Favorite Spanish bottles at Raspipav Part I

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The biggest and most important week of the year in the Quebec wine trade finished last year and alas, I survived. In the space of five days, I attended 3 wine fairs-Raspipav, the Italian trade tasting and RAW wine Montreal. This was an incredible feat considering that my day job is a baker and I have a family to attend as well. I could not taste as many Spanish wines as I wanted  but here is what caught my attention in Raspipav and you should be buying to prepare for your christmas holiday. Disclaimer: These are very sketchy wine notes!!!

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Mas Doix in Priorat

I adore the wines of Priorat but sometimes they are ultra expensive and very heavy. Mas Doix craft elegant wines and affordable for many wine drinkers The Doix family are leading  characters in the Priorat winemaking scene. They have 20 hectares of their own vineyards and an additional 10 hectares of outsourced vines. Like the other wineries in the region, the concentrate on growing old grapes(up to 70 years) Garnacha Tinta (Grenache Noir) and the popular Cariñena

LES CRESTES, D.O.CA. PRIORAT 2016 ( $36.50.-6 pack case Private Import, Les Vignerons de Chartier)

20-year-old Red Grenache vines (80%), old Carignan (10%) and Syrah (10%). Smells like the pizarra soil  of the priorat. Dry roasted black fruits. Full body and very smooth. Fine and suave elegant tannins.

SALANQUES, D.O.CA. PRIORAT 2015 ( $65.00-6 pack case. Private Import, Les Vignerons de Chartier)

65% Grenache, 25% Carignane, 10 % Syrah from  high altitude vineyards in pronounced slopes, with the typical  slate soil called “licorella”. Wine crafted with Grenache and Carignan of old vines between 70 and 90 years, as well as younger vines for varieties of Syrah.  Deep with resonant balsamic notes and ripe Cassis. Fleshy in the mouth with a firm and ripe tannic structure.

MAS DOIX « COSTERS DE VINYES VELLES », D.O.CA. PRIORAT, 2014 ( $148.50-6 pack case. Private Import, Les Vignerons de Chartier)

55% Carignan and 45% Grenache. The grapes come from very old  vines between 80 and 105 years old, with a tiny  production of 400 gr per vine. Iron, bauxite and dry blood. Potent with mind-blowing flavors of  dark cherry and chocolate as well. Lovely balance with fine and precise tannins. Very concentrated yet with a refreshing acidity. A bright future ahead for this wine.

Bodegas Tobia in Rioja

Bodegas Tobía is a recent new player in the Riojan wine scene. Created  in 1994, its founder and driving force is Oscar Tobía, who comes from a local family of wine growers based in San Asensio. Oscar was the first person in Spain to create a barrel fermented rosé wine.  Tobia crafts contemporary Riojan wines always respectful of the Terroir

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Tobia Reserva Blanco 2014 ( $40-$50, 6 pack case, Agence Benedictus-Benoit Cavalier)

Grape varieties: 55% Viura, 26% Tempranillo blanco, 19% Malvasia. Complex nose with  many flavors: butter, cinnamon, vanilla and smoke. Pleasant aromas of tropical citrus fruit such as pineapple and grapefruit. Creamy and buttery with a lovely honey note in the finale.

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Daimon Tinto 2016 ( $20-$30, 12 pack case, Agence Benedictus-Benoit Cavalier)

85% Garnacha tinta, 15% Tempranillo. 6 months in French and American oak. Beautiful nuances of cherries, strawberries with wild raspberry, and other forest fruits. Delicate notes of vanilla, cocoa and roasted nuts as well. On the palate, flavours of black and red fieldberries with hints of  cocoa. Perfect balance: soft, fresh and round. Relatively long aftertaste.

Hasta luego and keep tuned for the other part this week!!!

 

La Mancha done right: Bodegas Latué

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When somebody talks to me about La Mancha, the first thing that comes to mind is windmills and Don Quixote. Although the region is notorious for Miguel de Cervantes’ novel is less known by their few premium wines.

This always sound to me as paradox since La Mancha is the largest wine region in the world. While La Mancha has had a reputation for producing mediocre wines, there is a wind of change in the region. One recurring problem of the region is  that they have had focused on price and volume in the past rather than quality.

