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Tag Archives: Pinot Noir

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 […]

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 […]

International Varieties: Are They Intended to Reflect their Origin or are They Made to Please?

In my last post, I highlighted an ‘international’ grape variety, grown in Spain, made in Spain, but not allowed to say which region it’s from because the local Denominacion de Origen (DO) doesn’t recognize Viognier as part of its ‘terroir’. Whether this is fair or not is a difficult question – just what does a grape have to do to be allowed in a region? For the most part, it seems it has to have been there, on the spot, on the ground, as it were, for longer than living memory. Which is fine. In the case of Norrell Robertson MW’s Viognier – good as it is – it hasn’t been there long enough. And that might just about seem justifiable. It’s a […]

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 […]

El Puño, Viogner, Vino de Mesa, 2009

Now I normally recoil from international varieties being propagated on Spanish soil like a liberal in Alabama. The idea of Pinot Noir in Castilla, for example, is about as revolting as seeing an Englishman in a baseball cap (to borrow a phrase from the Libertines). But, as we all know, Ribera del Duero is not built on Tempranillo alone And credit where credit is due. Scottish winemaker Norrel Roberston MW (who has probably done more than enough for Grenache in Calatayd – although that doesn’t mean the region’s old, old vines are not in danger, quite the contrary) has produced a really lovely barrel-fermented Viognier in that selfsame region. Which means that it cannot be classed as Aragon or Calatayud […]

The Assemblage: The Art and Science Behind Blending a Cava Wine

Before we dive into this article, I’d like to invite you to play with me for a moment. Imagine that I’ve placed three buckets of red paint infront of you named: Burnt Orange, Fire Engine Red and Sunburst Yellow. Each of these vary slightly in vivacity, purity and tone, and your job is to mix all three of these colors to make the color, Cranberry. Sounds relatively easy, doesn’t it?! For some color savvy individuals, it might be a breeze, but now let’s imagine that I’ve taken out Fire Engine Red and Sunburst and replaced it with Eggplant and Tawny. Suddenly creating that exact same Cranberry color might not be so easy. Come morning, when the breaking light peeks out […]

4th Annual NY Wine Expo: Taking a Trip through Portugal’s Wine Regions

Letting loose wine lovers in a tasting of the size of the New York Wine Expo is like putting a child in the middle of a candy store. It can get ugly. With exactly 760 wines from nearly 200 wineries from around the world, the three-day 4th Annual New York Wine Expo at the Javits Center was packed with folks hungry (thirsty really) for new wine discoveries. My modus operandi for the day was to get through as many Portuguese wines on the floor as possible. There were about 40 tables in the Wines of Portugal section alone, so I had to pace myself. I also decided to skip over some of the wines I’m quite familiar with—and in many […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]