Spanish Albarino, what you must drink in 2016

Since my first visit to Rías Baixas back in 2003 have consistently loved its Albariño wines. While some of the wines are definitely better than others, I can honestly say that I have never tasted a bad wine.

The Albariño grape is an easy grape variety to love. In my view it appeals both to the new or occasional wine drinker as much as it does to the exploring wine passionate.

Vineyards in the beautiful Rias Baixas appellation

For my readers new with Albariño, it is a white grape indigenous to Rías Baixas. Its  taste and texture, is like a crossover between the crisp, refreshing acidity and citrus aromas of a Riesling, with the stony fruit aromas of a Pinot Grigio, and a florality element that brings to mind  a Viognier. This is the reason that it is must white wine that you must drink in 2016. It has a bit of everything.

According to the producer, vintage and vineyard site, Albariño wines could be light to medium to full body. Most of them are made in the  unoaked style, with some producers giving them oak aging and a new tendency is appearing  to make orange wine from the grape.

For some time now Galician winemakers have been experimenting with storing their Albarinos underwater. This practice has many advantages such as absence of light, a constant cool temperature, high pressure, and the gentle rocking motion of the waves.You can see in the video above this practice.  This crew of TVE interviewed famed flying Spanish winemaker back in 2010.

Albariño with fish and seafood are interwoven in the gastronomical culture of Spain have You wont go wrong if you serve Albariño with simple grilled or white fish, mussels shellfish, oysters and so on. It is also a good companion with Thai and Japanese cuisine. I also enjoy it with pastas in light cream sauce.

Quinta_Texte 4

Here are some Albarinos from Rias Baixas that I tried in the latest La Grande Degustation back in November. The wines come from the portfolio of Selections Oeno which has some very interesting producers in their portfolio.

Genio y Figura 2014. D.O Rias Baixas. $21.90 CDN. Private Import. Selections Oeno

Very fresh nose. Simple but delicious minerality with peach undertones. On the mouth, medium body with a creamy texture and fresh acidity. Retronasal flavors remind me of dry chives, lemon zest and mountain herbs. The perfect wine for seared scallops  and pasta. 93\100.


Xion Rias Baixas 2014. D.O Rias Baixas. $19.80 CDN. SAQ Code:  12485543.

On the nose, an emblematic that brings to mind white cranberries, plums with a hint of quince and green apple. On the mouth, very fresh with a marked minerality in the palate. Crisp with a fragant and aromatic finale. Must be lovely with jumbo prawns with fleur de sel. 93\100.


Attis Blanc 2014. D.O Rias Baixas. $21.90 CDN. Private Import. Selections Oeno

Lovely nose that brings to mind fresh nectarines and apricots as well an underlying minerality. On the mouth, medium body. fresh and balanced with delicate white flowers flavors. White licorice, jazmin leaves come to mind. 93\100. Will pair nicely with mild Thai seafood dishes.

Sitta laranxa

Sittia Larantxa Orange wine 2014. Price: $29.25 CDN. Private Import. Selections Oeno.

Emblematic nose revealing honey with confit citric fruits. Floral nuances. Overall very perfumed. Exotic fruit aromas as well such as Papaya dessert. On the mouth, medium to full body. Fresh with earthy notes that bring to mind, earth and amber. Long aromatic finale. 90\100. To drink by its own or with the cheese course


Spanish winter reds to survive January


The start of winter was clement in Quebec in the last week of December. I was warm enough just wearing a sweater and a shirt. However, when the thermometer drop to -25c as this week in some parts of qc, it is time to take out the heavy jacket.

Here are my reccomendations on what to drink for what could be the coldest month of winter. All this wines should be drank with copious amount of meat and bean stews to reconfort yourselves.

I tasted some of these wines at the latest Grande degustation in November 2015.The vintages that i tasted might not be in the SAQ shelves. Also some of the wines are available in the private market only.So if you are reading this blog in Quebec, grab what you can find. For my international audience, use wine searcher

Vina Herminia Excelsus 2012. Rioja. SAQ Code:  12278296. Price: $23.95

Lovely leafy blackcurrant fruit with violets undertones. On the mouth, the wine is full body and quite modern. Flavors bring to mind sultry vivid black fruit aromas. Luscious with ripe tannins.

