Life is about the simple things

Source: Fine Art America

The simple things of life are the best. I heard this all the time but sometimes never pay attention. It only applies to me under special circumstances, when is convenient for me like when I broke for instance.

For many the last week of January is going to be a dreadful time. Some will receive the wrecked credit card bill, a bitter reminder of the faked sweetness of the Christmas season. If you are doing dry January, it will be much worse because how the hell will you forget about the problem!!

When I was a student at University I used to drink inexpensive wine all the time. After a good bottle of wine, I used to finish the evening with a cheap one. This ritual made me appreciate it more the good bottle that was enjoying before. Christine, the lady that ignited on me my wine passion used to tell me that I wont be able to drink nice bottles all the time, so it would be a good idea to learn to appreciate a cheap bottle. She used to call them ” El chipo” bottles. Let’s say after a bottle of Valbuena Numero 5, we used to have something costing like $10 from La Mancha. Of course, consumed alongside a fat joint ( now is legal to say in Canada)

Cheap does not necessarily means bad or faulty. It is all about the complexity of a wine and how you can appreciate its different levels. To explain my point, I will use an analogy. Normally, in the fantasized reality of head, I would have social relations with people with my same interests or highly intellectuals ones. The reality is a very different one. My entourage is composed with simple people, yet beautiful. The same thing with wine. You can have a wine with primary fruit flavours yet very enjoyable and delicious. It wont stimulate you like a grand vin but it is perfect to enjoy the moment and pass a good wine.

Valencia yields robust and hearty wines. The region has a blessing of the sun and the Mediterranean climate. In the 1980’s the region was infamous for producing bulk wine but this is actually a fading memory. Nathalie Bonhomme is a Quebecoise by origin currently making delicious yet affordable wines. This is an equal part blend of Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon. A wine of pleasure not of contemplation. Inexpensive, not cheap. Perfect for your aching pocket in cold January if you live in this part of the world.

Les Vins Bonhomme El Bonhomme Valencia 2017. SAQ # 11157185, $18.75

A robust yet charming wine with heady blackberry fruit nuances and mulled wine spices. Full body yet with caressing tannins. Perfect with braised meat or a hearty lentil chorizo soup.

Time for Vinos y Paella


Finally the temperatures have started to rise and the rain is wearing off in this part of Quebec where I live. As we enter deep in the summer, all i want to do is cook and drink outside. One of the dishes that I love do in the summer is a big Paella.

For me paella is the ultimate Spanish dish for the summer weekends. When I used to live in Spain, I had it good restaurants in Madrid and also being a guest in some of my friends  homes back there in those golden yet far remote times.  It is a very intimate and friendly dish.

As a child growing up in Venezuela, I also had fond memories of eating Paella with my family and friends. Back in those times,  my grandparents were friends with a lovely couple from Spain that also resided in Venezuela. They nicknamed, the coquis, don’t ask why, I had no idea. Their names were Paco and Mara

When i was 8 or 9, in an easter holiday, we spent some time with them in Higuerote, a coastal city, not far away from Caracas.  The coquis were a pair of bon vivants. They knew their food and drink inside out. They had a beach chalet where they used to go on the weekends

On good friday while I took off with my aunts to the beach, Paco and Mara prepared the Paella, outside the backyard of their house. It was a seafood paella, stunning. Up to this day, I remember the fragrant aromas of the spiced rice with sofrito and saffron with the flavors of the seafood. It was a very familiar affair.



Since Paella is a very relaxed meal, you want to drink easy-going wines, to stimulate conversation. A paella party is not the proper time to open a big expensive Ribera del Duero or a luxurious Priorato.  Stick with modest whites, rosados and light reds. The regions that you should be looking for include Rueda, Rioja and Navarra.

The drinks that you will have before the Paella are as important as the wines that you will have during the main meal. While preparing the Paella, you want wines to go with Tapas. Basically, you are looking for an aperitivo that will stimulate your appetite.  Some of the tapas that you will customary will see include Jamon, patatas bravas or cheese.


Cava works best. However, it is always handy to have a nice vermouth in case some of your guests don’t appreciate sparkling wine. Paco used to like to drink Johnnie Walker black label, a custom that he adopted from the Venezuelan natives. However, avoid having any spirits before, otherwise you will be drunk by the time you eat the Paella.

