Haro, the District of the wineries: Viña Tondonia, Bodegas Muga, CVNE wine, etc.

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Bodegas de Haro

Throughout the history of wine wineries have been located in places that winemakers have considered privileged.

There are a variety of factors that influence them when choosing the best enclaves for their vineyards and facilities. Some of the most outstanding ones are the quality of the soils in the area, the climate or the ease of transporting and distributing the goods. This is why wineries have often been located close to rivers or major communication routes: for example in the Loire Valley, in the Rhone Valley or near the Garonne in France; in the Duero and the Ebro in Spain, etc.

If we look closely at the specific case of La Rioja, we see that this is an area with a very long winegrowing tradition. La Rioja is crossed by the river Ebro, and its soils and climate are optimal for vine cultivation.

La Rioja’s long winegrowing tradition began with the Romans and the Phoenicians. Later, during the Middle Ages, it was maintained mainly due to the various monasteries in the area that continued to work the vines and developed improvements for their cultivation, and that began to sell their surplus wine to Cantabrian ports in the 15th century. Later still, in the eighteenth century, in order to aid in transporting wine to the Basque and Cantabrian provinces, a road was built that crossed the Ebro as it passes through Las Conchas de Haro. Then in 1863, the Castejón-Bilbao railway line was built, as well as the Haro station, and thanks to this new communication channel the national sales of La Rioja wine, its exports and consequently its production, were able to grow without precedent.

It was then, during the second half of the 20th century, when The Haro Station District began to take shape. In addition, this coincided with the appearance of the cryptogamic diseases of the vine in the old world, Oidium and mildew, as well as phylloxera. The first foci of these plagues were located in France, and in a few years these parasites devastated crops and part of the French vineyard. This caused an exodus of winemakers and negociats to areas that had not yet been affected, looking for opportunities. It is from that moment when export centres, warehouses and wineries began to be set up around Haro station.

Viña Tondonia

Some of these wineries are still standing on the original site. Currently, the largest number of hundred year old wineries in the world are concentrated in the Haro Station District. All of them have the railway station as their epicentre and were founded between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

The wineries located there are strongly influenced by the French tradition. This can be seen in the architecture of their buildings, with large walls to protect the wines from adverse external weather conditions, or in the processing techniques adopted by Rioja residents from their northern neighbours, for example in bottling the wines after these undergo barrel ageing.


Heirs to this tradition, of those still in the Haro District, the first to be installed was López de Heredia Viña Tondonia (1877). Two years later, in 1879, the Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (Northern Spain Wine Company), known as CVNE wine was founded, and a few years later Bodegas Gómez Cruzado (1886), Bodegas la Rioja Alta SA (1890) and Bodegas Bilbaínas (1901). Finally, already at the beginning of the 20th century, Bodegas Muga moved its headquarters from the city centre to the Station District (1932) so it could also enjoy the advantages of having the station next to the winery.

Bodegas Muga

All of them, Viña TondoniaCVNEBodegas MugaBodegas López CruzadoBodegas Rioja Alta and Bodegas Bilbaínas have a lengthy experience in the production of great wines and are a clear example of good practice and how to adapt to constant changes. Visiting The Haro Station District or trying the wines from the wineries established there is essential if we want to get a better idea of the history of an area that is unique in its wines, La Rioja.

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Which are the best wines in Spain?

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Spain has been producing good wines for centuries. Yet, which are really the best wines in Spain?
Spain has a long winemaking history: Before the Romans came, the vine was already cultivated in many areas of the peninsula. And now, thousands of years later, it is the country with the greatest area in the world devoted to vineyards, and the third in terms of total production.

Mejores vinos de España

Analysing the Spanish climate and soils, Spain may seem to lack the best conditions for producing high quality wines. It is a generally hot and dry country with infertile soils. The high average temperatures encourage grapes to ripen quickly, and sometimes in an unbalanced way. In addition, the shortage of rain and the low fertility of some soils make it difficult to grow grapes.

However, since ancient times winegrowers in Spain have known how to listen to the needs of plants and offer solutions that end up producing great wines.
For example, locating the vineyards in suitable places, and cultivating and training them so that the plants have more water and nutritional resources available to them. Or situating them in cooler places, with relatively low planting densities, and training the plants in bush form to better adjust the production to their vigour.

