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.

 

New Spanish wine arrivals at the SAQ Cellier

Recently, I have been tasting a number of Spanish new wine arrivals that are part of the latest SAQ Cellier catalog. These wines over deliver in quality at their price point and are excellent choices for weekday suppers. Here are my favorites. These Spanish wines were awarded very high scores by renowned critic Robert Parker. We all know how he loves Spanish wine.

In Red:

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Agricolas Aguaza SA RA DA Seleccion 2009. $15.30. SAQ Code: 12744816 , Bodegas Almansenas, Castilla La Mancha. ( Represented in Quebec by SDVF)

This wine come from the Almansa wine appellation. At 850 meters above sea level, the vineyards of Aguaza are located in Albacete near the mediterranean ocean.

Fresh and silky on the mouth with a slight sweet sensation. Love its voluptuous tannins and flavors that bring to mind blueberry, blackberries and blackberries with a slight balsamic and oak touch. Very persistent finale. This is a wine that will please both the new wine amateur and the wine expert. I paired it with Penne with meat sauce and it went wonderful. It will also go well with beef and pork stir fry.  92\100

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Terra d’Uro Finca la Rana 2011. $19.15. SAQ Code: 12775241, Hacienda Terra d’Uro, Toro. ( Represented in Quebec by SDVF)

Terra d’Uro is the proyect of Oscar Garrote, Cristiano Van Zeller y Pipa Ortega. The Uro wines are situated relatively high above sea level ( 750 meters) in the area of Bardales. The vineyards are a mix of tinta de toro, prephyloxeric, from 25 years to 140 years. La Rana is their entry level wine, aged 11 months in french barrique.

Compared to its peers in the apellation, La rana is a lighter and more accessible wine. Lovely nose evoking red and black fruits, spices and Mediterranean herbs ( Rosemary and Lavender come to mind). On the mouth, the wine is full body with muscular tannins. Fresh, yet very elegant and balanced. Imposing poise in a classy style.  Enjoy every bit of this wine with grilled deer medallions in a green peppecorn sauce. 96\100

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Bodegas Paniza Viñas Viejas de Paniza 2012. $15.95. SAQ Code: 12721905, Bodega Paniza. Aragon. ( Represented in Quebec by Valmonti.)

From the D.O Carinena, comes this high altitude Garnacha bottling made with up to 100 years old vines. Paniza is made around the village of Paniza. The vines enjoy a continental climate with a marked contrast in temperature between night and day. In addition, the amount is very low ( 360 mm) while the sunlight hours are quite high. Also, the Garnacha sits on a marvelous terroir composed of schist, chalk, loam and red clays.

On the nose, very marked aromas of black cherries, herbs with some nuances of dark chocolate. On the mouth, the wine is full body, very flavorful with a dense structure. Tasting it reveal aromas of black fruits, licorice with vanilla bean,oak and mineral dust. Excellent value for the price paid. Perfect with grilled lamb chops. 88\100.

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Albet i Noya Xarel-Lo El Fanio 2014. $19.50. SAQ Code: 12674221

Albet i Noya are pioneers in organic winemaking in the Penedes region of Spain. Their wines are pure and flavourful. El Fanio is monovarietal Xarel-Lo aged 6 months on the its lees in oval porous cement tanks and in acacia barrels. The grapes are grown in terraces on La Guardia hillside. They originates from vines located in Turó de la Gúardia, one of the most unique places in the Serra del Ordal. The grapes are treated with biodynamic methods to bring out the minerality of the Terroir. The soils are characterised by for being poor in organic matter,  permeable and for being sandy-loam.

On the nose, this wine brings to mind delicious floral notes with vegetable and mineral undertones. Very fresh and delicate. Medium body with flavors reminiscent of white fruits. Very good with a shrimp rice with green peas. 85\100.

 

Spanish Halloween wines: Numanthia and Termanthia

Its Haloween weekend in a few days and I thought that I would this ghoulish yet commercial holiday to talk about some wines that are in a way scary in a sort of way. I would like to talk about two of the most iconoclastic Spanish wines, Numanthia and Termanthia.

