WINE, A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE – 80hrs class time, plus a wine program development practicum.
Javier and I just finished teaching an 80 hour wine course, in 3 hr segments, to an awesome group of Avila Sommeliers. We took a different approach with this course and began with classes looking at Grape Varieties, and then later on into the program, moved into Wine Styles.
The absolutely AMAZING thing, is that the CONFAE, which represents a group of Avila businesses has offered this Course Program to the Sommeliers within the province of Avila for NO COST. Don’t I wish I had those sorts of opportunities when I began studying wine : ) but, c’est la vie, no?
In all reality though, Spain needs some serious wine education, and the further you stray from the major gastronomic centers in Spain, the more in need of wine education the areas are. Business organizations like CONFAE do recognize the long term results of wine education within the hospitality industry as a concrete method of fueling and developing the gastronomic community, both local, nationally, and internationally.
We had a very workable wine budget, and with the help of some great supporters of wine education in Spain, like Gonzales Byass, Javier Hidalgo (La Guita), the Consejo Regulador of Jerez, Castilla de Parelada who both make amazing wines in Spain, and import a fantastic selection of Global wines, Brancaia (from Tuscany, Italy) and our local Garnacha and Albillo producers from Garnachas de Gredos, Sake gifted to the class from José Hidalgo of Campos Reales in La Mancha… we had one of the best line-ups of wine that I have seen presented in any wine education program in Spain!! Needless to say, the course included an extensive tasting component, with serious, disciplined tastings followed by discussion of the nature of the wines. 135+wines tasted
… because you can’t fully understand it, if you haven’t tasted it.
As we travel a fair bit in the wine world… we were able to show them some really interesting wines that we would not have been able to purchase in the wine shops here in Spain. We even were given a top end Chinese wine from a pre 1900′s winery, Chang Yu, during WineFuture-HongKong to take home to our students. Picked up a great Slovanian Riesling while visiting the western end of Slovania, just across the Austrian border, with vineyards on either side of the road belonging to each of the two countries. Very cool.
We brought back a plethora of French cheese from a trip to Bordeaux, and had a blast tasting and pairing cheese and wine with the class…
Our course outline…
1. Presentation, course outline, initial evaluation
3. Workshop for practicum
4. Cabernet Sauvignon, & other Bordeaux red grapes
6. Pinot Noir
7. Sauvignon Blanc
8. Chenin Blanc and Viognier
10. Garnachas de Gredos (special local focus)
12. Nebbiolo and Sangiovese
13. Sweet Wines
14. Sparkling Wines
15. Rosé, from cheap and cheerful, to serious
16. Sherry, part 1
15. Sherry part 2
17. Developing markets
18. Big Whites
19. High Acid Whites
20. Big Reds
- Practical tasting of 6 wines blind
- Theoretical, short essay questions, short answer questions, multiple choice questions
Who’s in for the next one?!!
One of our newest and most exciting Importer partners, Magnum Wines International, is going to be bringing La Orilla CAVA into the States early this spring… I’m just LOVING THE LABEL!!! If you are living in the US, you might want to check with Ashley Olbreys to see where it will be available in your area! They are bringing in an excellent selection of our producers wines, and are poised to hit the ground running with their New Spain Wines Selection of Millennium oriented wines… check-em-out at http://www.facebook.com/magnumwinesintl
Quiero comenzar mi colaboración en este blog escribiendo sobre algo que, por singular y novedoso, creo que puede interesar a los aficionados al vino.
Hay una región vinícola española que fue muy conocida durante el Siglo de Oro por sus “vinos preciosos” y que desde los años 40 del siglo pasado ha estado produciendo vinos de mesa muy populares, pero que en los mapas de vinos de calidad actuales no figura como tal. Me refiero a la zona que tiene su epicentro en las localidades de Cebreros y San Martín de Valdeiglesias y que se extiende por gran parte del valle del río Alberche, rodeando por el este la parte final del macizo de Gredos, y que comprende parte de las provincias de Ávila, Madrid y Toledo. Algunos viñedos pertenecen a las DOs de Méntrida, y Vinos de Madrid, y los de Ávila a Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla y León.
La uva más plantada es la Garnacha y también destaca la blanca Albillo Real, la uva que originó los otrora famosos “vinos preciosos” y que no debe confundirse con el Albillo de otros sitios de CyL, Aquí la mayoría de las cepas son muy viejas, algunas con más de 100 años y algunas con pié franco, siempre en vaso y con rendimientos muy, muy bajos que raramente superan los 750 gramos por cepa. La última vendimia, en la que hubo muchos problemas con la floración, en muchos viñedos se recogieron de media menos de 500 gramos de uva por cepa.
Los viñedos están principalmente en las laderas de las montañas, son en general muy pequeños y en altitudes entre 700 y 1.100 metros. Con un clima continental montañoso y suelos muy pobres, predominando las arenas graníticas en la zona norte, mezcladas con otros materiales aluviales en el sur, y una zona muy definida de pizarras en Cebreros y El Tiemblo, esta es una zona muy especial para cultivar uvas de gran calidad. Esto es lo que está haciendo un grupo de jóvenes y pequeños viticultores que se agrupan bajo el nombre comercial de “Garnachas de Gredos”. Lógicamente, para ellos la Garnacha es la principal uva, pero también hacen vinos con Albillo Real.
Lo singular y novedoso, en España, de este grupo es que se han puesto de acuerdo para colaborar en la promoción de su zona y sus vinos sin que haya una empresa de marketing de por medio. Ellos mismos, con sus propios, y escasos, medios se encargan de hablarle al mundo sobre los vinos que hacen y los proyectos que desarrollan. En un país que tiene el concepto de los “Reinos de Taifas” embutido en su ADN es muy de loar lo que están haciendo estos garnacheros de Gredos.