Another issue has been the necessary monster of the cooperative. The coop is a big player in La Mancha wine industry. A neccesary evil, they still maintain the idea of bulk wine production and export it to other European countries such as France and Italy. This philosophy has prevented La Mancha to develop a clear wine identity. It is one of those weird anachronisms of the Spanish wine industry

Still you can find Bodegas that do things right like Bodegas Latue in This reference producer in La Mancha started out as the  San Isidro Cooperative in 1954. The philosophy statement of the company it is:

The founding spirit of Bodegas Latúe remains latent. Entrepreneurship, ecology, sustainability, social responsibility, quality and innovation define the personality of Bodegas Latúe, in an environment where equal opportunities and social maintenance of people in the rural area are always present.

These values, transferred to our wines and high quality musts, are recognized by associates, clients, institutions and the society, identifying Bodegas Latúe as a socially responsible, sustainable and ecological company.

You can really feel the words when you taste the wines. I recently had a chance to taste their Verdejo and Tempranillo  available in the Quebec market via their importer: Pot de Vin.  The wines are available only via private import. It is actually worth it to buy a case or two of these wines since only a few references listed in the SAQ  from the region have this incredible quality level.

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Verdejo by Latue 2017. ( $19.78/Case of 6, private import in the Quebec market)

From organic grapes. One of the most amazing Verdejos that I tried with an unbeatable price. Great nose reminiscent of peach and tropical fruits. On the mouth, round and quite fresh with delicate notes of roasted herbs and lime sorbet. Pairs well with vegetable soups or light seafood dishes.

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Tempranillo Pingorote Reserva 2012 ( $21.80/Case of 12, private import in the Quebec market)

A maturing bouquet. Aromas of tamed leather, spices such as cinnamon and cacao. With time in the glass, the nose develop enticing nuances of coffee liqueur, Kirsch cherry and vanilla bean. On the mouth, structured with a firm poise and noble tannins. The best Tempranillo reserva available in the Quebec market under $25. Buy by the case, because it stills has some mileage for the cellar.

For more information on these wines, please visit Pot de Vin Importation and Bodegas Latue. 

 

 

An encounter with Telmo Rodriguez

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If you would ask me who were the leading ambassadors of the new Spanish wine industry, I could answer these three: Peter Sissek, Alvaro Palacios and Telmo Rodriguez. In each of their respective regions, they were captains of industry. With Pingus, Peter Sisseck demonstrated that you could capture the essence of a terroir with old exceptional vines. Similarly, Alvaro Palacios resurrected the Priorat and Bierzo with Garnacha and Mencia respectively.

Our final character is Telmo Rodriguez. Telmo is one of the best  winemakers of Spain.  In a similar manner  to Alvaro Palacios, he travelled and mastered his skills  for many years before returning home to Rioja, where he took  to the next level  a wine that was already outstanding, Remelluri.  In addition he has  supervised diverse négociant projects throughout Spain. One of his most acclaimed projects is in Valdeorras, Galicia.

Ladeiras do Xil is the name of this exciting venture. Since 2002, he has been working miraculously 23 ha of steep mountain vineyards in the Santa Cruz village in the province of Ourense.

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I was recently invited to a Telmo Rodriguez masterclass by its Canadian Importer, Trialto. The purpose was to discuss the Ladeiras do Xil project. Frankly, it was a fantastic enriching experience for myself since I am more familiar with his Remelluri and Matallana proyect.

It is always a pleasure to taste the wines of Telmo Rodriguez. He is like a horse whisperer for the wine terroir. A modern interpreter of the past with an avant-garde vision of the future. I always get goosebumps when I heard him speak. I was also very pleased to know that he is a big fan of Rhone wines. We have that in common. You can actually feel the Northern Rhone influence in his wines.

Tasting Notes:

Gaba do Xil Godello 2017 $21.60  SAQ # 11896113

From the Valdeorras wine growing area, specifically the sites of  A Pedreira, A Torgueira, O Barreiro, Valerio, Valdemas. Monovarietal Godello at high altitude ( 400-500 m). Red, clay and slate soils.

This exciting Godello exhibits a very aromatic nose redolent of ripe peach fruit with hints of  fresh-cut grass with a  smoky and flint point. On the palate, it is creamy with a firm acidity.

