Wine Bloggers Conference 2017

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On thursday I will be heading down to Santa Rosa, California to participate in the wine bloggers conference. The conference takes place from November 9th to the 12th I am very excited to participate in this event. As I am writing these lines, I am getting shivers in my body. On its 9th edition, The Wine Bloggers’ Conference is going strong and is  one of the leading voices for the Wine bloggers Industry.

The wine bloggers was founded in 2008. It is an international conference where basically worldwide bloggers gather to discuss the nuts and bolts of wine blogging. Along with some other 350 participants, I will  wrapped up in diverse exciting wine education sessions and also to celebrate the joy of being a wine lover and writer. I have been granted a Ethnifacts Diversity Grant for the scholarship. More important, my act of presence will serve to cheer up Sonoma wine region. The region has been recently ravaged by fires and some fake news have been saying that their wine industry. I don’t think so. It’s just bad rumours.

The agenda this year  looks very interesting. I am looking forward to the Professional Wine Writing Tips session on friday. As you all know, drinking wine is so much fun but writing could be challenging even though you are very passionate.  The other session on saturday ” How to help Wineries and Get Paid doing it  ” interest me as well. It has a been a dream of mine to make a living through wine blogging. Hopefully after the conference, I will be on the right track.

The wine discovery sessions look awesome. I will be assisting to the DOP Carinena and Rias Baixas. Carinena is a treasure chest of old vines Garnacha.  Located in Zaragoza province, the appellation is one of the oldest in Spain. Founded in 1933, the appellation has some 15,500 ha of vineyards and some 45 estates in high altitudes ( 400 to 800 m). The appellation is the birthplace of Garnacha but also other white varieties play an important role such as Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Moscatel de Alejandria and Parellada. The wines from this region are also known in Spanish as the ” vinos de las piedras ” which translate into stone wines. I am looking forward for the presentation on this subject by key speaker by Lyn Farmer!!.

Rias Baixas, as well is on the cutting edge of making some of the finest white wines on Spain. This is the kingdom of Albarino, making some seriously heady white wines reminiscent of melon, peach and tropical fruits. Dry and very saline on the mouth, they remind of the Atlantic Ocean. One of my favorite regions in Spain, I will be very nostalgic when I will hear the presentation of Lyn Farmer. Lyn says that the best thing to have with Albarino is another bottle. However, I might add as well, 3 dozens of oysters. For your general interest. Here are the details of the full agenda.

A toro wine to wrap up during the fall weather

I usually dont drink on a regular basis the wines of Toro. Highly extracted and very powerful, I usually keep them for the cold months. By the way, this is not a negative critic, this is the style of the wine region as Toro bakes in the sun during the summer and is very cold during the winter. These wines could be quite powerful and rude enough I remember when I visited  the region back in 2003. It was 45 C in the shade, so you can get the idea how supercharged Tempranillo or Tinta de Toro as it known over there.

A few weeks ago, I passed by my local SAQ store to pick wines, and I saw that they offering to taste The Aponte Reserva 2009.  Frontaura has been making wine since 1574 and is one of the leading wineries in the appellation.  Made from old vines Tempranillo with long aging in french oak, it is a perfect wine for a cold night fall weather.

Frontaura Aponte Reserva Toro 2009. SAQ # 12259407. $23.40

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Dark and intriguing nose of leather, smoke and dry meat ( jerky beef). Spicy and redolent of balsamic notes, cocoa and black raspberry. On the mouth, powerful with a refined palate and ripe but fine tannins bringing to mind coffee, black tobacco and black cherry. Long with a luxurious finale.

 

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.

Spanish presence at the Festival Vins de Terrebone 1\4: Spanish caballeros of LBV International

Every year for the last 10 years or so, I assist to the Festival Vins Terrebone. It has become a tradition of mine.  It is one of the biggest wine festivals in the Lanaudière. You can taste more than 1000 wines from some of the most important wine agencies established in Quebec. The products can be found both at the SAQ and in the private import system. This is a small winelover’s dream

I was quite pleased by the Spanish presence at this year edition.  Here are my tasting notes. From the stand of LBV International, I was very fortunate to taste the following wines:

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Imperial Gran Reserva 2007. Code SAQ:12203796. $51.50

This wine is dominated by Tempranillo, with a good proportion of Graciano and Mazuelo added to complete the blend.. Maturation takes place in new French and American oak and one has to wait patiently for 24 months prior to bottling.

