Wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero: similarities and differences

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Rioja and Ribera, Ribera and Rioja. Two of the largest and most famous Spanish designations leading the way for quality Spanish wines over the last few decades. This can be seen throughout the expansion of the land and the international recognition that they have received. Two leading designations, which furthermore share certain similarities that inevitably bring forth comparisons, especially between the rival fans.

What is better? Rioja or Ribera? How do both regions compare? To shed some light on this topic, here at Decántalo we have analysed their common attributes, and their differences. Will you join us?

vinedo-riberaVineyards of the DO Ribera del Duero. © CRDO Ribera del Duero

It is impossible to speak about the similarities between la Rioja and Ribera del Duero without focusing on the Queen grape variety of both regions: Tempranillo.

This grape varietal is also known as Tinta del País or Tinta Fina in the Ribera, providing both regions with her fantastic character. Additionally, both regions plant goblet-trained vines (bush-trained/ en vaso)

However, not everything is so similar: The vineyards in la Rioja tend to be older than Ribera del Duero, this does have an effect on the yield per vine (younger vines produce more grapes). On the other hand, Ribera receives more sun than that of la Rioja, which translates into a riper grape.

Generally speaking therefore, we can say that wines from Ribera del Duero have more body, are riper and vibrant, meanwhile, Rioja wines tend to be less forceful whilst being that little bit deeper.

Would you like to know some of the best wines from these designations? Please take note:

Pesquera Crianza 2012. Bodegas Pesquera is without doubt, one of the standout names from the D.O Ribera del Duero, since its early beginnings in the 1980’s. This 2012 Crianza offers us a mature and spicy nose, and a very flavoursome and enjoyable mid-palate. This is typical of the region.

Matarromera Crianza 2012 Same vintage and ageing process as our previous recommendation, and of course, the same profile: 100% Ribera. A highly aromatic wine with a potent and fleshly attack.

Muga Crianza 2011. Again, we chose a Crianza, but this is no ordinary Crianza. This is a Muga Crianza, from Bodegas Muga, one of the most emblematic wineries in the Rioja Alta. Fleshly, wide, spicy and friendly. Fantastic!

Viña Real Reserva 2010. We close our recommendations list with Bodegas CVNE, another key winery in la Rioja, for Viña Real Reserva 2010. A potent, structured and flavoursome wine, with a quality to price ratio that is pretty much unbeatable.

What are you waiting for? You are going to love them!

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Ageing wines: how does oak influence wine?

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Starting off today’s post, we can say this without much doubt, pretty much most of our readers at some stage would have heard about wines being aged in oak barrels.

What maybe is not as obvious, is to know exactly what oak does to wine, today we take a glance at the main types of oak and its properties. Therefore, we would like to look at the properties which oak barrels can transfer to the wine. Would you like to join us?

vinos-crianzaSala de crianza de Bodegas Dinastía Vivanco (DOCa Rioja). Imagen por Semsu Hor (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The main point and as a general summary, we can say that oak has been used for centuries in winemaking, not only to vary the colour, taste, tannins but also the texture of the wine.

As we were saying, oak rounds off and smoothens the texture of the wine and at the same, time stabilising it. Furthermore, the tannins undergo a chemical process which supplies the palate with pleasant sensations.

One more effect, other than providing structure and smoothness, is the ability to add flavours and aromas which would be impossible to find in other wines. We mention the famous “spicy” and “toasted” aromas that we find in many wines aged in oak.

There is a large spectrum of aromatic experiences that are at the reach of every winery, this can be conditioned by the choice of the type of oak that is used during the ageing phase.

Currently, and as a general rule, an oenologist can use three different types of oak:

French Oak: French oak barrels impart silky and transparent tannins to the wine, transmitting a subtle and persistent sweet sensation. This type of oak complements wines with a rich and deep spiced sensation on the nose. For example, we would recommend Baigorri Reserva 2007. A Rioja wine, aged for nothing less than 18 months in French oak barrels. A very spicy and intense wine that won’t leave you feeling indifferent.