Los miembros del grupo se han auto-impuesto unos niveles de calidad que pasan por viticultura y vinificación “naturales” sin el uso de productos químicos, y el control de la calidad final de los vinos por medio de un panel de cata, y hay entre ellos un compromiso ético de que así sea.
Los vinos de Garnacha que producen tienen una tipicidad que los hace reconocibles como vinos de esa región, pero al mismo tiempo representan los diferentes terroirs y estilos de vino, y que no tienen nada que ver con otras Garnachas de climas más cálidos, suelos fértiles, y rendimientos mucho más altos. Debido al clima de alta montaña, la altitud de los viñedos, la pobreza y composición de los suelos, la plantación en vaso y secano, la edad de las cepas, y las prácticas de los productores, son más del estilo de las grandes garnachas del Moncayo o de Priorat/Montsant, con mucha fruta, concentración de color y aromas, mineralidad, buena acidez, bien integrado alcohol, buen cuerpo y un delicioso y largo final.
Como suele pasar, el reconocimiento a este grupo como productores de vinos de calidad les está llegando antes del extranjero que de su propio país, destacando las altas puntuaciones que Robert Parker otorgó a algunos de los vinos de la bodega Jiménez-Landi (www.jimenezlandi.com), y el interés que la zona ha suscitado en Jancis Robinson, que parece que va a incluirla como una nueva zona española de vinos de calidad en su próximo libro “The Grape” que se publicará este octubre.
Para empezar a conocer esta zona, recomiendo los vinos Zerberos de Daniel Ramos (winesdanielramosvinos.blogspot.com). Sus tintos son una perfecta representación de la Garnacha de gran calidad de esta zona tanto en suelos graníticos como en pizarrosos y sus blancos secos expresan la esencia del Albillo Real, todos envejecidos en roble con gran maestría. Además, en las próximas semanas Daniel presentará su primera añada de Zerberos Vino Precioso Dulce, 100% Albillo Real de vendimia tardía, hecho con uvas pasificadas seleccionadas una a una y hecho a la antigua usanza, con las uvas pisadas, fermentado en tinaja de barro y sin madera. Un vino con aromas que recuerdan a un Tokay… pero sin botritis.
Zerberos Viento Zephyros, Albillo Real y Sauvignon Blanc, 13,50€
Zerberos Vino Precioso, Albillo Real, 18,50€
Zerberos A+P, Garnacha, 15,00€
Zerberos El Berraco, Garnacha, 20,00€
Zerberos DelTiemblo, Garnacha, 25,00€
Zerberos Pizarra, Garnacha, 27,00€
Zerberos Arena, Garnacha, 37,00€
Zerberos Vino Precioso Dulce, Albillo Real, 15,00 € (500ml)
Hay mucho más que contar sobre este grupo, así que seguiré escribiendo sobre Garnachas de Gredos.
… you can follow Javier on Twitter @NewSpainWines
Winefuture was created as a summit of the wine industry by The Wine Academy of Spain in 2009 to bring together the most important wine personalities around the world.
The goal of Winefuture is to analyse the current challenges facing the wine industry and provide solutions, ideas and leadership
It is also the goal of Winefuture to discuss new opportunities for the industry and its possible future.
Why Hong Kong?
Hong Kong has become the wine hub for Asia.
It is rapidly becoming one of the most important wine centres on the planet.
An important city in regards to wine auctions.
It is the nerve center of Asia.
Hong Kong is one of the most cosmopolitan, vibrant and exciting cities in the World
Topics that were covered
The wine industry and a new world economy.
Wine investments and the fine wines market.
New ways to communicate with the consumer.
Challenges & Opportunities for the New World
Sustainability, climate change & fairtrade
Brands, regions, varieties and styles for the future.
The future for sparkling wines
The future for sweet, fortified and dessert wines
The Asian market: challenges and opportunities
Which are the emerging markets for the wine sector?
New marketing strategies for the wine industry
Closing Panel: Challenges & Opportunities
Target and Attendees
Thanks to the level of the speakers, the relevance of the topics covered and the considerable international media promotion, the organizers saw the following attendance:
2000 delegates to attend the conference
1000 tasters to attend Robert Parker´s Tasting
200 wineries to be represented with Tasting tables in the trade show area
More than 40 nationalities
Over 50 journalists from more than 30 countries
Profile of the attendees:
Masters of Wine
Off trade professionals
Journalists and Media
How can we make the politicians in Brussels understand that their vine up-rooting policy is not only not working towards the reduction of wine over-production in the EU, but it’s depriving us forever of one of our most precious natural treasures, those very old vines (most are close to or over 100 years old) that have been for generations the base of the traditional wine industry.
Here in Spain this policy is affecting very old vineyards planted with different traditional grapes, but I’m most concerned about the amazing old vine, mountain Garnachas that are producing some of the best Spanish new wines. It’s just thanks to some producers (mostly very young) that are stubbornly buying old vineyards to make fantastic wines, that we will continue to enjoy the sight of these beautiful old vineyards and the taste of their unique wines.
But the overall picture is very sad. In places like the Cebreros area, in the Gredos mountains 60 km West of Madrid, only about 10% of of the ancient vineyards still exist… The problem is that it’s not the high yielding, irrigated, over-productive (bland grapes), trellised new vines that are the ones that are being pulled out (as they should be if the aim is to reduce wine production). No, the vines that are mostly being up-rooted are very old, dry-land “en vaso” (goblet) vines that only produce a few hundred grams of grapes per vine of outstanding quality, vines owned by old folks that are too old to carry on hand working their land to produce not even enough grapes to cover their production costs… and that certainly doesn’t lower the production of wine in Europe!
