What wines to have with Gazpacho?

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Slowly but surely, it is getting warmer in Quebec. Just this week on Wednesday, it was 31 Celsius. I was not in the mood to cook so I told my wife to cook supper. She ended up doing some burgers that were quite tasty.

My point being that nobody wants to be near a stove when is hot outside. Also, there is something about the heat that makes you feel deliciously lazy. In a hot summer day, I will salads, fish carpaccios or ceviche and of course a nice bowl of Gazpacho!!.

Basically, a gazpacho is a cold Spanish soup coming from the land of Flamenco and Tapas, Andalusia.  This is such a simple, tasty and inexpensive dish, that’s why it has become so popular.

Gazpacho goes way back to pre-Roman times when shepherds where sustained by the original version that consisted of stale bread, garlic, vinegar, oil and water. With the advent of agriculture, vegetables were incorporated.

Popular across Spain, I have had amazing gazpacho in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. However, it taste better in his home of Andalusia, the land of good flamenco that comprises Sevilla, Granada, Costa del Sol and Jerez country. In this land of scorching heat, the Andalusians have been making cool magic potions for a long time.

According to Alicia Rios and Lourdes March, authors of Spanish cookbooks, Gazpacho became popular thanks to the marketing efforts of Eugenia de Montijo, the wife of the French Emperor Napoleon III in the nineteenth century. Gazpacho was unknown, or little known, in the north of Spain before about 1930.

At its heart, though, gazpacho’s fundamentals are consistent: It’s a cold soup based on tomatoes, with cucumber, onion and green bell pepper as customary supporting players. The addition of bread is much more European, and evokes a culinary link with Tuscan panzanella (“bread salad”), which could be irreverently described as a chunky Italian gazpacho too thick to drink. Other versions involve the use of watermelons and there is even a white Gazpacho. This last one is made with ground almonds, pine nuts, garlic and lima beans.

If you happen to be in Madrid, do not hesitate to visit the resto Clarita. They make an amazing watermelon gazpacho plus they have other goodies such an amazing red tuna and the seafood is amazingly fresh all the times.

Look for crisp whites and fruity roses to accompany your Gazpacho. These wines have the ability to handle the pungent acidity of the vinegar in the soup and will not overwhelm the delicate vegetable flavors.

Must try wines with Gazpacho

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Vina Ijalba Aloque Rosado 2015 ( $17.20. Private Import in Quebec, Charton Hobbs )

A 100% tempranillo rose from the leading organic winery in Rioja. Lovely notes of raspberries, strawberries and floral nuances. On the mouth, medium body, fresh with a delicate balance. Pairing nicely with tomato Gazpacho.

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Laguna de Nava Tempranillo Rosado 2016. SAQ Depot # 12238008. $11.65

Easy going red berry fruit with fragrant peach notes. In the mouth, simple yet with very fragant flavors at a friendly price. Pair it with a watermelon based Gazpacho.

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Bodegas Marañones Picarana 2014. SAQ # 13206841. $24.45

A 100% albillo from the upcoming Vinos de Madrid appellation. On the nose, ripe orchard fruit with dried herbs and spices. On the palate, it is tasty, fruity, with good acidity and well-balanced. Pair it with a garlic white gazpacho.

 

 

In the mood of Rias Baixas with Lobster

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Source:  http://kednycuisine.com/

This morning, I woked up with an incredible thirst to have a few bottles of  Rias Baixas with Langosta a la Parrilla. Living in Quebec, soon I will be getting my fix of the queen of the crustaceans.

When I think of eating Lobster, all I need is a nice Albarino. When made in the Galician wine region of Rias Baixas, often displays an echo of salinity from the nearby Atlantic, with different tones of floral notes, citrus, stone and tropical fruits. Plus, a Rias Baixas offers a very crisp  acidity, medium body and low alcohol.

Rías Baixas boasts a number of high-quality grapes. Albarino is king with a lion share of more than 90% of the DO’s vineyard area. It is said  to be related to Riesling, and some wine scholars argue that it was brought to the area by pilgrims or monks on their way to the  medieval town of Santiago de Compostela. Albarino is often blended with Treixadura or Loureira.

The soils are mostly granite, with a little bit of  chalk and clay. The bounty of the earth  offers a stream of  minerals with little nutrients, making it ideal for viticulture. The slopes encourage good drainage, a very important factor considering the high amount of rain, the area gets.  The neighboring Atlantic Ocean provides not only rain but also humidity, so growers have traditionally favored trellising their vines with pergolas, allowing air to circulate around the grapes, therefore sanitizing the grapes.  Fortunately, late summer is usually the driest part of the year, providing ideal ripening conditions for harvest in October. The grapes are pampered here.

