Put the Spanish touch on Valentine’s Day

vinoo and st-valentine

I dread making a wine reccomendation list for St-Valentine day. It is such a corny holiday. Do you think that we need a designated day to tell your significant other that you love her?. I find that the whole concept is just a marketing ploy to make buy cheap chocolates and wine.

However, this year my wife insisted that I make one to satisfy my readers wishes and after much thought, I caved in to her request. The task seems to be more complicated this year because the holidays falls on a weekday and I am assuming you would eat at home. If you are planning to dine out on that day, dont lose your time and stop reading. I am writing this piece for those specifically that will celebrate the day at home. There is nothing that says better than I love than a careful prepared home meal with some good wines.

For this year, I propose that you stick to sparkling and still white wines. The choice of supper should be a raw food theme. I am thinking of sashimi, tartare, crudo, gravlax — all manners of raw fish recipes. Why? The omega-3 fatty acids contained in most seafood has the ability to enhance your mood and leads to a favourable sexual encounter. Another reason is that it is relatively fast to make a raw fish recipe leaving you more time for preliminaries.

This week, I had a chance to taste some excellent Spanish whites that would be fantastic with your Valentine’s day celebration. In addition, it wont cost you a fortune, leaving you some room to make a gift for your loved one. The cheapest reccomendation goes for $12.95 and the most expensive bottle is $35.25.

Disclaimer: The Pares Balta wines were tasted by invitation from its importer in Quebec, Trialto. The Castano bottle was a sample from its importer AOC & Cie

Blanca Cusiné Parés Balta 2010. ( SAQ # 12591021, $35.25)

The wines of Parés Balta are no strangers to this page. Their Cusiné cava is one of my favorites Spanish sparklers in the Cava category. A blend of Xarel·lo, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the finca Les Torres at an altitude of 670-690 meters above sea level. A very expressive nose bringing to mind lemon brioche, wild herbs and white peaches. with wild herbs.Dry and quite crisp with menthol and wild herb undertones and a fleshy finish. Receive your lover with a glass of Blanca Cusinée and enjoy it with a salmon tartare!

Calcari Parés Balta 2016 ( SAQ # 11377225, $20.20)

Calcari is a mono varietal Xarel-lo from the Parés Balta finca at an altitude of 254 m above sea level. A complex nose of sourdough bread with chalky undertones notes complemented by floral undertones . ( jazmin and white roses) with dry garrique. On the mouth, very crisp with alluring lemony and verbena flavours. I tasted this wine with a swordfish carpaccio and was amazing. I highly recccomend the pairing.


Castano Macabeo Chardonnay 2016 ( SAQ # 10855758, $14.40)

Aromas of ripe green apple, quince and pineapple jelly. Honey and pollen as well. A slight tpuch of almond. On the mouth, fruity and crispy. Very easy going with aromas of white flowers and nectarines. A beautiful lingering finale. Enjoy this wine with scallops carpaccio with mango and cucumber.

So that’s it for me. I wish you a happy valentine’s day and remember to plan early so you can enjoy your evening.

The perfect orange wine

My experience with orange wines has been quite limited in the few years. Frankly, I have only tried certain bottles from Friuli, the Rhone and southern France.

So when i came to know that one of my favorite wine importers was carrying the orange wine of Ambiz, I jumped right away and bought me a case!!. Ambiz is imported by Glou and you can get his wines by the case of 6 for a price of less than $30.

Image result for fabio bartolomei

Photo: Vinos Ambiz

Fabio Bartolomei has been making wine since 2003 in the upcoming Sierra de Gredos in Spain. A passionate wine lover who discovered natural wines by accident, he makes barely 8000 liters from 3ha of vines. A true artisanal producer, whose wines are rapidly attaining cult status. He makes many micro-cuvées from his vineyard collection. Fabio can be described as natural wine producer: He grows organic grapes and uses little or no sulfites at all. He tends five vineyards that are located in villages close to Madrid and Sierra de Gredos. These are: Carabana, Villarejo, Chelva and Sotillo de la Adrada. To makes his wines, he rents a wine facility  in El Tiemplo who has a capacity of 1.5 million and was abandoned. He is giving it a very good use.

