There are a lot of wine websites on the interwebs. There is no better regional wine website when it comes to depth and breadth of content and expertise.
Lenn Thompson

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White Rioja: A story of redemption

Editor’s Note: In the run up to the #EWBC (#DWCC) happening next week, Tara O’Leary, has placed the spotlight on what makes Rioja white wine such a treasure! Spain, the country of matadors, Gaudí and Rafa Nadal; of vibrant fiestas, flamenco and fútbol; of tapas, paella and manchego; of Sherry, Cava and white Rioja.  Yup, that’s right, white Rioja. It’s not really surprising that, when playing a game of ‘word association’, the rapid fire answer to ‘Rioja’ would likely be ‘red wine’, considering it does account for more than 80% of the region’s production; but I would caution you not to dismiss the whites too easily. White Rioja is a story of redemption; of the little guy who fights against oppression and […]

The Grapes of Rioja: Unveiling the berries behind the iconic wine

Editor’s Note: In the run up to the 2013 #Digital Wine Communication Conference happening in 2 weeks, Tara O’Leary, has unveiled the essential berries that has made Rioja so famous.  Do you remember your first Spanish red wine? No? Me neither, but chances are it was a Rioja. Rioja has been the standard bearer of the country’s wines for much longer than my wine drinking career, and still takes top billing amongst consumers in the trusted, familiar and dependable category for Spanish reds. But Rioja could never have won the hearts of so many without those all important grapes that make it famous. Let’s propel these little berries, both familiar and anomalous, into the spotlight and give them their rightful 15 minutes […]

Natural Wine in Spain: A Fast Growing Trend Among Consumers or a Passing Fad?

The term ‘natural wine’ means so much to a few, and absolutely nothing to many, and no matter your feelings (usually love or hate) about the phrase, and the wines themselves, everyone can agree it’s a hot topic in the wine world and one that needs ever more explanation and exploration. But hold on, aren’t all wines natural? In as much as they come from nature – are made from grapes ripened by the sun and grown on vines nourished by the soil – yes, they are. However, the term ‘natural wines’ has been chosen to represent a specific set of methods for producing wine using as little human intervention, both in the vineyard and the cellar, as possible, and […]

A Celebratory Milestone in the Vineyards: Budbreak

Whether it’s the sight of a flower blooming, or if you’re David Attenborough, the birth of baby elephants and tigers, the first glimpse of Spring does wonders to raise our spirits. A walk in the countryside or stroll in the park will reveal new growth in the flower beds and on the trees and the whole world seems to come alive once again. For viticulturalists and winemakers, Spring brings the same exciting feeling of expectation in the vineyards, as it’s the time of the first crucial milestone in the year-round process of producing wine – budbreak. Budbreak signifies the start of a new vintage and all the hopes and hard worth that come with it!  However, as important a time […]

Spanish and Portuguese Wines for Spring: Light and Aromatic Whites!

I saw something yesterday, quite unexpectedly, that gave me such a good feeling – it was a big round, rather blinding ball in the sky, I knew I recognized it…then it came to me – ah yes, it was the sun!  It didn’t stick around long however, and today it’s once again hidden behind soggy, grey rain clouds. Nevertheless, this surprising sighting has given me a taste of how fabulous spring will feel when it does finally arrive, so if you’re like me and can’t wait for that day, I suggest we all start drinking spring wines in anticipation and to cheer ourselves up! In Wines for Spring Part 1, we looked at some red suggestions and now we’re lightening […]

Wines for Spring Part 1: The Reds

The northeast US has just had yet another blizzard with up to or over a foot of snow in some places; here in London the temperature hovers around 0°C and the rest of Europe, except perhaps Greece, seems also to be caught in the relentless clutches of winter. However, it is March. Therefore spring is, although perhaps not quite ‘in the air’, it is at least ‘around the corner’ so with the eternal optimism of any devout wine lover, I am hopeful that one day soon the cold will alleviate and spring will in fact, arrive. And when it does, I plan to have my ‘wines for spring’ at the ready! During the winter months we cozy up to the […]

Spotlight on Mencía

The first clue that a relatively under-the-radar grape variety is becoming popular is when you see it on the wine list of a gastropub in a trendy area of London. I was pleasantly surprised to see a Mencía listed at dinner last night, in fact the Descendientes de J. Palacios, Pétalos is a wine I also had on the list when I was a sommelier. If you saw a Mencía on the list, would you go for it? Let’s take a little look at this grape and the wines it makes, to give you a better idea what to expect if you did. The first thing to know is that it comes from Spain, but you may have guessed that […]

A Tour of Portugal in 5 Wines

Vast tapestries adorning the walls of grand buildings around London are not a rare sight. However, the one that greeted us as we arrived for a wine dinner with the Wines of Portugal was quite exceptional. Protruding from the top of the hanging carpet, in the same pattern of thick wool, was a massive moose head – unusual to say the least! This prepared us for the equally odd venue for the dinner – instead of an intimate private area adjacent to the main dining room at Nuno Mendes’ casual restaurant The Corner Room, we were led into what can best be described as a mini-parliament! It was in fact a council chamber, complete with dark wood panelling and tiered […]

Hotel Profile: The Yeatman, Oporto, Portugal

One look at the stunning decanter-shaped swimming pool (named one of the “12 Head-Turning Infinity Pools” by Condé Nast Traveler), is the first clue that the Yeatman hotel in Oporto, Portugal, is quite partial to wine! The Yeatman, a Relais & Chateaux member, is the country’s first luxury Wine & Gastronomy Hotel, featuring the largest collection of Portuguese wines in the world. Nestled on a hillside amongst the Port lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia, each of the 67 guest rooms offers sweeping views of the Douro River and the picturesque city of Oporto. The location is steeped in the history and tradition of the port trade which has thrived there for over 300 years.  The goal of the hotel, […]

IVDP: The Structural Body Behind Quality Port Wine

Many of us who love a good glass of wine would agree with Robert Louis Stevenson, whose famous quote says “Wine is bottled poetry”. And while I may not recite Emily Dickenson or Thoreau with every glass, there is no doubt that certain wines speak to us in ways that elicit the feelings that are associated with appreciating fine art, a piece of music or a classic poem. Perhaps it is the hope of every winemaker that all who drink his wine experience this ethereal, sensory experience. However, as I discovered on a recent visit to Portugal, it’s not always just the winemakers who want the wine to be of earth-moving quality, but the industry regulators too. Trade bodies exist […]