixed case of wine for the fall


The crisp cool  days of autumn are the perfect time to throw on a cozy sweater and light jacket, take  your loved one, and enjoy the outdoors for one last call before winter arrives at our doorstep. Here is my modest selection of Spanish wines to complement your enjoyment of fall weather.

In Red:

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Izadi Reserva 2011. SAQ Code: 12604098. $20.50. Vintages:  461269

Rich aromatic intensity with a nice balance of red fruit, liquorice and spices and hints of smoke in the background.Elegant and round on the palate with a long aftertaste full of floral and ripe fruit notes. Will grace a cubed beef stew with navy beans in rich tomato sauce. 92/100

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Condado De Haza 2012. SAQ Code: 00978866 . $26.85

On the nose, this classic Ribera del Duero exhibits a gorgeous nose of crushed blackberry, plum, currant, cedar, and tobacco. It, also, possesses a rich and savory feeling in the mouth to match its big cstructure and ripe tannins. Firm, full-bodied, and full of flavor, it will be a hit with braised lamb shanks and lentils. 90/100

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Cune Gran Reserva Rioja 2009.SAQ Code: 12591944 . $28.75

In the middle of the Cune range, this out this world Gran Reserva offers plump, beautifully ripe fruit from a lovely warm, ripe vintage. Two full years in oak have both softened and structured the wine even more, to produce a classical  known of Cune.  Give it a try with a carrot and beef stew. 95/100.

Tinto Pesquera Ribera del Duero 2013. SAQ Code: 10273109. $32.75.
Vintage tasted 2012: This Ribera del Duero is aged mostly in American oak with 10% french oak. It has a seductive bouquet of black fruits such as cassis and with dry violets. On the mouth, it is elegant with mineral and pure black fruit flavors with an excellent aging potential for aging. 95/100. Give it a try with roasted prime rib roast.

In White:

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Pazo de Senorans Albarino 2015. SAQ Code:  00898411 . $23.20
Aromas of nectarine, fresh figs, orange zest and white flowers. Dry,  medium body with citrus flavours and a mineral-driven finish, which dances a long time in the palate. Offers an excellent balance between power and finesse. 92/100. Food match: Fresh Oysters, Steamed mussels.

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Vina Gravonia Rioja Crianza 2006. SAQ Code: 11667927. $30.50

On the nose, floral notes of chamomile, ricola with honey and aromatic herbs. The palate is  medium-bodied with a fantastic  acidity and freshness that is amazingly crisp and persistent; it is more austere than exuberant, which was a real surprise. Tasty with lots of depth. 95/100 Food match: Indian curries.

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Castano Chardonnay / Maccabeo 2015. SAQ Code: 10855758 . $14.10

This white blend from Murcia is medium bodied without being oaky. Great flavors of peach, melon and papaya with a soft finish.  Their organically and sustainably farmed Macabeo and Chardonnay vines are well-established, now averaging more than 19 years old, at an altitude of 1500-2250 feet. Seafood based rice dishes. 90/100

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Parès Baltà Calcari Xarel-Lo 2015. SAQ Code: 11377225. $19.85

Medium intensity nose with  touches of pear and banana. Elegant and balanced with a very good acidity, fresh and structured. It passes the palate as a big wine would, with great flavors, and a medium-strong aftertaste. An elegant organic wine that is silky with good minerality, which I have enjoyed over and over again, when it comes down to price/quality, this is a winner!. 93/100. Try it with salmon roasted in the BBQ.

Lanzarote on my mind: Bodegas Bermejo and Grifo


Vineyards aerial view from Bodega Bermejos. Source: Bodegas Bermejos


Los Bermejos is a winery based on the island of Lanzarote. Only 125 km from the African coastline, conditions here are quite dramatic. In 1730 the island was covered with thick black lava and ash from a month intense volcanic eruption The porous, black volcanic soils  exhibit  high drainage, sucking  down the water content of  the soil that receive just a minimal amount of rain per year. Actually, Lanzarote brings to mind a bit Santorini.

The winds that originate from the Sahara desert and the  Atlantic Ocean are so strong that each vine is planted in small hole or hoyo, and in addition enclosed  with a stone wall. The hole permits the vines to more quickly reach the organic matter located beneath the top layer of solidified lava. Virtually no vegetation can survive such inhospitable soil.

Bodegas Bermejo practices organic viticulture and they are in the process of getting their certification. They also make a brut, a sweet Malvasia and apparently a magnificent rose from Listan Negro. However, I could only get my hands at the dry version of the Malvasia.

