LAUREL STREET

19 Mar

Good Morning,

La Rioja is internationally known for its wines and the capital city Logroño, is known among other things for a street which is full of bars and all of them with high quality “pinchos”; What can we say of the mushrooms in Soriano, the coated pork ears of Perchas, the guts of Muro, the Spanish omelet in Sebas, the Patatas bravas of Jubera and I could go on and on…

This street is called Laurel Street, also known as the elephant’s path because people who go there leave very drunk and in Spanish the elephant’s trunk also means “drunk” therefore the name.

But yesterday in Facebook I read a curious explanation with respect to the origin of its name:

The name of Laurel Street comes from the times when there was not a single bar (late 19th century). If you passed by and saw branches of bay hanging from the balconies it meant that “the Lady” who lived in that house “was free”. “Due to so many walkers the first bar was opened The White and Black that continues today as a reference for its anchovy and green pepper bites “.

I don´t know if whether this is true or not, but why not?

If anyone knows something about it, talk now or silence forever. For me this “urban legend” is very nice and romantic.

Also, the most important thing in this street is not the name but the quality of its pinchos and bars, every time I go I’m amazed of how it´s changed in the last 15 years; when they used to serve horrible wines in faded glasses and simple pinchos. Nowadays the glasses are crystal clear, a wide selection of wines is served and elaborated pinchos that are good as the ones in the area of San Sebastian.

To all those who have not been there, I recommend it and more now that you know its story.

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Red wine against cancer. Resveratrol

6 Feb

To create something fantastic, first understand reality” Walt Disney


Hello friends:

I’m sure you all have heard about the benefits of resveratrol in red grapes. Given the importance of this, we are part of a research project consisting in obtaining wine with the highest content of resveratrol in the world.   Recently two articles were published:   The reservatrol present in wine kills up to 97% of tumor cells in prostate cancer. Scientists from the University of Missouri have discovered that resveratrol, a grape compound of red wine, could be the key to eradicate prostate cancer, easing the treatment with radiation and increasing the chances of full recovery of different tumors including the most aggressive.

In this study resveratrol was introduced in tumor cells discovering that up to 97% of these died.   In previous studies scientists discovered that resveratrol causes the tumor cells to be more sensitive to chemotherapy and with this research they wanted to discover if it has the same effect in radiotherapy.   “After treatment with resveratrol and radiation we realized that we were able to kill many more tumor cells compared to using radiotherapy exclusively”, said Michael Nicholl researcher of the study. Journal of Cancer Andrology & Science Red wine preventive against cancer The finding has shown that the use of resveratrol, a compound present in red wine, can reduce the rate of tumors of the intestine preventing cancer by half. Professor Karen Brown, of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom and author of the study said “after having proved in our laboratory that it can reduce the development of tumors, now we have to focus on the identification of mechanisms to find out how resveratrol works in human cells”.   This study and other science evidence have been presented at the International Conference Resveratrol 2012, where the most recent advances in the research of resveratrol were exposed. So, if you want to live longer and happier drink red wine in moderation.

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GOOD NIGHT. MADRID JOURNAL 1.968

18 Dec

Anyone who awake to behave as it did in a dream would be taken for a madman”. Sigmund Freud.

