Decantalo Wine Blog

Characteristics of the Verdejo variety: 100% Rueda character

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With the publication of our article devoted to the Carignan, at Decántalo we finished our tour of Spain through its main red grape varieties. A fascinating journey that has helped us to better understand our native varieties, but that leaves us wanting more!

So as already predicted, and unavoidable, with this post we begin a new series on our main white grape varieties. And the variety we have chosen to start with is none other than one of our most internationally recognized white grapes: Verdejo.

uva-verdejoVerdejo bunches

The Verdejo grape variety is easily recognised by its small bunches of tiny grapes, their attractive golden color and thick skin. It is this skin that serves as protection against the harsh climate of the Rueda, some of the best wines are made from this variety.

Moreoever, the Verdejo grape is perfectly adapted to the poor soils and harsh environment of Valladolid. Rainfall and temperature fluctuations during the summer and winter, and between night and day help create that magnificent acidity and freshness, so typical of this variety, which allows us to recognise white wines from Rueda.

The Verdejo is usually presented alone, without blending with other varieties, offering very aromatic, fresh, glycerol and mineral wines.

On the nose, the  Verdejo give us a wide range of intense citrus and tropical aromas, with some floral and herbaceous nuances, a strong aromatic nature, which is unmistakable.

If you do not know this variety, we invite you to try it through these suggestions:

Groc 2013. From the Ossian winery (one of the most respected and authentic wineries) comes this 100% Verdejo from prefiloxéric vineyards (yes, yes, prefiloxéric!)more than 150 years old, planted at an altitude, and vinified using wild yeasts.  A wine with overflowing personality that is not lost.

Finca Montico 2013. The iconic  Marqués de Riscal winery, living history in Rioja (and Rueda), gives us this 100% Verdejo, unctuous, tasty and with a fruity step. A very nice and elegant wine, reflecting the good work of the winery.

Shaya 2013. Shaya is a 100% Verdejo developed under the technical guidance of the Australian, Belinda Thomson, alma mater of Crawford River Wines. A magnificent, remarkably fruity young wine with a subtle minerality and vibrant freshness.

What are you waiting to try? You’ll love it!

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Characteristics of aging in ‘Soleras and Criaderas’

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If one characterises Jerez wines and Montilla wines, it is undoubtedly for the mastery of aging in fine woods. A unique method of preparation across the world, often unknown, fascinating, which confers a special character and long life to wines from these wineries.

Today we want to talk about this special system of aging. Get ready, because in this post we will focus on the characteristics and functions of the traditional system of criaderas y soleras.

soleras A Jerez criaderas y soleras system. By Andrew Wilkinson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In Jerez we can find different systems of criaderas and soleras, depending on the number of scales or levels of stacking barrels. For example, a floor with three stories of stacked barrels will consist of three scales.

The wines ready for bottling is always drawn from the solera, or lower level, so named because it is traditionally always situated near to the floor. The amount removed or extracted to be bottled, will be replaced with the same amount of wine from the barrels on the first criadera, immediately above the floor level.

This replacement is called rocío. In turn, the wine extracted from the first criadera is replaced with wine from the second criadera, leading us to climb step by step to the upper level, or sobretabla, which is completely filled with new wine.

Importantly, removal of wine is always partial, and does not exceed one third of the contents of each barrel. Therefore, as the barrels are never completely emptied, the product of the sills will always be a resulting mixture of wines from every one of the vintages. However, on the one hand, this means that the wines produced with this system never be labeled with a specific vintage, and on the other, that product quality is maintained year after a year.

Do you want to know some wines made by criaderas and soleras? Here are some suggestions:

Tío Pepe. Undoubtedly one of the finest and most famous Jerez wines in the world. Made 100% from the native grape variety, Palomino, Tio Pepe undergoes soleras and criaderas for at least five years before arriving in your glass. Fresh, pungent, salty, authentic. Everything you expect from a great Jerez wine.

Amontillado EscuadrillaBodegas Lustau was one of the world’s first wineries to produce sherrys of the highest quality, and this Amontillado Escuadrilla is a good example of their magnificent work. This is a 100% Palomino Fino which undergoes soleras and criaderas over the years, this fermentative aging gives way to a process of oxidation, once the must is broken. A complex and extremely interesting wine.