Vina Herminia Reserva 2010. Rioja. SAQ Code:  12604119. Price: $24.95

Traditional Spanish nose. Dry spices, black jam fruit, seasoned american wood. Full body with a modern profile. Sweet ripe fruit with silky tannins. Beautiful balance with a nice concentration.

Mas Igneus FA112 2011. Priorat. SAQ Code: 11691986 . Price: $41.75

Black mass of ripe black fruits, pebbles with shades of game and animal nuances finishing in dry spice notes such as paprika, cardammon, black pepper and anis. In the mouth, the wine is full body, concentrated with a beautiful layered texture. Very balanced with a long stunning finale.

Gratavinum 2010 Priorat. ( Trialto, Private Import )

On the nose, massive notes of black fruits, cedar, licorice with lots of candied violets. Very concentrated but nicely balanced with the a i

Tinto Figurero 15 Reserva 2012. Ribera del Duero. ( Private Import, Vintrinsec )

Deep roasted black fruit nose with a strong mineral poise. Full body with an exquisite balance and elegance for all that power.

Milagros de Figuero 2012. Ribera del Duero. ( Private Import, Vintrinsec).

Complex nose bringing to mind smoke, animal with notes of dry black fruits. Full body, with retronasal flavors more on the flower side than in the black fruit spectrum. Sultry and ripe tannins with a long finale.

Sierra Cantabria and Muga, two great Riojan producers


Perhaps, my favorite wine region of Spain is Rioja. I hesitate because Ribera del Duero gets into my heart as well. Regardless, I just love the classic wines of both regions.

Since 1870, the Eguren family has been growing grapes and making splendid wines in one of the most important properties in Rioja. Sierra Cantabria go back in history since 1957. They have 90 hectares of vineyards with an average age of 35 years. They are located between the River Ebro and the Sierra Cantabria mountain range. This mountain range shelter the vineyard from the cold winds from the northern winds creating a specific microclimate for vineyard growing and which provide a distinguished personality to their wines.


Sierra Cantabria

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

Reserva 2008

( 100% Tempranillo aged for 18 months in French and American oak )

Big nose. Lots of cassis, spices with a good dose of new oak. Powerful yet very refined. Fine tannins. Will age well for 5-7 years.

Gran Reserva 2005

( 98% Tempranillo and 2% Graciano from vineyards older than 30years. Age 24 months in American oak barrels)

Evolved nose. Red currants and incense. Full body. Austere structure. Linear phase, even in a closed phase at the moment. Flavors bring to mind, smoked cigar tobacco and flowers. Tannins not yet fully developed. Give it another 5-7 years to come around.

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

El Bosque bottling is a single variety Tempranillo.The grapes come from Finca El Bosque, a small property of 1,5 hectares that has old vines more than 40 years old in clay-limestone soils with gravel and rocks on the surface. 

The area is protected by Sierra Cantabria range, and has a mixture of climates that go from Atlantic and Mediterranean with soft winters and summers with a great difference in temperatures between the day and the night which is an ideal condition for the grapes to ripen.

This special wine is made by the traditional Riojan method. The production start with a pre-fermentative maceration at a cold temperature of 8ºC for 3 days.

Then, the fermentation takes place in French oak vats at a controlled temperature of 28ºC with 2 grape punchings daily for the first 8 fermentation days and once daily during the remaining 5 days.

The aging is done for 18 months in new central European and French Bordeaux barrels, with racking every 4 months.


El Bosque 2010

Black fruit jam and compote with lots of new and decadent wood. In addition, balsamic notes with dark chocolate. On the mouth, very powerful, concentrated and extracted but with an striking acidity that keep everything in order. Very fine, polished and silky tannins. Keep it for 30 years.


The Muga famy is part of the history of wine trading of the Rioja region.They started first as wine negociants and then they built up their own winery and started making their own wines. Muga has become a Spanish International brand name. Like Torres, their wines are available in more than 50 countries around the globe.



