Bodegas Tobia-Modern Riojas with soul.

colourful vineyard view Rioja

Rioja Vineyards. Source:

At the late Raspipav, I saw little Spanish presence, but what i tasted was really interesting.  One of these producer is Bodegas Tobia is a newcomer in the Rioja.

The bodega was established  in 1994. Its  founder and hombre fuerte  is Oscar Tobía, This Spanish gentleman comes from a local family of wine growers situated  in San Asensio. His purpose is to make original and distinctive wines which embodies  the spirit of Rioja but with a  modern twist. Tobia is the pioneers of barrel fermented rose in Rioja. To this say, Oscar continues to produce innovative wines which are widely known around the world, and sometimes used as benchmark examples by the Rioja Institute.
 It is great to know that we can find Riojas of this caliber in the province of Quebec. Tobia is represented by  Benedictus agency. They have a small but very interesting  Spanish Portfolio.

I only had a chance to taste 3 of their wines at the latest Raspipav in Montreal, Quebec. Although their wines are modern, they are quite enjoyable. I love the fruit concentration profile and the oak is present  ( seleccion and daimon blanco). However, nothing is out of balance. It is very harmonious. However, the most interesting wine was the Daimon blanco, since it contains an unusual grape, Tempranillo Blanco that we seldom see in Rioja. Accordng to Dinastia Vivanco,”Tempranillo Blanco offer intense fruity aromas, with banana, green apple, citrus and floral characters”. You can read about this and the other grapes on Rioja on the Rioja DOCa site.

Tempranillo Blanco, or White Tempranillo, is a relatively ‘new’ grape. It is the result of a natural mutation of the more common ‘red’ Tempranillo, and was discovered on a vine in a vineyard in Murillo de Rio Leza in 1988 by the owner, Jesús Galilea Esteban. DNA analysis proved that this really was tempranillo, but it had a  natural ‘albinism’  that had affected the genes responsinble to the skin colour that resulted in a yellow/green skin pigmentation instead of the usual blue/purple.

daimon blanc

The yellow eyes represent the white daimon label and the purple eyes, the red wine label. Source:

Daimon White 2012. $22.95 A blend of 30% Viura, 25% Malvasia, 15% Tempranillo Blanco and 30% Sauvignon Blanc. Cold skin berry maceration. Fermentation and aging 3 months on American oak with occasional batonnage. On the nose, aromas that remind me of bitter orange and dry white fruits. In the mouth, medium body with a good acidity. Flavors bring to mind peach and apricot jam. Elegant and long. 90/100

Tobia 2013 Tinto $18.70. 100% Tempranillo destemmed, cold maceration in CO2. Stainless steel tank fermentation. No oak. Beautiful primal tempranillo fruit ( Panoply of red fruits ). In addition, spices and licorice. In the mouth, full body with an excellent structure.

tobia wines

Tobia Seleccion range. Source:

Tobia Seleccion 2010. $26.90. Mostly tempranillo with blend with Garnacha and Graciano. Aging in american and french oak barrels. The vintage 2008 was aged nineteeen months. On the nose, concentrated aromas of jammy black fruit. Spicy with well integrated wood notes. Structured and dense with vanilla and pepper layers. Very long but austere finale. 93/100.

Ribera del Guadiana, sourcing amazing wine values in Spain


You do not need me to tell you that Spain produces some of the most amazing wine values in Europe and in the rest of the wine world. I am sure that readers of this blog already agree with me on this matter. It is a cliche and to a certain extent slowing down the progress of the premium wine market in Spain. There is Almansa, Campo de Borja, La Mancha and Ribera del Guadiana wine region which is the subject of my post. I used to drink lots of wine from this appellation when i was living in Spain.