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Bermejo Malvasia Seco Lanzarote Joven 2015. $25.65. SAQ # 12951102

This is a 100% stainless tank aged Volcanic Malvasía. Crisp, bright with intriguing citrus and mineral notes. Smooth with notes of dry  herbs and peaches. Very long and aromatic finale. Food Idea: It could go well with seafood such as octopus, steamed clams or oysters. Here is an interesting recipe from Galicia in which Octopus is cooked with rosemary and potatoes. The rosemary in the dish could complement well the dry herbal notes of the wine.

Monumento El Grifo

Bodegas El Grifo is one of the top ten oldest Spanish producers. It was founded in 1775, making it the oldest of the Canary Islands.The winery has a bit over 50 ha of vineyards that include malvasía, listan negro and moscatel. Other varieties include listán blanca, burrablanca, breval or pedro ximénez.

Due to the extreme geographical characteristics of Lanzarote, harvesting is manual and El Grifo production counts for 30% of the island output.


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El Grifo Listan Negro 2014. SAQ Code: 12910634. $26.70

Bright cherry red with violet undertones. On the nose, aromas of red fruits, minerals with lactic nuances. On the mouth, very fresh, smooth with candied fruit notes. Supple tannins with a good persistence in the mouth. This is my go wine with a nice plate of jamon, manchego cheese, olive oil and bread.




Celebrating Garnacha Day


On September the 15th, it was the international day of Garnacha!, so it was the perfect excuse to retaste some of my all time favorites Spanish wines tasted from this variety. I was invited by the Sopexa group and wines of Garnacha in Montreal to taste a selection of Iberian wines availabe at the SAQ. The wines were tasted with a Tapas selection from the trendy Tapas24 in Montreal.  Here are my recommendations below. These wines are available at the SAQ ( Quebec) and LCBO ( Ontario).

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Bodegas Aragonesas. Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria 2014. SAQ: 12374587. $19.95

Red cherry colour. On the nose, the wine had  intense fruit aromas with a clear with nuances of toasty oak and spice. On the mouth, it was soft and well structured with ripe tannins. 89\100.

Anayón Garnacha 2012

Anayón Garnacha 2012. VINTAGES#: 424424. $21.75

On the nose, black pepper and cherry. Full body and robust wine. On the mouth, silky with sweet and noble tannins. Flavors bring to mind cocoa powder with a hint of vanilla and blueberry on the finish. 87\100.

Menguante Selección Garnacha 2012

Menguante Seleccion Garnacha 2012. VINTAGES#: 313833. $16.95

On the nose notes of black fruit compote with vanilla cream and seasoned oak. On the mouth, generous with ripe fruit and sweet and supple tannins. Good balance between concentration and acidity. 90/100

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Beso de Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2014. SAQ: 12799649 . $14.75. LCBO: 253591. $9.95

On the nose, jammy black cherry with stewed prunes and notes of oak. On the mouth, generous and rich with notes of cinnamon, leather and pencil shavings.  Very rich with a warmth feeling at the palate finale and generous tannins. 92/100.







Tasting the new Spanish arrivals from the Espace Cellier

This week I have been tasting some of the  Spanish wines from the latest Cellier offering at the SAQ. All perfect for the last weeks of summer.

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Marques de Caceres Verdejo Rueda 2015. SAQ #12861609. $14.00

This monovarietal Verdejo  is the new venture  of the prestigious Marques de Caceres in Rueda.  The grapes were picked at night to preserve the freshness of the wine. Very fragrant with exotic and tropical fruit ( grapefruit) aromas and pleasant herbaceous undertones. Delicious and aromatic on the mouth with an acidity that brings freshness to the wine. Pleasant bitter almond final typical of the variety.  Perfect for salads or seafood pastas. 90/100


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Celler Credo Miranius 2013. SAQ #  12866557. $19.80

Miranius is the name of a fox that lurks around the vineyards and become intoxicated with the aromas of the grapes. Celler Credo is the first producer that adopted biodynamic practices in the region of Penedes.  Made mostly with Xarelo and the rest Macabeo, this wine has an entincing perfume of golden apples with citric fruits, bay leaf and nuances of white stones. On the mouth, it is creamy with an excellent freshness. It perfumes your palate from beginning to end.  Could go well with poultry-based dishes such as grilled chicken breast with Mediterranean spices on the BBQ. 90/100

