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.

Souvenirs from an old tasting salon


These days I have been  feeling nostalgic about my past days living in Spain. I miss the colours, flavors and sounds of Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastian. But more important, of course, I miss Spanish wine.

I pull out an old tasting notebook that I used to have when I was living in Madrid. As i sweep through the pages, a fleeting glimpse occurs in my mind of the memories in those crucial formative years of Spanish wine. I put Miles Davis Sketches of Spain. The mood is set and I start travelling in my mind.

Back in those years ( 2002-2004), I was just starting to learn about the fine wines of Spain. During those years, I was a student with limited means and it was not often that I could enjoy a bottle of Alion, or Artadi Vina el Pison. Most of the wines that I used to drink in those days were in the range of 5-7 Euros. In the weekends, I use to splurge a bit more but never spending more than 20 euros.

One day by pure accident, I went to my first Spanish fine wine salon. It was the IV Salon de los Mejores Vinos de Espana. Now, it is called Salon Guia Penin de los Mejores vinos de Espana.  This salon is one of the best of the Spanish wine industry. You can taste the best “unicorn” wines, from Vega Sicilia to Roda and Pingus for a tiny amount of money.

Why by accident?. One day, i was doing my wine shopping at Bodegas Santa Cecilia, where the saleslady told me that this event was taking place. I quickly rushed into my apartment for a quick change of clothes and i took off. By the way, if you ever go to Spain, this wine store is one of the best in Madrid. Compared to La Vinia, the store has better prices with a wide array of Spanish wines.

La creme de la creme was at this salon. Peter Sisseck, Alvaro Palacios, Marques de Murrieta. In those days, there was a real buzz in the Spanish industry. Priorat was the hottest wine region, Riojas de Alta expresion were in fashion and Parker was giving 100 scores to Spanish wines like candy.

I pretty much tasted everything at the salon. These are the tasting notes of my favorite wines. If you have some of this wines at your cellar, they should be drinking well at this moment.

Numanthia D.O Toro 2000

Chocolate, spices, black fruit and leather nose with a hint of truffle. Powerful and dense, yet with a very good equilibrium in the palate. Tough and unresolved tannins. Expected maturity:2010

Calvario DOC Rioja 2000

Heady and powerful nose of red and black fruits with high quality notes of french wood and exotic spices. On the mouth, showing lots of power and concentration. Flavors of earth, mushrooms with tight and grainy tannins. Expected maturity: 2015-2020.

Bodegas Roda Cirsion 2001. D.O Rioja.

One of my favorites in this Salon. Perfect Rioja de Alta Expresion. A very complex nose. Minerals, chocolate with toasty oak. Incredible depth and concentration with ultra fine tannins. Expected maturity: 2020-2005.

Corullon D.O Bierzo 2001

Very austere nose. Ashes, smoke with a mosaic of red fruits. Full body and quite potent. Retronasal indicating fine fresh herbs. Outstanding balance on the mouth. Round tannins and a persistent finale. Expected maturity: 2008

Finca Dofi D.O Priorat 2001

Unresolved and austere nose. Stoney and flowery with a stream of black fruits. Peppery with nuances of new wood. Rich and hedonistic with very polished tannins. Long aftertaste. Expected maturity: 2018-2020

Vega Sicilia Unico D.O Ribera del Duero 1989.

First time approaching this wine. Austere, yet displaying very fine notes of wood. Breathtaking concentration of red and black fruits, despite being 10+. Fine notes of Cuban black tobacco. Elegance more than power with streamlined tannins. Akin like Bordeaux than Ribera del Duero. Long aftertaste. Gamey finale. Expected maturity: 2030-2040

Alion D.O Ribera del Duero 2001

Opulent nose. Jam packed cassis with cherry and spices dominated by french wood. Full body and round with silky tannins. Modern and very sexy. Expected maturity: 2015-2020

Aalto D.O Ribera del Duero 2000

Toasty oak with chocolate and a herbaceous poise. Peppery with overripe black fruits. Lots of concentration with a good balance. Woody finale. Long and persistent. Expected maturity: 2015-2020. 