 American oak: This type of oak is a lot less porous and a lot more airtight. It offers sensations that we could describe as “woody” tones, and often sweeter than French oak; intense vanilla and cocoa notes. We invite you to try the typical characteristics of this ageing process by opening up a bottle of Viña Arana 2006. This is from the DOCa Rioja as well. A very good, classic wine; subtle and elegant.    

Central European oak: Similar sensory characteristics to French oak, central European oak –mainly Hungary –, is a variety  transfers the least aromas to wine, it is the ideal wood to preserve the natural properties of the grape. However, it is not easy to find too many wines aged 100% in this oak, although luckily we do have some magnificent examples, like Loxarel Amaltea 2013, produced by Bodegas loxarel from the D.O Penedès. A magnificent quality-price ratio, produced following the principles of biodynamic agriculture.

What are you waiting for? You are going to love them!

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Pairing red wine and meat

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Following on with our series about pairing wine and food, today however, we look to suggest a few perfect red wines to pair with an array of different meats readly available on the market.

Despite the traditional (and erroneous) belief, the one sure fact is that not every red wine can be paired with whatever meat, and many less contribute to supporting a correct balance in flavour. Today, we are here to clear up any doubts that you may have, below are a few red wine recommendations that you can enjoy depending on the meat that you are going to be cooking. Would you like to join us?

carne-vino-tinto Vino tinto y carne: Un binomio perfecto. Imagen por Ed Ivanushkin (CC BY 2.0)

As a general rule, we should chose to pair red wine with meat using a simple premise: The more delicate the meat, the lighter the red wine must be. Therefore, we must never forget about the importance of the cooking methods. Logically speaking, we would never chose the same red wine to be paired with a grilled steak or a beef stew.

To help calibrate all these different variables, we have come up with a few ideas that we hope you will like. Take note:

White meats and poultry that are cooked simply. To pair this type of dish, we would chose an aromatic, smooth and light red wine. Light body with a medium to low tannic structure. The richer the food, the more structure we need our wine to compensate. Carbonically macerated or light varietals and aromatic wines, like Pinot Noir would go perfect with this type of dish.  The perfect example: Acusp 2013, from the winery Castell d’Encús. One of the best Pinot Noir’s produced in Spain.

Braised or grilled red meats. Who doesn’t drool at the thought of a good beef steak? This type of meat is paired perfectly with aged (crianza) red wines, but also with some fruity notes. We think that “New Rioja” wines or wines from D.O Ribera del Duero would fit the bill perfectly. Try the Aalto 2013. An intense, vibrant, complex and expressive wine.

Complex casserole dishes. To pair this dish, we would need a strong and intense wine, aged and with good complexity. When we tend to think about this type of dish, we would recommend these designations: Toro, Montsant and the Priorat, as demonstrated by Les Terrasses 2013. A magnificent wine produced by Álvaro Palacios, intense, balsamic and very mineral.

Game. The most complex and full-bodied wine would go a treat with this dish, accompanied by wild boar, venison or roebuck. As a result of combining the wine with these powerful flavours, the meat is doted with a certain delicacy, as with the wine in fruitiness. We would recommend to put this to the test with Reservas and Grandes Reservas from La Rioja, like the Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva 2004. Give it a go. The results will be spectacular.


These are some of our ideas, but there are so many different options! What is your ideal pairing? Let us know!

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5 perfect Cava gifts that won’t leave you feeling indifferent

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Hopefully at this stage nobody won’t mind if we affirm that Cava is currently experiencing an all-time high. A few years ago and ever since, some of our most international sparkling wines have not stopped receiving praise from all four corners of the world, this has been translated into records sales and subsequently Spain is producing some of the best sparkling wines in the world.

What has started to happen; quality has now began to impose itself on quantity, this means there has been a shift, a shift in search of superior ageing capacities and production methods which converts our cavas into an object of desire.

cava-regaloCavas listos para ser disfrutados. Imagen por (CC BY 2.0)

In today’s post, we would like to talk to you about some of premium Cavas, for the simple reasons pertaining to their characteristics, limited production and even their inherent properties, these are the perfect gifts.