Alvear Solera Cream. Now we travel to Montilla Moriles to pay tribute to this Cream (a mixture of fragrant wine and naturally sweet wine) aged for at least 20 years through the traditional system of soleras and criaderas. A joy in every way, awarded no less than 95 Parker points, at a scandalous price! Do not miss it!

Taking note of these recommendations? You’ll love them!

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The freshness of wines

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There is no doubt. Whether by natural tendency or as suggested by specialised publications, it seems undeniable that the preferences of consumers is moving increasingly towards finding wines with a fresh profile.

But what is the freshness of the wine? What does it consist of? How do we identify it? To answer these and other questions, Decántalo decided to produce this article on the freshness of wines that we hope you find it useful. Let’s begin!

vinoBeginning the tasting. Photo by Cumidanciki (CC BY 2.0)

Before anything, it is worth clarifying what we are referring to when we speak of wine freshness. And the answer is simple: we understand freshness as a positive perception of the wine’s acidity.

Wine is an acidic drink in nature. In fact, all fruit juices are, and wine, a fermented juice, is no exception. Within the wine we find three different types of acids, which confer different sensations on the palate:

Tartaric Acid: Provides sensations of ripe fruit, fresh and pleasant flavours and “green” notes.

Malic Acid: Gives the wine unpleasant harsh notes and unripeness.

Citric acid: Who doesn’t know the characteristic features of freshness and liveliness of this acid?

As a general idea, we could say that a correct freshness combines acidity, fruitiness, exuberance, personality, liveliness (also found in old wines) and quality, whereas low acidity and freshness, gives us a heavier and more alcoholic wine. Moreover, too high an acidity will also give unpleasant sensations.

One of the most extensive conclusions, yet sometimes erroneous, about the freshness of wine is when we say that the freshness of a wine is due to sunshine and temperature. This is a logical conclusion, although not always true.

And as with fruits, the more heat, the more mature (and less acidic) the wine, the type of terrain and contrast between day and night temperatures also play an important role. A clear example of this last point are the excellent fresh wines which the Eguren family produce in the warm climate of Toro.

But let’s put the theory into practice. Here are three recommendations for fresh wines that you can not miss:

El Castro de Valtuille Mencía Joven 2013. A wonderful Mencia varietal developed under the guidance of winemaker Raul Perez in Bierzo. An abundance of ripe fruit, flowers, youth and freshness.

Almirez 2012. Since we had already mentioned this wine, we had to recommend the excellent feeling of fresh fruit given to us by Eguren brothers in each of their wines made in the Teso la Monja winery  in  Toro. A marvel, awarded no less than 93 Parker points .

Artadi Joven 2013. This deserves a special mention if you are looking for acidity and freshness. A very spacious and pleasant wine. Do not miss it.

Dare to discover these wines? You’ll love them!

 

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Pairing wine with fish

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As the heat of summer is slowly approaching, with it, our dining habits change. Almost without noticing, we abandon hot soups and stronger red meat in favour of dishes which are more consistent with the season. A cooler and lighter diet, which, as usual, requires a good choice of wine to be fully enjoyed!

In today’s post, we present some ideas for pairing wine with a popular dish at this time: fish. And yes, as you can imagine, our recommendations will leave behind the traditional pairing of white wine with fish. Today we suggest some ideas of pairing red wine and fish. You will love it!

 tinto-pescadoSalmon and red wine: a winning combination, by Migle Seikyte (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Given the above statement, you might expect our recommendations to pair any red wine with any type of fish, or lend ourselves to the conclusion that all fish can be paired with both red wine and white wine. Regrettably, we admit that’s going to be difficult!

Our explanation: fish always appreciate wine pairings with a good acidity, and make no mistake, in terms of freshness and acidity, white wine almost always come out ahead in red wine with regards to this.

However, keep in mind that among the variety of red wines, there are those of higher and lower acidity, which therefore makes some red wines more fitting to pair with fish than others.

On the other hand, we could conclude that when the pairing of red wine and fish come to fruition, extra acidity conditions must be met: low tannin levels and a moderate degree of alcohol.