Iconic, to say the least, this Cune Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja is the stuff of wine dreams… It’s here for a long time, so you can wait a decade or two to savor it, or just a year or two if you cant. The luxury of choice and time for winelovers!! If sooner is your preference, I say open your beautiful bottle and give it some air while you prepare a big plate of patatas con chorizo to eat with your first glass.

Cedary. Lovely ripe black fruit expression with pencil shavings nuances. Tar and chinese ink undertones. Perfect oak integration. On the mouth, plush with a good concentration. Noble and mature tannins with an exquisite balance. Long and racy. Retronasal flavors remind me of dry mountain leaves, flowers. Long aftertaste. Perfect Rioja. 100/100

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Contino Rioja Reserva Rioja 2008. Code SAQ : 12347159 . Price: $26.40

Contino is a single-estate bodega (62 ha of vineyards) based in a 200-year-old farmhouse just outside the town of Laguardia in the Alavesa region.  The estate’s name comes from the royal guard of 100 soldiers who protected the monarch. The label is adorned with the bust of San Gregorio, the patron saint and protector of vineyards

On the nose, traditional american oak aromas with lots of cedar, tobacco and roasted black fruit nose. In addition, herbs. On the palate, amazing elegance. Chewy fruit bringing to mind dark plums. Magnific finale. 95\100

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Fontaura Aponte Reserva 2005 Toro. Code SAQ: 12259407. Price: $23.90

The wines of Toro, an appellation next door to Ribera del Duero tend to be richer and more extracted than its neighbor. In some instances, they can be heavy and out of balance. However, it seems to be the exception with Fontaura. This is a property that its origins go back to the XIX century. The estates comprises 120 ha and the wine is a blend from old vine tempranillo vines situated at different parcels of the estate.

Wild Blackberry nose, almost passified in nature with dry indian spices. On the nose, full body. Jammy fruit. Retronasal reminding me of butterscotch with dark chocolate and cocoa. Smoky with mineral flavors and smooth and mature tannins. 90\100.

Wine of The Month: CVNE Monopole Rioja Blanco 2014

Viura is a synonym used in the Spanish DO of Rioja for Macabeo, which is the most popular grape of northen Spain. High in production, the Macabeo adapts well to hot and dry regions. It also buds late which makes it less likely to be harmed by frost. Together with the varietals Parellada and Xarel-lo it is used in the production of the sparkling Spanish wine Cava. Both still and sparkling wines from the Macabeo are dry, medium in acidity, and have notes of delicate wildflowers and bitter almonds. Macabeo is best consumed young.

Besides Cava the best examples of Macabeo come from Rioja, where it is known as Viura, and now makes up 90% of the still white wine production in that area. It can also be found in large quantities in southern France, particularly in the Languedoc area where it is usually blended with Grenache Blanc.

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Monopole Rioja 2014. SAQ Code:  12636760. Price: $16.35

Cune (the initials C.V.N.E. are short for Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana, but in common practice everyone says “coo-nay”) is a well known winery in the Rioja region that works in a very traditional style.Cune Monopole is a dry, crisp white wine made from the local Viura grape. It is pale green/gold in color with aromas and flavors of grapefruit, wild herbs and hints of fennel and mandarin. This unoaked white Rioja is lean and lightly mineral in character. It is very refreshing and pairs well with marinated vegetables and fresh seafood. For the price that it commands at the SAQ, it is a real and obscene steal.

Empanada Gallega, Octopus and Albarino

On today’s post, I will discuss 2 Galician dishes that can be matched with one of the greatest Spanish grapes, Albarino. One of the most beautiful aspects of wine drinking is that you can match the wines with the regional foods where the wine come from.