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Finca del Marquesado Rioja Crianza 2010. SAQ # 12859103. $15.95

From the well-known Riojan producer Valdemar, this Tempranillo is grown on the Rioja Alta from the Briones in the Rioja Alta. On the nose, reminiscent of black cherry, pipe tobacco and subtle earthy notes. On the mouth, it has a generous fruit structure with subtle tannins. Perfect for every day bbq read meats with an excellent price. 93/100

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Castillo de Ulver Bierzo 2013. SAQ # 12865829. $18.50

Made under the direction of Raul Perez, this Mencia displays aromas of perfumed blackberries, licorice with a hint of smoke and licorice. On the mouth, it is polished and long with subtle tannins and a long finale. 93/100. Great with BBQ burgers.


Telmo Rodriguez: Making wines with soul

At some point or another if you are an amateur of Spanish wine, you have heard the name Telmo Rodriguez. A man ahead of his time, with many facets-from businessman to surfer.  He is the knight of shining armour of Spanish autoctonous varieties. Through his company,  Compañía de Vinos Telmo Rodríguez he has created some of Spain’s most emblematic and original wines.
Telmo has quite an international background. After studying enology in Bordeaux, he did stints at Cos d’Estournel and Petit Village. After that he continued in the Rhone Valley his journey working with Chave and Trevallon.  It was in the Rhone that he discovered terroir driven wines.During his academic formation he made friends with Pablo Eguzkika which became his partner in his current wine company.

Telmo started his wine venture in 1994. The beginnings were quite difficult. At the moment, the Spanish wine industry was wore interested in producing quantity rather than quality. In addition, at that time there was crazy fashion was to pull old indigenous grape varieties and replace them with international french ones such as Cabernet Sauvignon. With humble means, Telmo started his proyect by looking back at the heritage of Spanish wine. His company became the defenders of the old and authentic vines.

Currently his company has proyects across many appellations in Spain. They include Alicante, Cigalas, Malaga, Ribera del Duero, Rioja, Rueda, Toro and Valdeorras.  Some of his well known wines include Dehesa Gago, Basa, Gaba do Xil, Viña 105, Gago, Gazur, Almuvedre.

Lucky for us, Telmo will be in Montreal on September 8th to present some of his wines  the Galerie du Gouverneur. The event will be hosted by the SAQ Signature. The price is $195 per person and includes a gastronomic supper made by Sebastien Muniz, celebrated chef of Montreal  Spanish restaurant Meson and Tapeo. The wine list include:

Mountain Blanco 2013, Sierras de Málaga
El Transistor 2014, Rueda
Pegaso Pizarra 2010, Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla y León
Matallana 2005, Ribera del Duero
Altos Lanzaga 2011, Rioja
Granja Remelluri Gran Reserva 2009, Rioja
Molino Real 2009, Málaga

For those fortunate to attend, it will be a chance to taste three of Spain’s cult wines. These are Matallana, Altos Lanzaga and Molino Real.

Matallana is the flagship wine of the portfolio of Telmo Rodriguez. A 100% tinto fino from old and new vines from  Ribera del Duero vineyards in Sotillo, Roa, Fuentecen; Fuentemolinos, Pardilla  and Fuentelisendo. This is an incredible sensual yet powerful wine aged 15-18 months in french oak. See my post on souvenirs from an old tasting salon for the tasting notes of the 2000 vintage.

Altos de Lanzaga is another exceptional cuvee from the region of Rioja. This wine is born from four plots of old head peruned vines in the village of Lanciego at 500-600 meters altitude, which are worked biodynamically. The wine ferments in 3,000 kilo oak vats with wild yeasts for 20 days and matures in 1,500 and 225 liter oak barrels for 18 months. 

An avant garde Rioja as it best. The nose is full of glorious dark plums and heady blackberry jam with stewed prunes.  On the mouth, it is silky, chunky with a fine tannins structure. Flavors bring to mind more blackberry and cassis aromas with a Madagascar vanilla finish. Drink until 2025

Molino Real is  a very concentrated moscatel wine. This is the fruit of bush vines near Malaga. It has spent 20 months in new french barriques. The fruit is such of an amazing quality that you can barely feel the wood except for a savoury spicy thin coating. This is a cult Spanish wine with strict allocations across the world and ranks among the finest wines of Spain. 
If you are in Montreal, dont miss this chance to meet Telmo and taste some of his wines. For sure, you wont be dissapointed.

Until next me and you have heard it in El meson del Vino.