With these and other measures, Spain has managed to produce quality wines with a worldwide reputation. Which are the best Spanish wines for us? Answering this question is difficult, because very good wines are produced in different parts of Spain. But let’s try …

In La Rioja, for example, wine has been made since ancient times. However, there was a qualitative leap in the cultivation of the vine and the production of quality wines shortly after the arrival of phylloxera in France. It was then that many of the best French winemakers crossed the Pyrenees to settle in Spain, bringing with them new varieties and processing techniques. Today some of the best La Rioja wines are Castillo de Ygay Reserva Especial Blanco,  Rioja Alta 890 Gran Reserva, or Viña Tondonia Gran Reseva.

In the Priorat, the Romans or the monks of the Carthusian order were already aware that this was the place to obtain very special and interesting wines. However, after phylloxera it was a region that remained forgotten for years until a group of winemakers saw its potential and made a renewed commitment to the area in the 1990s. The area is now greatly revalued and among its best wines we find L’Ermita, by Álvaro Palacios, Clos Mogador by René Barbier, or the 100 Parker points rated Clos Eramus by Daphne Glorian.

Ribera del Duero also has a long winegrowing tradition. The Phoenicians, Romans and monks from Cîteaux chose the Duero basin to cultivate the vine and produce extraordinary wines. Nowadays fantastic wineries continue to produce some of the best wines in Spain. When we talk about outstanding wines from the Ribera del Duero, we have to mention the famous Vega Sicilia Único or the Pingus from Dominio de Pingus.

Lastly, in Jerez we find generous and magical wines. Wines that are unique wines in the world because they undergo biological ageing. Nowhere else have we been able to reproduce the conditions that allow this mysterious phenomenon of biological ageing of wine to take place, a process known as ageing under a film of yeast or  “velo flor“. Bodegas Tradición with its Palo Cortado VORSValdespino Amontillado VORS or Valdespino Moscatel Viejísimo should also be considered among the select group of best wines in Spain

Which are the best wines in Spain for us? Have you already tasted any of the above? We urge you to try them!

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Dry white wine

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Enologically speaking, we refer to a wine as being a dry white wine when we want to say that there is no sugar present in it or that the presence of sugar is almost nil.  However, more colloquially the expression takes on another meaning.

So, what are we referring to when we talk about a dry white wine? ‘Dry white wine’ is a statement that we usually contrast with that of ‘fruity white wine’. In dry white wines the aromas that predominate can be part of the floral, vegetable, mineral, lactic, creamy, honeyed group … These can range from honeysuckle, jasmine, linden, rose, hay, cut grass … to corn, yogurt, butter, even flint, kerosene or rubber! Aromas that are far from the pineapple, pear, apple, papaya, etc. that we mentioned in the previous post about fruity white wine.

Dry white wine

The origin of these aromas can be diverse. The factors that will make a white wine a dry white wine are going to be first of all the variety, secondly the winemaking techniques used to produce it, and thirdly the ageing to which the wine has been subjected.

Some white varieties such as Macabeo, Xarel·lo, Txacolí, Garnacha Blanca, Airén or Verdejo are ones that we could consider as being neutral, and that their own or endogenous aromas are not fruity.

Secondly, it is during vinification, and, depending on the variety, in pre-fermentation macerations, when the most herbaceous aromas (pepper, truffle, thyme etc.), floral aromas (jasmine, honeysuckle, rose, etc.), mineral aromas (iodine, oil) and certain spicy aromas (pepper, cardamom, etc.) appear. Then, during the fermentation we get the aromas of yeast, biscuit, creams, milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.

Lastly, during ageing floral and vegetable aromas are also generated, plus woody, toasted and balsamic aromas, and certain mineral ones or confectionery ones like musk, honey or beeswax.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

From the first category, those with vegetal and floral touches, we could find Miranius, a biodynamic wine by Celler Credo made in the Penedés.

Other examples, these with more creamy or bakery aromas would be Flow Blanco, a Cariñena Blanca and Picapoll Blanc from D.O. Empordà made by Bodega Sota els Àngels, and a Macabeo from D.O.Ca Rioja, Honorio Rubio Lías Finas from Honoro Rubio.