Branco de Santa Cruz 2015 ( Not available in the Quebec market)

A field blend of Godello, Treixadura and Dona Branca from the Ladeiras do Bibei in Valdeorras. Different sites around the Santa Cruz town. Granite soils with very low yields.

A fantastic nose that remind me of the wine Silex by Didier Dagueneau. Beautiful nuances of silex, slate and wet rock character. With aeration, aromas of white tea and nectarine develops as well. Elegant and well-balanced, it could age for a few years.

Reds

As Caborcas 2015 $77.25  ( 4 cases coming soon in the Quebec Market)

2.5 hectares of vineyards in the in the town of Santa Cruz. Granite floors, poor and shallow, located in endless terraces on steep terrain that is on the banks of the Bibei River. A field blend of Mencía, Merenzao, Sousón, Godello,  and Garnacha. Aging in small oak barrels, stainless steel and foudres. 

Smoky with fieldberry and savoury notes of cured meat, star anise and black olive tapenade.  On the mouth, very elegant with a lot of depth and concentration Firm acidity. Polished midpalate with satiny tannins. Blind tasted, I would probably guess that this is a Crozes Hermitage. Very exciting wine.

O Diviso 2015. $77.25 ( 2 cases coming soon in the Quebec Market)

According to Telmo, this wine is probably the most authentic expression of Valdeorras in the Bilbei hills. A field blend of  Mencía, Brancellao, Sousón, Garnacha and other red and white varieties. Fermentation in small wooden barrels and a soft aging in foudres.

Complex nose with a lot of depth. Aromas redolent of seaweed, licorice and cardamom. On the palate, fruit driven yet with deep pepper notes.  Very elegant with soft tannins and a fluid finale. This wine reminds of me an electric St-Joseph

Falcoeira ” A Capilla” 2015 $77.25  ( 4 cases to come in the Quebec Market)

From the Falcoeira site in Santa Cruz, a field blend of Mencía, Brancellao, Sousón, Garnacha and other varieties. Made with indigenous yeast and aged in a mix of foudres and wood barriques.

My favorite red from the trio. Dark and decadent with complex notes of smoke, petrol and other animal notes with a vivid note of black pepper. Meaty tannins and a magnificent  structure. A very long balsamic finale. Definitely, the Hermitage of Galicia!!. 

 

 

Small Rubies of Mas Que Vino

Sylvain Rubin is an obscure personality in our closely knit wine community in Quebec. I dont know the man very well but in my eyes he proyects an image of camaraderie and bon vivant. However, Sylvain is discreet and friendly. The last breed of humble gentlemen in the small universe of Quebec private imports.

As far as I know, Sylvain was an associate at one of the leading wine agencies in Quebec, Planvin. The reasons for his depart are unknown and not important to me. This agency carries some of the most obscure and exciting wine artisans from Europe also known as natural and biological wine producers.

After he left PlanVin, Sylvain founded Mas Que Vino, a small boutique wine agency with the same spirit than PlanVin, inspired terroir driven wine producers. From time to time, I taste his wines when I go to the Raspipav wine fair. I was happy to catch up with him last April at the spring edition of Raspipav where I discovered amazing quality wines from Bodegas del Medievo

Grupo Bodegas del Medievo is the proyect of a group of vinegrowers and negociants in Aldeanueva de Ebro ( La Rioja). Medievo makes top quality Joven, Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva as well as wines with less known indigenous varieties in a contemporary style yet with great elegance. In the past, I tried the Medievo Reserva which is always an excellent Rioja. At the time, it was represented by PlanVin. Today, I have to find out.

This is an excellent producer that has been making waves for some time now in the Spanish wine industry. In this article from La Voz de Galicia, ( Tuercebotas es un vino), you can get additional information.