How would you like to be surprised by a special present? Pay attention, here are 5 Cavas that we have chosen for you:

Recaredo Turó d‘en Mota 2002. An authentic terroir cava, produced by a winery that is inextricably linked to the highest quality cavas: Recaredo. Turó dén Mota is made only from Xarel·lo grapes originating from a single estate, which translates into the maximum expression of terroir (limestone soils). Suprisingly expressive and elegant. An absolute luxury for the senses.

Loxarel 109 Cava Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2002. Bodegas Loxarel offers us a sparkling wine – in this case we can’t strictly talk about a Cava – this is more of an intriguingly original product that is available on the market. Sold without being disgorged, still with its original cork and wire cage, and not even washed. Why? This is to showcase the passing of time. The result is a well-aged, round, juicy and very, very special cava. A special mention must be made about the packaging which is also placed on sale. An original gift, ideal for discerning palates.

Gramona Celler Batlle 2004. A leading contender for one of the best sparkling wines, produced by Cava Gramona. Celler Batlle provides the cava with an ageing process of nothing less than 96 months in bottle. A blend of Xarel·lo and Macabeo: Juicy, round and expressive. Extraordinarily intense. Spectacular.

Kripta 2007. Cava Agustí Torelló Mata bring us this magnificent blend of Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Perellada which combines the perfection of quality and eye catching presentation. A Gran Reserva with 48 months of ageing, extraordinarily wide, silky and structured. The bottle is nothing less than an incredible amphora made of glass. A perfect gift!

Gran Juvé y Camps 2009. And finally, but none the less brilliant, we present the winery´s flagship cava by Juvé y Camps. A Gran Reserva produced from Xarel·lo, Macabeo, Perellada and Chardonnay only during their most exceptional years. Elegant, subtle and wonderfully refined.

What are you waiting for? You are going to love them!


Escrito en Cava, Special Occasions |

Rioja wines: The classics

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Rioja, probably the most internationally renowned region in Spain, which offers the best variety of style and wine profiles. Although, if we were to typically characterize this designation of origin properly, for what has made it recognisable across the globe, it is without doubt its historic capability in producing wines that have been aged for a long succession of time.

A style of wine that is often difficult to understand to the public. Throughout the 90´s, Riojan wineries were motivated to start producing more commercial wines that have been tuned to international tastes, this was associated due to international guide books listing certain criteria for wines to adhere to be considered great. This fact, motivated Rioja wines to come together to produce classic and modern style wines.

tondoniaViña Tondonia, a classic Rioja wine in its pure state. Image by Neil Hamilton (CC BY 2.0)

Today’s article is about Rioja, dedicated to its most traditional wines, highlighting the qualities and characteristics as Rioja wines with a classic profile. Would you like to join us?

As we were saying at the beginning, the main characteristic of classic Rioja wine is the amount of time it spends in used American barrels. The wine has an excellent acidity and is very adept at being left to age in bottle for decades.

Once in the glass, it provides a much evolved colour, followed by an arrival of orangey tones, with a light robe.

On the nose, it is predominately fruity, giving emphasis to the tertiary aromas such as oak, spices, leather, chocolate, smoked and even an attic aroma… A wide range of olphactory aromas that makes these wines an authentic jewel.

Finally, once in the mouth, these are silky, smooth, easy to drink and not at all bitter because of the gentle tannins rounded off by the years of ageing.

Would you like to discover some great classic Rioja wines? Here are our recommendations:

Viña Tondonia Reserva 2003. To talk about a classic Rioja wine means to talk about the the López de Heredia winery. The winery has not changed its production method since the creation of the winery all the way back in 1877. On the nose, it is intense, expressive, and full of red fruit, liquorice which later gives way to a fantastic spectrum of spicy, leather, tobacco aromas. On the palate, we find it to be flavoursome, creamy, wide. Simply magnificent.

Viña Ardanza Reserva 2005. One of the champions of classic Rioja wine, which has been able to capture the hearts of an international audience. Viña Ardanza 2005 was awarded as the best wine in the world according to Wine Specator in 2013. A classic to be enjoyed, sip by sip, enjoying each last drop in the glass.

Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2005. Finally, a marvel from Bodegas Marqúes de Murrieta. One of the best classic Rioja wines of all times. The epitome of elegance.

What are you waiting for? You will love them!


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Galician wine: A trip through the vineyards of Galicia.

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Wine in Galicia is an art form, along with its culture and long legacy of history. The fruit of their production is based on their millenary traditions, visible from each of its corners, whatever that be, by its beautiful beaches in Rías Baixas, its cliffs at Valle del Sil. The countryside is full of vineyards that extend along the whole region, flanking side by side with probably one of the most famous routes in the world, el Camino de Santiago (the way of St James).

In today´s post we would like to take a wine tour to Galicia. A trip to understand a little better the different wines that are produced in the region. Would you like to join us?

rias-baixasAlbariño vines from the DO Rías Baixas. Image by M. Rey (CC BY 2.0 NC)

Galicia is located in the far Northwest of the Spanish peninsula known for its humid and cold winds from the Atlantic Ocean and being “isolated” from the warmth of rest of the peninsula by the Sierra de Ancares (Mountains), which converts this region into the most humid and rainy region in the whole of Spain, with an average rainfall of 1,300mm per year.

Fortunately, Galicia receives more than 2,000 hours of sun every year, which helps to combat the humidity and ripens the grapes. Nevertheless, only a few red grapes have adapted to this climate – mainly Mencía, Loureiro, Caíño and Espadeiro. This means that Galicia produces mainly white wines.

Galicia consists of 5 different designations of origins: Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Monterrei, Valdeorras and Riberiro. Would you like to discover this designations by getting to know its wines? Here are a few recommendations.

Pazo Señorans Colección 2011. From the D.O Rías Baixas, we propose this structured monovarietal of Albariño, 2011, aged for 5 months on its lees and left to mature for 30 months in the winery so you can enjoy it now. Full of mature aromas.

Lalama 2011. All of the minerality and freshness of the Ribeira Sacra which is summed up by this blend dominated by Mencía, with an added touch of a few other varieties. A red wine originating from vineyards planted in very deep slate and enigmatic soils.

Gorvia Blanco 2011. From the D.O Monterrei we propose this monovarietal from the local Doña Blanca grape, produced by Adegas Quinta da Muradella. A white wine, intense aromas on the nose, dominated by juicy white fruit combined with mineral notes. Fresh and silky on the palate. A jewel.

Bolo 2014. We now travel to the D.O Valdeorras, This is the land of the variety Godella, we present this Bolo 2014. A white wine produced by the oenologist Rafael Palacios with a magnificent quality to price ratio. Smooth, fresh, wide and silky.

The Flower and the Bee 2014. We say goodbye to Galicia with this magnificent organic white wine from the D.O Ribeiro. A 100% Treixadura aged for 7 months in tanks, very varietal, fleshly and enjoyable.

What are you waiting for? You are going to love them!

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5 young wines from Rioja not to miss out on!

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Lively, vibrant, fruity and happy… Yes, today we are going to talk about young wines. These type of wines, bottled just after being fermented, ideal to be enjoyed whilst taking a few sips over the summer.

In today’s post, we are going to recommend five young wines originating from the DOCa Rioja, despite the region being famous for its long ageing processes, it does give us some fantastic youthful wines. Would you like to know more?

vino-joven-riojaStart the party. Image by Tim Ellis (CC BY 2.0 NC)

Please remember that young wines are meant to be consumed within one to two years once placed on the market. After this time, the wine tends to lose its natural freshness and fruitiness, which is the main argument.

We would also recommend that, with high summer temperatures, you can allow yourself to drink these wines a degree or so cooler than the most “academic” ideal consummation temperature (ONLY a degree or so!).

Here are our five recommendations:

Artuke 2014. A monovarietal of Tempranillo with a little bit of a help from the varietal Blanca Viura produced via carbonic maceration. Balanced, fresh, clean and smooth. A real summery wine at an excellent price.