An empanada galicia is a large, pie-shaped  hails from Galicia, Spain. Galicia is  an “autonomous community” within Spain, with its own language – Galician. They first appeared in Medieval Iberia during the time of the Moorish invasions. A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520 mentions empanadas filled with seafood among its recipes of Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian food. It is believed that empanadas and the very similar calzones are both related from the Arabic meat-filled pies, samosas

Any empanada recipe can be prepared in the shape of a pie, and might be called an “empanada gallega”, but the Spanish version has certain unique characteristics. Empanadas are in, Spain, Portugal, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Philippines,a type of stuffed pastry.The name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.

The dough of a Galician empanada is slightly different than typical Latin American-style empanada one, as it is made with olive oil and yeast. The Spanish traditional filling is a delicious mix of onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, tuna, and might include hardboiled eggs, and seasoned with smoky pimenton paprika. The empanada is often baked in a paella pan, thought you can also do it in a pizza pan.

Pulpo a la gallega -Galician style octopus- is a century old recipe,  because octopus has been consumed in this autonomous region for longer than we can count. Octopus was one of the few types of seafood that was transported from the coasts to the interior towns and in fact it was far more appreciated in the interior than near the sea.

When America was discovered many products appeared in the Spanish gastronomy, including a  spice obtained from some crushed red chiles , in Spanish they call it pimentón, in English: paprika.

Not only does paprika give a tempting reddish tinge, but it was also great for preserving food in those time before frozen products and easy land transportation were available.

But it wasn’t until a few years later that pulpo a la gallega became and actual dish. Some 125 years ago, when muleteers went to cattle fairs, they bought large amounts of octopus and then they’d prepare it with olive oil and paprika. Quite simple.

The name in galician for pulpo a la gallega is “pulpo a feira” (fair style octopus) for a very simple reason. During the cattle fairs the farmers would buy or sell cattle, sell their farm products, etc, and buy groceries such as salt, sugar and other products they didn’t have daily access to.

The trip to the town where the fair took place took a long time and most people would stay for lunch or dinner. Those who stayed near the fair venue could eat octopus (as we’ve mentioned before, it was a very typical dish in fairs).

The “pulpeiras” (specialized in octopus) would cook the animal in copper cauldrons and serve it in wooden plates. It is said that the copper pot gives it an incomparable taste that it’s impossible to obtain with any other material.

Wines for these Spanish delicacies:

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Pazo de Senorans Albarino 2013. SAQ Code: 00898411. Price: $27.30

On the nose, medium intensity aromas of lemon,green apple, and diverse stone fruits. In addition, diverse  floral notes such as acacia. In the mouth, mineral driven with pear like flavors alike. Fresh, firm and with a racy finale. 90\100

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Terras Gauda O Rosal 2014. SAQ Code: 10858351. Price: $24.00

On the nose the wine displays a generous nose of ripe peach with aromatic hints of bay leaf, mint, orange blossom, tangerine  and orange peel. On the palate it displays lots of  character  with a classic body and sensational fruitiness. Succulent and dense, it shines with  an elegant creamy sensation. 92\100

Have a good week!!

Vina Real Gran Reserva Rioja 2008

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Viña Real has been producing wine since the nineteenth century and over the years They have  consistently brought fresh ideas and techniques to the Rioja region.

Today they can be found in Rioja Alavesa, a sub-region that were pioneers in barrel-ageing, and indeed Viña Real themselves were one of the first to make crianza wines.

Their first wine was sold way back in 1920 from vines near the Camino Real (or ‘royal road’, an historic Spanish highway) which is where their name originated. They have retained this name, although they are now under the much larger umbrella of producers run by the famous CVNE organisation.

Despite their many years of experience, choosing when to harvest is still a tricky operation as they only want to pick grapes at their optimum potential. When harvesting does get underway, it is done by hand, and the grapes undergo a further selection on automatic ‘hoppers’ at the winery.

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Vina Real Gran Reserva Rioja 2008. SAQ Code: 12497501. Price: $35.00.

Aromas of blackcurrant with hints of coffe and dark chocolate and spices such as cinnamon. On the mouth, fruity, reminding me of sour cherries and strawberries. Elegant and structured with additional Rioja flavors of cedar and pipe tobacco. Lovely finale bringing to mind mint and confit red and blackcurrant. Drink now or cellar for the next 7-10 years.

Viña Real is represented in Quebec by LBV International.