- “Ok. I have a high profile wine in the cellar. I’ll pair it with fresh oysters … ”

Do not make this mistake!

And, besides wine, the fish should contain some fat index and have good weight in the mouth (referring to texture) or alternatively, be accompanied by minimally complex sauces.

If you are thinking of pairing wine and fish, take note of these three recommendations:

Acusp 2013. This Acusp 2013 is a 100% Pinot Noir from the the Lleida Pyrenees, which are over 1,000 meters high. We face a true example of freshness and softness. Try to pair it with grilled salmon.

doUmia 2011. From Galicia, we highlight this spectacular blend of Mencía with Espadeiro and Caíñ from the Rías Baixas. A red wine born in the land of white wines. Perfect acidity. Red fruits, lightness and minerality in abundance. A treasure.

Erre Punto 2013Bodegas Remirez de Ganuza, responsible for some of the best Reserva and Gran Reserva from Rioja, also elaborate light and fresh red wines ideal for pairing with fish. The proof is this Erre Punto 2013, prepared by the method of carbonic maceration and the small supply of white grape varieties that complement the blend. A real discovery.

What do you want to try? You’re going to enjoy it!

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Gin: A fascinating and unexpected history!

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The earliest written confirmation of gin production was in Holland during the 17th century. Originally regarded as a medicine, gin could be found in pharmacists and was widely used to alleviate stomach ache, gout and gallstones. Both adding to the medicinal nature of the drink, and making it more appealing, the Dutch gradually added juniper berries, which also had healing properties of their own. The word gin originates from the Dutch ‘jenever’, meaning juniper.

Some believe that the British were already drinking ‘jenever’ whilst fighting in Antwerp against the Spanish in 1585, during the Eighty Years’ War. The beverage was said to provide the soldiers with a calming effect before battle. It is believed that the term ‘Dutch Courage’ originates from this.

Gintonic
By García-Miña Perez (CC BY 2.0)

Gin became much more popular in England when Dutch-born William of Orange ascended the English throne in 1688 and the British Government granted permission for gin production without a license, simultaneously imposing heavy taxes on foreign imported spirits. As a result, a ‘Gin Craze’ period began in Britain due to its low price and wide availability, especially amongst the working classes.

However, the drink was held responsible for a wide variety of social issues; in 1734, a woman called Judith Dufour collected her two-year-old son from the workhouse, strangled him, dumped his body in a ditch and sold the child’s new clothes to buy gin! This was one of many terrible incidents, and gin was widely blamed for crime, prostitution, madness, higher death rates and falling birth rates. It is estimated that the average Londoner drank a shocking 53 litres per year during this time!

In England, in the 18th century, the Gin Act taxed retail sales and rendered it illegal to sell gin without a £50 annual licence. As a result, many underground distilleries were established in residential houses and gin was often flavoured with turpentine in addition to the original juniper. Another common variation was to distil the gin with sulphuric acid, resulting in a sweeter spirit, yet possibly with even more intoxicating and sometimes even poisoning effects.

Thankfully, a change in the economy eventually helped overturn the Gin Craze. A series of bad harvests forced grain prices to rise and landowners became less dependent on income from gin production. This also forced food prices up whilst wages decreased, so that the poor were unable to afford liquor. By 1757, the Gin Craze had just about been brought to an end.

In British colonies across the world, gin was also used to mask the bitter taste of quinine, an effective anti-malarial treatment. Quinine was dissolved in fizzy water to form tonic; hence the legendary gin and tonic was born, although tonic water today only contains a trace of quinine.

Gin and tonic is generally garnished with a slice of lime, although lemon has also become more popular as of recent years, along with orange, apple and cucumber. Suggested ratios (according to taste) are 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, and 2:3.

Here are a few of our favourites to enjoy outside as the weather gets warmer:

Beefeater Gin: This gin contains nine different botanicals: juniper, angelica root, angelica seeds, coriander seeds, liquorice, almonds, orris root, seville oranges, and lemon peel. Some garnish a Beefeater gin and tonic with a slice of orange, to complement the Seville oranges in its botanicals.