Bodegas Terras Gauda,  are making some extraordinarily good wines from the local Rias Baixas grapes. As well as famous albariño grape, they use loureiro (also found in Portugal’s Vinho Verde just a little further south), and intriguingly, they have taken the near-extinct caiño grape to their hearts,to preserve this disappearing local white variety.

 

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The 2016 is impressive on the palate due to its powerful structure. Youthful with a great character. On the mouth, it is quite aromatic and exuberant with citrus aromas of mandarin orange and grapefruit, ripe peach and pineapple, and additional nuances of orange blossom, mint and thyme.  This is a serious wine for a serious shellfish. It retails for $24.25 in the Quebec market (10858351).

If you cannot get your hands in a bottle of Gauda, try Albarino Valminor or Pazo de Senorans, they are good alternatives as well. Lobster has a delicate flavor and should be matched with a wine which compliments and accentuates its sweet, succulent nature. That’s why I think a Rias Baixas is a natural partner: Imposing but not oververhemling.

If you want to know how to grill a lobster, here is a very simple video that describes the task. It may seem complicate, but is quite easy. All you need is a good knife, a bit of dexterity and a nice lobster.

Salud!!!!

 

A pleasant encounter with Bodegas Beronia

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Thousands of years ago the Rioja region was inhabited by the Berones; warriors who called their land Beronia. In 1973 the winery Bodegas Beronia was founded; named in tribute to the fighters of this beautiful land. It was founded on a passion for fine food and high quality wines and is now famous for red wines.

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This is what I learned in a recent encounter with  Matias Calleja Ujarte, the technical director from Beronia in a recent passagein Montreal. Senor Calleja was in a road trip with Cristopher Canale-Parola, the Area Manager for Canada for Gonzalez Byass. Beronia form part of this celebrated  family of wine domains since 1982

Beronia is famous for the experimentation with different types of oak. Matias was one of the first wine makers to experiment with an assortment of barrels and types of wood from different countries. He was also one of the first to try mixed oak barrels using French oak heads and American oak staves. Since 1973, the efforts of Matias has helped the signature style of Beronia, a mid point between the traditional and modern Rioja.

We tasted a number of wines available in the Canadian Market. For me the highlight of the tasting were the different samples of wines made with American and French wood that illustrated well the expertise of Beronia in the area of wood aging. Not to forget the legendary 1973 Gran Reserva that we tasted. This was a very much alive wine and makes wonder if Rioja could ever again make wines with this track record of longevity.

Another interesting wine tasted was the Rueda bottling. Gonzalez Byass has decided to invest in Rueda to demonstrate the potential of the area. The project has been led with Matias and Beatriz Paniagua. I was very surprised to learn by Matias that their Rueda is a 100% monovarietal Verdejo, something that it is rare to see as most Ruedas are blended with Sauvignon Blanc. Like I said before, the inclusion of Sauvignon Blanc blurs the character of the Verdejo and in consequence the terroir of Rioja.

Wines tasted

Beronia Rueda Verdejo 2016 LCBO # Vintages: 461327. 2015 was retailing at $11.25. In Quebec, private import by Univins

Lots of green apple, pear and lemon yogurt character with delicate herbaceous nuances. Medium body, refreshing with flavors of confit grapefruit. Very harmonious finale. The wine to have with crab cakes or fried calamari.

Beronia Tempranillo 2014. LCBO # 243055. 2013 was retailing for $13.95. Available soon in Quebec

Cofee, chocolate and prunes in brandy. Noble tones of wood. Full body with supple tannins. Flavors of cherry bomb and halzenut cream. Long. Pair with beef stuffed peppers. Amazing quality for a joven wine, steering toward a crianza.

Beronia Reserva Roble Americano 2014  ( Experimental sample)

Lots of spiced black fruit and irish cream. On the mouth, structured with a medium acidity and fleshy tannins. On the palate classic american oak flavors such as coconut and orange peel. For many, the flavors of American oak could be an adquired taste but I enjoy fondly the style

Reserva Roble Frances 2014 ( Experimental sample)

Very spicy nose.  Vanilla and Cinnamon with mineral nuances such as iron and black damson plums. On the mouth, fruit driven with tannins quite accessible. Well balanced.