Those guys seating behind their desks in an office, that have most probably never walked an old vineyard in their lives, should at least have some common sense and realize that what is happening is not going to solve the over-production problem, on the other hand they shoud declare old vineyards European Heritage and take effective steps to preserve whatever old vines are still left alive.
The first move to achieve this should come from the wine regions of Europe, protecting their old vines as their main asset for quality wine, and limit, really limit, the production of low quality grapes. Let’s stop praising quantity over quality!
Dan is a total wine geek, (as are both Javier and I) which is why we ended up really getting to know him in the first place… originally as a student of the Spanish Wine Educators Course, and afterward as a colleague, good friend and supporter of our ‘New Spain Wines’ projects.
We ate, drank, toured around the Contraviesa, tasted, then tasted some more, and then we decided to go and hunt for nuts! You know how it is… some times you feel like a nut, some times you…
Javier and I go foraging for nuts every year, but usually by ourselves as not everyone is into that sort of adventure : ) But, Dan was!! So off we went, first up the valley to Trevelez, (they claim to be the highest inhabited village in Europe) to buy a Jamon de Trevèlez for the house, and secondly, on the way down the hill, we stopped by a big group of Chestnut trees just off the side of the road. We ended up with the biggest Chestnuts I have ever seen, and loads of them… but the coolest thing, peeking through the fallen leaves that were blanketing the ground, were stands of big pale coloured Boletus mushrooms. Of course, non of us are experts in wildcrafting mushrooms, neither did any of us have a death wish, so we took one home, just to identify it. As it turned out, there were several almost identical types of Boletus mushrooms that fit the bill in the description, one you could eat, and one was poisonous!! Ha! Anyways, with both types, exposure to oxygen turns the flesh blue… from a sort of sky blue, to indigo. How cool is that! Even if you can’t eat them. There are a couple of pictures here to have a peek at just for fun.
Then, back in the truck and down the hill a bit further until we hit the Barranco de Poqueira to park and the three of us climbed up the G7 (an ancient walking path that goes all the way to Turkey) where we knew there were some big walnut trees. With all of the rain that the valley saw over the last winter and spring, our bounty was impressive!
We are still eating roasted chestnuts and fresh walnuts with a nice glass of Fondillon, Moscatel, really, what ever sweet wine we have kicking around at the time : ) Right now we are actually tucked into a beautiful Italian sweet Moscato made from semi dried grapes, in the volcanic soils of Sicily. The wine is called Ben Ryè, and it’s lovely!
In the end, we sent Dan on his way, tired, but with a full tummy, and a few new wine experiences under his belt! We are already looking forward to his next visit… thanks for a great time Dan!
… and there is never enough daylight for us!! Stefan Lismond shows us one of Celler Del Pont’s precious Old Vine Cariñena Vineyards, from whence comes the famous Lo Givot. This vineyard sits just across from the village of La Villeya Baixa in DOCa Priorat, and is just under 100 yrs old, totally dry farmed, with the roots dug deep into the Licorella… the schist soils that Priorat is so famous for.
…and we discovered 3 fabulous Priorat projects on this visit, which we can’t wait to get started with! Not in any particular order, I have listed them below… ALL KILLER, TERROIR DRIVEN WINES!!!
1. Celler Primi Priorat – L’Enfant, L’Espirit, El Mas de Salut, and La Coma
2. Celler Del Pont – Lo Givot
3. Celler Noguerals – Albellars, and ( from Montsant) Corbatera
Below, you can get a good idea of what Licorella looks like, and it ranges from blue shades, to red… the layer of schist in Priorat is very deep, and this is the reason that the vines manage to twist and wind their way so far down, where they can absorb lots of minerals. Minerality is a key component in a Priorat wine, and adds in a big way to the complexity, along with the depth and concentration you will find.
This is the land of Cariñena and Garnacha, both of which thrive on the steep Licorella slopes of the Priorat. There has been a fair amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah (the Syrah most recently), which have been used for blending, in my opinion, to work towards making a more ‘market ready’ wine than you would get with the traditional blend of Old Vine Cariñena and Garnacha, which take a few years in wood, followed by a good amount of time in bottle before release. As it turns out though, talk in the area is suggesting that the Merlot and Cab are just not suited to the area, and soil types… so there is more of a return to what in my opinion, the great Priorat’s are composed of… Garnacha / Cariñena. Apparently the Syrah is doing well, we barrel tasted this years vintage of some young Syrah that was just spectacular in the Primi Priorat celler in Porrera. Speaking of which, we tasted through 3 vintages in barrel of Garnacha, and 2 separate, single vineyard Cariñenas. What an experience, what focus, and what exceptional wines… the 2 Cariñenas are bottles separately as well, they are called ‘El Mas de Salut’, and my very favorite, from barrel through to the ’06 (which is the current release) was ‘La Coma’. Christ, talk about terroir driven wines… such precise focus, as you can see, we were very impressed, and will definitely be working with these wines where ever we can find them good homes : )
In the following photo’s you can see the high limestone cliffs that surround DOCa Priorat, and then almost totally surrounding this circle of mountains, save for a little stretch East of Porerra, is DO Montsant. These mountains create a barrier from a variety of climatic influences, including the cold winds from the North, the continental climate from the West, and the Mediterranean influences from the East. Subsequently, Priorat possesses a unique micro-climate, as well as a unique and very specific soil type.