Here is my personal suggestions, on the wines you should have with paella:

Wines to have while making the Paella

Parés Baltà Blanca Cusiné Penedès 2010. SAQ Code # 12591021. $35.25

Delicate notes of honey, nougat with toasty notes of hazelnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts. On the mouth, very fine with a silky texture and smooth bubble bringing to mind white fruits and ripe fruits. Long and tasty finale.

Gonzalez Byass La Copa Vermouth Rouge.  SAQ Code # 13137647. $24.35

Lovely aperitivo starting on blood oranges with hints of clove and cinnamon. On the palate, it is sweet but not overdone. Flavors bringing to mind Italian Chinotto. Light, minty and very balanced.

Wines to have while eating the Paella


Compania de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez. Basa Rueda 2016. SAQ # 10264018. $16.20

Broding yellow fruits, mountain herbs such as  chamomille, Fresh and zesty. elegant and quite balanced. Drinking very easy and dangerously.

Hermanos Lurton Rueda 2015. SAQ #  00727198. $15.60

Zesty with a nectarine-peach character on the nose. On the mouth, crisp and  subtle with a round almost creamy texture. Flavors bring to mind fennel and white orchard fruit. Very elegant with a long finale bringing to mind tropical fruits. 


Rioja Cune Crianza 2012. SAQ # 13087248. $15.25

Delicious tones of black fruits such as cherry, c assis and prunes. Well spiced bouquet bringing to mind paprika, cofee bean. Fresh and ample in the mouth with generous tannins.

El Albar Barricas Toro 2000. ( Private Import, $26.95, vins fins)

 If your Paella has spicy chorizo or rabbit, this aged Toro could be a wonderful partner. On the nose, sultana raisins, cacao, black truffle with lots of floral undertones. Quite elegant, and round with mature tannins.

After the paella, with a bowl of vanilla ice cream and balsamic vinegar condiment:

Pedro Ximenez de añada 2013. SAQ # 12653869. $21.80

Nose on the typical  Pedro Ximenez variety bringing to mind raisins and plums. Lovely orange peel (evolving towards marmelade) and a hint of apple blossom. Some candied tangerine and hints of fresh corinth grapes develop with time in the glass. The mouth is very sweet, bringing to mindcaramel and brown sugar flavours. Also dominant  notes of membrillo, the quince jelly they make in Andalucia. Very long with an aftertaste that brings to mind sweet almond paste.





Matching wine with salt cod dishes

The idea from this post came from an observation from my mother. The other day I was making fish and chips. For my fish, i used fresh cod which she complained that it tasted anything. In her mind, the idea of savoury cod was the one that was salted and left in water for a few days before cooking. This got me thinking about it, which was a regular dish during Easter when i was a child in Venezuela, so i thought about dropping a line or two about the subject. Coming from an Italian family, this was a traditional dish that we used to have every good friday.

Easter is coming soon and I thought that it would be just appropiate to talk about a dish that is very famous in Spanish Gastronomy. Bacalao or Salt Cod.

Salted dry cod cut at the Boqueria market in Barcelona.

Salt cod, a popular Good Friday dish in many parts of the Mediterranean, is cooked many different ways which suggest different wine pairings.

Pairing salt cod (bacalao) with wine is a tricky business, and one can go seriously wrong. Salt cod’s high salinity and complexity of the way it is normally cooked with other flavors such as onion, tomatoes, potatoes, olives, olive oil, etc. make it tough to find a wine that stands up to the  flavors and that complements them.

In this post, I will give 3 reccomendations for some of my favorite white wines. On a later one, I will discuss pairings with red and orange wine.

Here are my suggestions for wine varietals to accompany Cod:

Chardonnay (unoaked) – Chardonnay has a consistent structure and an agreeable freshness. It works well with dishes containing flaked salt cod which normally retains more salt than filets of salt cod.

Carménère –  This Chilean red-wine varietal stands up well to salt cod dishes which contain green peppers, a notoriously tricky flavor when it comes to wine pairings.

Pinot Noir – This grape, known for its smoothness and balance, is recommended when salt cod is roasted or served with few other flavors.

