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London International Wine Fair, Rioja Hype and Gorgeous Fino “En Rama”

From time to time, life gets a bit hectic when our more lucrative projects take center stage. For those of you who aren’t aware, Catavino is the promotional wing of our business, Vrazon, and although we would love for this to change (hint hint, wink wink), its success is purely driven by the deep-seeded passion of both ourselves and our many fabulous writers. We love Spain and Portugal, and it’s because of this adoration that we do our best to keep this site alive and kicking; but it also means that we need to let go of our incredibly thorough posts to provide you a few shorter, dynamic snippets every now and again. Today, is one of those days.

This past weekend, we returned from the London International Wine Fair where we broadcasted live online from our stand, Access Zone. Jam packed with interactive workshops and tastings, the Access Zone is a place where we consult the wine industry on how to come to terms with its stone age mentality to wine online. And it was during this very exciting 3 days that we stumbled across a rather incredible Sherry wine.

Tio Pepe’s Fino en Rama was released, once again, at the 2011 London International Wine Fair. Last year, we were not able to get a chance to taste this rare treat, but fortune smiled sweetly upon us this year. “En Rama” is a style of sherry that essentially means “unfined and unfiltered”, straight from the cask and full of all the personality. “Raw” might be a better way to explain it. The Tio Pepe Fino en Rama is a king among Finos, showcasing its rich and robust salt air character; and according to marketing director at Gonzalez Byass, Jeremy Rocket, it even retains some of the flor it was born from. He was generous enough to swing by our stand last Thursday afternoon to give us a sip of this rare wine, and it did not fail to disappoint. If anything, our stand was considerably more packet with outstretched hands vying for a sip. Near impossible to keep in stock, I have no clue how to get you a bottle, but if you ever get the chance do not miss out. Fingers crossed because it’s absolutely worth your time! (two nice posts from last years edition: Thirst for wine and Wine Anorak)

On a separate topic, I came across an article in Decanter a few weeks back that left a sour taste in my mouth. Today, there is a global movement, led by the Center for Wine Origins, to get new world wine regions to respect old world names. In the USA, they want wineries to stop using terms like “Port wine” and “Champagne” as they are related to a specific location. The intention is to make the consumer aware that Champagne means “a sparkling wine made in Champagne, France”, not a sparkling wine made in the same way as Champagne but from California, for example. Evidently, the famed Spanish region of Rioja has been fighting with Argentina over their up and coming wine region called, you guessed it…“Rioja”. Spain, however, lost the battle, thus, there will continue to be Rioja wine from Argentina. Now, while I hope people will move away from using Port and Sherry outside their designated regions, I don’t necessarily feel badly for Rioja. Why? Because Rioja can’t even find a way to promote the region as a whole. Invited last year to the “Grandes de Rioja” tasting, a large contingent of wines from Rioja were missing, simply because they were from Rioja Alavesa. Seeing that Rioja Alavesa is technically in Basque country, the political region of Rioja, where the tasting was held, refuses to promote them. With amazing wineries like Remírez de Ganuza, among others, this seems to be a case of cutting ones nose off to spite the face. Every wine fair I’ve attend hosts multiple stands for Rioja, further confusing the wine buyer and general public. Until Rioja realizes that the name “Rioja” is one entity to consumers outside Spain, and can move past the governmental bickering about who is who, I have little pity for them trying to defend their name elsewhere.

Finally, a question for all of you. Summer is here in Spain. It’s hot. The weather is starting to get sticky, and we are heading out to buy our favorite warm weather sippers. Next week, we’ll share some wines you might check out in the summer heat, but first we want to hear from you! What are you drinking heading into summer? Inquiring minds want to know! Last night we picked up a bottle of Gorka Izagirre 2010, a Chacolí wine from Basque country. Hands down a contender for summer sipper of the year. But truth is we have a lot of summer left to go! 🙂


Ryan Opaz

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