Javier and I had been looking around for an old, smallish sized oak barrel lately, so that we could freshen it up a bit and use it for the house… as we are living in the Alpujarras, it’s only right that we like to keep a good supply of Costa, the local wine of the valley on hand for everyday food wine.
For those of you who don’t yet know what Costa is, well, it is a rosado firstly, that becomes a little oxidative with age. You would notice though, that the young wine, the wine of the year, is much more fruity and rose coloured compared to the anéjo, or aged Costa that has spent more than a year in old oak barrels. This time that the wines spends in barrel, where it is exposed to oxygen, tends to cause the wine to turn a little brickish in colour and contributes to the noticeably rustic character of the wine. The wines from each producer vary tremendously, as they are made from field blends, and each winegrower has a bit of a different combination of grape varieties in their vineyards. Generally speaking, the main 5 varieties found in Costa are Vijiriega, Romé, Garnacha, Tempranillo and Moscatel… yes, both red and white grapes! All picked together, and co-fermented. Some vineyards have an even broader combination of vines. The wine is rustic, dry, usually has pretty good acidity due to the highly acidic variety – Vijiriega and tends to pack a hefty alcohol content. Remember, it gets pretty hot here in the summer, and even when they vines are grown up around 900 or 1000 meters high, they achieve a very high sugar content during ripening.(which determines the alcohol level as the yeast feeds on the sugar with the resulting bi-product being alcohol) Personally, I would love to taste some Costa that was actually made with just a tad more concern, where the rusticity and alcohol levels were addressed, both in the vineyard and in the bodega. One thing you can say about Costa is that it has great character, great variation, and works fantastically with the local cuisine, and it has become our chosen lunch wine… when the afternoon permits a siesta which it often does!
So, about the barrel… we did manage to come across one on our Road trip, visiting our Producer/Parnters, up north last week. Daniel Ramos, a good friend and amazing winemaker/winegrower, turned us on to one that had been kicking around the old co-op in El Barraco, Don Juan del Aguila up in the Alberche Valley just west of Madrid.
We have been home for a week now, almost, and have been working tooth and nail to get this grubby old thing into top shape! It is easily 30 yrs old, I think a bit more, and believe me, it was black, with rusty rings and a broken stand, but someone there at the bodega had been lovingly topping it up with water so that they could perhaps restore it themselves one day! Lucky for us, they were willing to part with it. These smaller barrels (63 liters) were often kept in ones home to store their wine for the year, and each year they would top it up with the next vintage…usually with a little ‘madre’ resting at the bottom of the barrel. This made for a sort of solera system, of the most basic sense, as there was a sort of blending process that took place which in turn added complexity to the wine. We figured that this was exactly what we needed to incorporate into our household, which is indeed how our search for a barrel all began…
We have taken pictures, step by step, so that we could share with you the very interesting process of preparing an old, out of commission barrel like this for re-use!
Each photograph has an explanation of what we are trying to accomplish and comments about the outcome of the step, good or bad!
Just move your cursor over each photograph for the explanation…
Today was the last step of the process, we think… so we will soon be off to find just the right batch of Costa to start if off with! Another challenge in itself!
With luck, we will develop our own madre, and keep this very old process of blending alive for generations to come
New Spain Wines heads north for a harvest trip! Will post photos as we go along… heading north through La Mancha, through Madrid, then north still through Ribera del Duero, north east to La Rioja (Alevesa first with David Sampedro-Phincas, Thousand Milks, Pasolasmonjas, then Baja at Hacienda Grimón) east to Zaragoza (more Garnacha country to visit with Jorge Navascues-Mancuso) then down through Madrid again and west to the Alto Alberche and Cebreros with Daniel Ramos-Zerberos and the crew at Garnacha Alto Alberche… MORE OLD VINE GARNACHAS!!
This is what Daniel had to say today…
“Sorry about saying so little after so much time, but you can imagine what a hard time I am having. One more year we start harvest in august with the Albillo Real variety. I am saying that I am going to disappear a little time , and I will start fermenting the Albillos that make Zerberos Viento Zephyros 2010 and Zerberos Vino Precioso 2010. See yas soon, and I hope we will all taste them.”
Terry David Mulligan, Chad Oaks and Jason Priestley take the long road back… to Spain… for episodes 9 and 10 of season 2, Hollywood and Vines.
The thirsty threesome spent one crazy week in Spain touring and tasting with a couple of our Top Producer/Partners… Bodegas Neo, in Ribera del Duero, and with Daniel Ramos, (Zerberos, 7 Navas) in the Cebreros region, heading up the Alto Alberche just west of Madrid!
It was such a great experience, one I definitely hope to enjoy again and again, so Javier and I hope that some day we can talk them into heading back our way for some more Fantastic Spanish Wine Adventures!!
What ever the case though… if you get a chance to watch these guys in action, they are wonderfully entertaining, and the wine adventures are truly exceptional, so check it out!
Looks like this is the first of MORE TO COME!! Garnacha is seeing some well earned recognition these days, and SEPTEMBER 24TH CELEBRATES THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL GRENACHE DAY!!
Here is a short video covering the participants and structure of the symposium…
There’s been a whole lot of buzzing going around about the Secret Sherry Society as of late… I hear they are putting on some great events in North America! Want to become a member? www.secretsherrysociety.com
Daniel Ramos has spent the last 6 years or so scoping out the few old Garnacha vineyards that are left to rescue in Cebreros, and for good reason. These Garnacha grapes are special, and the resulting wines are spectacular examples of how elegant, structured, and complex Garnacha can be. We try and get up there a few times a year to see for ourselves how things are developing, both in the vineyards and in the cellar! But, it never seems to be enough, so Daniel is our ears and eyes in Cebreros, a long thin area that runs from the town of Cebreros, continuing on up through the Alto Alberche, about an hour and a half’s drive west of Madrid.
