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Tag Archives: Mencia

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 […]

Red Grape Varieties of the Mediterranean Deserving More Attention

Ever wondered why the same small bunch of grape varieties bobs up so frequently from wine regions around the world? There are many hundreds of different grapes out there, but only a small handful of them have managed to become widely grown and internationally known. Mostly grapes have to settle for limited local fame on their home turf. As far as red wines and black grapes are concerned the core range of grapes grown worldwide is really only Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir. I know some of you will take issue and say that I have ignored Malbec, Zinfandel or Pinotage – or something else that is dear to your heart, but really apart from the four I […]

Judging the Quality of a Wine by How Much of It you Drink

Several years ago top wine writer Ch’ng Poh Tiong wrote a piece in his Decanter magazine column that basically said that you could (perhaps ‘should’) judge the quality of a wine by how much of it you drank. If your glass was emptied relatively quickly (the abuse of alcohol is dangerous for your health, enjoy wine moderately), you could be pretty sure it was a good – maybe a great wine. If you struggled to finish a glass, something was obviously not right. It’s obvious, right? But it’s an approach I like. It’s an approach to rating and drinking wines that works (and yes, it works for tasting – i.e. spitting out – wines too) and is immediately quantifiable. So I […]

Rare Iberian Discoveries: Old Vintages from Unknown Regions at a Low Price

I don’t want to encourage wine buying in supermarkets but this will have to be an exception. Two days ago, I stood in front of the serried ranks of bottles on the shelves and, avoiding the usual suspects, went to the end of the aisle where the ‘lesser’ appellations are. This was a supermarket in Zamora (Spain) and Toro – of course – dominated the selection, but, down towards the tawny Ports, were the odds and ends that one can find in any supermarket in Europe. Unheard-of appellations, unheard-of wines, unheard-of grapes, blends, producers, the lot. Now, as most wine lovers will know to their cost, unusual wines in supermarkets rarely repay the risk and the money (albeit small change). […]

Prieto Picudo: Tough Love for an Iberian wine grape

It seems to be the fashion in wine writing today that people champion lesser-known, staunchly individual wines with a sense of place. I believe that, in many cases, this seems to come as a reaction to a Parker method of tasting which tends to examine the wine without a great deal of context. The counter to this, currently espoused by quite a few writers, tries to put the wine in some sort perspective. Some champion wines that determinedly show their place of origin, some seem to prefer ‘the story’ rather than the wine, or any winemaker who thinks that “new oak” is a station on the London underground. There is therefore a tendency to laud winemakers, grape varieties and styles […]

New Correspondent Writer for Catavino: Oliver Styles

Editor’s Note: We have a new and very exciting correspondent writer to the Catavino crew, Oliver Styles! Oliver will be providing us his palate as he tastes through various Spanish and Portuguese wines from his current home in Zamora, Spain. Here, Oliver has provided us a bit of his long and adventurous history with Spanish wine, and hope you will give him a warm and very hearty welcome. It’s galling to think of it now, but within two months of joining UK wine magazine Decanter in 2003, I came within tasting distance of a Vega-Sicilia vertical going back to 1942. Although I was sent to a private Louis Roederer tasting instead, the tales of the ’42 were frustrating, even then, […]

A Pitch for “Iberian Wines” – Not that Spain or Portugal will care to listen

When we started Catavino.net, we knew that our desire to explore would never relegate us to one region entirely, as we have always loved to discover new cultures through their wines. Having fell in love with Portugal, during our first visit in 2003, we knew that limiting ourselves to Spain was both illogical and short sighted. Hence we created an “Iberian Wine” website, a term few people were familiar with, or fully comprehended, prior to Catavino’s creation. I remember the first time I used the term “Iberian wines” in a tasting among a group of Spaniards who stared at me blankly and said, “We have Iberian ham, but there is no such thing as an Iberian wine.” Ponder that for […]

Castilla y León: A Rather Unsuspecting White Wine Region

As mentioned a little while back, when I first learned about Castilla y León as a quality wine region, I associated it with red wines and only red wines. Because of Toro and Ribera del Duero‘s massive influence on the market, Rueda seemed more of an exception to the rule, rather than an indicator of what could potentially come out of the area as a steller white wine region. Our trip covered 6 of the 12 wine regions within Castilla y León (D.O. Cigales, D.O. Arribes del Duero, D.O. Tierra del Vino de Zamora, V.C.P.R.D. Valles de Benavente, D.O. Bierzo, D.O. Tierra de Leon), all of which leaned to the smaller and more obscure side and each focused on one […]

Spanish Wine Tasting, Part 2: A Welcoming, Friendly Affair in Valencia

Recently, I told you about the first Spanish wine tasting that I attended here in Valencia.  It was a great chance to try out my Spanish wine vocabulary and sink my teeth into the mildly daunting experience of the learning curve of tasting terminology in my second language.  I count that event as a tremendously enjoyable success. And once you get a taste, can you stop?  I can’t. The second tasting This one was held at a local wine store come wine distributor here in Valencia, called Las Añadas de España, also selling fine cheeses and cured meats. Katie and I had been tipped off about the tasting by a friend and decided to leave Oscar (nearly three) at school […]

Iberian Links Around the Web

Why is it that every time I write this post, I feel like I am announcing the title for a marvel comics series. In a deep echoing voice, I imagine myself with a cape and megaphone, shouting “Liiiinks Aroouuund theee Weeeeeb!!” while keeping my right hand raised high with a clenched fist as if to pronounce my power. Maybe I’m just overly excited after the lengthy conversations on Twitter among fellow wine bloggers to form a Wine Blogger Magazine? This is an idea that Ryan and I have been chatting about for quite some time, and to see the conversation finally begin, especially when considering the larger audience it could attract, is great. With the combined efforts of Wine Bloggers […]