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Wanna Join Me On The Albariño Train?

Wanna Join Me on the Albariño Train?

Are you looking to change up your wine world a little? Do you seem to be ordering the same glass or bottle of wine pretty much every night you go out? There are over 1300 varietals of grapes in the world used commercially for making wine, so why not take a risk and try something different?

If you’re searching for an alternative to Chardonnay, check out Albariño!

Rías Baixas, a region in the Galicia region of Spain, is located in the northwestern corner of this beautiful country between Portugal and France. This area has a cool & wet maritime climate, which isn’t the norm for Spain, but is exactly what Albariño likes!

At the moment I’m drinking a 2015 Vieira de Plata Albariño. I’m drinking it at an appropriate time, as Albariño is meant to drink young. This pale straw colored wine has lots of orange blossom on the nose. The juicy palate has yellow apple, tangerine, some saline and gobs of minerality. There’s also lots of lime and lemon! I kind of feel like I’m drinking “grown up” lime/lemonade! Yum!!!

Why do I think Albariño might be a fun alternative to Chardonnay? It’s full of aromatics, it has creaminess yet with mouthwatering acidity, and it pairs well with a wide range of foods! Add to that, it also works as a great aperitif at the beginning of the night!

Heck, I’m a lover of a good Chardonnay, as you’ve probably noticed in my previous blog entries. With a vast array of wine grapes in the world, however, I love to change things up and try fun and different things!!! Come along for the ride and check out some new wines! At only about $18 a bottle, you can’t lose with the Vieira de Plata Albariño! Cheers!

Homework for Rioja!

While planning an upcoming trip to Spain, I decided to crack open a bottle from one of the regions I’ll be visiting … Rioja!

The bottle I selected is the 2009 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Imperial Reserva. Founded in the year 1879 in the town of Haro, Rioja by two brothers, CVNE is still controlled today by the direct descendants of the founding family.  The “Imperial” product operates as a winery within a winery, and was given its name because it was originally exported to the United Kingdom in imperial pint sized bottles. This is a very well respected wine from Rioja; the 2004 vintage was named the #1 wine of the year in 2013’s Wine Spectator Top 100.

This 2009 is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Manzuelo. Decanted for about an hour before pouring, on the nose is dark cherry, chocolate, tobacco, some licorice and a lavender note. On the medium bodied palate are stewed fruits, especially currant and plum, some spice and well-balanced tannins.

One of the many things I love about the wines of Rioja is that they aren’t released too early. The Reserva level wines require at least one year of aging in oak (both American and French) and two years in the bottle before being released. This ’09 was actually aged for 2 years in oak and 2 years in the bottle. Therefore, although this is still a young wine and will get even better with a few more years in the bottle, it is drinking very well right now.

Am I excited about visiting Rioja? I sure am! I’m also excited to do some more homework on this region and the others I’ll be visiting. See … homework CAN be fun!

Falling In Love With Rioja

I don’t have many Spanish wines in my cellar, but that’s about to change.

The other night my husband and I opened a 2004 La Rioja Alta Reserva Vina Ardanza, and I fell in love.  Rioja is located in north-central Spain, closer to Bordeaux than the Mediterranean Sea.  This wine is from Rioja Alta, one of Rioja’s sub regions, which has warm, sunny summers, mild winters and a high altitude.

The ‘04 is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Grenacha (Grenache).  It was aged for 36 months in 4-year-old American oak barrels.

The expressive nose is earthy with cedar, tobacco and dark fruit.  The palate has dusty earth, coffee and a lot of black cherry and other dark fruit flavors coming through, but not in a jammy way.  The earth and fruit are a wonderful marriage in this dark red wine.  It’s drinking well now, but has plenty of time to go too!

The 2004 La Rioja Alta Reserva Vina Ardanza is a great deal for the $30 price point.  It can be found for even a little less!  You really should grab some if you can find it!  I’ll definitely be buying more, and increasing my personal supply of wines from Rioja and other parts of Spain as well!



2010 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha

I’m hanging out in Seattle tonight waiting for the Society of Wine Educators annual conference to begin.  I wanted a fun bottle for my room that wouldn’t break the bank, so a couple of wine buddies suggested the 2010 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha.  Boy, it’s smart to listen to fellow wine geeks!

This 100% Grenache wine is from the Campo de Borja DO in Spain, and is made from old vine Garnacha vineyards that grow in rugged terrain on the slopes of the Moncayo mountain.

In the glass the wine is a deep red with hints of purple, and still shows a lot of youth.  The nose is very aromatic with lots of dark cherry, cassis and gobs of glorious mocha.  The palate explodes with concentrated black cherry and cassis, along with ripe plum, blackberry, coffee and vanilla.  This juicy wine is pretty darned complex and has a fun spicy finish.  And … it’s so well balanced that you can’t tell it has an alcohol level of 14.5%!

I bought this bottle at a market geared toward tourists for $20, but you can find it for less.  Even at the $20 I paid, it is well worth it.

So … I’m drinking a fun Grenache from Spain getting ready for some great tastings!  I can tell it’s going to be a great week!

To check out more vintages and other wines from Borsao, here’s their website:

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