So, we have a bit of news for you from Daniel, in anticipation of an excellent vintage… and things are really looking great so far! We also have a few words from Danny about the 2007 vintage, of which the Zerberos Arena, and Zerberos Arena/Pizarra wines have already been released, and the Zerberos Pizarra is just heading to market now.
Zerberos Vientos Zephyros – Daniel has begun a new project working with a beautifully expressive white grape from Castilla y Leon called Albillo Real. It is a different Albillo from the one in Ribera del Duero, and he has blended it with Sauvignon Blanc, barrel fermented, with lees stirring. You won’t believe how smooth, fresh, and complex this is… really fantastic! ‘Vientos Zephyros’ is actually the name of the wind that roars through the area, and one of the reasons, aside from the altitude that these grapes can maintain such great acidity.
The photo above is one of Daniel’s Sandy vineyards in Cebreros, taken in June this year. (Arena means Sand in Spanish, and Pizarra means Schist, like the soils in the Douro) Daniel has left all of the herbs that grow naturally in the sandy vineyard amongst the old gnarly vines soaking up the rainfall… to slow the possibility of vigor. Hard to imagine, as these vines rarely manage 500gms per vine anyways. But, Daniel is very particular, really working naturally in his environment, and his results speak for themselves, through his wines - Zerberos.
Here are the notes Daniel Ramos has sent to us from the vineyards so far this spring…
And the season 2010 starts. This crazy race towards the harvest full of handicaps and lots of work. A month has past since bud break, and after fifteen days with rain and cold temperatures, the sun comes along. With all the rain that has fallen, we have recovered from last years drought, starting a new season renewed and with an incredible sanity within the vineyards. Today we are happy at Zerberos and at the Alberche River Valley.
I am scared …… .It has been raining these two last weeks, again. Who would say so, last year I was crying because it did not rain, and this year ………., why does it rain so much?
The problem is that it started to rain just before the flowering season for the schist fincas, and I thought “oh no, an other year with yields of 150 grams per vine like the vintage 2008”, but the set fruit is being perfect, “oh no, bunches so tight that they will bounce if you through them to the flour”, we will see. But it is still raining: Mildeuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We hope that Zephyros starts to roar through the Alberche river valley drying all kinds of fungus.
As you can see, there is always something to complain about, and the hot summer is still to arrive.
Just the other day…
About the rain, everything is great, a little too much fruit set in schist plots, but there are still a lot of things to happen this summer.
Zerberos 2007 reds are finally released. First of all Zerberos Arena 2007 was released in January still a bit “crunchy”; afterwards Zerberos ArenPizarra 2007 in March, still to show what it is; and finally by the end of June, Zerberos Pizarra 2007, still very closed. What is special about Zerberos 2007: the climate year was so good that if we would have designed it, it would not been so good. Very long maturities and with the most balanced grapes I have ever had in the area in the latest years. The worst part is that if you want to enjoy Zerberos 2007 at its best moment, we will have to wait longer than 2015. But if Zerberos is special for any reason, is that their wines are very enjoyable today, and you can keep them for after.
So there you have it, and straight from the horses mouth! Daniel made a little video of the making of the Zerberos Vientos Zephyros label, his new white… you can check it out on utube, here is the link – making the Vientos Zephyros labels right in the vineyard!
We’ve been showing these wines around the world now… and have had amazing success with them, on Daniel’s behalf. They are extremely small production, and will be placed accordingly here and there, in all the right spots… it already seems to be fitting into the ‘cult’ realm of things. You will see why, once you dive into a bottle and just can’t believe you are at the end of it!
We hope that you are some of the lucky ones that end up with Daniels wines in your area : )
We’ve asked a few of our Producer / Partners to send us some vineyard updates, and take a few pics so that we can all see where the vines are at, growth-wise, at this time of year, in different parts of Spain!!
Sophia Choursan from Cava Bonaval, INVIOSA, in Extremadura was the first to get out in the vineyards and take some shots for us. I think this is a real treat to see this, and for those of you who are studying wine, you can get a good idea of the diversity amongst the various growing regions of the country. Those of you who are just interested in coming along for the ride… and seeing where these wines that we are talking about come from that’s great too!
So, these first pictures are old vine Macabeo, planted in 1977, in the area of Almendralejo. This is DO Cava, and it is within DO Ribera del Guadiana in Extremadura, which is south west of Madrid, near the Portuguese border. It gets extremely hot here in the summer, and the soils are pretty fertile, with lots of iron rich barros (clay). The Macabeo from these old vines goes into Bonaval Brut Nature Cava, as they use the very best quality grapes for Brut Natures.
Remember Macabeo is the same grape as Viura, from Rioja, but as with many grapes in Spain, they are called different names in different areas!
I remember the first time that I saw a vinifera vine flowering… I was SO under impressed!! The flowers really don’t look like much!
The grapes from the 2010 harvest will be vinified totally dry, then bottled with a little yeast and sugar to create the bubbles… the traditional method! Then, after a minimum of 24 months ( for the Brut Nature) the Cava will be disgorged upon order, topped up with the same high quality wine, corked, caged, and off to market!
We will have to see if Sophia will head out into the vineyards this summer so that we can have an update for you, we can see how the grapes have developed, and what sort of harvest we can be looking forward to this fall!
