IWC day three, plus some beer, plus some nice Riojas

Just finished day 3 of the International Wine Challenge at Lords. It is going well, and I’m enjoying tasting with some excellent wine trade colleagues. Everyone seems to be a team player eager to do a professional job, and this makes my life as a panel chair a lot easier.

There are signs that spring is [...]

A brilliant Rioja: Phincas

I was introduced to this wine by David Sampedro Gil, the winemaker behind DSG Vineyards, a relatively new project looking to make a range of wines from some of Spain’s great terroirs. I was really taken by it: it’s a serious effort, and one of the best young Riojas I have tried. UK agent is [...]

Remirez de Ganuza, a top Rioja property, shows that modern can be good

Regular readers will know that a winery that employs solely 100% new oak (with 20% American), and selects as far as taking the tips off grape bunches (these are less ripe, usually), is probably not going to be my favourite sort of producer. But wine is complicated. You can’t be dogmatic.

Recently harvested grapes – [...]

A classic Rioja from Vina Tondonia

One of Rioja’s most traditional producers is López de Heredia Viña Tondonia. These wines are remarkable: they are made in a very traditional, somewhat oxidative style, but they always seem to work, with bags of personality. And they age really well. I’ve never seen one young, in fact – they are released as they just begin [...]

Baron de Ley's Graciano and Maturana

Following on from my recent report of new varieties in Rioja, I was pleased to see that Tesco are now stocking two wines from Rioja producer Baron de Ley’s new Varietales range. They consist of a Maturana and a Graciano, and both are competitively priced at £8.99.

I’ll be honest: both might have been slightly better [...]

New varieties in Rioja

I’m currently in the process of writing up a series based on a visit to Rioja. The latest instalment involves Valdemar, who are doing some interesting work with new varieties in Rioja.

One that is completely new is Tempranillo Blanco, which is a white variety that was discovered in the middle of a vineyard a decade [...]

Fonseca 1970, Delamain 1914, Vin de Constance 1988 and other treats

Had a very enjoyable dinner last night at the offices of Mentzendorff, a major high-end UK agency house. It was more fun than work, but I took some notes on the wines in my usual geeky way. Here they are.

Champagne Ayala Perle d’Ayala Nature 2002
This is the non-dosage version of Ayala’s prestige cuvee, and it’s one [...]

Video: harvest in Rioja

Here’s a short film from my recent Rioja trip. It looks at the harvest at a couple of wineries. There’s a contrast between Finca Allende receiving their Graciano, and La Rioja Alta and their grape reception. The racking of the tens of thousands of barrels at La Rioja Alta is also really interesting.

Rioja, day 3: at last, a vineyard, and a spectacular barrel hall

Sadly, it was the last day in Rioja. Just one visit: LAN.

I’d really enjoyed the previous two days, but up till now we hadn’t been shown a single vineyard. This is despite the fact that Rioja’s treasures are its wonderful vineyards, and the weather was perfect for photography. It’s probably because this is a very [...]

Logroño tapas crawl

So it was off to Calle Laurel for the compulsory tapas bar crawl last night. It was Tuesday, so it wasn’t terribly busy, but there was enough of a buzz for it to be fun.

The way it works is that each of the scores of tapas bars tends to specialize in one dish. You order [...]