Fabio makes an amazing  orange wine from the indigenous Spanish grape Albillo Real.  According to Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Albillo was mentioned as early as 1513 by the Spanish agronomist Gabriel Alonso de Herrera when he was describing the varieties of Castilla, Extremadura and Andalucia. Traditionally the variety has been used to make soft aromatic golden wines for current consumption. It was also been employed to add perfume to a blend. Albillo Real is grown in Madrid but also in Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, the Canary Islands and Galicia. The variety is not to be confused with Albillo Mayor or Albillo de Albacete which yields something totally different

Here is what Fabio has to say about Albillo Real from his website ( http://vinosambiz.blogspot.ca/2017/05/.)

Albillo real is used by quite a few local producers. After Garnacha, it is in fact the insignia grape variety of Sierra de Gredos. Even so it is quite difficult to get hold of. Firstly it is also used as a table grape as it’s sweet and aromatic and very nice to eat. It’s an early ripening variety (early to mid August) so there’s even more incentive to sell it for eating as opposed to selling it for winemaking). And it’s the preferred variety that  birds like to eat! All this adds up to it being an expensive grape.

But it’s worth the effort and expense.

The resulting wines are generally interesting, complex and delicious.

Not to be confused with Albillo Mayor, which is a completely different grape and not nearly so interesting or aromatic (apologies to any Albillo Mayor producers, mais c’est la vie!).

Alba 2016 has a tiny production of 2000 bottles and the wines is born from the soft slopes of the Sierra de Gredos. Fabio press lighty with a short maceration and aging in Amphora.

Tasting notes:

Delicious nose. Complex earthy nuances, lemon jelly with orange marmalade, white flowers and spices such as saffron and white pepper. Bright and very round ( A polished tannic sensation in the wine) with lots of confit citric fruit character such as grapefruit peel. Pleasant and very clean aftertaste, bringing to mind lime, chalk and Ricola candy. Definitely a buy by the case wine.

What to eat with Ambiz Alba Orange wine?


I really enjoyed the Ambiz Alba with some chicken empanadas Venezuelan style. For me, the Ambiz complemented rather than dominated the flavour of the Empanada. This can be described as a seasoned chicken with cumin and cilantro with the taste of fried corn dough. But definitely, it could pair well with other dishes of Venezuelan gastronomy such as Pabellon Criollo for instance.

Spanish orange wines are a still a mistery to me and hope to continue my learning experience with them. Do you have any favorite orange wine producers in Spain?. I am waiting for your reccomendations.

Albarino and the nuances of Rias Baixas

What an amazing weekend I had. As I am writing these lines, I am coming back from the Wine Bloggers Conference, where I had the chance to meet some of the best, la crema de la crema from the wine blogging industry. Even though, I did not know anybody, I felt warmly welcomed in this wine fraternity.

Saturday was an amazing day. I had a chance to participate in a Rias Baixas seminar led by Lyn Farmer. Rias Baixas wines are not new to me. When I was living in Madrid, my roomate Pedro’s family had family living in Vigo, that how I first came to be in contact with the wines of Rias Baixas and got to know Albarino.  

Lyn Farmer is a wonderful, witty and with a terrific sense of huour guy. He is James Beard award winning wine and food writer, who do a lot of cool things including blogging and giving courses for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust ( WSET). He also directs tastings for VinItaly, the Italian Trade Commision and Sopexa. 

Through a tasting of 10 wines, I got to learn the styles of Albarino in Rias Baixas. There are 5 subzones in Rias Baixas: Ribeira do Ulla, Val do Salnes, Soutomaior, Condado do Tea and O Rosal. Galicia, the green Spain is the home of these subzones. Here the climate is very similar to the Loire Valley and New Zealand. It is heavily influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. This is a fairly cool area that gets heavy rain through the year. However, what saves them is the 2,200 hours of sunlight that is received during the ripening season of Albarino.  The soils are heavily granite based with a combination of clay, silt and gravel that is on the top soil.

Here are some of the key interesting things that i learnt from the presentation.

  • 99% of all wine produced in Rias Baixas is white-90% is made from Albarino
  • More than half of the winemakers in Rias Baixas are women which explains the delicate nuances of Rias Baixas wines
  • Galicia is famous for its seafood, including percebes and Oysters. No wonder Albarino has an affinity with seafood. Like Lyn said, what grows together go well as well. 
  • Albarino wines have a diverse palette of aromas. These include honeysuckle, citrus fruit, melon, peach and lots of flowers!!!
  • The Pergola system in Albarino or in Spanish Parra allows the breeze to flow to permit circulation and prevent mildew
  • Rias Baixas is Galician for ” Lower Rias” and refers to the four estuaries-Ria de Muros y Noia, the Ria de Arousa, the Ria de Pontevedra and the Ria de Vigo
  • The DO is fairly recent going back to the mid 1980’s but winemaking has been ocurring since the 13th century.

