Wines from Spain Spill into Consumer Glasses April 4th and 5th

Wines from SpainDo you love Spanish wine, or want to learn about Spanish wine?  There is of course Tempranillo, but there is also other grapes like Mencia you may not have heard of, or what about Spanish sparkling wine?  There is a chance for you on April 4 and 5 through BC Liquor Stores to try and learn a bit about Spanish wines.  The details are below.

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Vancouver, BC – Two FREE consumer tasting events kick off a province-wide Signature Store promotion at BC Liquor Stores Cambie Kitchen this month:

Dates: Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5, 2014
Time: Drop-in any time between 3 and 6pm
Location: Cambie and 39th Signature Store
5555 Cambie Street, Vancouver

The event will feature live Flamenco music by Canadian fusion guitarist Dave Martone with mouthwatering visuals of Spanish wines, their regions and their cultures. Accredited wine professionals will pour samples for visiting shoppers with descriptions of the wines and the foods that go with them. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper wine event without delectable foods to accompany the wines so Vancouver caterer Christine Moulson of Little House will be on hand with the finest in Spanish flavours to nibble on in between sips for all who come out for the fun. As an added bonus, all who arrive to taste wines will take with them a little something. (No purchase necessary.)

Seven wines take part in the promotion, winding consumers through a virtual tour of Spain’s booming wine regions and their various styles:
Cava PARES BALTA – BRUT ORGANIC $19.99 <Karl: a must try>
Jumilla LAS HERMANAS ORGANIC MONASTRELL $15.95
Ribera del Duero TORRES CELESTE $24.99
Toro ELIAS MORA $19.99
Monsant MALONDRO BESLLUM $19.99
Bierzo LOSADA MENCIA $24.99 <Karl: Mencia is a red grape you may not have heard or tried.>
Rioja MARQUES DE MURRIETA FINCA YGAY RESERVA $29.99

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Highlights from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fest – Day 1

Yesterday was a day of tasting primarily Spanish wines at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. Quite a range from sherries to white, red, and Cavas to choose from. I haven’t been able to get through them all, but here are the names of a few bottles you may want to try if you go to the International Tasting room tonight or tomorrow night. Full reviews for these wines and others will come after the festival on my main www.MyWinePal.com website.

My Spanish Wine Picks for Day 1:

  • Alvaro Palacios Remonda la Vendimia 2009
  • Alvaro Palacios Remonda la Montessa 2007
  • Bodegas Chivite Gran Feudo Edicion Vinas Viejas Reserva 2005
  • Grupo Faustino Fortius Reserva 2004
  • Freixenet Elyssia Pinot Noir (sparkling)
  • Gonzalez Byass Finca Constancia Cosecha 2008
  • Marques de Riscal Gran Reserva 2003 (my favorite of the night)
  • Bodegas Olivares Rose 2010 ($12 bottle of rose is a great deal!)
  • Cavas Pares Balta Blanc de Pacs 2010 (a still white made from traditional Cava grapes. Great flavour. It is organic too.)

Most of the red wines above are 100% tempranillo, or a blend with tempranillo. Note that there are many other wines I could add to this list, but today I’m keeping things short.

Today is tasting room time again. I’ll be trying the rest of the world mainly, and finish off a bit of Spain. Saturday is jam packed for me, attending the New Zealand Perfect Pairings, the grenache seminar, and the Cinq a Sept French event. I hope you get a chance to try one of the above wines, and to meet you at one of the events. Please say Hi. Enjoy!

More Rioja: Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva #VPIWF

Rioja is one of the well-known wine regions in Spain, divided into 3 sub-regions, Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja, with each region having slightly different climates and producing different styles of wines.

These 3 regions, and other regions in Spain use these designations for certain levels of quality and aging of their wines. I’d like to cover the Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva levels/styles.  Wines labeled Crianza must be aged at least two years, one of them in barrel. Reserva wines must be aged for a minimum of three years, one of them in barrel. Gran Reserva wines must be aged at least five years, with two of them spent in barrel. In some cases the wines are left even longer in the barrel before being bottled and sold in your local bottle shop.  Riojas can be aged in either French or American oak barrels.