A dry white wine whose aromas mainly originate during ageing would be Viña Gravonia from the Viña Tondonia winery. A classic from La Rioja that has spent 48 months in barrels, and in which its aromas of honey, nuts and certain touches of hydrocarbons stand out.

What do you think? Would you like to discover these aromas in your next white wines?

  • Miranius 2017

    White wine Young Biodynamic. Winery: Celler Credo. D.O. Penedès. (Catalonia) Coupage: Macabeo and Xarel·lo.

    9,36 $
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  • Honorio Rubio Lías Finas 2014

    White wine Aged on its lees. Winery: Honorio Rubio. D.O.Ca. Rioja. (La Rioja) Coupage: Viura

    13,42 $
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  • Viña Gravonia 2010

    White wine Crianza. 48 months in oak barrels. Winery: Viña Tondonia. D.O.Ca. Rioja. (La Rioja) Coupage: Viura

    18,39 $
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Fruity white wine

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The expression fruity white wine is a very common term among lovers of white wine. But do you know what we mean when we refer to a white wine as being a fruity white wine?  We’re talking about the presence of fruit. That is to say, referring to a rather fruity character, to certain aromas and to fruity evocations. Pears, apples, pineapples, bananas, peaches, lemons. Let’s take a look at where those aromas come from.

Vino blanco afrutado

The first characteristic that establishes the character of a white wine as being a fruity white wine is the variety. Varieties such as Godello, Albariño or Chardonnay have a great aromatic potential. This varieties, when harvested at their optimum point of ripeness, are a good starting point for producing a good fruity white wine.
In the case of the Godello variety, we can find aromas of white fruit such as pear or apple, or tropical fruit. In its neighbour the Albariño variety, tropical aromas such as pineapple and certain citrus touches of lemon or grapefruit usually stand out. And if we opt for Chardonnay, we move more towards banana.

In terms of processing techniques, in order to achieve a fruity profile, a pre-fermentative cold maceration is carried out to help preserve the variety’s aromas. Fermentation will also be carried out at a low temperature.
In addition, the most fruity white wines tend to be young wines, avoiding wines aged in wood, where the latter can compete with the fruit in terms of aromas.

Let’s take a look at some examples.
If you like fruity white wines, we recommend you try O Luar do Sil Godello, produced by the Pago de los Capellanes winery in the D.O. Valdeorras. Floral notes with a marked echo of white fruit and tropical fruit.
We continue with an Albariño: Mar de Frades Albariño, a classic of the Albariño variety. Fresh, with a salty touch, aromas of white fruit and very characteristic citrus notes.
And we end our recommendations of fruity white wines with a monovarietal of the Chardonnay variety: Castillo de Monjardín Chardonnay El Cerezo. A fresh and juicy wine with marked evocations of banana, made in the D.O. Navarra.

Are you familiar with them? What do you think? What are your favourite fruity white wines?

  • O Luar do Sil Godello 2017

    White wine Young. Winery: Pago de los Capellanes. D.O. Valdeorras. (Galicia) Coupage: Godello

    8,90 $
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  • Mar de Frades Albariño 2017

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Mar de Frades. Production area: D.O. Rías Baixas. Grapes used in this wine: Albariño.

    13,51 $
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  • Castillo de Monjardín Chardonnay El Cerezo 2018

    White wine Young. Winery: Bodegas Castillo de Monjardín. D.O. Navarra. (Navarra) Coupage: Chardonnay

    -10% 5,72 $
    5,12 $
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Vegan wine: what are vegan wines?

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We’ve realised that customers feel a bit confused whenever we talk about vegan wine: Vegan wine? But doesn’t wine come from grapes? And so, isn’t all wine vegan? Well no, not all wines are vegan wines, even though they do indeed all come from grapes.

vegan wine

We talk about vegan wine when we’re referring to the wine suitable for consumption by people who follow a vegan diet. I.e. a diet that excludes any trace of animal origin in the food. But the vegan culture goes beyond diet. It can be defined as a lifestyle that extends the rejection of products of animal origin to any habit of consumption.