According to Wines from Spain, Ribera del Guadiana is located in south west Spain and borders Portugal. It groups together six sub-zones in the region of Extremadura as detailed below.Tierra de Barros is the largest of the sub-regions and it is also setting the standards in terms of development. There are also Canamero, Matanegra, Montanchez, Ribera Alta and Ribera Baja.  Winemaking tradition go back to the  ancient inhabitants of the region such as the Celts and the Lusitani.  The wines of Extremadura were know in the time of Carlos V. In 1573 Luis de Toro wrote the comments of the king regarding the wines   “As well as a wide range of delicious grape varieties,  there is an abundance of sweet figs and numerous types of cherries to be enjoyed. The latter are extraordinarily large and tasty – red, black or a purple colour that’s similar to wine

The grape varieties here are quite eclectic and reflects the region’s location. Tempranillo dominates of course but there are no less than 29 varieties listed by the DO’s Consejo Regulador including local, Portuguese and Andalusian varieties.These are worth looking out for. For example, Interesting work is being done with local white grapes Cayetana, Pardina and Eva. This is quite a young appellation for Spanish standards. It was founded in 1999.

Ribera del Guadiana region is blessed with a clement weather and geography. The vines receive good sun exposure over the ripening period and the region’s clay and limestone soils are fertile due to the influence of the River Guadiana which flows through the region. This major water source, along with its tributaries, allows all kinds of agriculture to thrive alongside the vineyards including cereals, olives, cotton and cork.

At the moment, Ribera del Guadiana is better known for food than for wine as the region is home to some famous Spanish delicacies, namely pata negra ham – the king of Spanish ‘jamón’, and the highly prized soft torta del casar cheese. My wish for 2015 is that the region gets more known internationally.

The SAQ carries only one product from this little appellation in Spain. It is the Campobarro Tempranillo at $10.60 which is an obscene steal at that price range. I discovered this wine at the latest Raspipav edition. It is made by Bodegas San Marcos. They were there to present this wine plus other ones from their Campobarro range. San Marcos was founded in 1980 by a local group of winemakers in the prolific area “Tierra de Barros” of Ribera del Guadiana. They make over 14 dfferent wines and they are present in 35 international markets. By the way, the Spanish wine presence at Raspipav was low compared to their French and Italian peers.

The wines of Bodegas San Marcos are represented in Quebec by the Benedictus agency. All of the wines tasted with the exception of the Tempranillo are private imports


Campobarro Tempranillo 2013. $10.65.
Young vine tempranillo with no oak ageing. Just stainless steel

On the nose, a hint of candied red fruit with nuances of leather. In addition, floral undertones. In the mouth, good balance with a lovely cherry aftertaste. 80-85.

Seleccion 2009. $20.60
Aging in a mixture of american and french oak for 4 months. Tempranillo-Mazuelo blend

On the nose, concentrated ripe fruit with an earthy and floral profile. In the mouth, the wine has a good body with a good elegance and structure. Long Finale. 85-90.

Crianza 2007. $20.95
100% Tempranillo with 10 month american oak ageing
Ripe red fruits with some vanilla nuances. A hint of minerality. Excellent balance with lovely red berries flavours. 85-90

I do hope that we see more of Ribera del Guadiana presence in Canada. They are quite affordable wines with a high quality. I will head up to the SAQ and stock on the tempranillo joven for my house wine.



Listán negro and the volcanic wines of Tenerife

Vineyard in La Geria, Lanzarote. Piedad Sancho-Mata / © ICEX

In my early days of wine drinking, when I thought about Spain, it was usually about Tempranillo or Garnacha. In my mind, I associated them with Ribera del Duero and Rioja. Looking back at those days, I guess that there was nothing wrong with that. A novice wine drinker has to start somewhere.

As time passed and when I went to live in Spain, I discovered the sheer diversity of its viticultural heritage. According to Wikipedia, Spain has over 400 grape varieties and roughly around 650,000 ha of vines planted. This make Spain, the third largest producer of wine. The biggest is France followed by Italy. However, the red wine production of Spain is concentrated on grapes such as Tempranillo, Garnacha and Monastrell. With regards to white wine, they include Airen, Palomino and Albarino.

As these grapes take the start hall of fame, others have been forgotten into oblivion. To name a few, these include Bobal, Manto Negro, Mazuelo and Listán negro. However, these more unusual grape varieties are making a comeback, since a breed of curious young new sommeliers across the world are more open to  Spanish wines and of course forgotten grape varietals.