Winemaking Trends & Techniques.

Some of the most important winemaking trends ocurring in Rias Baixas, include:

  • Pre-Fermentation maceration.
  • Wild Yeast
  • Barrel fermentation and ageing
  • Malolactic fermentation
  • Extented contact with the lees.

The Barrel technique is gaining momentum in Galicia and adds more structure and complexity. However, is a bit of an adquired taste that needs time to be appreciated. Barrel ageing is only used in special vintages where the fruit is very ripe.

Lees contact is also on vogue in Rias Baixas. The lees is what gives the creamy aspect to the Albarinos and also contribute for flavor development as well.

 The wines 

DO Rias Baixas allows the production of seven styles of wines:

Rias Baixas Albarino– 100% Albarino made from any region

Rias Baixas Salnes– 100% Salnes

Rias Baixas Condado– 100% Condado

Rias Baixas Rosal– 100% Rosal

Rias Baixas Barrica-wines aged in oak, either red or white.

Rias Baixas Tinto. -red wine that counts for less than 1% of the production.

Rias Baixas.

The wines presented at the Seminar:

We started off tasting the Martin Codax Albarino 2016.  This is a cooperative that was founded in 1986 and count with 50 local grapegrowers.  The wines of Codax are sold in over 40 countries in the world including Canada.  

This Albarino for 3 weeks was fermented in stainless steel and 15% of the wine saw malolactic fermentation. A lovely nose that brings to mind melon, granny smith apple with notes of dry thyme and pencil lead. Crisp and medium body, it had a good amplitude and nice creaminess sensation in the palate.

Next was the Valminor Albarino. This is the brainchild proyect of Carlos Gomez who established the winery. One of the cutting edge bodegas in the region. This wine a shorter alcoholic fermentation than the Codax and a cold maceration for 6-8 hours.  A very different wine with notes of white peach and yellow apple character. Less creamy with a marked saline and floral character. 

The next wine was from Bodegas As Laxas. This is the winery of Simon Ferro, who was one of the founding fathers of the Regulation Council of 1986. The Albarino fruit is very old ( 30+ ) and the vineyards are planted on south facing terraces between 500 and 650 feet. This wine was displaying a more floral side of Albarino. It was rich, almost with an oily texture. It had also a very long complex finale.

Further on with the Condes de Albarei. From the Salnes Valley, this is a wine made by a small group of vinegrowers. Albarei was the first wine to have won a gold medal at the Challenge International du Vin in Bordeaux. Today, they are a benchmark in the appellation.

This wine was fermented with wild yeasts for a short but sweet 10 days alcoholic fermentation at controlled temperatures. The use of indigenous yeast gives this a very nice core of spices such as mustard seed with intruiguing floral notes ( acacia and jazmin comes to mind). It also has a delicious saltiness that envelops your mouth. One of my favorites at the seminar.

Beyond Albarino the other grapes used in the appellation include Loureiro, Treixadura, Godello and Caino Blanco. We saw an example of assemblage in the Santiago Ruiz 2016. 

The estate is based on the municipality of Tomino in a charming 17th century building. The wine spent 21 days in alcoholic fermentation and went through a soft maceration during pressing. A very different wine bringing to mind white cranberries and ground cherries. Crisp and refreshing with plenty of floral flavors and a nice bitterness at the end. Also a favorite of mine

Next in line was the Fillaboa Albarino. Low temperature fermentation and lees aging. A very distinctive nose bringing to mind chamomile, gunflint and ripe Ontario peaches. Linear and chalky with notes of wild fennel.

To continue, we tasted the Terras Gauda O Rosal 2016. Terras Guada is part of a boutique winery group founded in 1989. They are specialists in working the indigenous varieties of Albarino. In a lavor of love, they rescued the ancient variety Caino Blanco.

The Rosal is a blend of 70% albarino, 18% Caino Blanco and 12% Loureiro. The wines do a cold maceration in tank and spent 3 months on its lees. A very special wine with lots of depth. Honeysuckle, dry oregano and japanese pear comes to my mind. Creamy and very fresh. 