Clos Martinet D.O Priorat 2000

Cigar box aromas with polished stone. Flowers ( Violets) such as strawberry. Full body. Excellent balance between concentration and acidity. Tight tannins with a smoky licorice finale. Expected maturity: 2018-2020.

Val Llach D.O Priorat 2000

Very aromatic nose with confit black fruit and mineral notes. On the mouth, quite austere with meaty and muscular tannins. Elegant, but needs lots of time to develop. Expected maturity: 2020-2025.

Clos Mogador 2000

Pretty much closed in the nose. Stone aromas ( Quartz, Granite), dry black fruit and toasty oak. Optimal concentration. Chocolate and balsamic notes. Needs a lot of time to develop. Expected maturity: 2020 and beyond.

Terreus Pago de la Cueva Baja 1999. Vino de la Tierra Castilla y Leon.

On the nose, tobacco infusion with vanilla notes.  Masses of red and black fruits. Closed and austere at the moment. On the mouth, very muscular.  Retronasal indicating flavors of violets and black fruits flavors. Not an easy wine to drink. Needs time in the bottle. Expected maturity: 2020-2030.

Matallana D.O Ribera del Duero. 2000

Lots of black fruit character with toasty oak. Still needs time to integrate. Tannins are quite aggressive in the mouth. Lovely flavors in the mouth that bring to mind mint with animal nuances. Very young and austere  with lots of promise.  Expected maturity: 2015-2020.

Most of the wines were in the higher end with prices pushing 50 Euros and more. During those years, the ultra power style was very fashionable and you were considered “hot” by drinking those wines. With Parker no retired from the wine industry and the economic turmoil in the world, the clientele for these wines have diminished greatly.

The Spanish and International wine lover taste have changed as well. Many people know seek wines that resemble their origin rather than to follow an international model.  From time to time, I still drink these wines but have a problem with the level of extraction and alcohol.  I favor more restraint and the natural, organic style.

Keep hydrated with Rosado!!!


This week in Montreal, the temperature went up to a warm 40 C. I really enjoy when is hot like this. Its mandatory at this weather to go the pool and to drink lots of cold rose. You want to keep your body cool and fresh and not risk dehydration.

As you know, Spain has an amazing selection of roses. From the floral rosados of Navarra to the gutsy ones of Valencia, there is something for every palate. However, our selection at the SAQ is kind of weak. Here are my reccomendations to keep you hydrated.

Borsao Rosado Seleccion 2015. SAQ Code: 10754201. $13.20

A regular in the SAQ catalog, this rose made from 100% Garnacha, displays aromas of strawberry jam and cherry. Full body and easy going, it is the perfect refresment by the side of the pool. 87/100.

Vincente Gandia Pescaito joven 2015. SAQ Depot: 12841093. $10.00

Gandia is one of the biggest wine conglomerates in Spain. This rosado is made from Bobal and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a nose bringing to mind fieldberries with a touch of violet. On the mouth, full body, medium acidity with simple but delicious vinous flavors. Great for the everyday BBQ. 88/100

Codorniu Castell de Raimat Costers del Segre 2015. SAQ Code: 12842344. $14.30

Elegant notes of strawberry, with  a hint of grapefruit complemented with a touch of aniseed. On the mouth,   flavors are reminiscent of strawberry and raspberry with a sweet finale. In fact, there is some residual sugar in this wine. 86/100

Felix Solis-Los Molinos Tempranillo 2015. SAQ Code: 10791125. $9.40

On the nose, delicate aromas of raspberries, watermelon and other red berry fruit. On the mouth, fresh and delicate. Flavors are consistent with the nose. Perfect for raw tomato pasta based sauces. 85/100