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Tag Archives: La Rioja

The Diverse Gastronomy of Rioja

With a wealth of quality ingredients, and a history of traditional dishes, it’s not difficult to come to Rioja with high expectations. Drive through the valley covered in blossoming cherry trees and vines, and it doesn’t take long to fall in love. But to truly understand the heart and soul of Rioja, you must be willing to open your mind, and your palate, to a vast array of new flavors. Rioja is known as a hotbed of outstanding produce which provides the foundation to its simple yet quality driven gastronomy. From grapes that craft internationally recognized wines to lettuces, peppers, onions, artichokes, garlic, tomatoes, asparagus, beans, peas and peppers. And let’s not forget its notable goat and lamb products whose aromas […]

Rioja Terroir: Approaching the concept of terruño in wine

Editor’s Note:  With a view to the EWBC: Digital Wine Communications Conference launching in just a few weeks, John Perry has taken a very complicated concept – Terroir – and broken it down in a fascinating and approachable way to help us understand how it significantly affects Riojan wine.  Wine has a complicated vocabulary. For the beginner, learning some of this jargon is often the first step to increasing knowledge. Sometimes, even professionals come across an intimidating term and are reminded that things are not as tightly defined as they seem. One such concept is terroir; probably one of the most controversial in the industry. We all have a general idea of what it means, yet it means different things to different people. […]

Rioja’s Controversial Bid to Enlarge Unesco’s World Heritage List

This cold and rainy spring of 2013 has brought about a rare strain of fever to the D.O.Ca. Rioja. Instead of the usual buzz about how the uncommon weather will affect this year’s crop, today, swords are drawn between the three subzones (the Baja, the Alta and the Alavesa) because of the region’s exclusive bid to enlarge Unesco’s World Heritage list. Despite it being just a first step for the site to be nominated, the inclusion of the “Rioja and Rioja Alavesa Vine and Wine Cultural Landscape” in UNESCO’S  World Heritage Center Tentative list has gotten peoples blood boiling in this normally calm and amicable region. The origin of the debate is the geographical area proposed for protection in the […]

Sipping History: The Spanish Wine Exclusives Tasting in New York

The East Coast was a little soggy last week as I made my way to Manhattan for a tasting of Spanish wines. It was the sort of rainy, humid, New York City mess of a day that makes one want to stay inside, but I’m glad I overcame my weather-induced sloth. A train and two subway rides later, I managed to arrive early at my destination on the lower east side. My reward was a private audience with Justin Berlin of Spanish Wine Exclusives who gave me a detailed overview of their portfolio of seven limited production wines that are only available in the United States through Tinto Fino, the little Spanish wine shop that Gabriella wrote about last year. […]

Rioja, Please Tell Me Who You Are and How I Define You!

Having just arrived back from the Grandes de la Rioja Wine tasting this past week in Logroño, I’m still a bit befuddled as to how one might define Rioja. When I first started in wine, I was told by many a mentor that Rioja was a region of dried out wines that were over-oaked. The truly exciting wines were from the innovative wine makers working to re-integrate the fruit. When I eventually arrive in Spain, for obvious reasons, I braced myself for wines that were aggressive and lacking character. And although these wines still do exist, I discovered they are fading into the distance. I also realized that mentors can be wrong. Wines from Rioja can be extraordinarily light and […]

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 […]

La Vuelta a España Stages 13-14: Rioja & Txakoli

In our next installment of La Vuelta a España (check out the first, second and third installments), we visit the iconic region of Rioja, and its under-appreciated neighbor, Txakoli. A few years ago, Ryan and I conducted a regional report on Rioja knowing very little about the region and its wines. We were cognizant of its fame, both nationally and internationally, but were convinced that its glory was all hype and no bite. And though it is true that its reputation as a high quality region has allowed some wineries to gain an undeserved leg up, much of what we found was truly phenomenal. When coming to Rioja, think Tempranillo. If there is any region in Spain that has fashioned […]

The Spanish and Portuguese Take to the London International Wine Fair

Both Spain and Portugal made their mark at the London International Wine Fair 2009 edition this past week. Spain has always had a knack for its dominating and stylish presence. Walk past the enormous stand representing the generic body promoting Spanish wines called ICEX and you rarely saw a square foot unoccupied. 13 autonomous communities were represented, including: Andalusia, Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y Leon, Catalonia, Valencia, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra and Basque Country. Even tiny Denominacion de Origines, representing only a handful of bodegas within these massive autonomous communities garnered some limelight, whereby providing importers the opportunity to taste wines that are generally difficult to discover in any other situation. What made Spain so successful at […]

Valencian Cava: The Difference is in the Grapes

This is my second go at writing this piece. For some reason, the first attempt turned into a lament at the cava on offer at the interval break during operas and concerts at Valencia’s spectacular Palau de les Arts. I suspect a less long-winded mention may creep in again, but I’ll try to focus more on my intended subject of Valencian cava. I’m sure Catavino types are more than familiar with the fact that the Cava Denominación de Origen is not defined by a geographical area. While it is true that the vast majority of cava is made in Catalonia’s Penedés, when the DO was established – the result of EU legislation and Champagne’s ceaseless vigilance against unwarranted use of […]

The Ultimate Online Wine Guide for Visiting La Rioja: What To Drink, Where to Eat and What to Experience

Approximately a month ago, Wink Lorch contacted me in reference to a new online travel guide she had recently launched on La Rioja, Spain. For those of you unfamiliar with Wink, she is the founding member of the Association of Wine Educators and a member of the Circle of Wine Writers. As if this isn’t time consuming enough, in 2007, Wink founded the Wine Travel Guides website, which offers detailed regional wine guides in Old World wine producing countries such as Germany, France, Italy, and now, Spain – all available for download in PDF format. A meticulous, passionate and thorough individual by nature, Wink’s guides speak to her personality, covering: places to stay, wineries to visit, restaurants to dine at, […]