From Pablo Padin, i enjoyed tasting the Segrel Ambar 2015. A careful selection of Albarino from the Salnes Valley. A very floral wine bringing to mind wild white roses, anis and wild fennel. Exhuberant and very aromatic bringing to mind a Riesling. 

Pazo de Senorans was next. This is a wine that is quite available on the Canadian market.  A family business that specializes in Albarino. The winemaking is simple. Alcoholic fermentation at controlled temperatures with short pellicular maceration before pressing, 5 months aging on lees. An amazing wine displaying vervena, wild green mint and a great minetality. Linear with a lot of poise. 

Lagar da Condesa was the latest wine of the seminar and if you can guess, the one with the barrel aging. The winery is located in Arcos da Condesa and is built on granite with a very modern technology. Rich and opulent with notes of wax, honey, dry apricots and brown butter. Concentrated but very elegant.

So, what to eat with Albarino. These are wines that demand seafood for sure. The creamier wines will go well with fish. I am thinking salmon since i live in Quebec but also some salads with goat cheese for instance.

The information for this post came from the Rias Baixas consejo regulador and the presentation by Lyn Farmer for the wine bloggers conference 2017. Rias Baixas was one of the sponsors of the WBC 2017

L’Espagne dans votre verre

Ana Gallegos


Dernièrement, l’Espagne à fait les manchettes lors du processus de référendum de la Catalogne. Quelles seraient les conséquences d’une déclaration d’indépendance de cette dernière, dans le monde viticole?

La Catalogne n’est pas la plus grande zone en termes de production viticole, cependant, il y aurait plusieurs problèmes immédiats. l’Espagne pourrait revendiquer des droits sur le nom de Cava, car il s’agit d’un «processus» plutôt que d’une région, même si 95% des vins de Cava sont fabriqués à Penedes.

Le producteur de Cava Codorníu a publié lundi une déclaration annonçant que son conseil d’administration avait accepté de transférer l’adresse du fabricant de Cava à Haro, dans la Rioja. Dans le même ordre d’idée, son rival Freixenet a suggéré qu’il pourrait déplacer, lui aussi, son siège social si le gouvernement de la Catalogne déclare son indépendance vis-à-vis de l’Espagne.

Heureusement, l’Espagne est très grande et riche, sans aucun doute un des principaux pays producteurs de vin et l’un des plus connus dans le monde. La gamme de vins espagnols a évolué de manière remarquable au cours des 25 dernières années. De plus, la nouvelle génération de vignerons a su concilier tradition et qualité avec innovation. Ils ont même fait des tentatives pour récupérer des cépages depuis de nombreuses années oubliées et/ou presque disparus.

La variété des climats espagnols et le relief permettent d’avoir une grande variété de vins pour tous les goûts. La Dénomination d’Origine (DO) La Rioja est internationalement la plus célèbre, mais il y a beaucoup d’autres appellations de grande qualité. On répertorie 70 DO et 41 appellations de vin de pays appelées Vinos de Tierra (VT). Parmi ces dernières, nous retrouvons des régions viticoles bien établies et respectées ainsi que d’autres en pleine effervescence.

L’Espagne a la plus grande superficie au monde consacré à la culture des raisins, plus de 15% du total mondial, ce qui se traduit par 1,2 million d’hectares de vignes. Bien qu’il existe plus de 600 variétés de raisins différents en Espagne, 80% de la production de vin se développe habituellement avec seulement 20 variétés, et parmi celles-ci, les plus importantes sont: Tempranillo, Albariño, Garnacha, Palomino, Macabeo et Carignan.

Cette année l’événement « l’Espagne dans votre verre » est né pour être un point de rencontre entre les producteurs et les fans qui aiment ce monde fascinant. L’événement a rassemblé une large et variée représentation des zones de plantation. En plus, le publique a eu l’occasion de rencontrer directement 59 propriétaires et vignerons de Bodegas ainsi que de profiter de la dégustation de 400 vins différents sous un même toit. Sans aucun doute une expérience exceptionnelle pour la richesse et la diversité des produits. Le rendez-vous a été le 17 Octobre dernier au coeur de Montréal et dans un cadre idyllique qui combine la beauté et l’histoire de la ville, La Gare Winsor.