Hello friends,

Today looking for information in Felipe Nalda’s enology books, I’ve found an article by Alfonso Paso published in the Madrid Journal on March 8 1968 titled “Catalan champagne”, which reads as follows:   As you do know, the champagne produced in Catalonia is of an unbeatable quality. It is an excellent champagne for consumption. I prefer it to many famous labeled champagnes. In Argentina, for example, the Spanish Champagne is so coveted that it rises above the French and in occasions a glass of Spanish champagne has been offered to me as if it was ambrosia. Sometimes in Buenos Aires my Argentine friends have invited me to a glass of brandy. As I politely refuse it they  say:   -Look; it is Spanish brandy. You don´t drink this every day.   There is no reason why to praise about the excellence of the Spanish wines, liqueurs and sparkling wines which are among the first in the world. I once had  to make a trip to  Europe and had the crazy idea to learn about the wines, labels, harvests, backgrounds  and other issues related to wine but I  haven`t tasted a wine like the one made in  Cenicero  (Logroño) sold under the name of Viña Albina. Specifically the white one. What is the secret of the white Viña Albina? Well, simply that being a somewhat dry wine, ideal with first courses, after drinking it,it leaves you with a sweet taste on the palate. It’s something like a magical drink. It is at the same level as the famous alellas, ivory and of course, I believe the most surprising wine Spain produces. I still haven´t tasted in France or Italy anything comparable and since I drink very little and only with meals I have such a palate for wines that there are very few where I cannot find  defects. When I go to Granada (Andalusia) my family as a joke offers me wine and a relative usually says: -Don´t says if it’s good until Alfonso advises us. The Catalan Champagne is excellent. The champagne made in Spain is formidable… The truth is that it is an honor to read these words written 44 years ago with regard to one of our wines. So if you want to try one of the most surprising wines of Spain you know which to try.

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Xmas Classics

3 Dec

“We cannot do the fantastic things based on the real unless we first know the real.” Walt Disney


Hello fellows,

Today I am going to recommend wines for Christmas which I will have on my table not only because I work in Bodegas Riojanas; but also because they are  worth it ;P.

These exclusive and inimitable Rioja Great Reservas of which Monte Real and Viña Albina are a prime example remain for the majority of consumers the maximum expression of quality wine, something that the international specialized critics also reaffirm after a few years where these classics and “aristocratic” quintessential wines had been overshadowed by fashions.

These are wines that make a good impression on any table in large celebrations such as Christmas and always are a perfect gift. Wines that developed their full potential in exceptional vintages as the ones in 2004 and 2001 in Rioja are vintages to remember.   The oenologist Emilio Sojo of Bodegas Riojanas highlights the excellence of the mythical 2004 vintage: “It was a perfect year with an ideal climate throughout the vegetative cycle and without sanitary problems. Culminating with the maturation which occurred between scarce showers with sunny days and cool nights“. Ageing in American oak barrels along 24 and 30 months and in bottle for at least 36 months adding more than 60 months prior to marketing which provides the finesse and elegance of these long aging wines.

In addition, the new Monte Real and Viña Albina also contribute to the innovating winemaking that brings them closer to current market trends in aspects such as the increased color intensity or fruit concentration especially prominent in excellent vintages such as the 2004. True to their character and with a differentiate oenological profile, the origin of the grapes used in production largely defines the different personalities of these two wines representing somehow the two traditional styles of Rioja where we can find a more powerful and structured wine as Monte Real and a more lightweight and elegant like Viña Albina.   The important awards that Monte Real and Viña Albina have recently received undoubtedly two of the most recognized brands among the Rioja’s great historic Reservas are proof of the admiration that this type of wines still awaken among experts and the place of honor which beyond fashions they have along with  the greatest  wines in the world. Monte Real Gran Reserva 2004 Gold Medal awarded by the international jury of the prestigious competition ‘Tempranillos Al Mundo‘ held in New York, another two gold medals at the IV contest of the best Spanish wines for Asia and Sommelier Wine Awards 2012, as well as a Platinum medal in the contest of the best Spanish wines for United States. Equally the Tasting Committee of the influential magazine Wine Enthusiast gave an assessment of 90 points both to Monte Real and Viña Albina.   The New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov recently argued how the great Reservas of Rioja have won the game to style trends worldwide for wines with intense color, loaded with fruit and with lots of alcohol: “these grateful and elegant wines have conquered the sensuality through an irresistible taste in mouth that invites you to savor sip after sip and the intellectuality through shades difficult to achieve in other wines”.   In addition not to forget that the 2004 vintage was the first one I was in Bodegas Riojanas so I feel especially proud.   I hope that you can enjoy these wines as it is an honor to put our little grain of sand during these important dates.

