Happiness in a bowl of lentil soup with a glass of Mencia

As you know I am doing a keto lifestyle, so I have to keep my carb count really in check. I am able to skip the bread and pasta to keep the wine. Once in a while, I may give myself a treat such as eating lentil soup. I love a steaming soup of lentil soup for a fall rainy lunch but got to be careful about the portion size. One portion of 100 ml has about 14 gr of net carbs so is not something that I have in my repertoire every day. However, my family likes the lentil soup so I make them for wife and daughter-they love it so much!!!. It would not be fair to prive them of some dishes just because I am doing keto.

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Me and abuela Flor, during my last trip to Venezuela in 2008

This recipe is really simple. As far I remember, it is one of the first dishes that I learnt cook. From a very early age, I used to watch my grandmother cook. She used to make the best dishes ever: chicken with rosemary, stuffed eggplant with meat, meatballs in tomato sauce and of course lentil soup. During my childhood in Venezuela, I used to have lentils twice or three times a week. Legume based dishes are a staple in Latin American diet.

 

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The recipe of my abuela Flor goes like this: You start off making a tipe of sofrito with a base of leeks, peppers, carrots and of course bacon. If you dont have bacon, you can add a piece of chopped chorizo or some prosciutto or jamon serrano. The addition of meat in the soup will add some complexity of flavours to the soup. The sofrito has to be fried in good quality olive oil in medium temperature. After you see the bacon start getting golden and crispy in colour, you know is ready. Then, I add my dried lentils directly. I fry them for two-minute. Then I finish assembling the soup by adding water or homemade chicken stock. The final touch will be the seasoning. I add up a bit of cilantro, cumin, oregano and parsley. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer until the lentils are al dente: soft but still a bit hard. Thats it…you got a nice bowl of happiness in a lentil soup.

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The wine

I choose to pair my lentil soup with the Raul Perez Ultreia St-Jacques 2016 ( SAQ # 13555945, $22.80). I love the wines that Raul Perez makes in Bierzo. This is such as gorgeous wine. In spanish I would say un grande!!!. I love the stuff that Raul makes in the Bierzo. This is a seductive wine. It has such as pretty nose bursting with aromas of wild blackberries with the perfect spice dose: aromas of dried cloves, black liquorice candy and confit violets. On the palate, the wine reminds me of a good Crozes Hermitage: polished in the midpalate with satiny tannins. A beautiful contrast with the grainy texture of the lentils. This is too much of a wine for the small price it commands.

Raul Perez is no stranger to this blog.  I have covered him before. Many consider Raul Perez to be one of Spain’s – if not the world’s – finest winemakers. Perez crafts wine in several regions in northwestern Spain, but he makes his home and many of his finest wines in Bierzo.

Pérez’s fame has been established in the world for several  years now; he originally gained international recognition working with his mentor, Alvaro Palacios, on diverse projects throughout northwest Spain (and beyond), but his home base is Bierzo, which is situated right where the Galicia region gives way to Castilla y Léon. From 1993-2004 he was the winemaker at Castro Ventosa, his family’s historic Bierzo winery, after which he founded his eponymous operation in the same village—Valtuille de Abajo. His family owns about 15 hectares of vineyards in and around Valtuille, which are broken up into incredibly tiny parcels farmed by many individual growers. Pérez’s “Ultreia” series follows a Burgundy model: There are a few “village-level” wines at the entry level—of which this “St. Jacques” is one—and then several more limited-production, single-vineyard bottlings.

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My abuela will be proud of the results of my soup. It was a success in my house especially with my wife. A glass of wine to you wherever you are!!!. You taught me some much about cooking and how to be a respectable man.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Party on with Viernes Mencia

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Viernes Mencia  is a red wine from the trendy D.O.P made by Bodegas Godelia. The bodega can be found in the district of Pieros, an historical setting which was witness to the passage of countless pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela. Godelia has reinvented itself to stand along with their peers in the region as a fine representative of the special character of the Mencia grape and El Bierzo.

This wine is made 100% with Mencía grapes from one of the winery’s single vineyards, with vines between 12 and 21 years of age, situated at 500-700 metres above sea level.