Tasting notes:

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Cofrade Rioja Blanco 2016

A fine Rioja dry white made from carefully selected Viura grapes. The fruit is racked in stainless steel tanks with 24 hours of pelicular maceration. Afterwards, the must ferments at a controlled temperature during 12 days. After a period of rest of one month it is clarify, decanted and introduced in isothermal deposit to a temperature of -5ºC to be fully stabilized. –From the producer website

Pretty nose of green apple, quince and cantaloupe. Round, harmonious and very long in the palate. I think it would be great with malpeque oyesters or simple but delicious food such as fish brochettes Price: Around $16.00 in case of 12

Cofrade Rioja Tinto Joven 2016

100% Tempranillo.In October, after twelve days of maceration in a stainless steel tank at a controlled temperature, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation in a natural way. The wine passed 4 months in American oak. Price: Between $16 and $20

Lovely aromas of maraschino cherry, licorice with soft balsamic undertones. On the mouth, it has a round texture with polished tannins. I presume it would be a great wine to have with tapas

Tuerce Botas Graciano Crianza 2014

The Tuercebotas Crianza is made up of 100% Graciano. It was aged in new French oak for 12 months before bottling.-From the producer website

Intense and vibrant with aromas of red and black fruit aromas mingled wih spicy cloves, cola and nutmeg. On the mouth beautifully concentrated with a fresh acidity and balanced tannins. Would love to try with a flank steak on the BBQ. Price: Between 16$ and $20

Los Amigos de Francois Chartier

Hello dear reader and welcome back to my blog,

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If you live in Quebec and are a serious wine drinker, you must know who is Francois Chartier. If you don’t, you have been living under a rock for a long time. As a result, there is no need for me to introduce you this emblematic person, I will just be waiting my time.

Love him or hate Francois, he has become a celebrity Quebec wine entrepreneur. I personally like the man very much and find extremely intelligent and well informed ( wine think tank about wine and food ).

Last November during La Grande Degustation, I crossed paths with him when he told me that he started a wine importing agency. We exchanged the usual polite protocol between wine professionals and we each parted ways. I guess he was on a rush to go back to his own booth at the tasting. Francois was with his Spanish girlfriend which means he is already well adapted to the life he leads in Barcelona.However, he goes back and forth to Montreal

He told me to pass by and taste his wines  and I say I would but then I forgot. This is something that occurs to me every time I go to a wine salon. I forget to taste stuff like I say I would. I will consider in the future in a next wine event to stick a post it note on my front head, so people will remind me to taste the wines of a specific producer.

However, life catches on with you on stuff that you have to do and I saw his booth at the spring edition of Raspipav in late April. I did not notice too much buzz around his stand. There were a few old timer wine journalists that were curious to check out his wines as well. So I decided to give a try to his Spanish winemakers in his portfolio.

Honestly, I have to tell you that Francois is representing some of the most exciting Spanish winemakers in Quebec. There are two or three agencies more in Quebec that carry a beautiful portfolio and I will mention them in another time. So, to get back to the point, here are my tasting notes of three of my favorite wines of the tasting:

All the wines are available in the private import market by case of 6 or 12. I wish that I could be a millionaire so I can buy a case of each but I am just a poor wine journalist-blogger and also baker. I will just have to be happy with the one case of Cava from Carles Andreu that I ordered.

Tasting Notes:

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PALOMINO FINO « EN RAMA » TOSCA CERRADA 2015

This wine is made by Mario Rovira with Palomino fino from the Pago of Balbaína between Jerez and the Puerto de Santa Maria. This white was made in collaboration with Bodegas Delgado Zuleta, one of the emblematic houses of Sanlúcar. Definitely, a wine to try this summer with a seafood or vegetable tempura. Its nose brings to mind chalk and salt ( like a manzanilla) with nuances of hazelnuts, walnuts and roasted green apples. It has an amazing complexity and finesse. ($27.15 per bottle, case of 6). -Next arrival in June.

CAVA CARLES ANDREU, CONCA DE BARBERA

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In the heart of the Cava region, one of the sub regions with the most unique climate is the Conca de Barbera, where the 80h of Carles Andreu estate are cultivated with indigenous varieties such as Macabeo, Parellada and Trepat. Celler Carles Andreu is a family business dedicated to viticulture since the eighteenth century.