Thanks so much Sophia, and hope you all enjoy the pictures…
Javier and I work with two CAVA Bodegas… CAVA BONAVAL, and PUIG ROMEU – well, one is DO CAVA… and one, although it qualifies, opts out of the ‘CAVA’ designation, and simply refers to the juice in the bottle as Mèthode Tradicionnelle, under DO Penedès (which is one of the recognized terms of the EU for Traditional Method sparkling wines) and let me tell you, they are both thrilled with the fact that the world is picking up on the idea that EVERYONE can have access to great sparkling wines, traditional method… and at a price point that works for us all! CAVA has really broken through the barrier that seemed to hold it back for so long, globally speaking. Although in the past there were millions of bottles of CAVA exported from Spain, almost all of them came from two rivaling houses. Now though, you are seeing the smaller parts of DO CAVA working hard to bring their products to market, and they are being well received. CAVA BONAVAL is a fantastic example of exactly that. It is produced in a very specifically designated area around Almendralejo, in Extremadura, where they have been growing Macabeo for many years. I’ve posted a little tasting video that Javier, Sophia Choursan from Bodega Bonaval and I made when we first started working with them. It’s pretty funny, and has some good info too!
There are 3 Spanish grape varieties that are traditionally used in a CAVA blend… Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo, a few allowed grapes for the rosés – Garnacha, Trepat, (and Pinot Noir), and the Consejo Regulador (the sort of governing body for the wine region) now allows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well. So, aside from the climatic influences between the many different parts of DO CAVA, and soils, you can find many similarities between some of the CAVA’s made with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay – and Champagne… even the soil types are similar in many of the areas… as Spain is basically a big hunk of limestone. But the increase in sunlight hours and heat degree days make the difference here, and therefore CAVA is generally a bit fatter and rounder in the mouth than Champagne. The grapes get riper, producing more tropical nuances.
Even the Champagne loving French have embraced CAVA… and according to the Consejo Regulador del Cava, exports to France were up 40.2% in 2009!! (3.3 million bottles) In Belgium, up 57% (to a total of 15.6 million bottles), with a total export of 131 million bottles globally (2009), compared to 112 million bottles of Champagne!
Why, you may ask yourself, is this the case? Well, in many folks opinion, CAVA holds the very best price to quality ratio in sparkling wines. It simply works beautifully with a wide range of foods, it’s great light lunch wine, perfect as an aperitif, or even a semi seco as a dessert wine… CAVA is soooo applicable when it comes to food.
My favorite style is Brut Nature… which means that after disgorging, (when they pop the yeast plug out after the second fermentation in the bottle) and they top up the bottles, they do it with the same dry wine. And, good to know… CAVA houses use their very best grapes in their Brut Natures. With no added sugar to cover up any flaws in the wine… they simply must use the best that they have!! If Brut Nature is a bit too dry for your liking, try Brut, it’s the most popular of the CAVA styles, save for Northern Europe where the preferred style is Semi Seco, which is really just off dry. (Semi Seco is what I would pour with dessert)I recommend trying a few different styles to see which ones suit your palate, and whats going to work with your dinner tonight!!
If you are interested in learning more about CAVA, check out thier web page at http://www.crcava.es/english/consejo.htm and remember, CAVA can only be made in Spain, it’s great food wine, great party wine, it’s affordable, and there are CAVAs that have spent many years on the lees that are extremely complex, albeit a bit more pricey, and you can find a huge selection of entry level CAVAs that are just great for your every day bubbles!!
I’ve found it sabers great too : ) but don’t try it at home!
Here is my advice… put some effervescence into your day today and pick up a bottle or two of CAVA on your way home from work, throw them in the fridge, and enjoy!! It won’t be long ’till you are a believer too!!
1. We will begin with an introduction to Paella, the pans, etc.
2. Javier discloses the basic recipe, which you can adjust, once you get the swing of it!
3. Step by step, Javier will take you through the process so that you can learn with ease and confidence… a glass of wine is recommended as your companion through the paella making journey!
Remember, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below.
Javier will take it from here…
HOW TO MAKE A (PROPER) PAELLA VALENCIANA
Paella takes its name from the iron flat pan in which the dish is made.
Paella has traditionally been peasant’s food. A dish to cook in the open, to be shared by all members of the family and friends, particularly during celebrations, made with whatever seasonal ingredients where available, very much like a pizza, so there are many different types of paellas.
If you are interested in learning more about the history and varieties of paella there is some excellent info (in Spanish) at http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paella, sorry folks but the English page is too simplified and full of clichés!
I am going to stick to explaining how I make paella, my own way of making paella, which is something I learned from a friend’s mother in Valencia while on vacation in the 1970’s. She used to make paellas for us with vegetables that she grew in her own kitchen garden and chickens and rabbits she raised in her back yard.
Since then, I have been making paellas for over 30 years developing my own style, adding some ingredients that, although not traditional, improve the final product, but basically keeping the traditional techniques that I learned so many years ago in those unforgettable Summers in Canet de Berenguer.
A few words about Paella…
The first thing to keep in mind is that paella, like any other peasant meal, is easy to make. You just need some basic utensils and ingredients; the rest is up to your imagination and logic.
Believe me, if I was able to make edible paellas when I was 18, so can anybody! I was raised in a very traditional Spanish family where boys where not allowed to cook, as it was a woman’s job… so I left home with no cooking skills whatsoever.
Second, don’t worry about recipes, in all these years of making paellas I’ve never made two the same, just use whatever ingredients you have. The only musts are round short-grained rice, Extra Virgin Olive oil and some saffron or Valencian paella mix.