C’est difficile de dire si un vin est meilleur qu’un autre, mais je vous partage ici les produits qui ont attiré le plus mon attention:


Juvé & Camps, Cinta Púrpura Brut Reserva

Vinification traditionnelle avec élevage d’environ 24 mois sur lies. Elaboré à partir des trois cépages traditionnels cultivés à Espiells, La Cuscona et Mediona. Couleur jaune paille avec des reflets verdâtres. Au nez il évoque des fruits blancs, des notes florales et de pain grillé. En bouche, l’effervescence de ce Cava ainsi que son acidité bien equilibré lui confère une belle onctuosité.


Bodegas Xaló, Bahía de Dénia

100% Moscatel de Alejandría

Intensité aromatique très élevée, avec des arômes primaires de fruits blancs et pêche, de fleurs blanches, comme le jasmin, la fleur d’oranger et aussi de légères notes des pétales de rose. En bouche il est sec et fruité, avec une légère amertume en arrière-goût. Vin délicat, soyeux et très bien structuré, ce qui le rend idéal pour accompagner toutes sortes de riz, poissons et fruits de mer.


Altolandon, Rosalía

100 % Garnacha Centenaria

Vins biologiques avec beaucoup de personnalité. Situés à Landete, province de Cuenca à 1100 mètres d’altitude, avec un climat froid et des sols pauvres. Rosalía est produit avec des grenaches de plus de 100 ans provenant d’un seul vignoble, il a été elevé pendant 8 mois, 50% en barrique française et 50% en jarres de terre cuit.

Couleur cerise profonde, au nez, on retrouve des arômes de confiture de prunes, de fruits rouges très mûrs, de poivre blanc, de bois et de réminiscences minérales. En bouche il est sec, frais et gourmand, avec des notes boisés et fruités. C’est un vin élégant et charnu, seulement 3700 bouteilles par année sont produits.


Grandes Vinos, Anayón 2013

100% Cariñena

Vieilles vignes de Carignan de 63 ans. Vieillissement de 10 mois en fûts de chêne français. Couleur rubis avec des arômes intenses de cerise, de confiture de framboise et de chocolat. C’est un vin plein de fruits mûrs avec des saveur de cerise mûr, de réglisse et de pommes rouges. La finale est longue et complexe. Un bon vin pour accompagner le steak au poivre ou la pappardelle aux poivrons rouges rôtis. Production limitée à 6 987 bouteilles.


Alejandro Fernandez-Grupo Pesquera, Alenza Gran Reserva 2006

100% Tempranillo

Fabriqué seulement dans les meilleurs millésimes, l’Alenza Gran Reserva est un hommage à la femme d’Alejandro, et son nom est la fusion des leurs: Alejandro et Esperanza. Le millésime 2006 est mi-corsé, bien équilibré et soyeux, avec une pureté et un équilibre exemplaires. Les notes de cerise noire sont accentuées par des notes de vanille, d’épices douces, de boîte à cigares et chocolat noir. Vieillissement de 30 mois en fûts de chêne américain neutres de 300 litres avec un toast léger à moyen. À la fin du vieillissement en fût, l’Alenza Gran Reserva est laissé un minimum de 30 mois en bouteille avant qu’il ne soit libéré sur le marché. Tous les vins produits par Alejandro Fernández ne sont ni filtrés, ni collés avant l’embouteillage


Bodegas Riojanas, Vermouth Artisanal Pascali

100 % Viura

Production artisanale, suivant la formule transmise de père en fils, élaborée à partir du vin blanc produit par Bodegas Riojanas. Mélangé et macéré dans une sélection minutieuse des plantes, des fleurs, des fruits et des racines. Il presente un couleur rouge caramel, avec un parfait équilibre des saveurs doux et amer, avec des nuances fraîches et fruitées et des notes florales. Très aromatique et très persistant.


Alvear, PX Solera 1927

100% Pedro Ximénez

L’impressionnant Pedro Ximenez Solera de 1927, issu d’une Solera commencée il y a près de 80 ans, affiche une couleur ambrée foncée ainsi qu’un nez extraordinaire de crème brûlée, de noix, de confiture et de sirop d’érable. Riche et visqueux, mais pas trop doux, ni lourd, beaucoup de travail pour produit cet PX à un prix incroyablement bas. Il est destiné à être bu seul à la fin d’un repas.


Vicente Gandia, Sandara chardonnay saké

Fusion unique du vin mousseux, de saké japonais et de chardonnay. De couleur jaune clair agrémenté de fines bulle. Des notes de bananes, de pommes et d’ananas dominent le nez. Le goût est délicat avec une acidité agréable en finale. La saveur du chardonnay se mêle agréablement au saké, on peut aller jusqu’à la saveur de gâteau de riz

Et puisqu’il n’y a pas d’expérience complète sans goûter les plats typiques de la région, la délégation commerciale de l’Espagne, nous a délecté avec des Jambon Serrano et Ibérico, du fromage Manchego, des olives et des fameuses tapas.