Having clarified this, let’s talk about the wines. Because wine, being a product made from fermenting grapes, should be a product completely compatible with a vegan diet. And yes, it would be if it weren’t for the fact that at the end of the wine-making process the wine is clarified. This is a “cleaning” process by means of which any possible remaining impurities from the grapes or from the yeasts are eliminated before the wine can be bottled.

This clarification is often done with products of animal origin. Egg white is usually used. Or isinglass, from fish tails. Sometimes casein, a protein derived from milk, is also used. Or gelatin, almost always obtained from fish cartilage.
In order for a wine to qualify as vegan wine, it has to be bottled without clarification. Or if it is clarified, this needs to be done with clarifiers that are not of animal origin. Certain proteins from vegetable sources, such as potatoes or wheat, are usually used. Carrageenans, from marine algae, are sometimes used. It’s also common to use bentonite, a clay powder that is often used in white wines.

In Spain there is no specific legislation that defines the requirements that a wine must meet to be qualified as vegan wine. Some wineries try to certify their wines through independent bodies that certify that no ingredient derived from animals has been used during its preparation.

So now you know, not all wine is vegan wine. Although they all come from grapes ;)

  • Juan Gil Silver Label 12 meses 2016

    Red wine Barrel. 12 months in French oak barrels. Winery: Juan Gil. D.O. Jumilla. (Murcia) Coupage: Monastrell

    10,10 $
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  • Can Sumoi Xarel·lo 2017

    White wine Young Natural. Winery: Can Sumoi. D.O. Penedès. (Catalonia) Coupage: Xarel·lo

    10,28 $
    9,73 $/u
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  • Clos Lentiscus Perill Noir Carinyena 2015

    Red wine Barrel Natural. 24 months in foudres. Winery: Clos Lentiscus. D.O. Penedès. (Catalonia) Coupage: Cariñena

    12,68 $
    12,08 $/u
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Wines from Galicia rated by Parker

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We started the week with new Parker scores for wines from Bierzo, and we end it with new wines from Galicia rated by Parker. In his new report Luis Gutierrez reviews the wines from the Galician denominations of Rías Baixas, Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra and Monterrei, performing an in-depth analysis of health of Galician wine.

Of special note are a series of small producers looking to produce wines with a defined personality, focusing on quality, organic farming, authenticity, old vines, etc., in short, obtaining a wine that reflects the character of each plot.

vinos de Galicia puntuados por Parker

In contrast, Luis Gutiérrez criticizes the denominations of origin for the standardization of the wines and for focusing on large volume instead of on quality. In his report he points out how these small producers have to leave the denominations because the latter fail to provide a haven for the diversity of personalities of their wines.

In evaluating the Galician denominations, Luis Gutiérrez highlights the D.O. Ribeiro, an interesting context that has evolved considerably in the last 5 years.
An area that is traditionally one of great cooperatives, but which is seeing how the long-established names, Luis Anxo Rodríguez or Emilio Rojo, are being joined by new interesting projects like El Paraguas Atlántico, Augalevada or Cume do Avia.
He also highlights a classic winery like Viña Mein, which has hired Comando G as consultants to try to change their wines: beginning to grow organic and biodynamic vineyards, using as little yeast as possible, fermenting each plot separately, promoting the use of local varieties, and using old vines to produce some of their wines; all this in search of authenticity and personality.

From the D.O. Rías Baixas, Luis Gutiérrez highlights the great producers we’re used to seeing in his reports: AlbamarForges of the SalnésFulcrum and Zarate, all of them in the Salnés area; producers who are involved in new projects to make new wines every year, and whose progress he advises us to follow closely.
When it comes to evaluating the vintages, we encounter two very different years: 2016 suddenly became a complicated year, when the rains came at harvest time — something that marked the character of the wines of this vintage, depending on whether the grapes were picked before the rain with the grapes a little green and therefore with a touch of acidity, or if they were picked after the rains, which could lead to oversaturation and, therefore, to a loss of acidity. Something highly valued and necessary in the wines from Rías Baixas.

On the other hand, the 2017 vintage was a quiet one, being warmer and drier, which led to the harvest being brought forward to preserve the acidity and avoid the heat. A good vintage for Rías Baixas wines.