Spanish wine reccomendations

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

Chartier Rueda 2014. SAQ Code:  12831101. Price: $19.40

The wines of Francois Chartier have a well established presence in the Quebec Market. This Verdejo offer aromas of pears, white flowers with a touch of blanched almonds. On the mouth, the wine has a pleasant voluminous texture with fleshy fruit. Fresh finale. Will be good idea to pair it with Bacalao al pil-pil. 90/100

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

Hermanos Lurton Rueda Verdejo 2014. SAQ Code:  00727198. Price: $16.80

The Lurton brothers are a powerhouse trio. They make wine across the globe in Argentina, Chile, France and of course of Spain. This Verdejo offers a mix of white and citrus fruits with subtle notes of green pepper. On the mouth, the wine is medium to full body. Fresh with more citrus fruits and a nice mineral undertone. Good quality for the price paid. Will pair nicely with cod preparations involving baked onions and green pepper. 92\100.

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

Agarena de Murviedro Blanco 2014.-Viura and Sauvignon Blanc. D.O.P Valencia. SAQ Code:  12663101. Price: $9.55

Don’t let the price fool you about the quality of this wine.  On the nose, the wine displays notes of white lilies, hay and citrus fruits. On the mouth, fresh, medium to full body with flavors of pears and tropical fruits. Excellent quality price ratio. Will pair nicely with more traditional preparations such as boiled Bacalao with potatoes and olive oil. 91\100








Souvenirs from Valencia: Parotet Rouge 2012


After a brief interruption I am back, I was stunned by a nasty cold and its very difficult to concentrate on tasting wine and writing when your body aches and your nose is blocked.

Vermell 2012 is a wine made by Celler del Roure in Moixent, Valencia. The most important characteristic f this wine is that is aged 4-6 months in clay vessels underground.

The wine is a blend of varieties Monastrell, Garnacha Tintorera and local variety Mando. All this varieties are grown at high altitudes in Valencia. Above 600 meters, I believe. This combined with the cold mediterranean winters give the varieties a very aromatic profile.

The estate has a very old underground cellar in which they have almost 100 clay vessels buried underground. This antique cellar was believed to be built-in the first balf of the XVII, of which can be implied that those clay ” containers” have almost 300 years.


The estated is owned by Pablo Calatayud. In 1995, he decided to extend his vineyard holdings and build a state of the art cellar. Quickly Celer del Roure became the leadetrs of quality wine in Valencia. The estate has received important acclaim from the international wine press including Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson. Actually, she raved about Parotet, the big brother of Vermell, which is mostly a blend of Mandó with the remainder of Monastrell.

Celer del Roure has always invested in indigenous Valencian varieties such as Mando (red) and Verdil (white). historically the local wines made out of this varieties had always been fermented and aged in Tinajas. The Spanish version of Amphoras.


Celler del Roure Vermell 2012
D.O Valencia

On the nose, fine aromas of red and black fruits in coulis with lots of balsamic nuances. Very peppery with crushed dry mediterranean herbs, zaatar? maybe. Also hints of dry pimenton. Violets as well ( paprika  soft animal nuances, leather and game fur comes to mind. Could pass easily for a cotes du Rhone. In the mouth, full body. Fresh tasting and round with a sublime elegance. Harmonious with a tarry tannins at the end of the palate. 92\100.

Celler del Roure is represented in Quebec by Vini-Vins. For more information on availability on this wine, please contact Valeriane Pare at:

Valencia, not just Paella but outstanding wines.


Most people that go to Spain for the first time want to try these popular Spanish dishes: Gazpacho, Crema Catalana, Queso Manchego, and Allioli. Let’s not forget, the ambassador of the Spanish tourist dishes, Paella. This is a regional dish originally from the coastal city of Valencia. It has evolved and become symbolic of Spanish cuisine around the world, though for Spaniards it represents something quite different. Paella and other Spanish rice dishes are also festival or picnic foods, usually cooked on enormous skillets over an open flame outside with friends and family in the countryside. In Spain there are three well-known types of paella: Paella Valenciana (white rice, vegetables, chicken, duck and rabbit meat, land snails, beans and spices), Seafood Paella (rice, seafood and seasoning) and Paella Mixta, which is actually a free-style mixture usually made of rice, chicken, seafood including clams, vegetables, olive oil, saffron, and other spices. Unless you are in Valencia or at a Valencian restaurant, don’t order the famous yellow paella valenciana. You may think you are getting a truly unique dining experience when in fact, nine times out of ten, it was probably frozen in a bag before it found itself on your plate.