Listán negro is originary from The Spanish Islas Canarias, off the coast of north-west Africa. It is often confused with Listán Prieto and Negramoll.  Basically, this is the main red grape variety on Canary Island in Spain, precisely in Northern Tenerife. Recent statistics show 4,698 ha planted in 2008. On the grey volcanic soils, man-made craters or hollow are there to capture the moisture and fight the winds from the Sahara.

The Canary Islands were often the last stop for ships headed to the new world colonies in the Americas, and it is thought that Listán Negro was originally from mainland Spain, but was brought to the Canary Islands by Spanish settlers.  From there, the vine was carried to the new world colonies, particularly those in the Americas, and hence planted.  Phylloxera wiped out virtually all of the Listán Negro planted in Europe, but the louse never reached the Canary Islands and so the vine has continued to flourish there.

Canary Islands Vineyards. Source: Efraín Pintos/©ICEX.

The Canary Island produces wine protected by a total of eleven Designations of Origin: DO Abona, DO El Hierro, DO Gran Canaria, DO Islas Canarias, DO La Gomera, DO La Palma, DO Lanzarote, DO Tacoronte-Acentejo, DO Valle Güímar, DO Valle de la Orotava and DO Ycoden-Daute-Isora.

Some of the indigenous grape varieties grown in the Canary Islands are the following ones: Listán Negro, Negramoll, Tintilla (red grapes) and Malvasía, Listán Blanco and Albillo (whites) among others.


At the latest Raspipav salon 2014 in Montreal, Quebec, I had the pleasure to meet Jonatan Garcia Lima, the manager of Suertes del Marques who was there with its importer in Quebec,  Les Vins Alain Bélanger. He was there to show 5 of his line of wines. These were: La Solana, El Esquilon, 7 Fuentes, Trenzano and El Ciruelo.  He makes wine under the appellation Valle de La Orotava. These were my humble impression of the wines. All these were amazing wines, displaying the intense mineral character of the soil of Tenerife.

Fuentes 2012. $25.68/Case of 12. Private Import

Old vine blend from different parcels of the property. Listán negro (90%), Tintilla (3%) and  Listán blanco (7%). Clay soils with a volcanic origin at different altitudes from 400 to 650 meters above sea level.

On the nose, coffee bean, smoke with lots of ripe red fruits. In the mouth, full body and very fresh with flavors bringing to mind herbal and mineral notes. Quite a complex finale bringing to mind beef extract and a volcanic minerality. 93\100.

La Solana 2012. $30.25/Case of 6. Private Import

2,5 ha vineyard located between 400 and 520 above sea level. Listán negro between 80-100 years old. Volcanic rock soil.

On the nose, the wine display a mineral and tarry nose. In addition, gunpowder, and animal nuances. Full body with a fresh acidity. Retronasal reminds me of flower. The wine has an elegant finish with a mineral aftertaste. 90\100

El Esquilon 2012 ( 70% Listán negro and 30% Tintilla). $38.69/Case of 6

1.2 ha vineyard, located at  550 metros above sea level. Listán Negro of an average age of 80 years and Tintilla of 15 years old. Espaldera cultivation method. Volcanic Rock Soil.

On the nose, very mineral with lots of dry animal extract. In the mouth, full body, lots of complex flavor layers reminding me of dry animal extract and black plums. Intense finish. 95\100.

El Ciruelo 2012 ( Majority of  Listán Negro with a small percentage of  Listán Blanco). $55.70

0.75 ha vineyard located between 500 and  550 metros above seal  level with a north exposition.Cordón trenzado cultivation system for Listán Negro and pie franco. Vineyards age more than 90 years old . The parcel name is inspired  by a centenarian cherry tree on the property.

On the nose, a dusty pulverized minerality. Tar and volcanic ashes. On the mouth, full body with beautiful bright and floral flavors. Racy. 93\100.

Trenzado 2012 ( Mostly Listán blanco). $30.19/Case of 6

Blend from parcels from El Esquilon y de La Piñera. Also  La Florida vineyard, To complement, the  Listán blanco  other indigenous varieties are included such  Gual, Marmajuelo, Baboso Blanco, Albillo Criollo, Vijariego Blanco and Verdello,

On the nose, silex, smoke and petrol nose. It is like if you die and went to mineral heaven. Ripe white fruits. On the mouth, complex and quite layered. Very long finale. 94\100