Two Hearty red wines to complement your meat fix

Yesterday, I was BBQ a tough piece of pork loin in the BBQ. I did a marinade of tamari, brown sugar and sambal olek with a touch of bourbon and sesame oil. It was stunning and it was a perfect match for two previous reds that I tasted in the morning. One from Ribera del Duero and Toro.

Yaso 2012. DOP Toro. SAQ # 12298975. $21.25

Charming red fruits and spice. Full body, nice freshness with ultra fine tannins. Not too much oak with pleasant notes of flowers such as roses and violets. Long and very elegant.

Senorio de los Baldios Crianza 2009. DOP Ribera del Duero SAQ # 12417807. $22.10

Very spicy nose. Quite aromatic bringing to mind cloves, anise, stewed prunes. On the mouth, structured and potent. Cocoa, cofee with lots of lush new wood. Grainy tannins. A beast of a wine. Excellent candidate for a cellar.

And I pair these with the below picture. The Yaso worked better complementing and bringing a certain freshness to the asiatic notes of the pork. The Ribera del Duero was good too, specially with the charred parts of the meat but it had a bit too much power for the meat. It would have been better with beef.



Vinos de Madrid: Bodegas Maranones


2016 is  gone and it has been a year of austerity for me. Not much cash in my pocket, so it was one of the years in a long time that I spent less on wine. I have always sticked to Spain for wine but in this brutal year that is about to finish, even more for their fine values.

Not only Spain produces wines friendly for the pocket but also is a continous source of discoveries and wow factor. My latest musing has been with an appellation that many Canadian wine lovers dont now: Vinos de Madrid.

The SAQ only list 3 wines in their catalog from this appellation. I hope that they continue to list more since it is a place to watch for.

Madrid is not only the capital of Spain but also one of Europe’s great cultural centers. Tourists invade  Madrid to see its museums and plazas and to enjoy some of their greatest resturants. However,  many visitors don’t realize that Madrid has a wine region all its own, the Vinos de Madrid Denomination of Origin (DO).

The DO is divided into three subzones: Arganda, Navalcarnero and San Martín de Valdeiglesias. Arganda, southeast of Madrid, is the largest of the three. San Martín, to the extreme southwest, is the next largest, while Navalcarnero, also in the southwest, is smallest. The climate is of the continental type.  If you ever find yourself visiting Madrid, this make a nice day trip.

Bodegas Maranones is the proyect of Fernando García Alonso, co-founder of Comando  G). The estate is comprised of 20 hectares between  old bush vines (between 30 and 70 years old) of local varieties (mainly Grenache and Albillo) in a Mediterranean forest, at an altitude of between 650 and 850 meters above sea level.

The winery employs organic farming methods. Each plot is vinified separately and manually, in order to express the characteristics of each soil and vintage. The principles of biodynamics are applied on the vineyards and during the winemaking process as well.


Bodegas Maranones 30000 Maravedies 2014. SAQ # 12769571. $23.10

Maravedíes were an ancient form of currency once used in Castilla and 30,000 Maravedíes was the sum that Don Alvaro de Luna paid a local monastery, centuries ago, for the land where Bodega Marañones is now located. It is an appropiate name for this “village” wine made from three terroirs that Fernando farms: Manrañones, Andrinoso and Dehesa. Made primarily from Garnacha, there is about 10% Morate and a tiny amount of Syrah included in the blend.

The wine  starts with an amazing nose of fresh picked cherries, then continue with  layers of cracked pepper, fresh leather, rhubarb and  green pepper, with nuances of mint, plums and fig.  The wine goes on and on and become richer and more complex with a blueberry red fruit compote.

I hope that in 2017 my wine fortunes will improve so I will continue in my discovery quest.


The joys of winter BBQ with wine



The author of this blog

I am back from an unexpected break due to some new circumstances in my life that require dmy attention. During that time, I have brush up my cooking skills in all aspects. I have been revisiting different cooking techniques including BBQ. Actually, i have to admit that enjoy better barbequing during the winter season rather than the summer.

There is something inviting of the cold Quebec winter that lures me to being outdoors cooking. Problably it is the smell of the cool crisp winter air. It feels so clean that it makes you want to escape from the stuffy indoor environment. However, it takes someone with a high tolerance to cold. Even to this date, I continue to wear shorts while I am outdoors.

There is another reason while I like to being outddors making food in the winter. It permits to have as an aperitif, spirits with the excuse of warming up. It is the best time to enjoy a Spanish brandy. In a  BBQ video that I made, an acquintance of my wife suggested that it was a charming setting to have a hot wine. Although, I agree with her, I rather have a glass of Cardenal Mendoza.

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

For a weekday BBQ meal, why not have a glass of Torres 10 Imperial Gran Reserva.( SAQ # 00094367, $31.00). A great Spanish grape brandy from Torres, made from Catalan grape varieties and aged using a solera made from American oak. Dark topaz colour, with fine old gold tints. Of a pungent aroma, it displays an intense bouquet – more metaphysical sthan spirituous – with hints of spices (cinnamon, vanilla). On the palate it is round and full of  tannins, developing a rich and long aftertaste.

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

If budget permits why not have a glass of Emilio Lustau Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez. ( SAQ # 12467151 ,$77.00).  This Brandy brings memories  of whisky matured in sherry casks (think Macallan, Glendronach, Glenfarclas…), only more sweeter. There is lots of raisins and figs, milk chocolate, thick caramel and vanilla character. Molasses and tofee complement the nose along crushed almonds. On the mouth, a good dose of dried fruits, mainly dates, chocolate coated figs and with rum & raisins. A bit of  candy apple as well.After the initial wave of sweetness, which could be a little overpowering for some, it settles down on nuts such as  hazelnuts and spices (pepper, cinnamon) and just the perfect  hint of smoked wood. Long, dark with a  sweet finish.

After your meat is done, and you are cold enough to go back inside, it is time to  eat. I reccomend a bold red to stand the bold flavors of the BBQ. Finca Villacreces Pruno 2015 would do the job just fine ( SAQ# 11881940, $23.20). Dark fruit tones, maple taffy caramel, licorice. On the mouth, good structure with a well acidity and tannis. This classic wine from the Ribera del Duero keeps getting better with time. 

Another interest wine  to have comes from the Priorat. More powerful than the Ribera del Duero, it will keep you warmer.  The Gratavinum 2 Pi R Priorat 2011 ( 11307163, $30.25) has dark chocolate notes, herbs and  extracted black fruits. On the mouth, modern and plush, concentrated  with a massive tannic charge. Not the style that I favor on a regular basis but once in a while, it is good to have when you are outdoors.


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:

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

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

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

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

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

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:

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

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.

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

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.

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

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

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

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.

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

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.


Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

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.