Luis Gutierrez highlights the D.O. Monterrei Quinta da Muradella winery and its wines from the warmest area of Galicia with a characteristic mineral background; wines that Gutiérrez values for their highly positive progress year after year.
And lastly, in Ribeira Sacra, the Envínate winery, a project originally from Tenerife, which is working with small plots of old vines. Or Fedellos do Couto, a small winery working on small plots on granite soils with a cool climate, and producing wines with a great personality.

Galicia, a land that is attempting to change its historical way of making wine, leaving aside the great production and seeking the personality and authenticity of each nook and cranny of its diverse territory.
By following this link you can find all the Galician wines rated by Parker. We hope you like them.

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New Parker ratings for Bierzo wines

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We ended last week with new news that came to us from the Parker Guide: a new report by Luis Gutiérrez that listed the new Bierzo wines rated by Parker.

In his report, Luis Gutierrez talks about two vintages: 2016 and 2017. In terms of the 2017 vintage, Luis explains that it was a complicated year, with hot and very dry weather. A year that made it necessary to bring the harvest forward to around August 20th. in an attempt to preserve the freshness that is so typical of Bierzo wines. However, he defines 2016 as a year that had the perfect weather for producing fresh wines. Resulting in very elegant wines, with wonderful aromas and textures. As excellent a vintage in El Bierzo as few can remember.


In his report, Luis Gutierrez highlights the search for identity that the D.O. Bierzo is engaged upon, and how it is forging ahead towards that goal in leaps and bounds. As an example, the classifying of Bierzo wines into vinos regionales, vinos de pueblo, vinos de paraje and vinos de finca. In this post we talked about this classifying of the previous Parker scores for Bierzo and Galicia. The intention of this classifying is to attempt to emphasise increasingly the particular features of each plot.
The denomination also regulates the maximum amount of yeast to be used, as well as irrigation, which will only be accepted for the first two years after planting the vineyard.
In this search for authenticity, the Bierzo denomination is committing itself to traditional varieties such as Estaladiña or Merenzao, and adding new towns to the vinos de pueblo classification.

With all these measures, the Bierzo Designation of Origin aims to take the lead among Spanish wines in this change towards authenticity, typicity and territory. Yet this would not be possible without producers who are capable of leading this change. Luckily the Bierzo has individuals who are great maestros in interpreting the territory, among whom Luis Gutiérrez highlights Raúl Pérez or Ricardo Perez Palacios, in the towns of Valtuille and Corullón respectively; two people committed to their land and who know how to extract the best from each vineyard, making wines with a great personality that are a true reflection of the territory. You don’t want to miss trying the Raúl Pérez wines or the Ricardo Palacios wines, with their Pétalos del Bierzo or Corullón, the winery’s flagship wines.

Luis Gutierrez doesn’t miss the opportunity to highlight the way Verónica Ortega wines have evolved. From producing a single red, ROC Mencía, it has now gone on to produce four reds and a white. Of special note is Verónica Ortega Cal Blanco, a white wine made with grapes of the Godello variety from calcareous soils, something that is rather unusual in Bierzo. Also noteworthy is the red Cobrana made in the municipality of the same name, in the limits of the denomination, when the usual ones are the wines from the Valtuille area. A wine made with both white and red varieties, which gives it a unique personality.

So now you know, if you want to taste the wines from one of the most authentic areas in Spain in terms of winemaking, you shouldn’t lose sight of the Bierzo area; an area with enormous potential, containing small vineyards with a great personality, and with great winemakers convinced that their responsibility lies in getting the best out of their land. And so may it continue to be it for a long time. But hurry, we’re talking about small plots with very limited runs, so they’re wines that quickly sell out every year.

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Types of white wine

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Many of you ask us what the different types of white wine that can be found are. So we thought it would be a good idea to write this post as a source of reference when cataloguing the different types of white wine. The first thing we’ll do is look for some cataloguing parameters, and then go on to examine which wines fit into each of them. Ready? Here we go.

Tipos de vino blanco

To catalogue the different types of white wine, the first thing we need to do is to define four major cataloguing groups: arranging them according to ageing, body, climate and sensation of sweetness. There are four parameters that help us define and catalogue any white wine.

