Michel Rolland in town for the launch of Rolland & Galarreta wines

Jun 14, 13 Michel Rolland in town for the launch of Rolland & Galarreta wines

Posted by in Spain

Michel Rolland was in town recently to launch his latest wines, a joint venture with Spanish wine “entrepreneur”Javier Galarreta.  In a nutshell, Michel makes the wines and Javier sells them. They have chosen 3 premium wine regions, Rueda, Rioja and Ribera del Duero to show what they can do from the vineyards of the region. Regardless of how you feel about M. Rolland’s wine making influence, the wines that he consults on are well made. He approached these wines  as wines to drink at the table. “Wine should be drunk with food…sometimes, we (in the trade) forget that people don’t try 70 wines at 9am…” He wants this range of wines to be food and consumer friendly. The Rolland & Galarreta Rueda is made from verdejo coming from vineyards in La Seca, considered to be the premium site in the appellation. A full wine, heavy on the acacia flowers on the nose but having plenty of fruit on the palate and was indeed very good with the Spanish tapas, particularly the jamon and the Spanish goat’s cheese. At first sniff the Rioja was full of oak, vanilla and toast for me but after a while, it calmed down in the glass and became much more contemporary or “modern” in style. It wasn’t hugely complex but was approachable and easy to drink, tasting much lighter on the palate. Michel thinks that Rioja has a lot of potential but that they need to change the rules to make drinkable wines. His goal is to make pleasant and elegant wines. His Rioja is made from 100% tempranillo, no garnacha in sight. The Ribera del Duero was probably my favourite of the evening, a blend of tempranillo and merlot, it was full of blackberry and black cherry on nose, very fresh but luscious at the same time. A pleasure to drink. Michel told us that it was possible to produce quality merlot in this are and the proof was definitely in the pudding. The Ribera had great texcure...

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Wines of Navarra, more than just rosado wine

Apr 02, 12 Wines of Navarra, more than just rosado wine

Posted by in Spain

I’m quite familiar with the wines of Navarra, they’re all about rosé wines, right? Yes and no. Turns out there’s a lot more to the region then their robustly coloured rosado wines. The Wines of Navarra were in town last week to promote the region and give, me at least, a taster of their wines. Turns out they have been producing wine for centuries, going back to the 10th century and their wines flourished throughout Spain for many years in part thanks, to their position on the Pilgrim’s Route to Santiago de Campostela, Navarra being identified with their rosado wines made from the garnacha grape. I do like the rosados of Navarra – full bodied and spicy, brightly coloured but dry, these are certainly not your wimpy, sweet California Blossom Hill style rose wines. That’s probably why I like them, wines that were made to quench your thirst as well as be served up with a rustic meal of jamon and cheese with a hunk of bread on the side. I found out though, that since the 1990’s Navarra has undergone a sea change in wine making, not abandoning the rosados but adding international grape varieties like chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. What was most interesting was that these grape varieties had existed in Navarra in the past due to the large French influence of Bordeaux winemakers in the 19th century but had been lost when phylloxera hit the region in the late 1800’s. They still of course grow the traditional viura, tempranillo and garnacha but now are able to blend in the international varieties if they so desire. I tasted a chardonnay/viura blend, full of tropical fruit but having a nice dry finish as well as discovering the latest addition to the region, sauvignon blanc. I spoke to the Consul General of the region, Jordi Vidal, and he told me that sauvingnon blanc is the next big thing in the region. He cited the milder climate of the region which produces good acidity...

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Latest podcast- Japanese koshu, Rioja and the wines of Navarra

Mar 26, 12 Latest podcast- Japanese koshu, Rioja and the wines of Navarra

Posted by in Asia, Podcast, Spain

This episode features one of Japan’s few female winemakers, Ayana Misawa, 5th generation winemaker for Grace winery (“Chuo Budoshu” in Japanese). I met Ayana at the annual Koshu of Japan tasting, held in London in late February 2012 and she sat down to tell me a bit more about the history of the koshu grape in Japan. In the UK market, Rioja is one of the most reliable and dependable wines around. However, the Spanish have woken up to the fact that they need to innovate and I met up with the winemaker for one of the centenary wineries of Rioja, Bodagas Bilbainas. Rioja has a number of wineries that are over one hundred years old but that hasn’t stopped them from looking at innovative or different ways of making their wine. Diego Pinella Navarro, head wine maker, is part of the new generation taking Rioja wines into the future. Lastly, I move up a bit further north to the wines of Navarra. Navarra is situated just north of Rioja but other then the rosés of the region, most people don’t know much about the wines. I chatted with the Consul General of the D.O.  Jordi Vidal when he was in London last week to find out more about what’s going on there, both with the traditional varieties they have always used as well as some newer ones. And, the regions wine making connections with France…. Any questions or comments, just leave me a note in the comment section. Find the podcast on iTunes: http://bit.ly/wHVS9g or Podomatic if you don’t have iTunes: http://bit.ly/GRuZAV Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Celebrity Cruising at Vinopolis

Mar 12, 12 Celebrity Cruising at Vinopolis

Posted by in Food and Wine

“Love. Exiciting and new. Come aboard. We’re expecting youuuuu. The Looooooooove boat….” It’s amazing but I can still remember the words to that cheesy 80’s sitcom set on a cruise ship. And much like the 80’s, cruise ships have always seemed a bit cheesy to me. That is until I was introduced to Celebrity X Cruises the other night at Vinopolis. If, like me, you’ve never bothered to find out more about a cruise experience, prepared to be surprised. Apparently, they are gigantic floating hotels/spas/world class restaurants with lux amenities. Celebrity now features fine wine and dining on all it’s ships and gone are the days of shrimp cocktails and sausage cocktails. The ships are also looking pretty flash nowadays, too. I was invited to a dinner at Vinopolis to learn about Celebrity’s new food and wine cruises that they are introducing in the Autumn. The cruises are going to be co-hosted by Oz Clarke and Vinopolis’s Tom Forrest and will feature stops in various wine regions, including, Portugal, Spain and France. The dinner we had was representative of the kind of food and wine matching meals that would feature on the ship. We started off with an English Sparkling wine, the Ridgeview South Ridge 2008 traditional method, which was really good with the canapes. I was a bit surprised as I’d had it a few days previously and wasn’t all that keen on it but it seems to go well with food. Served up with the starter of goat cheese tart and beetroot, we had a white Bordeaux,  a 2004 Rioja reserva, Pagos de Tahola, was paired with a perfectly grilled steak and a 2007 LBV port with chocolate fondant was heavenly.  Happily a cheese board was served up paired with a white wine from the the south of France, the Grand Reserve de Gassac blanc 2010. An interesting choice to have with the cheeses (Cheshire Blue, Brie de Meaux, Epoisse) and for me, they didn’t match. While some people like the wine...

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Benjamin Romeo’s wines of Rioja

The wines of Rioja are very well known in the UK. Largely known for being rich, heavily oaked wines, the regions has recently been infused with new blood and these young winemakers are now making more modern and fresh wines.  Benjamin Romeo is one of those forward looking winemakers and his assistant winemaker, Allende Perez-Medrano (no relation) was in London recently to showcase his wines. I had a chat with her and we had a quick tasting of a wine Benjamin makes in honour of his father, the La Vina Andres Benjamin Romeo, 2002. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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