Araex, Superheroes of Spanish wines.

When I received the press tasting invitation, I had no clue who was Araex wine group. Even when I was living in Spain, I never heard about the company. By doing a bit of digging, I discovered, they are driving force of some of my favorite Spanish wines.

Image result for justice league

In a sort of way, Araex remind me of one my favorite comical superhero teams, the justice league. In 1993, Javier Galaretta brought together a band of talented from Rioja Alavesa to spread the good word of Rioja domestically and abroad. Later, other winegrowers joined forming one of the most important independent wine associations in Spain. Araex exports in 70 countries and sells more than 11 million bottles in the international market.

Araex is the poster child for the Spanish wine industry. In 2001, they were named best export company by the Ministry of Agriculture in Spain and in the same year, another sister company was created to accommodate more members: Spanish fine wines. In 2013, they did it again by creating The Grand Wines Premium to accommodate new product lines and innovation.


Sebastien Richard, export manager of Araex

If every wine domaine would follow the mision and values of Araex, Spain would be ahead of Italy and France in the fine premium market. The country has everything going for themselves: good prices, excellent terroir and climate. This was a good part of the discussion that I had with Sébastien Richard, the export manager of Araex in his recent passage in Montreal. The invitation was a courtesy of their Quebec importer LBV International


I tasted a fantastic quartet of Spanish whites that demonstrate the potential that the country has in the category. A Val de Vid Verdejo 2016 ( SAQ # 12260281, $14.80 ) from Rueda: pure, delicious green apple and orchard fruit. On the mouth, straigthfoward, fresh. Nothing complicated about this wine with a ridicolous price. Please, bring me a bowl of steaming clams to have with it!!!. 

Rias Baixas is one hottest places to make whites in Spain. This Pazo de Senorans Valdosares 2016 ( SAQ #  00898411, $23.45) excites me with its vibrant tropical fruit notes. Round and crisp with a good lenght. Harmonious with subtle mineral nuances. I will have anytime a seafood risotto with this wine. A different character, the Val de Vid Verdejo 2016 was richer and riper with a creamier and floral side. A fleshier and longer wine, this could be the wine that I have been loking for to have with grilled halibut and braised cippolini onions.

Image result for twilight zone gif

The Pazo de Senorans Seleccion de Anada 2009 ( Private Importation, $74.00. Case of 6) was something very special. I have never had an Albarino aged in wood. Its something out of the twilight zone. Marked by apricot jam, membrillo and barlett pear, it is super dry and structured. Very tight with a ravishing acidity, it took for a ride in the palate with its pockets of bursting fruit. I can have this wine anytime with poultry cream based dishes.


Moving on the with the reds of the portfolio, I had a magnificent Ribera Del Duero. Valtravieso Esencia 1 2015 ( SAQ # 12886849, $19.50) has a magnificent complex nose bringing to mind spices, dry black fruit with subtle roasted herb nuances. The structure and flavor profile brings to me mind a left bank Bordeaux from St-Estephe. Fleshy, nervy with a tarry tannic expression. Hard to believe that under $20, we can find Ribera del Dueros at this quality.  Wood is very well integrated. On a chilly day, I will have this wine with an oxtail stew.

The Valtravieso Crianza 2015 ( Private Importation, $24.95, Case of 12) shows the greatness that Ribera del Duero can obtain. Pronounced aromatic complexity. Leather, smoke with cinnamon, licorice and mineral dust. Great palate. Powerful, yet fine tannins and very balanced. This wine echoes a Valbuena Vega Sicilia. Buy this wine by the case and aged it for a least 15 years. Should be great with braised beef ribs.

Moving on with the Riojas we had the wines of Baigorri. I had a crianza 2014 ( Private Import, $27.61. Case of 12). Too powerful for my taste, it had a very pronounced wood nose with extracted jammy black fruit. However, on the palate, it had a good acidity and the finale show a bit of drying tannins. Maybe, it needs some time in the cellar to come all together. For sure, it will please the fans of modern Riojas. A wine of this caliber, needs sanguine meat cuts grilled on a charcoal BBQ.

