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Tag Archives: Wine tasting descriptors

Furniture or Fruit? Two ‘Roble Español’ Toros

A few weeks ago, I was talking to Raul Quemada, the winemaker at Bodegas Portia – the new Faustino enterprise in Ribera del Duero – and happened to ask whether he used Spanish oak on any of the Portia wines. After setting me straight that they used 100% French oak, he added that ‘Spanish oak is for making furniture’ in the way that suggests this is a regular joke among cellarhands in the bars of Aranda de Duero. But someone does think Spanish oak is worth putting wine in – whether for marketing purposes or a genuine concern for flavour – because I recently tasted two wines that proudly state it on their label. The two were by Toro producer […]

Toro: A Spanish Wine Region of Guts and Glory

Toro is an exciting wine region nestled in the heart of Castilla y Leon, in the province of Zamora. It is named for its main town, Toro which is a delight to visit. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Duero River, which becomes the Douro in Portugal just 90 kilometres further west, the skyline is dominated by the lovely collegiate church of Santa Maria la Mayo. This is not a fancy town, the best hotel in town is the modest 3 star Hotel Juan 11 on the ridge next to the collegiate church. The rooms are not fancy, but they are clean and serviceable – 3 euros extra gets you a view of the river and the Roman bridge. If […]

Petit Comité: A Fair Dedicated to Artisanal Wines in Madrid

On Monday night I had the pleasure of attending Petit Comité, a tasting event for artisanal wines organized by Samuel Cano/Vinos Patio, La Cave du Petit Bar degustación and the Observatorio de Vino. Not only was it an incredibly interesting opportunity to try the natural wines made by 6 different winemakers, but it was also heartening to have the chance to talk one-on-one with such enthusiastic individuals, who are obviously very dedicated to preserving the artisanal quality of their wines. Representing four different areas of Spain (Madrid, La Mancha, Cataluña and Ribera del Duero), the maximum number of bottles (of natural wine) produced by any of these wineries was 25,000.  While I am a huge supporter of organic wines, I […]

I Love Verdejo: Enticing Spanish White Varieties

Editor’s Note: Quentin Sadler, a prolific wine writer with a penchant for Spanish wine, has kindly agreed to contribute some vinous thoughts from England. We’d like to to warmly thank Quentin for sharing his experiences with us, and trust you’ll enjoy his passion and prose. In summer, my thoughts turn to wines that I can enjoy outside with light meals, this can mean a rosé, but usually points towards a white wine. Spain is most famous as a red wine country in the UK, especially reds from Rioja and I can partly understand that. Rioja can be great, but I have been getting more and more excited by Spain’s ability to turn out delicious white wines. In the past people […]

El Puntido: The Meaning and Relevance of a “Great” Rioja

Would you rather have a great wine that wasn’t a classic example of it’s place (the ‘t’ word)? Or would you go for a staunchly regional wine, warts-and-all? In the case of a friend and I last week, we went for the great wine: El Puntido. The problem is it’s not what I call classic Rioja by any stretch. Indeed, one look at the label and it looks like a high-school art project of the 1980s (is it a symptom of my impending middle age that I stoutly refuse to take a photograph on a label seriously?), but it was one of those wines I instantly liked and, judging by the people I’ve met recently who have tasted it, I’m […]

Lusco Albariño 2006 – Aging Whites is a Matter of Choice

One of the most common questions I received when working retail in Minnesota was, “Can this wine age?”. For whatever reason, Americans have an obsession with aging their wines. Maybe it’s the youthfulness of the nation? Maybe it’s our fascination with ancient European history? Or maybe, it’s just the dream that one day we’ll wake up to a forgotten 10 year old bottle that has tripled in value leading to an easy retirement. Either way it’s an obsession. I can’t say that I have completely shed this cultural baggage myself. I do appreciate the beauty and subtly of an aged wine. With the opportunity to taste older bottles on a more regular basis, I find I enjoy a bit of […]

Dinner with the Douro boys – Assorted wines, and exciting discoveries

Our first meeting with the legendary Douro Boys occurred 4 years ago at Essencia do Vinho in Porto, where Gabriella and I shared a dinner in the cramped tea house of the Museu de Serralves. For me, it was a dream come true, and something that I remember fondly as one of the great moments in my short wine career. Since then, we have met on various occasions throughout Portugal, but have yet to visit more than 2 of their estates – something we hope to change in the near future. A few nights ago, we were invited to dinner in the home of Cristiano and Joanna Van Zellar at Quinta Vale d. Maria. Gabriella and I were playing hosts to my parents who were visiting Portugal for the first time. […]

Bar Roure – Tapas and Vermouth at Their Best

Finding a tapas bar that you don’t just want to visit occasionally, but rather frequent on a daily basis, is rare. Often places like these are considered a “treat” to experience, a unique location to either impress friends or that prepare a specific dish incredibly well. Bar Roure is both to me. Located in the Gracia neighborhood of Barcelona, Bar Roure sits near a small forgotten park, on a street that claims 2 Korean restaurants(probably the only 2 in BCN), where a small angular street converge together in a random haphazard fashion. Having first visited approximately 4 years ago to meet a potential Catavino contributor, someone who never contributed beyond inspiring this post,  I’ve since returned to this incredible treasure […] On Tour: Tasting Wine Across Spain – First stop Utiel-Requena

On Wednesday evening, a rather miraculous event occurred in the offices of the Consejo Regulador de Utiel-Requena, located just northwest of Valencia. 17 bottles of wine from across the region, each from a different bodega, were put on display for a dozen bloggers to explore. These bloggers, ranging from winemakers to foodies, traveled up to 4 hours to not only support their friend and cohort, Juan Manuel Gonzalvo, but also taste wines from an “undiscovered” Spanish region. Born in Zaragoza, Juan Manuel Gonzalvo is one of our main contributing writers for our Spanish site, An oenologist by trade, he’s spent the better half of 2 years as a consultant for wineries, wine shops and wine fairs interested in furthering […]

Bar Zim: A Wine Bar Boasting of Rustic Authenticity

Finding a quality “wine bar” in Barcelona is like finding a tapas restaurant without cured Spanish ham, challenging! For me, a quality wine bar isn’t about pomp and flash, nor is it about who can have the most wines from Rioja. A quality wine bar doesn’t need an attractive metrosexual god donned in a pressed black apron with his hair perfectly gelled to one side serving wine enveloped in a Riedel goblet, nor does it need trendy chillout music in the background to set the mood. What the ideal wine bar does need is quality and affordable wine by the glass served by a knowledgeable and passionate host who’s created a low key and friendly environment for all walks of […]