I wish it would be the same to a certain extent for Valencian wines. The typical foreign tourist visiting Spain must probably have heard about Rioja or Ribera del Duero-important wine regions-but I doubt about Valencia. This wine corner of Spain offer some of the best values to be found in the country.

Since just a few years ago, this Valencia was a big player in the bulk market wine. However, things have been changing to make quality bottle wine. In 2010, the DOP produced around 45 millions bottles in which 30 million were destined for export markets.

Valencia counts with approximately with 13,000 hectares of vineyards which are scattered in different subzones of the province. Each part has its own climatic and soil characteristics.

The subzones of Valencia are:

Alto Turia. The area farthest to the north with a mountain terrain and enjoying a continental climate. In this part, vineyards are located between 800 and 1000 meters above sea level. White grape varieties are grown mostly and they include Macabeo and Merseguera.

Valentino. The biggest subzone with an east orientation. Here vineyards can be found in different altitude points between 250 and up to 800 meters. Also to note, its great diversity of soils.

Clariano. This area is located in the meridional part of the province. Its geography is very diverse alternating valleys and mountains and boasting an array of diverse soils. Like Valentino, vineyards are grown between 200 to 700 metres above sea level. Clariano receives the biggest rainfall share in Valencia and has important thermic variations between day and night. This contributes to its complexities of its wine.

Moscatel de Valencia. This area is on the central part of the province. It is the zone closest to the sea and we fine vineyards between between 100 and 250 above sea level. It is the area where sweet wines are elaborated.

In this area, the grape varieties cultivated are: merseguera, macabeo, chardonnay, Malvasía, Moscatel and Verdil, for the reds; Bobal, Monastrell, Garnacha tintorera, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon,Merlot y Pinot noir. Also we can find both in white and red:  Gewürtztraminer,  Planta fina de pedralba, Planta nova,Pedro Ximénez, Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Semillón blanc, Tortosí, Verdejo, Viognier, Bonicaire, Cabernet Franc, Forcallat tinta,Garnacha, Graciano, Malbec, Mandó, Marselan, Mencía, Mazuelo, Petite verdot and Syrah.

Nathalie Bonhomme wines.

One of the most important producers of the Valencia wine region is Nathalie Bonhomme. Nathalie which by the way, comes from the Montreal decided to make wine after spending many years in wine distribution. So in 2007, she went in joint venture\partnership with with Valencia’s Rafael Cambra to produce a Monastrell/Cabernet Sauvignon Bonhomme label wine that is widely distributed all over the world. Then in 2011 she collaborated with Jumilla’s Bodegas Juan Gil to produce El Petit Bonhomme, a fascinating Monastrell, Garnacha, and Syrah blend, a cheeky homage to the wines of the southern Rhône.

According to Nathalie, The Bonhomme was created as a new easy concept wine for a younger generation of wine drinkers to learn and discover the complex world of wine by messages that define our time and youth: They include travel (viaja), feel (siente) and imagine (imagina).

In their opinion, the new generation wine lover is all about links, communication and contacts. The red button is the link between the three feelings of the El Bonhomme and moreover projects the recycled “vintage” feeling of well being.

I recently had a chance to review the Bonhomme wines as a part this upcoming proyect on Spanish wines. Since this post is on Valencian wines, I will review the Bonhomme wine. The other wines that she produces will be covered in a later post when I talk about Jumilla. Until then, keep tuned.




El Bonhomme 2013.  Price: $19.80. Code SAQ :  11157185

Medium to dark ruby colour with purple nuances. On the nose aromas that remind me of blueberry coulis with lots of violets nuances of cracked pepper, licorice and garrique. On the mouth, full body with a polished texture. The wine has a juicy acidity with lots of fleshy tannins and spices. Very savoury afteraste. Southern Rhone in character but with Spanish origins. 88\100

Food Match: Rice based dishes with poultry or beef