Seleccion Especial 2010

( Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graciano. Aged in 24 months French oak barrels)

Very refined nose. Cassis, gunpowder, earth and oak well integrated. Full body, powerful but very refined. Fresh acidity, balanced. Nuances of dark chocolate and figs. Well endowed tannis. Young yet but accesible now. Spicy finale.


Prado Enea 2006

( Garnacha Tinta, Mazuelo, Tempranillo, aged in 36 months French oak)

Fine evolved bouquet. Dead mountain leaves. Tobacco cigar with roasted pepper. On the mouth, full body, powerful with chewy tannins. Ready to drink now but can be kept for an extra 5-10 years.


PDM Moncayo from Campo de Borja


Another producer that i discovered in La Grande Degustation 2015 was Pagos Del Moncayo. This is a small winery in the Campo de Borja appellation. They specialize in the production of Garnacha and as well. Although, their wines are a tad modern, they are well crafted and show remarkable balance despite their concentration and high alcohol content.


Garnacha Syrah 2013

On the nose black fruit jam. Sultry nuances of cofee and cocoa bean. On the mouth, full body with lots of jammy fruits and medicinal herbs ( balsamic notes). Ripe and soft tannins.Generous finish. 92/100

Garnacha 2013

On the jammy black fruit. Very peppery. On the mouth, full body. Lots of black fruit extraction with a blast of minerality and more pepper. Very long, fresh and nicely balanced with supple tannins. 94/100

Syrah 2013

On the nose, lots of violets, pepper and black fruit character with a hint of reduction. Full body, potent yet very refined like a purebreed horse. Could pass by a northern Rhone in a blind tasting. Amazing value. 95/100.

La Grande Degustation de Montreal: Chivite Family Estates

Spain was the theme country of La Grande Degustation de Montreal 2015. This is perhaps the most important wine event in the Quebec wine industry and one of the biggests in Canada.This is a huge salon in which more than 200 wine producers, distillers and brewers gather to present their products to a public of more than 15,000 people

Spanish presence was strong with 75 producer presenting their wines to a crazed public of wine lovers and professionals. All the major wine regions of Spain were represented from Aragon, Ribera del Duero, Priorat and Rioja. In addition, Grenache was the vedette grape of this 2 wine festival. Like you may know, Grenache or Garnacha  is a grape that traces its origin from North east Spain in the province of Aragon. From there, it spread to conquer the world gaining a strong foothold in countries such as Australia.


I started my journey in this labyrinth of a salon by tasting some of the wines of Chivite Family Estates. I used to drink a lot of Chivite back when I was in living in Spain in 2002.

Chivite is the Spanish producer that placed Navarra on the international wine scene. It is one of the oldest of Spain with the original winery founded in the town of Cintruénigo in 1637.Today it is still family-owned and going strong. Don Julian Chivite, who died in 1996, was the spiritual father of the present-day company. Since then, the company has been run by his children, Julian, Carlos, Fernando, and Mercedes, who represent the 10th generation of Chivites. The Chivites are also an important family in Navara because they were founding members of the D.O.

Due to time constraints, I only taste the Chivite wines from the properties in Navarra. Below my tasting notes:

Gran Feudo Edición Rosado

Gran Feudo Edicion Rosado 2014

This rose is made from Grenache, Tempranillo and Merlot. Beautiful red fruit notes. In addition, herbs with some dry spices. Echos of Provence. Medium body. Delicate with raspberry tones. Dry finale. Strictly a food wine. 92\100

Chivite Colección 125 Reserva-sv-gl

Reserva 2010 Chivite Coleccion 125 2010. SAQ Code:  11962918. Not available yet at the SAQ.

The flagship wine of Chivite. This is made from 100% Tempranillo and aged 14 months in new and used french oak. Manual grape selection from grapes coming from Finca Granja de Legardeta.

Exceptional fine nose. Tobacco with cassis and prune fruit. Full body. Silky texture supported by a firm frame of tannins. Blackcurrant flavors on the finale. This wine will age for a decade or more. 97\100