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Final Summary of the 2012 Harvest in La Rioja

30 Nov

Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance” Jane Austen

The total volume production of the 2012 harvest in Rioja stood at 355 million kg. of grape according to the harvest balance done by the technical services of the regulatory Council of the D.O. Ca  Rioja. This volume production represents one of the lowest returns in the last two decades (5.708 Kg /Ha.) and a significant decrease compared to last year’s harvest which was 387 million kg of grape.

The grape harvested has in general presented a magnificent sanitary condition and an excellent maturity balance between alcohol and polyphenols, which allows advance expectations of great quality for the whole of the vintage. Good structure polyphenols expected in produced wines makes them especially suitable for its aging in barrels.

After a cycle marked by drought a significant weather impact should be pointed out, the effect of rainfalls at the end of September which influenced very positively in the evolution of the maturation providing a better final balance to the fruit and increasing the production of a large part of the Rioja vineyards expectations.   For the good outcome of this 2012 harvest also the great professionalism of vine growers and wineries has been decisive when planning the development of the harvest since maturation was uneven among the different plots, which has required to perform a selective harvesting to obtain maximum quality in each one of the vineyards.

The total area of productive vineyards in the appellation for this 2012 harvest has been 62.154 hectares. Of that total 58.389 hectares correspond to red varieties obtaining a production of 331 million Kg, and 3.765 hectares to white varieties with a production of 23.8 million kg . The total covered production is 351,54 million kg. since 3.34 million kg have been disqualified by excess returns.

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The Wine that came from the land of Snow

26 Nov

I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.” Bob Dylan


Hello friends,

Today I’m going to discover something new for most of you, whenever we hear the word Andorra we relate it to two types of things:

1 The land of snow and mountains, where we can enjoy winter sports due to the quality of its ski slopes and in summer of its wonderful Pyrenean landscapes.

2 Bazaar of Spain, where historically people took the opportunity to buy electronics, ski equipment, tobacco, alcohol… and always come back with a full car boot. When living in Lleida I remember people would drive to Andorra  to buy things like sugar, and I always asked myself if it was really that cheap or special.   But today what I am going to discover is a wine called imagine of Casa Auvinyà, winery that is struggling to produce high quality wines. You can imagine the conditions: altitude between 900-1,200 meters, hard winters and cool summers. The varieties are predominantly white Central Europe. The wine that we have been able to taste “imagine” 461/596 bottle, made with Viognier and Albariño, but I don’t know its proportion. In nose it didn´t not seemed to me to have the typicity of the Albariño therefore I consider that there will be a greater proportion of Viognier.  Peach, white flowers and green apple aromas among others. In the mouth the taste is very nice with a high but not exaggerated acidity lacking perhaps a bit of body for it’s scarcely 11.5 alcoholic degrees. Totally recommended, not only for trying new things but because it’s really well made and with a hopeful future. We don’t have to forget that the vineyard is young and there is only space for improvement.   I found the description of the wine label very nice so I have translated it. (I hope I am not to confused):   “In Casa Auvinyà we respect nature’s vagaries and we strive to make our snow wine. Each day we observe the mountains, the clouds and the horizon with a single desire: to harvest with the first snowfalls and before the frost prevents us from. Thus is our white wine  born, which we imagine of snow, sun and moon color, with  a air penguin POP… imagine is the result of our research, enthusiasm and work. We share and we imagine”   Willing to try their red wine evolució that will surely measure up.

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Legible Labels

18 Jun

Money is like muck, not good except it be spread” Sir Francis Bacon

Hello fellows,

Here I am again writing in the blog which I have ignored for a while due to personal and sport reasons.

The topic today is to be aware with the new printout wine labels since not long ago the only request was for the mandatory information to be legible, such as; bottler, producer, contains sulphites.. and this was totally subjective.