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Tasting Notes from the 2014. SAQ Code: 12751451. Price: $16.45

The beaujolais of Spain but with a darker profile. Perfumed nose of black berries with fresh cracked pepper lying on a bed of violets. On the mouth,  Full body with a cashmere texture alike and silky tannins. Very perfumed retronasal flavors as well.

Exceptional wine for the price. For $16.45, buying a case is imperative.

Have it alone in a party with your friends or with grilled chicken with pesto, or grilled sausages.  Or do, like i do by listening David Bowie.

Hasta Luego!!!

Alvaro Palacios, Spain Superwine hero ( 2/3)

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I continue where I left off on the work of Alvaro Palacios in Spain. On my post of November, I covered the Priorat. On this post, i will cover Bierzo and of a future post Rioja.

Bierzo wine history goes back to ancient Roman times. The Romans colonized Bierzo with the purpose of mineral exploitation. Like they did in other places that they went, they cultivated the vine to fulfill the thirst of the settlements. Pliny the Elder, who perished in the A.D. 79 wrote the earliest references on Bierzo wine.

The Mencía grape is the star here, where it occupies nearly two-thirds of the vineyards. A variety that dominates in northwestern Spain (especially in the Galician DOPs- appellations- Valdeorras, Monterrei, and Ribeira Sacra), Mencía has only recently gained respect as an honorable grape variety. In good hands, it reveals fresh fruity notes, smooth tannins and that elusive reflection of mineral terroir. Although known as a wine that shines well in its youth, yielding fruit driven and accesible wines, some Bierzo producers are demonstrating that with judicious usd of oak it can make worthy cellars. Other grape varieties cultivated in the Bierzo include Garnacha Tintorera, Godello, Doña Blanca, Malvasía, Palomino and, in experimental quantities, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.

The vineyards in Bierzo are some of the prettiest in Spain and even in Europe. Many are planted in beautiful view-terraces along the steep slopes of the Sil river valley, some with such marked inclination that only mules can be used for the harvest. The soils are a mix from alluvial near the riverbed, to rocky and slate-filled on the higher slopes. The vineyards, which are planted at elevations of up to 1000 meters, enjoy moderate rainfall and, thanks to the mountains that protect them from the winds of the Atlantic, a relatively mild climate.

Much of the region’s fame is attributed to our superheroe, Alvaro Palacios. After succeding in Priorat, he enture with his nephew Ricardo in the Region. However, some sources say that he wanted to start in the Bierzo before the Priorat. However, his success there inspired Alvaro to search again for another challenge, this time establishing a vision in the potential of Bierzo and the area’s primary varietal Mencia.  In 1998, Alvaro and Ricardo, who had just finished studying in Bordeaux, created the te Descendientes de Palacios estate. Purchasing old vine Mencia vineyards, Alvaro and Ricardo revitalized Bierzo in the same way Alvaro did in Priorat. The winery is dedicated to Alvaro’s father, and Ricardo’s grandfather, who passed away in early 2000, once again sourcing inspiration from their families’ long history in Spanish winemaking. 

Petalos del Bierzo is born on several vineyards located on a group of hills of slate in the villages of Corullón, Valtuille, Villadecanes, Parandones and Villafranca del Bierzo. The soils of Corullón are of early cambrian period and of the rest of the villages from Tertiary era: Ferrous Clay with quartzites wnd pebbles.

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This is almost solo varietal of Mencia. The grape makes 95% of the blend with the leftover consisting of 3% white grapes, 2% Alicante Bouschet and other local red varieties

Pétalos del Bierzo is a lovely fragant and aromatic wine. I was impressed by its core aromas of fresh blueberries and blackberries. It also has a sizzling crushed black pepper with violet infusion component that echoes a Syrah from The Northern Rhone in France. In the mouth, it is full body, rich but satiny with ripe tannins. Its retronasal flavors bring to mind fresh mountain herbs with cool mineral nuances that transport you to the hills of Bierzo.

The flagship wine of Alvaro and Ricardo is Corullón. This is an assemblage from old-vine parcels around the town. The estate also produces up to four extraordinary single-vineyard wines: San Martin, Moncerbal, Las Lamas and La Faraona. Each is a distinctive expression of the enigmatic terroir of the Bierzo.