Aromas of ripe apple and pear confit with brioche notes. Balanced and dry with a nice persistent bubble and a long finish. A perfect pairing for this Cava will be a bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese ( $22.30 per bottle/case of 6)

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FUENTES DEL SILENCIO 2015 « CEPAS VIEJAS » Vinedos del Jamuz

Even though I lived in Spain for 2 years, the wines of the Leon province are a quite a mystery to me. I only knew that the area had a treasure chest of old vine indigenous varieties.  Back in Madrid, I only tried very little wines from tis region

Bodegas Fuentes del Silencio is an initiave created by Miguel Ángel Alonso and María José Galera. The idea behind this project is to bring a breeze of fresh air to the Leon area of Hereros de Jamuz. The ambitious Bodega counts with the help of the well know Spanish winemaker Raúl Pérez

The estate has 100+ years old vines and some of the go way back before phylloxera. The red  varieties include alicante bouschet, garnacha tintorera and the rare gran negro, which is also grown in  Valdeorras and Monterrei. The couple are also rescuing white grape varieties such as  godello and palomino. In the space of 5 years, they have gathered 20 hs of vines in which they make three wines: two reds and a rose.

At Raspivap, I was able to taste the flagship wine of the estate: Cepas Viejas 2015. It is made with the varieties of mencía, prieto picudo and alicante bouschet.  This wine was made with a long maceration ( 60 days) and the grapes fermented 100% with the stems. The grapes come from the soils of the north of the valey of Jamuz. They are a meager and sandy soils exposed to air currents coming from the Teleno Mount, It is a marvelous wine, highly aromatic bringing to mind confit violets, seasoned black wild berry fruit. On the mouth, it is potent and structured with a great acidity and elegance. I will have anytime this wine with a bavette steak and chimichurri sauce with a generous portion of fries. (46.25$per bottle/case of 6)

Keep checking my blog regularly for the other Spanish wines tasted at Raspipav!!!

Hasta Luego

 

Vin et homard, accords gastronomiques

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La saison du homard arrive vite et il ne manque pas de  choix de vin pour accompagner la reine des crustacés!!

La mise à l’eau des casiers à homard se fera le 5 mai, aux Îles-de-la-Madeleine, si les conditions météo le permettent. ( Source: Radio Canada) C’est une excellente nouvelle, juste à temps pour la fête des mères.  Vous pouvez commencer à penser à faire des provisions de vos vins espagnols préférés pour commencer la saison du homard. Voici trois recommandations de vins espagnols suite à la dernière dégustation de presse de l’AQAVBS

«Quel vin va  mieux avec le homard?» On m’a posé cette question plusieurs fois au fil des années. Bien que la réponse dépende en partie de la façon dont le homard est cuit et de la façon dont il est servi, certains vins seront toujours meilleurs que d’autres lorsqu’ils sont associés à ce crustacé.

Le homard a une saveur délicate et devrait être associé à un vin qui complimente et accentue sa nature sucrée et succulente. La plupart des vins rouges ne vont pas bien avec le homard parce que les tanins dans le vin rouge ne réagissent pas bien avec l’iode trouvé dans le homard. Ce qui fonctionne le mieux, ce sont des vins mousseux  et blancs pas trop boisés.

Cava, l’équivalent espagnol du champagne, fabriqué principalement en Catalogne selon les mêmes normes rigoureuses qu’en France, est très polyvalent; il peut être utilisé comme un apéritif au verre idéal et peu coûteux et dans des boissons pétillantes comme le mimosa, mais ses qualités rafraîchissantes en bouche vont bien avec toutes sortes de fruits de mer – en particulier les mollusques et les crustacés.

Je recommande fortement d’essayer La Vida al Camp Brut 2014 ( SAQ # 12693895, $20.75). La Vida al Camp provient de la famille Raventós, mais est un projet indépendant et distinct de la ligne de vins Raventós i Blanc. Il est mélangé avec des cépages indigènes de la région composée de 45% Macabeu, 45% Xarello, 10% Parellada.Un Cava très délicat aux nuances douces de zeste de lime et de brioche. Bulle rafraîchissante avec une minéralité persistante et une longue finale. Merveilleux accord une queue de homard dans une sauce au curry vert.

 

 

Le cépage Verdejo est associé à l’appellation de Rueda mais il est également cultivé à La Mancha. Dans cet environnement, l’œnologue espagnol, Rafael Cañizares de Bodegas Volver cherche à atteindre l’expression maximale du cépage Verdejo. Le Bodegas Volver Paso a Paso Verdejo 2017 ( SAQ # 13466803, $14.50).  Un blanc charmant qui affiche des parfums très frais de coing, de melon et de poire bartlett. Frais en bouche avec une élégance gracieuse et une touche épicée dans la finale. Essayez-le avec vol au vent au homard.

