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

Tag Archives: Beverages

Aguardente Bagaçeira: Portugal’s Seriously Strong Wine Spirit

After a fantastic picnic among friends, we gathered at an outdoor café to finish the afternoon with a stiff drink called bagaço. The boys ordered two very full snifters of a crystal clear beverage that I had never heard of, nor did I have to chance to ask just how potent it was before it was passed around to “enjoy” a healthy swig. Erring on the side of caution, I took a tiny sip, but that’s all it took before my eyes popped wide open, and my face clenched and shuddered in pain. I rapidly slammed my fist on the table until the wave of fire passed; and when I came back from the fifth dimension of hell, all that was […]

Iberian Wine Harvest 2011 – A random assortment of challenges

This year, we’ve heard a wide range of harvest stories from across the peninsula: earlier than normal harvests, some later than normal, while others are reporting red grapes being picked before the white grapes – a highly unusual event. Consequently, we’re absolutely clueless as to how the 2011 vintage will end up. Not that we are very worried. We’re firm believers that vintage generally doesn’t matter, and we’re not alone on this. Granted, there are a handful of wine geeks out there that will contest this belief; but winemaking nowadays can take any grape and turn it into a decent wine. Now, while it may not be the same wine as last year, it’s still good, drinkable wine. That said, […]

Salón de Vinos Naturales (3 Edición): What Classifies as “Natural Wine”?

A few Sundays ago, I attended the 3rd edition of the Salón de Vinos Naturalesa, an annual event held in Barcelona and hosted by l’Ánima de Vi. We stumbled across L’Ánima de Vi several years ago while wandering the backstreets of Gracia, which features natural wines from Spain, France, and occasionally, various other parts of the world. Though elated that I was able to attend, admittedly, I’m a very skeptical “natural wine” advocate. When you talk about wine, you are talking about one of the most unnatural processes used to create a consumable. Allow me to clarify. If you eat a carrot, there are only 3 steps before getting the carrot into my mouth: Plant the carrot from a seed/sprout. Water it, weed […]

A Vindima: A Geologist’s Take on the Grape Harvest in the Minho

Editor’s Note: A few months ago, Fiona Lynch and her husband Jonathan, two passionate geologists, moved from Scotland to the Lima Valley in Minho region in Portugal. And having unexpectedly participated in a Portuguese grape harvest last fall with their neighbor, Manuel, they kindly offered to share their story. We’re very appreciative of their willingness to share their experience, and hope this will be one of many we can expect from them in the future. It was autumn in the lush Minho region; an area of mist and granite of northern Portugal hard up against the border with Spain. Our elderly neighbour Manuel was calling over to us. It was mid afternoon and time for a drink. He carefully poured […]

Fabulous Holiday Discounts on Spanish and Portuguese Wines!!

We “love” the holidays; the time of the year when your television turns into an avalanche of deals on everything from the “all so necessary” life-sized stuffed Santa to the “must have” 8,000 inch LED-LCD HDTV that will literally suck you into itself. Or what about the 300+ strings of lights you’ve hung from every immovable object on your house that “magically” insights perpetual seizures from passing cars. And let’s not forget, the family…enough said. We sympathize with you and yours, knowing how desperate the holiday season can become, so we’ve decided to make the pain go away, at least for those of you in the USA and UK by teaming up with “The Spanish Table” in the USA and […]

September 24th: We’ll Say Garnacha, You May Say Grenache, While Others Will Say…..

…Abundante, Aleante, Aleantedi Rivalto, Aleante Poggiarelli, Alicant Blau, Alicante, Alicante Grenache, Aragones, Bois Jaune, Cannonaddu, Cannonadu Nieddu, Cannonau, Cannonau Selvaggio, Canonazo, Carignane Rosso, Elegante, Francese, Gamay del Trasimeno, Garnaccho Negro, Garnacha Comun, Garnacha Negra, Garnacha Roja, Garnacha Tinta, Garnatxa Negra, Garnatxa Pais, Gironet, Granaccia, Granaxa, Grenache Noir, Grenache Rouge, Kek Grenache, Lladoner, Mencida, Navaro, Navarra, Navarre de la Dordogne, Navarro, Negru Calvese, Ranconnat, Red Grenache, Redondal, Retagliadu Nieddu, Rivesaltes, Roussillon Tinto, Roussillon, Rouvaillard, Sans Pareil, Santa Maria de Alcantara, Tentillo, Tintella, Tintilla, Tinto Menudo, Tinto Navalcarnero, Tocai Rosso, Toledana and Uva di Spagna. (Source Wikipedia) (photo credit: rayparnova) Here in Spain, this dark, inky grape is called, Garnacha or Garnatxa; and without much in the way of argument, we can […]

Living Up to a Gran Reserva Label: Bodegas Faustino

As far as I’m concerned, the job of big brands is to produce good, standard, classic wines of their type and place. Although I haven’t tasted their entire portfolio, and I am still doubtful about some wines, Bodegas Faustino seem to do this relatively well. I say ‘doubtful’ and ‘relatively’ because I’m not entirely sure whether one should call their ubiquitous Faustino V Rioja ‘classic’ despite or because of what I think is a decent whack of Brett. But, after all, Brett is named after the British and, as with quite a few good Bordeaux, twist my arm and I’ll say it’s meant to be there. But lets move on. After a British press trip to visit the Faustino group’s […]

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 […]

A Minor Dream Fulfilled – Dinner with the Quadys

Some people know that I have a minor obsession with Vermouth. It started in Minnesota when I was on a quest to find the ideal Manhattan. I knew that for this drink to make sense, I had to find the ideal blend of high quality ingredients with proportions that balanced flavor, texture, and temperature. This personal quest is what eventually led to a California produced Vermouth called, Vya. I fought with my distributor for 2-3 months to bring it into Minnesota, as it was discontinued, and they were iffy on its quality. But after pounding my head against the wall for what seemed like an eternity, I succeeded, and the perfect Manhattan was born – or so my lush friends […]

The Bacchus Awards: The Question of Validity in Wine Competitions

Gabriella and I were recently asked to help judge at the UEC’s (Spanish wine tasting union) bi-annual Bacchus awards. Held in Madrid at the posh and very right leaning social club “The Casino”, whose membership is no longer open to anyone other than the offspring of current members, the judging took place in a room that could host court for any royal wedding, coronation or banquet ball. The event is a bit over the top. The tasting itself is held double blind, meaning we know nothing of the wines region, producer, or country of origin and only grouped into “styles” something that is at times very loosely defined (semi sweet sparkling), I dove into the first 40 wines. The first […]