These classes of wines can also be broken down by style: classical vs modern.  The Classical style is characterised by longer aging in older barrels, often American oak. They are elegant, structured wines and often have a slight oxidized character. Their fruit tends to be subdued, lean and elegant, an effect of the long oak aging.  Modern style Riojas have shorter aging times in newer oak, often in French oak or a mixture of French and American oak. They are fruit driven wines, with support by the oak structure. Though they are fruit driven, they still retain elegance and balanced acidity. Both styles have their place in your cellar.

There are a wide range of Spanish wines at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.  Although I don’t have the list of wines and wineries, I am sure that there will be a mix of Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva wines, as well as classical and modern styles. If they are attending, I would say to check out the tables from Bodegas Ysios, Marques de Riscal, Bodegas Muga, Marques de Murrieta, Miquel Merino, Vina Real, Bodegas Baigorri, and Bodegas Martinez Corta.

Enjoy!

Where is Rioja and What Wines Can I Taste?

SPAIN WINE MAP FROM http://picsicio.eu/keyword/spanish%20wine%20region/Rioja is a Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.C. Qualified designation of origin) wine region named after La Rioja, in Spain.  The Rioja DOC is inland in the northern part of Spain and has a very warm continental climate.  The area is sometimes known as the Bordeaux of Spain. Rioja wines are normally a blend of various grape varieties, and can be either red (tinto), white (blanco) or rosé (rosado).  The most common red grape variety for Rioja is Tempranillo. Other grapes used include Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, and Mazuelo.  You can get a single varietal Tempranillo wine, or blends with Tempranillo.  Tempranillo comes from the Spanish word, “temprano”, which means early.  This is an early ripening grape and works well in cooler climates. (thanks to Wikipaedia for this background info.)

Tempranillo has flavours and aromas of plum and strawberries to tobacco, cedar, vanilla, leather and herbs.  It also can have a bit of a rustic edge to it.  It produces a medium bodied wine with medium tannins, and pairs well with stews and grilled meat.

Garnacha, in France it is known as Grenache, is another popular red grape.  It has fruity flavours, predominantly strawberry, coupled with a fiery spiciness. Sometimes you get a butterscotch flavour from garnacha.

On the white wine side, Viura is the prominent grape (aka Macabeo) and is normally blended with some Malvasía and Garnacha Blanca.

It has been common for some bodegas to age their red wines for more years than other countries (e.g. 15-20) years or even more before their release.  There are different levels of aging/quality for Rioja wines:

  • Rioja, is the youngest, spending less than a year in an oak aging barrel.
  • Crianza is wine aged for at least two years, at least one of which was in oak.
  • Rioja Reserva is aged for at least three years, of which at least one year is in oak.
  • Rioja Gran Reserva wines have been aged at least two years in oak and three years in bottle.

Reserva and Gran Reserva wines are not necessarily produced each year.

Doing a quick check at the www.everythingwine.ca website, I located the following Rioja wines:

  • J.G. Carrion Rioja Tempranillo 750 mL
  • Remirez de Ganuza Rioja Reserva 2001 750 mL
  • Palacios Remondo La Vendimia Rioja 750 mL
  • Faustino V Reserva Rioja 750ml
  • Vina Tondonia Rioja Reserva 750 mL
  • Marques de Vitoria Ecco organic Rioja 750ml
  • Muga Rioja Reserva Tempranillo 750 mL
  • Montebuena Rioja Tempranillo 750 mL
  • Muga Torre Rioja 2004 750ml
  • Roda Rioja Red Blend 750 mL
  • Marques de Caceres Rose Rioja (maybe the most popular winery)
  • Ostatu Crianza Rioja Tempranillo 750 mL
  • Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva Rioja 750 mL
  • Ramon Bilbao Crianza Cruz de Alba Tempranillo 750ml
  • Artadi Pagos Viejos Tempranillo 750 mL

and many more.  There were 29 in total.  The above wines range in price from $13 to $113 (the first wine in the list is the least expensive and the last in the list is the most expensive. Increasing price as you go down the list).

I really enjoy Spanish wines and I can find them at quite good price points.  Try a tempranillo if you have not enjoyed wine from this grape before.  Also, Muga makes an excellent Rose if you can find it.

There are other wine regions to discover in Spain.  In future blog articles I will be covering Jerez (sherry region), Ribera del Duero and other areas in Spain.  Salud!