We finish off with the Baigorri Reserva 2009 ( Private Import. $34.75, Case of 6). Very deep and profound with  hardcore notes of wild black fruits, spices, and new wood. Showing a bit of evolution, it was mindblowing with flavors bringing to mind summer truffle, blackcurrants, dried leaves and tamari sauce. Hard tannins but a  great balance. Would have this wine anytime with pulled beef sandwiches.



Protos Reserva 2011-Undervalued Ribera del Duero?

When it comes to wine, seldom we find undervalued wine bottles, specially from very famous wine areas. Ribera del Duero is no exception to the rule. Top Ribera will set you $50 at least and if you want to drink the elite bottles expect to pay a handsome amount in the $100+.

The first week I went to Spain, Protos was one of the first Spanish wines that I came to recognize. In every Jamon joint in Madrid, they had a bottle tucked in with a Serrano or Pata Negra in the window shelf. Even my taxi driver, who was not versed in wine was talking to me about this wine.

With time, I discover Protos and fell in love with this great Ribera del Duero Classic. A great Ribera made along the old school style of the appellation with a very appropiate price.

Originally known as the Cooperativa de Pañafiel,  Bodegas Protos winery was founde in 1927. It was the first winery of the Ribera del Duero. This project started with the union of some of the best Spanish winemakers at the time and through their efforts and perseverance, they became one of Spain greatest wineries.

The name “Protos” derives from Greek to mean “first.” This name brings back the fact that they were the pioneer estate  of Peñafiel, Spain, founding the winemaking of the Ribera. The incredible growth of the Bodegas Protos winery led them to expand nationally and internationally, and thanks to the classical  wines they have  created, this winery was able to construct their new facilities in the surrounding mountains.

Protos Reserva Ribera del Duero 2011. SAQ # 13321541. $35.00

2011 was a great harvest in Ribera del Duero which was heralded by the Spanish and International wine press alike. Tempranillo vines had an extended growing period which allowed for a healthy and slow maturation.The climate provided ideal conditions for a uniform harvest that resulted in great wines for many estates.

Protos is aged for 18 months mostly in new french oak with 20 % american type. The wine ages a furthet 18 months in bottle. 

A powerful wine with a deep core of  black fruits  and nice toasty notes, Spicy, and very complex. The palate is racy with lots of flavours and round tannins. Great acidity with a good backbone and a lingering finish. A slight passage in a carafe for 30 minutes will be perfect if you want to drink it now. By experience, it can age well for a decade and even more. Great with roasted game dishes and also with lamb stews.

A nice Cava for the holidays

Carleton sur Mer

Like many of you, I am on holidays with my family. We are working up our way in the Gaspé Peninsula, spending a good 10 days to d a comprehensive tour of the region.

For some time now, me and my wife were planning this trip. Both of us are food and nature enthusiasts and thats why Gaspesie was such a good fit for us.

The Gaspé Peninsula ( 250 km long and 100-140 kilometers wide) reaches into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, making it indepedent from the rest of Quebec. 

Inland, Gaspésie is a mountainous, woody wilderness, but one of the major attractions of the peninsula is its pretty rugged coast and their excellent cuisine. Gaspé is a paradise for fish and seafood lovers. Here you can find first grade local produce such as lobster and crab. Also it is easier to find quality scallops and halibut from neighboring New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

One of our favorite meals during the meal was the simplest but tastiest one. In Carleton sur Mer, we picked up some fresh halibut and scallops and decided to do a BBQ facing the beach.  A very rustic elegant meal. The halibut meat had a fleshy texture and delicate flavours. The piece of resistance was the scallops. They had a soft buttery texture with the most sweetest taste. A very delicate flavor bringing to mind halzenut.

 The Villa Conchi Cava ( SAQ # 12956456, $14.95, LCBO # 386979, $14.95)  was a perfect match for this vacation. Light and refreshing, it had a wonderful palette of flavors bringing to mind pear and lemon curd. Fruit foward, its medium size bubble was the perfect refreshing agent for the smoky impregnated flavors of the meal. For under the $15, it is an outstanding value in the cava category. The best wines are the ones that are enjoyed along with your family members.

Villa Conchi is sourced from selected vineyards in the heart of Catalunya. The vines benefit from the mountain protection range of Montserrat. Harvesting is done by the night and there is a percentage of Chardonnay added to preserve the fruit aspect of the wine.  Not only this cava is perfect with grilled fish but also with salads as well.