Tanqueray London Dry Gin: A British gin made with four distillations in a copper still. This is one of the most awarded gins in the world, being awarded the gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2012. We recommend using a lime wedge for this gin.

Caorunn Gin: An artisanal gin made in small batches at the Balmenach distillery in Scotland, traditional Celtic ingredients and pure grain alcohol are used instead of the usual molasses. To highlight this gin’s refreshing flavour, we recommend serving it with a slice of red apple.

Mombasa Gin: An English gin which dates back to the 19th century. It is obtained from a quadruple distillation of neutral alcohol and a selection of botanicals: juniper, orange, lemon, liquorice, cinnamon, cassia, nutmeg, angelica, clove and cumin.

Cheers!

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5 Red wines to enjoy in the spring

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Spring is here! A time for flowers and fresh fruits. Lazy afternoons, walks ouside and quality time with people who matter. As always, if possible, accompanied by a glass of wine.

Longer days and mild temperature increases, the omen of the hot summer, often invite us to leave more structured and heavier wines, instead turning towards fresher and easy to drink red wines. So we thought  we would bring you Decántalo’s proposal for red wines to enjoy in spring, we are sure you will love them. Don’t miss them!

vinas-y-floresVines and flowers, by Steve Nakatani (CC BY 2.0)

When we think of spring, our imagination automatically focuses on fresh berries, blooming meadows, the feeling of lightness, softness, sunlight … So we have chosen five wines with a similar profile.

These five wines withspring profile, so to speak, are defined as agile and easy drinking wines, full of fresh red fruit and attractive floral notes  to captivate you. Take note of the following:

Gaba do Xil Mencía 2012. From the Galician Valdeorras comes this 100% Mencia which will delight lovers of this variety. Strawberries and raspberries accompany geraniums,  typical of Mencia. Remarkable freshness and minerality a most competitive price.

Bastión de la Luna 2013. We don’t leave Galicia with this wine, but we do travel to the Rías Baixas to highlight the Forjas de Salnes winery. This Bastion de la Luna 2013 is a superb blend of Mencia, Loureiro, Caíño and Espadeiro, it is fluid and very fresh, full of red fruit, minerality and a noble rusticity, with a 100% Atlantic character.

7 Fuentes 2013. We travel now to the Canary Islands to present this interesting blend of Listán Negro and Tinta del País varieties, from the Suertes del Marqués winery. 7 Fuentes is clear and sharp, full of fine fresh fruit, earth, ash and some floral notes. A very special vinazo. Nice, light and full of personality.

Luberri Maceración Carbónica 2014. When we look at fresh, light and fruity wines, it seems almost impossible not to highlight some of the fantastic wines produced in Rioja by carbonic maceration. On this occasion,  Luberri Maceracion Carbonica 2014 has been chosen. A bomb of fruit, crisp, light and greedy. Ready to drink right now!

Finca La Emperatriz Garnacha 2011. Spring takes us to wild meadows with odours of rosemary, thyme and lavender… Aromas also found in Grenache. And this Finca La Emperatriz Garnacha 2011 is a great example of this variety. A single variety from very old vines with aromatic intensity. A very fragrant and fruity wine, but also creamy, elegant, complex and expressive.

Have you still not tried these recommendations? What do you expect? Try them!

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Carignan Wines: A look at the most widely planted grape variety in the world

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After a few months, we are especially excited to return to our series of articles devoted to  the main grape varieties in Spain, with particular homage to the following:  TempranilloGarnachaBobalMonastrell, and Mencía, today we will focus on the Carignan grape.

Carignan is considered one of the most famous varieties both nationally and internationally, in addition to being the most widely grown grape in the world.

uva-carinenaCarignan vines, by Allie Caulfield (CC BY 2.0)

The origins of the Carignan grape is not entirely clear, most studies believe the first vines were in Aragon, specifically in the vicinity of the town of the same name. Some believe the vines originate from southern France with the name being a derivation of the French word ‘carignan’.

Whatever its origin, Carignan grapes have virtually spread to all corners of the globe, with France and the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula areas where many hectares of this variety can be found.

Enologically,  the carignan variety is characterised by high productivity, intense colour, tannic power and good acidity. These are qualities that make it optimal in blends with other varieties, such as Tempranillo.