 

 

Contrairement à ce que l’on croit communément, le mariage  du vin rouge et du homard est possible. Un tel accord dépend de la préparation du homard, de la sauce et des plats d’accompagnement. Les vins rouges qui marchent le mieux avec le homard sont des jeunes rouges avec un fruit primaire, et surtout sans bois

Des vins juteux, pas trop extraits, sans la  sensation alléchante. L’important dans le choix du vin rouge n’est pas de dominer la chair délicate du homard. Cela signifie deux aspects importants – la fraîcheur du fruit et la texture infusée.

De Bodegas Aranleon à Valencia, j’ai goûté le Bles Crianza ( SAQ # 10856427, $14.40) une assemblage  de Monastrell et Tempranillo. Blés désigne la plante autochtone qui croit entre les vignes dans la Vallée des Alforins, dans la région méditerranéenne de la Valencia. La viticulture écologique respecte l’équilibre de la nature. Le sud de la Valence est la région native de la Monastrell (le Mourvèdre en France). Une des meilleures valeurs espagnoles à la saq

Un nez délicieux qui montre des arômes frais de cerise et de mûre. Rafraîchissant avec une sensation suave en bouche avec des tanins doux. Les saveurs du vin évoquent le cacao et d’autres épices mexicaines. Ce sera parfait surtout avec des plats de riz au homard. Essayez-le avec du riz au homard style Murcia.

 

 

Bonne dégustations et a la prochaine!!!

Celebrate the arrival of Spring with Rioja!!!

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I have a soft spot for the wines of Rioja. When I first got into Spanish wines, I started drinking wines from the south. However, with time and tasting experience, I went further north in Rioja  searching for  the elegance and harmony that only continental climate wines can provide.

Spring is a difficult time for me. I suffer from something called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). While most people get the winter blues because of the cold weather and the dark days, for me is the opposite. When I have my down days, I cheer myself up with music, light walks and of course making food and drinking wine.  Before I was a wine lover, music was my passion. I am able to enjoy all kinds of music but I am specially fond for vocal jazz and flamenco.

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One of the advantages that Spring offers me is that I can cook more outdoors using the BBQ. I love grilling all kinds of meat in a hot BBQ from marinated plumper chicken breasts to fancy cuts of reds meat such as Filet Mignon or Flank Steak. In the weekdays, I use the gas BBQ but on the weekends with more time I turn to the charcoal grill.

Rioja has a perfect affinity for BBQ meats. Basically, you want a wine with enough power to work with a chicken leg with a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce or a well-charred steak. Something big but not too much overpowering, not too dry and austere, and the most important factor: easy to drink.

Here are my top five Riojas to get you started for BBQ season:

ijalba

Ijalba Graciano 2015. SAQ # 10360261,$21.50

On the nose aromas of graphite, dry blueberries and black seaweed. On the mouth, fresh tasting with an excellent balance between concentration and acidity. Lovely flavors of sandalwood and black licorice complemented by firm and muscular tannins. Drink now or keep for the next 5 years.

riscal

Marqués De Riscal Reserva 2013. SAQ # 10270881, $24.40

Fine tuned nose of cassis jam, wild oregano, iron and licorice. On the mouth, quite structured with a good acidity and chunky tannins. This reserva from Riscal shows a modern interpretation of this traditional Riojan producer.

caceres

Marqués de Caceres Reserva 2012. SAQ # 00897983, $22.55

Lovely nose displaying resonant notes of wild blackberries with balsamic nuances of licorice and star anise. Silky with fine tannins and long flavors reminiscent of spice bread pudding. Best reserva that I have ever tried from this producer.

faustino

Bodegas Faustino, Faustino I Gran Reserva 2005. SAQ # 10483026, $28.45

Textbook classical Rioja aromas. On the nose, predominant notes of vanilla, tobacco with cloves leading to a crescendo of ripe strawberries and raspberries. On the palate, it has an incredible depth of flavours and elegance. However, it needs to be decanted for a few hours to show its best. Drink now or keep for the next decade.

valpiedra

Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2010. SAQ #  13566687, $31.50

Powerful with nuances of espresso, smoke, dark chocolate leading to  fig and cassis jam aromas. Very suave with finely woven tannins. Long finale.

Happy Arrival of the 2018 BBQ season!!