Third, always remember that paella is a rice dish… don’t forget to leave room in the pan for the rice! We all want to make very sophisticated paellas with lots of different matching foods in them, but what we all really love in the end is to have lots of socarrat rice, the rice that gets toasted/caramelized sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Forth and last, ENJOY IT!!! Never try to make paella in a bad mood… it just doesn’t work! And, it helps to have some cool Spanish rosé wine or Cava available for the cook along with somebody to serve it and, most importantly, make sure the cook doesn’t go dry!
Utensils and ingredients:
If you want to make a proper Paella Valenciana you MUST have a paella pan. A flat shallow pan allows for water to evaporate fast and keeps the rice “al dente”. There are different types of paella pans and most will work, even a cast iron frying pan you may have at home!
The best are the humble iron or steel ones. Never use any pan that has any anti-adherent treatment, it is not good for your health and you will never manage to get any delicious socarrat rice sticking to the bottom!
Because you fill the paella pan up when you make paella, the size of the pan will determine the number of servings. By the way, YOU DON’T SERVE PAELLA, paella is shared, and eaten right out of the pan!
So, if you want to become a pro paella maker you have to provide yourself with a variety of paella pans (I have 6-7 sizes, anything from 2 to 30 servings). For this you may have to use your imagination, as it’s not very easy to find the right paella pan outside of Spain. Some of you in North America may be lucky to live near a Spanish Table shop; there you can find everything for paella cooking, or you can try buying online.
Traditionally in Valencia paella is cooked on an open fire with orange tree wood. For the rest of the world, a gas burner is the best option. A gas burner with 2 separated rings, allows you to use different sizes of pans.
You will also need a long handled wooden spoon or spatula, the bigger the paella you are making the longer the spoon. Metal ones get hot, and plastic, rubber or silicon ones are bad for your health when they inevitably melt on your pan…
Keep in mind that cooking on a low pan with hot oil is a messy affair… Best if you have a place outdoors with lots of old newspaper on the floor.
So, these are all the utensils you need to begin:
- Paella pan
- Long wooden spoon or spatula
Once you have the above all set in a place that can allow for a bit of a mess, you need to gather your ingredients. As I said before, there’s not a set recipe for paella… I’m just going to tell you what I would normally use for my standard paella; you can use whatever you want.
Lets say you want to make a paella for 6 people. I would use the following:
- 100 ml / 3½ oz Extra Virgin Olive oil
- 1-2 heads of garlic
- 1 chicken or ½ chicken and ½ rabbit
- 1-2 very ripe tomatoes
- 1 small green pepper or ½ big one
- 1 small red pepper or ½ big one
- 1 onion
- A handful of long flat fresh green beans
- A large handful of garrofón (Lima Beans or Butter beans)
- Some small fresh or canned artichoke hearts
- A little saffron, sweet paprika, Mediterranean herbs or 1 sachet of Paella mix
- 600 grams / 1.5 pounds of Paella rice (round short-grained rice), 1/4 pound per person
- 2-3 king prawns per person
Again, you can use many other different types of meat and vegetables, all kinds of sausages, chorizo, seafood, etc. it’s all up to you. You may also want to have, just in case you need it, some stock ready. We’ll see in the cooking section when and how you may use it.
By the way, although it looks great when you present the finished paella, no lemon is needed! Being a traditional dish, the idea still remains that you must serve it with lots of lemon as in olden times, before refrigeration, you had to somehow hide the off smell of meat or fish that was not very fresh…
By all means you can add a little lemon to your portion if you like it, my son Goren does it all the time, but don’t feel that you must do it! I personally find that lemon kills a lot of the paella flavours.
Before you start cooking, you must prepare the ingredients in order to have them all ready when you need them.
Garlic cloves don’t need to be peeled, just crush them a bit.
Meats need to be cut into small pieces (see picture below), except for very big paellas when you can, for instance, leave the chicken in quarters.
Vegetables need to be cut into pieces that are not too small, more or less the same size as a garrofón bean. Cut artichoke hearts in half if they are small or in quarters if bigger.
No problem using frozen stuff, (beans, artichokes, etc.) just make sure you add them to the pan at an earlier stage if they are not defrosted. If you want to use frozen king prawns, I recommend you defrosted them before putting them on the pan.
No problem using canned stuff either, like artichokes, beans, red peppers and even tomatoes, but keep in mind that they may need less cooking time than fresh ones.
Also have salt and your Paella spices ready.
In the picture to the left, notice the sizes, relative amounts (half meats, half vegetables), paella mix (Paellero brand)…
Make sure your paella pan is clean (new paella pans need to be thoroughly washed with soap and hot water to get rid of any industrial toxic factory coating…) dry it IMMEDIATELY with paper towel to avoid instant rusting.
Set pan totally horizontal. To achieve this, place the paella evenly on the burner and just pour a little oil in the center of the pan (from here on, when I say oil I mean Extra Virgin Olive oil). If the oil remains in the center, you’ve got it! But if the oil moves to one of the sides you must level up the leg or support that side of the burner until the oil goes back to the center.
And, it’s time to cook…
Once the paella pan is leveled, pour the rest of the oil in and spread it around so it completely coats the bottom of the pan.
Light the fire and heat the oil to medium hot. Aside from its great health properties, some good things about cooking with olive oil are that it cooks at a lower temperature than any other oil of vegetable origin, so it does not degenerate and keeps all its qualities, and it expands when heated so you need to use a smaller amount.