On its own, the Carignan variety is perfectly suited to poor, rocky and rough soils. It is no coincidence, then that it is in the Priorat where Carignan, or Samsó as it is called in Catalonia, is at its best.

If you do not know this variety, we invite you to enjoy these varietal wines:

La Carenyeta de Cal Pla 2012. A fantastic Carignan varietal produced by the Celler Cal Pla  winery under the protection of the Priorat. A torrent of ripe fruit and minerality with balsamic that will not leave you indifferent

Baigorri Belus 2009. The Mazuela grape is the name given to the variety in Rioja. On this occasion, Bodegas Baigorri complete the blend with a small percentage of Tempranillo, to offer a magnificent example of the benefits of this variety. Very elegant, persistent and round. Interesting!

La Tremenda 2011. We traveled to the Terra Alta, in Tarragona, to worship this varietal  prepared by the Vins del Tros winery, from low yeilding strains.Only 300-500 grams per vine! A wine which is extremely expressive, different.

What can’t you wait to try?

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New Wines for the month of April on Decántalo

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It’s a new month and therefore a new opportunity to highlight some new additions over the past 30 days  to complete our wide selection of Spanish wines.

Do not miss the selection of new vintages and references we have added to our website during the month of March, available from this moment on our website. You will love them!novedades-abril-1Suertes del Marqués la Solana 2012. We begin our selection by travelling to the Canary Islands to present the new vintage of La Solana, by Suertes del Marqués. A single variety of Listan Negro, from old vines over 100 years old, with a strong personality and a very special freshness. Highly recommended.

Muga Fermentado en Barrica 2014. It’s here! The new vintage of one of our most popular white wines. A blend of Viura and Malvasia that surprises with its pleasant freshness and vivacity. A must!

Pago de Carraovejas Reserva 2011. From Haro (La Rioja) to Peñafiel (Valladolid) to appreciate a vintage from one of the most representative wineries in the Ribera del Duero: Pago de Carraovejas. The great work of winery, coupled with the excellent quality of the 2011 vintage promises great things for this new vintage.

Juan Gil 12 meses 2013. Now we have the “silver label” of one of the largest wineries in Jumilla: Bodegas Juan Gil. A perfect example of the characteristics of Monastrell at a totally recommended price.

Vega Sicília Valbuena 5º Año 2010. The arrival to the market of one of the great wines of Spain always deserves a special mention. For the same reason, we traveled to Valbuena de Duero, to discover the new vintage 2010 of Vega Sicilia Valbuena. A more special wine might not be possible.novedades-abril-2Artuke Pies Negros 2013. We welcome to our website the wines of Bodegas Artuke, definitely one of the smallest and careful wineries involved in La Rioja projects. Pies Negros 2013 is a blend of Tempranillo and Graciano, it is aromatic, fresh and spacious. You’ll love it.

Romanico 2013. The new vintage for the small Bodegas Teso la Monja, one of the iconic wineries of Toro, and the most awarded winery in recent years. Romanico 2013 offers all the sensations to which we are accustomed: intensity, body and nuances of strong wine at prices for everyone.

Perelada 5 Fincas 2011. Now we travel to Emporda to celebrate the new vintage of Perelada 5 Fincas, one of our indisputable top sellers, now available on our website. A very special selection of the best grapes come from 5 farms of the Castillo de Perelada winery. An extensive wine, round, balsamic and spicy. Very long.

Marqués de Riscal Verdejo 2014. Now we present the new vintage of a young Verdejo from the Marqués de Riscal winery. A fresh, young white wine with a direct entry. Balanced fruit and refreshing acidity. A very good wine from Rueda.

Alaya Tierra 2013. We close our list of recommendations by introducing the new Alaya Tierra 2013. An excellent varietal Grenache Tintorera which is juicy and concentrated. A wine with character that will not leave you indifferent.

These are just some of our new wines of the month. Dare to try them, you will love them!

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Bacchus Awards 2015: A look at the winning wines

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Good news for lovers of Spanish wines, as a few hours ago, the Spanish Tasters Union (UEC) announced the list of winning wines at the Bacchus 2015 Awards, a great Spanish tradition in the world of wine, and certainly one of the prizes of reference worldwide.

