Wine of the month: Garnacha Sotillo 2014

This week,  I had the chance to discover a magnificent producer. Vinos Ambiz is the proyect of Fabio Bartolomei in the Gredos region near Madrid. This region is on the way to way to becoming the next Priorato of Spain. Gredos not only have schist soils but they have also old vines. In Quebec, they are represented by the good people of Glou. This is a very special wine. At the same time, it is a wine of pleasure but also of Intellectual reflection.

Fabio makes a wide range of wines: young and aged such as white, red and orange. He ages in amphora, steel, and wood. The wines are made in the natural style with no chemical additions or foreign agents. The plots are vinified separately, and coupage is done on a occasional basis. He either grown his own grapes (3 ha) or buy in from local growers. Indigenous local varieties are grown such as: Airén, Doré, Albillo, Chelva, Malvar, Sauvignon Blanc, Garnacha, Tempranillo.


Very fresh nose. On the natural style. Lots of Raspberries with fresh cherries. Lots of floral nuances as well. On the mouth, fresh. A tad frizzante in the palate. Fruity and earthy with a point of sweetness too. Smooth on the palate with raspy tannins. Various complex nuances that bring to mind green olives, leather, sweet and sour plum sauce with mineral tones as well. Great wine to have with an omelette with spicy chorizo. 95/100

Enjoy this video with Fabio that talks about some of its wines.

Wine of the month: September rhymes with Bodegas Lacus


Bodegas Lacus (DOC La Rioja) was founded by Luis Arnedo, an energetic man with a profund love and respect for the roots of his native landThe word Lacus derives from a pond made out of mother rock in which it is used to crush the wine grapes.

This is a small winery with low production. They have around 20 ha of vines, distributed with Tempranillo, Graciano and Garnacha.

The vinification method of Inedito is very artinasal. For instance, the berries are manually picked and carefully selected usually in mid to late September. Afterwards, the grapes are given a cool maceration treatment for ten days & fermentation happens in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Finally, the wine is aged in stainless steel and is bottled nine months later without fining or filtration.

Inedito is a very fun wine to drink. With its opaque colour, the wine displays beautiful nuances of licorice and violet. On the mouth, the wine has very good acidity and very accesible tannins. Its flavors remind of red cherries with petal roses with time shedding away and given place to black pepper and smoke with old, cured leather and lots of minerality.

Bodegas Lacus is represented in Quebec by Vini-Vins. Along with Moraza producer, there are two of my favorites natural producers in Riona. Inedito sells privately in case of 12. For under $25, it is a steal.

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.

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

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.

Wine of the month: Silice Viticultores

Source: Silice Viticultores

Ribeira Sacra is becoming one of the hottest areas in Spain. The Mencia grape is creating a storm in the area. One of the most exciting wine projects is Silice Viticultores. This is a new winemaking project of brothers Juan and Carlos Rodríguez with Fredi ‘Fresquito’ Torres. The idea of this venture was to go back to their roots. They are 3 passionate people of Ribeira Sacra that in 2013 realized their dream of making the finest and elegant wines of Ribeira Sacra. Their vineyards are located in the extreme part of the subzone Amandi. Their winemaking and viticultural philosophy is artisanal in nature with the most respect of their environment. From the beginning of the project, they did decide not to adhere to the d.o.

Source: Silice Viticultores

Silice makes 3 wines  under the  name Sílice. One is  Sílice,  a wine that is born from old mencia grapes with an average age of un vino  60-80 years old. The grapes are manually selected, and  made only in the inox cuvee.  On the other hand, there is the Selección Especial, which comes from the same parcel but from different subzones ,  Both of the wines are made with the stems and aged for 12 months in barriques of 300 litres of different ages. They are both called 302 and 301. They are mostly mencia monovaretials.

The group draw their inspiration of making wine from the Burgundian model of winemaking, that consist of letting each parcel express their own personality. The basic Silice 2013 was made only with the Inox Cuvee but in the future they plan to use wood foudres. This is due since the Mencia grape presents a lot of reduction problems and just the inox do not help the situation. And to conclude Silice is biological tending towards biodynamic viticulture.

Ribeira Sacra Silice 2013 Inox ( Around $26. Private import. Caise of 6. Vini-Vins).

An incredible exquisite and crispy wine born from granite soils in Ribeira Sacra. This wine has a prodigal red fruit character. If i have to compare, it reminds me of the Morgons of Marcel Lapierre. On the mouth, the wine has a sensual and subtle fruit expression verging toward a Pinot Noir profile. Very easy an incredible to resist now but could age easy for the next 5-years. 93\100. Perfect for the warm summer nights.

Wines of The Month: Torres Coronas Tempranillo and Rioja Ibericos

Torres, is one of the most admirable wine brands in Spain and worldwide. The Torres Family is  one Spain’s leading wine dynasty and the  number one world’s most recognizable Spanish brand. Torres is also the family winery with the most extensive vineyards in the Denomination of Origin (DO) of Penedès and the largest winery in Spain. They also run overseas wine proyects such as   the Miguel Torres Chile winery in the Chilean Central Valley, and in the United States (California) when in 1986 Marimar Torres founded Marimar Estate. In Spain outside of the Torres family’s native Penedès region, they own vineyards in the DO Conca de Barberà, DO Toro, DO Jumilla, DO Ribera del Duero, DOQ Priorat and most recently in DOC Rioja .Moreover, Torres is also Spain’s largest producer of DO wines under its own label, exporting to more than 140 countries. Torres made two significant contributions to the development of enology in Spain: First, the use of fermentation at controlled temperatures, and second wine maturation  in small oak barrels as  as has been a habitual practice in Bordeaux for many centuries.

