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Tag Archives: Cabernet Sauvignon

Mallorca: The Last Spanish Wine Frontier

The allure of Mallorca lies in images of escaping the hectic mainland life and living an island dream (if only for just a few days) and walking carefree on the beach of the Mediterranean while the sand crumbles softly beneath your toes. But then you head to a local restaurant for the freshest seafood the island has to offer and see the wine list. Local wines? Do you dare venture off mainland Spain (or the rest of Europe for that matter) to try them? Absolutely! The wines of Mallorca are undoubtedly some of the best wines you have likely never heard much less tasted. The opportunity is now. Vine cultivation began in Mallorca as early as 121 B.C. In the […]

Pla i Llevant: An Island Region of Growing Quality

I feel a little sheepish to admit this, but Catavino has never been to an Iberian island. Of the 30+ islands floating carelessly off the Spanish, Portuguese and North African shores, we’ve only heard rumors of their incredible beauty, natural diversity and ample tourism. The Balearic Islands have sat squarely on my radar for years, in part, because rumor has it that my great grandfather, Jose Antonio Reynes I, prior to moving to Cuba, and eventually to New York, just may have roots in Mallorca. Mallorca comes to Catavino’s pages today not because we’ve visited its shores, but because a close friend of ours was kind enough to give a tertiary introduction to its gastronomy. Marc was born in Barcelona, making […]

Wines of Andalucia: On the Rise and Worthy of Far Greater Attention

I wish I was a winemaker, it seems such a wonderfully exciting, creative and honest thing to be. The skill and dedication required to make great wine beggars belief – the life consists of seriously hard work, but to the observer it seems attractive – idyllic even. Whenever I hear about mavericks who create little wine estates in particularly beautiful and romantic places, I am drawn into daydreaming about having my own vineyard – who knows, one day I just might, but I would need a good dollop of more technical knowledge first. Recently whole areas of Spain that I had previously written off as unlikely and unheard of wine regions have been opening up before me and they have […]

Pairing Wines with Portugal’s Faithful Friend: Bacalhau

Editor’s note: In 2009, Catavino contributor Andrea Smith dove into the origins, popularity and over-fishing of cod fish or “Bacalhau” in my native Portuguese. Today, I pick up where Andrea left off with a greater focus on how to prepare the dry, salted version of this flavorful fish, featuring four dishes and a few wines to pair it with. Often referred to as “Rei dos Mares” (King of the Seas), dry, salted cod is quite popular in Mediterranean countries, like Italy and Spain, and especially in Portugal where they boast 1,000 cod fish recipes. Bacalhau or “Fiel Amigo” as the Portuguese nicknamed it meaning faithful friend, picked up in Portugal during the Age of Discovery when navigators took the unrefrigerated […]

Rioja Reserva, Pandering to the Lowest Common Denominator?

It is a fashion, of late, to praise ‘modern’ winemaking and its techniques. Up until very recently – if it isn’t still going on – the argument held that because US wine guru Robert Parker liked a certain style of wine, most wines were made to this standard (Parker wielded great power on behalf of the consumer, so winemakers made wines to please his palate and therefore sold more). Parkerisation, modernisation, globalisation and standardisation of wines became synonyms. Parker liked new oak and lots of fruit. So wines were made with new oak and lots of fruit. And it was the fashion for people in the wine world to rail against this. But now, while in many areas ideas about […]

Spain is Not a Wine Loving Country, It’s a Wine Consuming Country

When I first came to Spain, I was excited to be living in a country where wine flowed like blood through a vast cultural landscape. I also assumed that Spaniards, with wine embedded in their DNA, would be vinous explorers seeking out their next prized bottle. Boy, was I wrong. Wine producing countries like “Spain” consider wine a beverage. Now there are some wine geeks in Spain who have escaped the rote memorization that Rioja=Good and Not Rioja=Bad, permitting themselves to explore outside the box. But even in the ranks of wine “afficianados” there is often a malaise that infects their palates and leads to a lack of discovery and curiosity. Let’s see if I can better lay out the […]

The Vibrant and Dynamic Wines of Spain’s Radical Center

I well remember my first experiences of Spanish wine, I was only a child, but mixed with enough Gaseosa I seem to recall finding it palatable. Every summer we would spend our holidays in Javea, midway between Valencia and Alicante. We usually drove down through France, but occasionally used the car ferry direct from England to Bilbao or Santander – which in those days was more famous as a port than a bank. The everyday wines in Javea, back then were mostly from the nearby region of Jumilla. This is a hot place that in those days was a byword for pretty ghastly wines – even as recently as the early 1990s I remember pouring some away rather than drinking […]

A Gastronomic Tour of Spain: Summary of La Vuelta a España

This is the very last, and very delayed, installment of La Vuelta a España. We apologize for the rather large gap between the end of the La Vuelta and our final post, but life has taken the upper hand, as it is prone to do. But before we dive into the exciting details of who won this exciting race, let’s review where they’ve been and what you should have savored along the way. If you want a more detailed explanation of the gastronomy within each stage, feel free to click on the hyperlink provided. We began the first 4 stages of the race in the south of Spain, where the riders powered through the intense heat and radiating sun to […]

Vuelta España Stages 17-18: Castilla y León, The Land of Perpetual Extremes

In our next installment of La Vuelta a España (check out the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4rth and 5th installments), we enter Castilla y León, the largest region in Spain, occupying 18.6% of its land mass, and consisting of 94,222 km2 (36,379.3 sq mi). Nestled against Aragon, the Basque Country and La Rioja to the east; Asturias and Cantabria to the north; Madrid, Castille-La Mancha and Extremadura to the south; and Portugal and Galicia to the west, it’s a massive chunk of land and to summarize its wine and gastronomy in one article is simply impossible, but we can highlight its essence, culture and cuisine. Castilla y León is also known as “Old Castile”; when the two kingdoms of Castilla y […]

Virginia: A Corner of a Foreign Field that is Forever Spain

Last week I enjoyed a spectacular trip around the wineries and wine regions of Virginia. The state, or more correctly Commonwealth, is a beautiful place and the wine areas are largely dominated by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachians. Indeed Virginia is hot and humid – in the summer anyway, so quality grapes can really only thrive at the higher altitudes of the Blue Ridge, or near the ragged, Rias Baixas-like coastline of Chesapeake Bay. Most of the American wines that we are offered on this side of the Atlantic are made from a narrow range of Grape varieties; Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel with a few others thrown in to spice up the mix. Well Virginia […]