For four days, from 19 to 23 March, an important representation of the best tasters in the world, among which were several Masters of Wine, were commissioned to taste and evaluate the 2,000 samples received from more than 20 countries.

premios-bacchus-2015

The Bacchus 2015 Awards did not conclude with anything less than 496 award-winning wines: only four received the Great Gold Bacchus award, while 178 wines have been awarded the Golden Bacchus award, and another 314 received the Silver Bacchus award.

Among these winners, we did not want to miss the opportunity to highlight some of our favourite wines praised by Bacchus in 2015. Do not miss them!

Pétalos del Bierzo 2013. Great news for one of the most highly rated Spanish wines by both critics and consumers. A golden Bacchus  was awarded to this Petalos del Bierzo 2013, reflecting, vintage after vintage, all the freshness and elegance of the Mencia variety .

Juvé & Camps Reserva de la Familia Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2010. A golden Bacchus for possibly the favourite Spanish Cava Gran Reserva. This is demonstrated by the fact that this year, the cava has been considered as Best Cava from Spain 2014 according to the OCU. Fine, elegant and balanced, at a very competitive price.

Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria 2013. We travel to the Campo de Borja to highlight the Bacchus Silver award given to this great varietal Grenache from Bodegas Aragonesas. A wine of high aromatic intensity, very varietal, large and bulky.

Hacienda López de Haro Gran Reserva 2008. The first vintage of this Gran Reserva from Bodegas López de Hacienda Harose received a well-deserved Silver Bacchus award. This is a complex, elegant and silky blend of Tempranillo and Graciano, definitely a wine to take into account.

Finca Espolla 2010. We travelto the Emporda to highlight the Golden Bachus awarded to Castillo de Perelada Finca Espolla 2010. A wine with personality. Mineral and mature. Fresh and balsamic. Juicy and spicy. It will not leave you indifferent.

If you want a full list of the award-winning wines of Bacchus 2015, click the following link: Premios Bacchus 2015

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Bodegas Torres, the world’s most admired wine brand in 2015

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Wonderful news for Bodegas Torres, which has received the honour of being the “the world’s most admired wine brand in 2015″ according to the British publication, Drinks International.

Penedes wineries have been victorious in a year of tough competition among the world’s most respected wineries. Notably, especially the excellent  Vega Sicilia, which rose to second place in the rankings, progressing no less than eight positions compared to the previous year.

torres-most-admired

Production within this ranking has certainly not been easy, given the different variables to control and the number of wineries.

For this reason, Drinks International benefited from the cooperation of a special jury of more than 200 sommeliers, Masters of Wine, wine makers and journalists worldwide.

For decision making process, different criteria were taken into account, such as consistent quality vintage after vintage, that the wine reflects its region or country of origin, that the winery is capable of satisfying the needs and demands of its target market, and appeals to a wide demographic.

In this sense, the jury recognised the quality and diversity of products, coupled with the overall vision and family tradition linked to Bodegas Torres. No doubt incredible news for one of the most emblematic wineries.

Are you still not familiar with the wines of Bodegas Torres? Here are some recommendations:

Celeste Roble 2013. Bodegas Celeste is the trade name of Torres in the Ribera del Duero. A clear allusion to the sky, it is certainly easy to enjoy wines from this winery, at an altitude of 900 metres, it is the highest winery in the appellation. This is a direct and easy to drink wine, with a fantastic value.

Torres Waltraud 2013Miguel A. Torres, CEO and president of Bodegas Torres, decided to make wine in honour of his wife Waltraud, a German national. In this case, what better than using the Riesling grape variety? Torres Waltraud is a broad, smooth and well balanced white wine. It was voted best white wine of the year 2015 by the Consumers’ Association of Spain.

Gran Coronas 2010. An intense blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet prepared in Penedes. Gran Coronas was established thanks to the innovation of  Miguel A.Torres, who planted the French variety Cabernet Sauvignon in the Penedès in the late 60s. Intense, sweet, voluminous and velvety.

Can’t wait to try them? You will very much enjoy them!

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