Bodegas Torres was founded by Jaime Torres and his brother in 1870 in Vilafranca del Penedes. During the Spanish Civil War the winery was bombarded, leaving everything in ruins. Miguel Torres Carbó, a fourth generation member of the family, rebuilt the winery in 1940 and started business up again. He was a pioneer in state bottling. During World War II, Miguel Torres traveled to the United States to promote his wines.It was in this period that the brands Sangre de Toro, Viña Sol and Coronas first came into the market. In 1966 work started on the planting of  internationalgrape varieties: at first Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon and later on Merlot, Pinot noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. This is a pretty impressive resume. Both wines tasted below, regularly available at the SAQ are some of the best values available in the province of Quebec and Ontario

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

Torres Coronas 2011. SAQ Code:  00029728. Price: $14.40. LCBO Code: 29728

A blend of mostly tempranillo with some Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose, aromas of ripe red plums, black cherry with vinous nuances and green cofee. In the mouth, full body, fresh with generous fruit. Savoury nuances of oak, vanilla and leather. A bit tannic but showing nice lenght and a long finale. Excellent quality for the price paid. 88\100. Weekday wine for for a simple bbq of grilled meats. Also it makes a nice food match with roasted pork loin in a mustard and rosemary sauce.

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

Torres Ibéricos 2011. SAQ Code: 11180342. Price: $18.25. LCBO Code: 381046

Ibéricos  name is inspired from Alto Otero, a pretty place where the winery is situated in the town of Labastida, north of the Iberian Peninsula. On the nose, aromas of cedar, tobacco pipe with lots of ripe red fruit character. On the mouth, full body. Rich and velevety on the palate with well endowed tannins. Flavors remind of spices and balsamic notes. Generous finale. A well made crianza. Long and classy finale. 92\100. It goes really well with a grilled Merguez sausage and Spanish saffron rice.

Torres is represented in Quebec by Amphora Vins Fins et Spiritueux and in Ontario by Family Wine Merchants.


Wines of the Month: The Riojas of Bodegas Fernández de Piérola

Rioja is one of my all time favorite region of Spain. It is a classic that never ceases to bore me. There is always something new to discover or a glimpse of a detail that you did not see before. For me, it is like the films of acclaimed iconoclastic Luis Bunuel.  This is a region that it is always re-inventing itself but always true to its origin.

For my wine of the month feature, I choose the Riojas of Bodegas Fernández de Piérola. I had a chance to taste them in the Raspipav wine saloon last year. Their Crianza was in the top 10 of the Montreal Judgement 2014. The theme of last year was to select the wines with the best quality price ratio in the private importation segment of Quebec.

This is a relatively new Bodega for Rioja time standards. It was founded in 1996 and they are situated in Moreda which is part of Rioja Alavesa. They are blessed with an optimal microclimate: Clay, chalky and ravinous soils with considerable differences in day and night temperatures.

Their Pierola Crianza 2010 ( the one that i tasted) comes from vines over 30 years old. It displays wonderful notes of blond tobacco, black cherry with toasty oak and intriguing nuances of smoked black earth. It has an excellent structure with polished tannins and is quite elegant despite the fact that it spent 18 months aging in a mix of 70% american oak and 30% french oak.

Their Reserva 2005 come from tempranillo vineyards between 45 and 60 years old. It has more powerful nose than the crianza displaying notes of jammy cassis, leather and lead pencil. On the mouth, it is quite potent and concentrated with ripe but massive tannins. It is quite oaky, but give it some time in a carafe and it will drink beautifully in a few hours. Or you can cellar for 10 years.

Pierola is represented in Quebec by MonCaviste.  You can get their Crianza 2011 by the modest price of $21.70 per bottle in case of 12. Their 2005 retails for $33.60 and comes in cases of 6.  These are perfect for the BBQ season at its full swing in these part of the world.

While you are drinking their wines, please watch this little video of Autumn in the Rioja. It makes you dream that you are. In my case, it does that effect on me:

For a mini report in general of the region, I also found this video made by a Mexican news online channel. It resumes nicely the wonders of Rioja in 5 minutes:

Happy drinking and see you soon!!!

Wine of the month: Baron de Ley Reserva 2009


I hadn’t been to Spain in years but I remember now why I like it so much. Great wines, amazing food and stunning architecture. Oh, and the weather is pretty good too. So, for my new feature: Wine of the month, I want to talk about special bottles to revive memories of Spain or to transport you there for the first time. For my first wine, I picked the 2009 Baron De Ley Rioja Reserva.

Baron de Ley is a winery situated in Rioja Alta, where the finest Riojas come from. The winery is located in based on an ancient monastery with Benedictine roots. The building was built in 1548 by the Eguía Count. It has had many aristocratic family owners. Today, the estate is lead by a prestigious Rioja professionals which decided to embark in a project which was unique at that time in the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja: a winery that was based on the Médoc châteaux model, putting together all the pieces that makes the wine a fantastic work of art. Baron de ley is truly one of the best reservas available at the SAQ. For $22.60, it delivers lots of value for each dollar paid. The 2009 is amazing but the 2010 will be even great as Rioja had excellent growing season.

This Reserva was vinified and then aged for 20 months in American oak barrels, continued by an additional 24 months in bottle to round out the rough edges.

Baron de Ley Reserva 2009 Code SAQ: 00868729. $22.60

Attractive red ruby coulour with medium-high intensity. On the nose, aromas of black earth, cocoa powder. In addition, iron and black ink. With time in the glass, they evolve into nuances of spices and mediterranean mountain bush. On the mouth, the wine is powerful, structured developing a pleasant sensation of volume and onctuosity that leads to a long finish. Retronasal flavors bring to mind flavors of dark coffee and mocha. My food idea for this wine: Pulled pork sandwiches with aged melted cheddar.