Reserva Roble Mixto 2014 ( Experimental sample)

Intriguing nose with cloves and chinese orange. Cola and black fruit. Balanced with a round texture. Very elegant. The best of both worlds

Beronia Reserva 2012. SAQ # 11667231. $20.55. LCBO Vintages: 50203. $20.95

On the nose, smoke and espresso beans. Nice minerality. Voluminous in the mouth with earthy and elegant flavors. Tannins needs a few years to be resolved. One of the best reservas available in the Canadian market. Pair it with braised deer with vegetables.

Beronia Gran Reserva Rioja 2008. LCBO Vintages: 940965. $37.95

Sour cherry, dark olives in brine, prunes in eau de vie. Structured with mature tannins. Well balanced and elegant. Pair it with grilled lamb chops.

Beronia Gran Reserva 1994.

Very earthy showing a stream of tertiary aromas. It actually brought to mind mushrooms, fish sauce and other vegetable nuances. Some of the participants though that the wine was corked but what it actually needed was some time to open it up.

Beronia Gran Reserva 1973

Gorgeous wine. Full of live and vitality. Tones of coffee, moka with dry orange peel. On the mouth, very subdued with retronasal flavors of bark wood. Fully mature tannins. Amazing wine. It was verging towards an old noble Burgundy.

 

 

Vina Ijalba-The Quintessential Rioja wine.

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Readers of my blog may be familiar with the wines of this emblematic Riojano producer. I had a chance to taste many of their wines since the creation of this blog. So today’s post is like a visit to and old friend.If you are new to my page, you are about to discover some pretty darn unique wines. If you are a regular, my post will be like a review

My first encounter with Viña Ijalba was about 15 years ago. Back in 2002, I was a wine rookie living in Madrid looking for a top quality Rioja producer with a price range to fit in my student allowance. In an obscure tasting of countless Rioja wines at the UEC ( Union Espanola de Catadores), the Ijalba wines really stood out for their clarity of fruit, elegance, freshness and discrete use of oak.

The winery was founded in 1975 and currently has 80 hectares under their wing, farmed organically. Ijalba has indeed, gained much acclaim both within Spain and internationally for their incredible result with organic viticulture, as well as their expertise of obscure varietals. These wines, almost in extinction are amongst the few modern Riojas that contineue to impress me with their balance and style, without sacrificing Rioja “personality”. The winery was the first Rioja winery to convert to organics, and a peculiarity  for the region, is that all grapes used for the wines are 100% estate-grown.

Ijalba contiues to  set the tone for environmental awareness in the region, from its organic production to its extensive re-cycling and environmental certification for the winery.  Originally, the vineyards were all planted in abandoned  quarries, which justify the remarkable minerality they are endowed with, especially their bolder reds and, in particular, after some bottle age. The estate’s other distinction is the championing of the less-known varieties of Rioja such as the two Maturanas  and Graciano.

Wines available at the SAQ:

Viña Ijalba 2014 Graciano. SAQ # 10360261. $21.95.

Ijalba’s mission statement is to resurrect the traditional grapes of Rioja, and this wine  from their  20 hectare Graciano vineyard (the largest in the world) has been the flagship since they premiered the varietal bottling in 1995. Growers renounced  from Graciano because of its problematic low yields, but the freshness  and mindblowing perfume of the grape are an important part of what makes Rioja blends distinctive. 2011 brought to this wine an unexpectedly lush texture and seductive blackberry flavour.  Compared to the 2012, the 2014 is heftier with well endowed woody aromas.  In the mouth, it has that trademark clarity of fruit with a dark seduction on the palate.

 

This wine was outstanding with a dish of homemade smoked ricotta ravioli in a tomato sauce. The bold structure of the wine was molding the acidity of the sauce in the palate while the minerality of the Graciano was a dandy complement smoothing out the pungent flavours of the ravioli.

Ijalba Reserva 2012. SAQ # 00478743. $21.35

As always a careful blend of the oldest tempranillo and Graciano from Ijalba. Very spicy nose bringint to mind balsamic notes with a mix of red and black morello cherries. In the palate, powerful  but with  a firm structure, good acidity to keep in checks the wine.

 

Simply, a match made in heaven. You may think that a glass of white will work best. But I find that the spices and bold flavors of the seafood in the paella go hand to hand with the aromatic notes of the wine. In addition, the crispy texture of the rice, subtle the rough edges of the wine.

Comfy Spanish wines for the fall weather

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.