Size will also matter when in 2013 the new Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers on more legible labels will come into force. Pointing out the following:

More legible labels

The European rule points out that the labelling should be clear and legible. Therefore, a minimum font size of 1,2mm is required for mandatory information. However in case of packaging or containers largest surface with an area of less than 80 cm2, the font size shall be equal to or greater than 0,9 mm.

In the case of packaging or containers where the surface is less than 25cm2, nutrition information is not mandatory. In the case of packaging or containers largest surface with an area of less than 10 cm 2 it is not necessary to include neither nutritional information nor ingredients list.  However the name of the food, the presence of possible allergens, net quantity and the “use by” date will always have to be provided despite the containers size.

Therefore, now you know, “measure” the amount of this information just in case…

Regards and I promise I will write more often.

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Double Ageing

30 Aug

Botany is not a science; it’s the art to insult the flowers in Greek and Latin” Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr.

Hello fellows and friends,

One more day and I am ready to write about something that attracted my attention these last few days.

In my last journey to Toro I was able to taste a wine Peñamonte Colección Privada 2008, which is delicious and represents the good job done with the Tinta de Toro and a good quality wood in which the back label read; crianza twenty months with a 200% of new barrels, I said this was wrong but they replied to me as follows;

The label is correct, what it means is that for its elaboration we have used new barrels and after a period of time another new barrel, therefore the 200%.

The explanation can be right but I believe it is more confusing rather than clarifying. Also, under my point of view, I think it would have been more convenient to use the French oak barrel first since it has a bigger input of tannins and then the American oak one, and not the other way round.

I hope my friends you have a nice holiday and drive safely, we all have to return home safe and sound.

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Oenologist Communicator

24 Aug

“Before a list of candidates it is happily thought that only one can be the chosen one” Noel Clarasó.

Hello friends and companions,

Here I am again after a few days of drought without writing since I have been busy with one of my hobbies, the triathlon and my family, of course.

I wanted to comment that a few days ago I assisted a round table about the oenologist work as a communicator.

My opinion is totally defined: social networks, blogs, youtube… are some weapons the oenologists should use to dignify our profession and not only stay in the winery or the vineyards. Be the describer of our wines since we are the only ones that best know about them.

With this I mean that we should take example of Fernan Adriá, Martin Berasategui, Juan Roca, Pedro Subijana, Juan Mari Arzak, and a long etcetera of known Spanisnh chefs that have left their kitchens to be ambassadors not only of their restaurants but also of the Spanish haute cuisine.

If we had to mention known oenologists by the consumers I am afraid the list would be empty.

We will have to work a bit harder on this communication skill issue, but I am convinced that it will not only be for our personal benefit but also for our business and increase the consumption of wine.

Hoping that in a few years we the oenologists will be something more than just “ wine makers” but also good communicators.

Have a nice week.

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Barrels, new Street Furniture

22 Aug

Young men’s love then lies not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.” William Shakespeare.

Hello friends and fellows,

Today’s post is about the new street furniture which is showing in our cities at bar entrances, in Spain.

As many of you are aware with the new anti- tobacco law ,smokers who wish to smoke have to do it in the streets, so what better than to fill the entrance to the bars  with barrels, but they aren’t those old barrels , all the opposite the design and image is a window show for the wines.

Many barrel making companies are adapting to the new changes since many of their clients have requested not only new barrels but also their own or others second hand ones to add their name.

As I have been told a small bodega in Rioja Alavesa lost one of its clients because it didn’t want to deliver an ornamental barrel; therefore immediately sent to prepare 25 barrels with its brand to stop losing clients.

Anyway, we hope that the city halls will not start charging the bars because

of putting the barrels in the street, although I am afraid that due to their eagerness to collect tax they will end up charging for every barrel that is placed in the street.

An advantage of these barrels is that you already know which wine every bar has, since it is assumed that the wine will be of the displayed barrel although you never know.

Well dudes, I leave you now, till next time.

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