Types of white wines according to the type of ageing
Let’s start by looking at the kind of ageing that wine has had: known in Spanish as Crianza. We talk about a young white wine when the wine has spent very little time, or none at all, ageing. They are white wines from a particular year, designed to be consumed in the same year. The character of the wine is marked by its youth, finding mainly fruit and freshness in them, as for example in this magnificent Viña Zorzal Garnacha Blanca.
On the other hand, wines that have spent time in the barrel, whether fermented or fermented and aged, are wines that are somewhat more complex. Wines that change those fresher notes of youth for the tertiary notes arising from their time in wood. A magnificent example of a wine with a noticeable time spent in wood might be Viña Gravonia from Viña Tondonia.
We could separate into a third group those wines aged on their own lees, wines that are aged with the solid material that remains in a tank after fermentation, a material made up of the remains of grapes and dead yeasts. These lees give the wine volume, unctuousness and a certain complexity. An example: Avance Cuvee de O: a tasty Godello produced by Jorge Ordoñez in the D.O. Valdeorras.

Types of white wines according to body
If we look at the body of a white wine, we can distinguish between two major groups: light white wines and white wines with body.
We say that a white wine is light when we’re talking about a wine with an easy mouthfeel. Wines in general with little ageing, which stand out for their refreshing acidity and their fluidity. As an example of a light wine, this magnificent Txacolí: Gorka Izaguirre Txacolí,
In contrast, when we speak of a white wine with body, we’re referring to wines that give us a sensation of volume, density and vigour in the mouth. Normally, in addition to variety and climate, this body is provided by fermentation or by ageing in barrels with their own lees. These are more complex wines with a greater glyceric sensation. If you’d like to try a good white body, we recommend this Remírez de Ganuza Blanco, a huge white aged for 8 months with its own lees.

Types of white wines according to climate
A third parameter that allows us to catalogue a white wine is freshness. We say that a wine is fresh when it presents a balanced acidity that helps to give it a light mouthfeel. They are vibrant, light wines that are easy to drink, since this freshness helps to ensure that you don’t tire of drinking them. A clear example of a fresh wine is Leirana Albariño, rated in its 2012 vintage by the New York Times as the best wine from the D.O. Rías Baixas.
At the other extreme, we speak of warm wines when we’re referring to wines from grapes grown in warm climates. Climates that encourage the grape to ripen more. These are wines with a greater amount of alcohol and with great aromatic potential. We recommend this Llàgrimes de Tardor Blanc, a mature wine with body that is very varietal.

Dry or sweet white wines
A final parameter to take into account when cataloguing a white wine can be whether it’s a dry wine, or on the contrary, a rather sweet wine.
In terms of sweet wines as such, in Spain we have dessert wines. Wines with a residual sugar level of more than 30, 40 or 50 grams per litre.
Yet leaving these wines aside, without getting into the world of sweet wines, we sometimes perceive a certain sweetness in the mouth. A perception that is provided by some fruity or floral aromas in certain varieties. As an example we suggest Gramona Gessamí, a very aromatic wine with lots of ripe fruit on the nose, which will bring you some wonderful sweet memories.
On the opposite extreme we have dry white wines. Direct, profiled wines, where the memories become herbs, spices, minerals or wood. A good example is Zárate Albariño, an elegant Albariño aged on its lees for 3 months.

Now that you know how to catalogue the different types of white wine, we’d like to suggest an exercise for the next time you have a white wine in front of you: is it a young or and aged white? Try to discover that fruit or lightness in young wines, or that complexity in wines that have been aged. Does it have lots of body or is it a rather light wine? Does it come from a cool climate or a warm climate? Look for that freshness or that maturity. Does it have sweet memories or is it more of a dry wine?
Little by little you’ll come to learn how to discover all these nuances, and you’ll see that it’ll be easy to start cataloguing the wines you taste.

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New vintages of Vega Sicília wine

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After a short wait, we can announce that we finally have the new vintages of the Vega Sicília wines for sale. Vega Sicília wine is one of those wines that pass beyond the frontier of wine as such and become an object of desire; a mythical brand, admired and recognized in any corner of the wine world. Just say Vega Sicília and there’s no need to say anything else.

