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Tag Archives: Wine tasting descriptors

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 […]

Rovellones: “Golden Fungus of the Gods”

I often joke that I live in Spain exclusively for its cured Jamon. It is one of the few things that is truly singular to Spain. Granted, you can now buy it in London, and in limited qualities in the USA, among other countries; but in truth, it is only at its best when fresh and served from the rafters of a smokey bar in the side streets of Spain. Jamon Iberico de Bellota is a priceless experience, but there just might be one more Spanish delicacy you can add to the list: Spanish mushrooms! Now, I know that other countries have their unique mushrooms, and if I lived elsewhere, I would most likely argue their greatness as well. Having […]

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 […]

Vuelta España Stages 15-16: Sidra, Cabrales and Roast Chicken

In our next installment of La Vuelta a España (check out the first, second, third and fourth installments), we head north to the wine barren land of the Iberian Peninsula. With Spain being slightly smaller in size than Texas, and with a population roughly equivalent to that of the west coast of the United States of America, it’s rather impressive that they have the potential to be the largest wine producing country in the world, yet large tracks of land remain untouched by vines. Both Asturias and Cantabria fall into this category; however, despite their grape-less status, the landscape could easily be the setting for any Fairy Tale with its lush rolling hills, rustic pueblos and phenomenal food. Today’s post […]

Where Should Spanish Wineries Invest their Money -Their Wines or Their Wineries?

As a rule, I do not believe wine writers should encourage companies to spend vast sums of money on building wineries. While it is evident that people cannot help but be swayed by gimmicks like heavy bottles, expensive machinery, labour-intensive winemaking techniques, famous architects and impressive postcodes, if we believe wine writers should cut through all this (this also means we should cut through its reverse – any attempt to make a winery more rustic, idyllic and down-at-heel), then the object of our focus should be the wine. I said two weeks ago that, in the case of large wine groups like Bodegas Faustino, their job is to produce good, solid wines that represent their region. These wines should also […]

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 […]

Portuguese Traits Distinguish Connecticut Immigrant from Neighboring Vineyards

Editor’s Note: A few month’s ago, we were contacted by a passionate Portuguese emigrant, living in Connecticut, who longed to share stories about the foods, wines and culture of Portugal. And having stumbled across Catavino, she felt it would be the perfect location to place such stories, a request we couldn’t refuse. Sonia Andresson-Nolasco is currently a Senior Writer at Event Marketer magazine. She has worked as a journalist at newspapers and magazines for eight years, and we’re elated to have her contribution! Please give Sonia a very warm welcome, and let’s hope this piece will be the first of many more to come. Amid stainless steel tanks and oak barrels Joe’s white-bearded face lights up as he recalls his […]

Liquid Agnostics : We Don’t Need No Stinking Wine Snobs!

Wine has an image problem, as a result of those promoting, creating and selling it. Everyday, wineries continue to promote wine as something special, or that you the consumer need an education to truly appreciate it. And as a result, its perceived as a privileged beverage, something that demands the consumer protections we afford car safety regulations. Wine is consistently put in special bottles and separated from other beverages, only to be reached for on special occasions, by those who feel they know enough to confidently choose “the correct” wine. Often times leading the consumer to, out of fear, to choose the same wine every time so as not to get “it” wrong. Historically, wine was a beverage, something that […]

An Ode To Xarel.lo: The Spicy White Mistress of Spanish Grapes

A few years ago, Ryan and I visited the Eudald Massana Noya winery located 50 kilometers just south of Barcelona in the Alt Penedès. Arriving by taxi as the sun dappled small patches of yellow light upon patches of rust colored grass, I distinctly remember the quaint, warm feeling I received the minute I stepped out of the car. Simple, unassuming and familiar, it was the type of place you would envision in a 19th century novel, complete with traditional winemaking instruments composed of wood and iron. As poignantly stated on their website: “These are cavas and wines produced with fruits grown organically and bio-dynamically  and that transmit to me a myriad of feelings which I’d like to share with […]

Arinto: The Chameleon of Portuguese Whites

When drinking a Portuguese white wine, it’s difficult to encounter one that doesn’t express the lovely flavors of Arinto. Arinto’s big, compact bunches, made up of small or medium-sized yellowish berries are grown and cultivated in just about every wine region in Portugal, but happens to be the most readily available from the regions around the Lisbon area, including Estremadura, Tejo, Terras do Sado and Alentejo. In fact, just for Portuguese whites tasted on the social tasting note site,, Arinto is the number one white varietal with 164 wines currently listed, followed only by Moscatel at 137. However, Arinto is known by many alter-egos depending on who you speak with and where you’re located. In the North, it is […]