Rayos Uva 2014. Rayos Uva is a blend of Tempranillo and Graciano produced by French oenologist Olivier Rivière in Aldeanuva de Ebro (Rioja Baja). Lots of red fruit on the nose accompanied by a surprising minerality and a fresh, juicy and embracing taste on the palate. This is a great option.

Finca La Emperatriz Tempranillo 2014 100% Tempranillo, produced by Bodegas Finca La Emperatriz, one of the benchmark wineries in Rioja Alta. A flavoursome, full-bodied and fleshly wine with a great quality-price ratio.

Artadi Joven 2014. We highlight this wine from Rioja Alavesa produced by carbonic maceration by Bodega Artadi. An explosion of fresh and crispy fruit, in perfect balance with subtle balsamic and mineral tones. Don’t miss out.

Murmurón 2014. And finally, from all the wines produced in Rioja Alaves and by carbonic maceration, we present Murmurón 2014. A very good wine, it is intense, fresh and elegant, produced by none other than Bodega Sierra Cantabria. It is a guaranteed success.

What are you waiting for? You are going to love them!

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Pairing cava with meat

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In today’s post, we would like to take up the popular discussion: Wine and food partnerships. More exactly, we would like to talk about pairing Cava (possibly one of the most versatile and gastronomical wines in the world), with any type of meat.

A pairing, which from the outstart could seem rather strange, given the delicacy and aromatic subtleness of Cava, but in reality it can offer surprising results if we follow a few solid guidelines. Come join us!

burbujasBubbles. Image by Jeffrey Keeton (CC BY NC 2.0)

It is worth mentioning from the beginning that not all Cavas are capable of making such harmonious pairings with any type of meat, or recipes. As we always say, and this time is no exception, the key to success will be to find the ideal cava depending on the weight and structure of the meal.

If we had to mention one elegant element that blends its self perfectly with the cava, that would be fat. The acidity of the Cava and the bubbles cut straight through the heaviness of the fat, refreshing and all together cleaning the mouth to invite you to keep eating. Sounds good right?

To better understand what we are talking about, we invite you to try out these high quality pairings: Have you ever tried jamón de Jabugo with Cava? You should! If you are now thinking about trying this out, we would recommend Llopart Integral Brut Nature 2012, a very fine, fresh and dry Cava, this would go great with the saltiness and the fat of the jamón (a cured Iberian ham found in Andalucía).

Now let’s try pairing Cava with white meats, this is where our international sparkling wines are like a fish in water. We would recommend enjoying the virtues of this type of pairing starting with the infallible Raventós i Blanc L‘Hereu Brut 2012 with magret de canard (duck). In this respect, the sweetness of the fat from the meat is going to compensate for the freshness of this fantastic Brut (dry) Cava. Furthermore, the residual sugar level of this wine balances and rounds off nicely this whole dish.

And finally, we turn to pairing Cava and red meats. This is possibly not the easiest pairing for a cava due to the forcefulness of the dish, although not impossible if we chose the right Cava. In this case, we propose to open a good bottle of Recaredo Intens Brut Nature Rosat 2011. A well-structured, wide and deep Rosé Cava Gran Reserva, this will not leave you feeling indifferent.

These are only a few ideas, however, there are so many more options out there! What is your favourite Cava and meat pairing? Let us know!

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What is an Atlantic Wine?

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Some of our regular reader may remember that not too long ago, we dedicated an entire article to looking at Mediterranean wines. The wines are warming, muscular and exuberant in aromas, which can be said in no other way than “opposites” or the Ying to the Yang: these are the Atlantic wines.

This is the type of wines that we would like to dedicate today’s post. Would you like to delve into the goodness and characteristics of Atlantic wines? Prepare your glasses, we’re off!

ribeiraVineyards in the DO Ribeira Sacra. Image by Santi Villamarín (CC BY 2.0)


Despite what you are already know, generalising about certain things is never very precise, but, we can say that best Atlantic wines tend to be from the Northwest of the Peninsula. A fresh and rainy area, much unlike the rest of the country.