Vega Sicilia

Vega Sicília is a winery located in the heart of the Ribera de Duero, but is also the most visible brand in a group made up of the Alión wineries, also in Ribera de Duero, Pintia, in Toro, and Benjamin Rothschild & Vega Sicilia, a project shared with the Benjamin Rothschild group in Rioja. A group of wineries with one common idea: to produce high quality wines while seeking excellence in each of the processes.

Starting with theVega Sicília wine in Ribera de Duero, we’ll begin by talking about one of its most representative wines: Vega Sicília Valbuena 5ºAño in its new 2014 vintage, a Gran Reserva aged for 42 months in oak, and which was rated a few days ago with no fewer than 96 Parker points. A fine, elegant wine; the gateway to the Vega Sicília universe. Vega Sicília Único, is also premiered in its 2009 vintage, the mythical wine from the winery that was recently rated with 98 Parker points. As the name suggests, it’s a unique wine. Balanced, amiable, lingering. A very special wine. And lastly, the winery’s top wine: Vega Sicília Único Reserva Especial Edición 2019, a wine made from a coupage of the 2006, 2007 and 2009 harvests rated with 95 Parker points. A blend of each vintage’s characteristics, in search of the essence of Vega Sicília.

Without moving from the D.O. Ribera de Duero, we make our next stop in the Vega Sicília Group at Alión. A small winery where they make a single wine of the same name, Alión. They now present their new Alión 2015 vintage, recently rated by Parker with 93 points. An excellent wine, aged for 14 months and then rested for 18 to 20 months in the bottle.

And from Alión we move on to Pintia, a winery in the D.O. Toro where the Vega Sicília group produces the wine of the same name, Pintia, which has just presented its new Pintia 2014 vintage, rated with 94 Parker points. An excellent, very elegant wine with delicate tannins.

Lastly we visit Rioja, where Vega Sicília shares a project together with the well-known international group Benjamin Rothschild in the Benjamin Rothschild & Vega Sicilia winery. Two unique wines, Macán and Macán Clásico, but what a pair of wines! Macán Clásico has presented its 2015 vintage, rated with 93 Parker points, and Macán the 2014, with 94 Parker points. Two wines that perfectly represent the Rioja savoir faire. Silky, velvety wines, with a great aging. Perfect for lovers of Rioja.

We hope you enjoy these new vintages of Vega Sicília wine. But hurry up, some of them are sure to sell out quickly, as you know.

Escrito en New wines | Tagged , , |

Wine pairing

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Whenever we talk about wine pairing we find ourselves embroiled in a certain controversy. Let’s say that it’s hard for us to agree on the perfect way to pair this or that dish. And the first thing we have to think about is that the wine pairing is not an exact science. This is not mathematics. There is no magic formula that always works in exactly the same way for everyone.

We can summarize wine pairing as an attempt to seek a good combination between a dish and the wine that accompanies it. Some talk about establishing a marriage between food and wine.
But here lies the first dilemma: what does combine mean? What kind of marriage are we talking about? Does combining mean harmonizing? Does combining mean contrasting? Because there are marriages that harmonize, but there are also others that are pure contrast … Well, perhaps we should leave this topic and focus on wines.


The first thing we have to think about when pairing our dishes is to establish a logical order. In the same way that we tend to eat something lighter than the main course as a starter, and then finish with the dessert, we should do something similar with wines. To understand what we mean, it wouldn’t make any sense to start with a full-bodied red wine and end up with a fresh and light white wine. The reason is obvious. It would be very hard for us to perceive the qualities of the second wine.
We should therefore start our meal with a light wine and finish off with something more full-bodied. As for dessert, we can talk about that later.
A generic order, from lighter wine to more full-bodied wine, based on aging, might be: young white or rosé wines, white or rosé wines with some barrel, young red wines, Crianzas, Reservas and Gran Reservas.
If we take climate into account, from wines from a cooler climate to wines from a warmer climate and therefore more mature.

