I really love Catavino – it’s such an informative and innovative source of information on Spanish & Portuguese wines. The food of the region is key, but it’s just as vital to know about the great wines available too. This is the place to find out!
Jose Pizzaro http://www.josepizarro.com

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Aromatic Godello, Sumptuous Octopus and a 13th Century Galician Monestary

Unless you wanted to buy a second-hand Land Rover Santana, there’s no reason you’d find yourself in the Galician town of O Barco, indeed I can’t say I’d ever recommend you to go there. Although surrounded by beautiful hills and on the banks of the equally picturesque Rio Sil, the town is a run-down concrete blob, which seems to have a permanent patina of dust. It is, as an estate agent might describe it, ‘functional’. But if you ever are in O Barco, might I suggest that you take a small road up a hillside and follow the signs to the Monasterio de Xagoaza. It is worth it. Not only is its 13th century chapel a wonder to be behold […]

Furniture or Fruit? Two ‘Roble Español’ Toros

A few weeks ago, I was talking to Raul Quemada, the winemaker at Bodegas Portia – the new Faustino enterprise in Ribera del Duero – and happened to ask whether he used Spanish oak on any of the Portia wines. After setting me straight that they used 100% French oak, he added that ‘Spanish oak is for making furniture’ in the way that suggests this is a regular joke among cellarhands in the bars of Aranda de Duero. But someone does think Spanish oak is worth putting wine in – whether for marketing purposes or a genuine concern for flavour – because I recently tasted two wines that proudly state it on their label. The two were by Toro producer […]

Prieto Picudo: Tough Love for an Iberian wine grape

It seems to be the fashion in wine writing today that people champion lesser-known, staunchly individual wines with a sense of place. I believe that, in many cases, this seems to come as a reaction to a Parker method of tasting which tends to examine the wine without a great deal of context. The counter to this, currently espoused by quite a few writers, tries to put the wine in some sort perspective. Some champion wines that determinedly show their place of origin, some seem to prefer ‘the story’ rather than the wine, or any winemaker who thinks that “new oak” is a station on the London underground. There is therefore a tendency to laud winemakers, grape varieties and styles […]

El Puntido: The Meaning and Relevance of a “Great” Rioja

Would you rather have a great wine that wasn’t a classic example of it’s place (the ‘t’ word)? Or would you go for a staunchly regional wine, warts-and-all? In the case of a friend and I last week, we went for the great wine: El Puntido. The problem is it’s not what I call classic Rioja by any stretch. Indeed, one look at the label and it looks like a high-school art project of the 1980s (is it a symptom of my impending middle age that I stoutly refuse to take a photograph on a label seriously?), but it was one of those wines I instantly liked and, judging by the people I’ve met recently who have tasted it, I’m […]

New Correspondent Writer for Catavino: Oliver Styles

Editor’s Note: We have a new and very exciting correspondent writer to the Catavino crew, Oliver Styles! Oliver will be providing us his palate as he tastes through various Spanish and Portuguese wines from his current home in Zamora, Spain. Here, Oliver has provided us a bit of his long and adventurous history with Spanish wine, and hope you will give him a warm and very hearty welcome. It’s galling to think of it now, but within two months of joining UK wine magazine Decanter in 2003, I came within tasting distance of a Vega-Sicilia vertical going back to 1942. Although I was sent to a private Louis Roederer tasting instead, the tales of the ’42 were frustrating, even then, […]