It is no surprise that we will find different Atlantic wines ranging from different designations of origins: Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Bierzo, Valdeorras or La Rioja Alavesa for example.

The climate is not how you would imagine Spain to be (humid and cooler temperatures), this therefore translates into a later ripening period for the grapes. Thus, giving the wine a stronger acidity and freshness; proving to be lighter, finer, floral and a moderate expression of the grape.

Furthermore, the lower sugar levels in the grapes mean that the wines have a lower alcohol grade, around the 13% mark.

In conclusion, the wines are not as vibrant, but at the same, even more elegant.

Would you like to discover some interesting Atlantic wines? Here are a few recommendations:

Gaba do Xil Mencía 2012. A fantastic monovarietal from Mencía, produced by the oenologist, Telmo Rodríguez in the D.O Valdeorras. A fresh, silky wine but what makes this wine even more interesting is its very attractive price.

Goliardo Caiño 2011. We now travel to the D.O Rías Baixas to highlight this elegant and very tasty 100% Caiño (a variety that is now practically extinct) originating from old vines, produced by the technical director and oenologist Raúl Pérez. Lots of red fruit and fantastically accompanied by elegant balsamic notes and a subtle salty memory. A great wine.

Alanda 2012. We remain firmly in Galicia, but a new designation. This great wine from the D.O Monterrei is well worth a mention. Lots of red fruit, freshness and elegance in abundance. A Galician wine but it would appear to be from the Burgundy region.
What are you waiting for? You will love them!

Escrito en Designations of Origin, Wine tasting | Tagged , , , |

Andalusian wines

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Andalusia, the southernmost region of Iberian Peninsula, hot, vibrant and full of history. The birthplace of flamenco and some of the best wines in the world for more than 3,000 years.

Producing and growing wine in Andalusia dates back many centuries, reaching an early and well-deserved international prestige in the 16th and 17th century, the root of this incredible rise to fame was their involvement in international maritime trade at the ports such as Sanlúcar de Barrameda. In today’s post, we are going to travel south, and a take a look at a few different zones in this prestigous wine producing region. Will you join us?

fino-feriaVinos finos y claveles. Imagen por Ignacio Palomo (CC BY 2.0)

Despite the over generalisations about the extreme Andalusian heat, one thing is sure, Andalusia is the largest region in Spain with a large variety of different climatic zones. These zones influence in major way the different wines produced in this region.

As a general rule, we can define three large zones and their climatic contours: “La zona” Atlantic, cooler temperatures than the other zones, producing wines from Jerez and Sanlúcar. “la zona” Mediterranean, famous for producing red wines, like those from D.O Sierras de Málaga and finally the wines belonging to the “La zona” Continental, much hotter and drier than the previous two, ideal for the production of fortified dessert wines which are high in natural sugars, D.O Montilla Moriles.

To help you understand a little bit better this three contours, we have prepared three recommendations of Andalusian wine, please don’t miss out:

Tío Pepe en Rama. From Marco de Jerez, produced by the legendary winery, Gonzalez Byass. We recommend Tío Pepe en Rama, un fino en rama, meaning this product is sold without being filtered or cleared. A memory of those long days of old, where the wine was consumed straight from the bottle. This is 100% Palomino Fino originating from the best soils in Jerez. Perfect as an aperitif and as a pairing for any type of tapas.

Payoya Negra 2012. We now travel to Serranía de Ronda, in the heart of the D.O Sierra de Málaga, to present this juicy blend of Tintilla de Rota, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvinon originating from vineyards located at 600 to 900 meters above sea level. Full-bodied, mature and fruity, but the acidity is refreshing with a wonderful wooden touch.

Alvear Px de Añada 2013. Bodegas Alvear occupies a place of merit, as being one of the most respected wineries in the D.O Montilla Moriles. An understandable fact when you know their wines. 100% Pedro Ximénez originates from grapes from the same 2013 vintage, warming, embracing, dense, unctuous and very, very sweet.

What are you waiting for? You are going to love them!

Escrito en Jerez, Sin categoría, Spain wine regions | Tagged , , , , , |