Ok, we now have a clear logical order when it comes to what kind of wines to serve. And now, which wines should we select? This brings us fully into the pairing game. What is it that we want to do? To try and harmonize with the food? To complement? To contrast?
The first thing that most likely comes to mind is to harmonize the dish and the wine. A clear example: seafood such as oysters, prawns or shrimps are perfect with a dry white wine, perhaps with a salty touch such as Albariños or some other white wines from Galicia. We recommend something classic like Mar de Frades, or if you prefer to try something new Leirana Albariño, a wine from old vineyards that expresses all the character of this variety.
We can also try a good Fino or a Manzanilla, with that classic pungent and salty flavor that combines perfectly with seafood. Valdespino Fino Inocente or the classic Manzanilla La Güita can be good examples.

Fish can work very well with whites that are a bit more complex, with some barrel, or with sparkling wines that also have some aging. If the fish is cooked on the grill, we should look for a simpler white, and a young white will work well for us. If the dish is complicated with sauces or with other ingredients, we will have to look for something more complex. Here whites or sparkling wines aged in the barrel come into play. We recommend you try Ossian, a Verdejo that works for us due to its complexity, or Dido Blanc, a white from the Priorat with an excellent aging in fudres. If you prefer a sparkling wine, try Recaredo Terrers, an excellent Brut Nature that will work perfectly.
And can’t I pair a fish with a red wine? Yes, of course, if what you like are reds, you can also choose this option. Of course, look for a fresh wine, without too much body, structure or complexity. A Pinot Noir, a Grenache planted at an altitude or a Galician or Canary Island red with the influence of the Atlantic. Very light and fresh wines that won’t compete with the fish, such as this La Bruja de Rozas.
If you like, you can take another look this entry from some time ago in which we gave you some ideas for pairing sushi and wine.

If we’re talking about meats, the first thing is to differentiate between white meats and red meats. For white meat, a white or a rosé with a certain complexity can work for us. You can try it with Flor de Muga Rosado, an elegant and delicate wine which complements a white meat very well.
As the intensity of the meat rises, so should the intensity of the wine. For grilled red meat we can pair a Ribera de Duero barrel red wine very well, such as Aalto, or Muga Selección Especial Reserva if we prefer a Rioja wine. Two elegant but powerful wines that will tolerate the taste of the meat perfectly.
If we’re talking about more complex meat casseroles, with a certain amount of spices and reduced sauces, stews or game meat, we should be looking for a wine with elegance, but one that is complex and full-bodied. It has to be a wine with a personality capable of standing out in the presence of a dish that is already forceful. You could try a Priorat wine like Les Terrasses, or Victorino, a wine with all the power of Toro, but with great finesse. If you are one of those who dare to try new things, you could try to pair it with an Amontillado like Fernando de Castilla Antique Amontillado, one of those gems that can only be found in Jerez. It will definitely impress you.

Let’s move on to the desserts. It’s time to finish off the meal, and we usually do so with some fruit if we need to refresh ourselves, or with something sweet, like some good cakes, or with an item which is the undisputed king of desserts: chocolate.
If the dessert is fruit-based, we suggest you pair it with a good sparkling wine to help cleanse the acidity of the fruit. If you opt for cakes, you can choose a good sweet wine, which matches perfectly with cream cakes or even those with fresh cream. You could opt for a sweet Lustau wine: East India Solera, a long and complex wine or Victoria Número 2, a sweet wine from the Sierra de Málaga. If you’re not too fond of sweet wines though, we suggest you try the Ximénez-Spinola Old Harvest, a sweet wine but one that is surprisingly dry at the same time.
And if your meal ends with a good dark chocolate, our recommendation would be to look for a complex wine. A good example might be Palo Cortado Peninsula, a fine yet powerful wine, with a very interesting pungent acidity.

We’ll finish off by providing you with a little trick: geographical pairing. If you want to play it safe, it makes all the sense in the world to combine a meal and a wine that come from the same area. In the past there was less freight transport available, and the products that were consumed were the products from the area. All those years of history can’t be wrong.

Anyway, all these are just suggestions. The most important thing is that you understand the different concepts and start trying them out. As we said at the beginning, there is no golden rule in wine pairing. You yourself will discover how you like to pair your dishes. You’ll see what works and what doesn’t work for you. The best thing is that you encourage yourself to start!

Escrito en Pairings | Tagged , |