Place all the garlic in the pan, stir occasionally until the cloves begin to get a brownish color, then add the meat and fry slowly until it is well done, stirring often. You should be able to eat the meat as it is at the end of this stage!
When the meat is done, pour the vegetables on top of the meat, first the fresh ones and later any frozen or canned ones, and stir-fry them for a while.
Once everything is cooked, fill up the pan with hot water all the way up to the rivets that hold the pan’s handles. Turn the heat up, bring to boil and let it boil lively until you have a nice stock. You will have to replenish with some more hot water often to keep the level up to the rivets. This may take up to one hour or more…
If you are a bit short of time or things are taking longer than expected (having finished all the rosé or/and Cava half way through cooking is not a good excuse), you can always add some chicken stock so you don’t have to wait too long… I do it often.
Now add the condiments and enough salt so that it tastes a bit salty, as you have to allow for some of the salt for the rice.
You now have what is known as the “base” of the paella. This is the most important part of it, if it’s good, the paella will be good. You can also make more than you are going to need, using a bigger pan, freeze some of it and have it ready for your next paella…
Rice comes next. Although you can make a great rice dish in many different ways,paella is made adding the rice at the end of the procedure, adding it to the base. In paella you NEVER ADD THE RICE AT THE BEGINNING, always at the end!
This brings us to what, for some people, is the big “problem” of paella making, HOW MUCH RICE do I use?
We all know that, as a general rule, to cook rice you use twice the amount of water than rice. This also applies for paella. It’s easy when you put the rice in the pan at the beginning, 1 part of rice x 2 parts of liquid, but this not the paella valenciana way. So, how do I know how much rice to add when I have all the liquid already in the pan?
It’s easy, the paella pan is a very clever tool and knows how much rice it needs…
What you do is: make sure the level of the liquid is up to the rivets of the pan, bring the heat down so the base is not boiling fast, with the spoon push the meat and vegetables aside to make room for the rice in a cross pattern (see above picture) and pour the rice in strait lines making a cross with enough rice so that it shows above the liquid (this has no religious component to it as it was the Moorish that developed this dish as we know it today).
If all has gone as it should, for your paella for 6, you must have used all or most of your 1.5 pounds of paella rice (round short-grained rice), but if you have used too much meat and/or vegetables you’ll probably won’t have room for all of the rice. It doesn’t matter, that will not affect the end product…
After the rice is in, carefully move everything about so that the rice is evenly mixed with the rest, bring the paella to a fast boil again and place the fresh king prawns on top. This way, they will steam nicely without adding any fishy flavours to the rest of the paella.
You can also use some canned red peppers to decorate your paella. From here on, you DO NOT STIR THE RICE anymore!
At sea level it should take around 20 minutes for the rice to cook (we now live at 1,000 m / 3,300 feet high and it takes 30 minutes). Allow it to boil fast for the first 10 minutes and then lower it down so that it finishes slowly. I recommend you turn the pan around during the last 10 minutes so the bottom toasts evenly.
You will notice that the liquid evaporates fast. During the last 5 minutes there will be no liquid left and you will hear a sizzling sound as the rice at the bottom becomes socarrat. DO NOT LET IT BURN! Use your nose! If it begins to smell burnt, turn it off.
At any time during this last part you may have to add some more liquid if you think the rice is getting too dry too soon, so have some extra hot stock ready and add it bit by bit.
The rice should end up “al dente”, just like pasta, loose and whole. If you notice that the rice is almost ready but you still have liquid in the pan, turn it off before the rice is totally cooked and cover the whole pan for 5-10 minutes. That will allow the rice to soak up the excess liquid.
If all went well, now you should be the proud cook of a delicious paella. If not, it will probably be good enough to eat anyway… and you will need to make some more until you master it.
One last piece of advice, DO NOT BURN YOURSELVE, be patient and allow the paella to cool down before you start eating…
A quick note on caring for your paella pan… if you follow these instructions it will last you forever: After using it, wash your pan thoroughly with soap, hot water and a steel pad. Always dry it immediately and completely with paper towel to avoid instant rusting, then rub a very thin coat of olive oil onto the entire surface of the pan to stop any further oxidation.
If your steel or iron pan ever gets rusty, just wash it, and follow the same procedure. It will come back to life immediately.
Stay tuned for some wonderful paella pairings…
I’ll be happy to help you with any questions you may have regarding paella making, just below in the comments section.
Our morning adventure up to Pampaneira to buy some Costa… we bought two different wines, one Mosto… this years wine, and an aged Costa, old wood, probably a sort of solera type system… then down the hill, west past Lanjaron, stopped at 2 different olive oil mills and bought oil at each one, stopping to smell the flowers, and take a couple pics of the valley and whats happening here! Everything is blooming and the whole valley is filled with the fragrance of the orange blossoms… the Azahar… if there is a heaven… it’s spring in the Alpujarras! Check out the rest of todays pics on our facebook page… New Spain Wines
This July 1st, Javier is going to present a masterclass and tasting of 6 great Garnachas from D.O. Campo de Borja. The event, organized by The Wine Academy of Spain, will take place at 10am, at Ruth’s Chris Crystal City/Pentagon City in Washington DC.
The event will feature a video-conference connecting with Pancho Campo MW, who will be speaking live from the vineyards of Campo de Borja in northeastern Spain. Meanwhile, in Washington, the President of D.O. Campo de Borja as well as some of the producers will take part in the presentation.
Wendy and Javier have only recently visited the growing area of Campo de Borja and have had the opportunity of assessing these high quality Garnachas. They are very positive about the success of this event, and in promoting Campo de Borja wines in the North American market.