Castilla y Leon is the region were the famous Toro wines are produced. This Spanish region has a long oenological tradition, which dates back to the times of the ancient Greeks.

In the Middle Ages, wines from Toro became a hot ticket item in Spain, so much they received royal endorsement.They were the choice of wine of the Spanish Conquistadores of the Spanish armada that colonized the New World, and later, during the 19th century, they were exported to other European countries affected by the devastating phylloxera plague that left vineyards barren for decades.

Toro wines are made from a single type of grape named Tinta de Toro, which belongs to the same family of Tempranillo, used in Ribera del Duero. These legendary Toro vines are tough. Some are 140 years old.  They are hardy and resistant, able to endure the region’s extreme climate temperatures  from harsh winters and scorching summers. Situated in northwest Spain, on clay plateaus and slopes, those vines give out intense, aromatic, and powerful wines year after year.

One of the wineries is Numanthia, located in the town of Valdefinjas, Province of Zamora. Currently part of the LVMH Group, the winery was founded, in 1998, by the Eguren family with the sole mission of making the best wines in Toro.

The winery’s name is a tribute to Numantia, an ancient settlement known for its brave resistance to Roman invasion. In 133 AC, the town was stored by legions led by the Roman General Scipio. Its citizens resisted, heroically, for years, opting for death rather than surrender and dishonor. Numantia has become a historic icon of resilience and endurance, characteristics that define the Toro vineyard, a true warrior, able to overcome merciless weather and resistant to plagues.

Numanthia owns 121 acres of vineyards. About 20 are planted with vines 70 to 100 years old, but it is also important to bring into attention a small plot of 12 acres, in Argujillo, that is 120 years old. The land is divided into parcels facing south and southwest, with an average altitude of 2,300 feet. These vines produce thick clusters of small grapes, rich in color and with strong tannins, despite the  fact that the yield is quite small: 2,000 to 3,600 pounds per acre, perhaps one of the lowest in the world. For these reasons,  In order to adapt to the extreme climate, the vineyards have lowered their production, but, as a trade off, offer a high concentration of fruit, resulting in complex wines of great balance and finesse.

Along Vega Sicilia and Pingus, the wines of Numanthia were my first introduction to fine Spanish fine wines. I have fond memories of drinking Numanthia while I was living in Madrid, Spain. Wonderful wine to have with Lechon asado. Termanthia is amazing as well but is more a wine of meditation than to eat with it. This is to show that the appellation can make world class wines that can par with the best of France and Italy.

With this final note, I will leave with this video that I found on youtube. Wine Spectator interviews Manuel louzada, the director and winemaker of Bodegas Numanthia. In five minutes, the video really captures the essence of Numanthia. There is liitle left at the SAQ Selection brances and SAQ Signature of these wines. So get the last bottles while you can. It is a shame that the new generation of young wine lovers and sommeliers express no interest for these classically made wines.

Have a good halloween and don’t eat all the candy. Keep some for me.

The wines:

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Numanthia 2008. Price: $63.00. SAQ Code: 12134575

It has a dark, and deep red color with intense ruby highlights. Its bouquet  is vivid and very complex. At the beginning, there are marked notes  of red and black fruits (currants, raspberries and blackberries), perfectly integrated with savoury spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, black pepper, licorice and toasty aromas. On the palate, the wine is fleshy with well-endowed tannins. The finish is long and elegant with  more aromas of spices, raspberry, cocoa and toasted oak that enhance the complexity and  fine hand of this world class wine. 97\100. Perfect to sip by the fire on the haloween night.

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Termanthia 2011. Price: $179. SAQ Signature Code:  11646819

Powerful nose of cassis and other ripe dark forest fruits with a good dose of newoak.On the palate, more luxurious oak sweet spices with a good acidity with round and  powerful tannins. Extremely  concentrated. A beautiful monster of a wine. Long, lush and decadent. However, not expressing its full greatness yet. but I would love to taste this again around 2030 to see what has become. 99\100. The wine to bring for a hunting trip.

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.