Finca Zerberos 2007: Spanish wine from the Avila region

The Finca Zerberos Pizarra 2007 makes me very, very happy. It's mineral, crisp, fruity, yet has complexity and some real depth. It has bite, yet it manages to to be pretty at the same time, and very food friendly. It's everything I long for in a red wine and don't get enough of. Whoever thinks of Grenache as a simple, soft wines has to try the wines of Daniel Ramos, his unique line of old-vine Garnachas. These wines hail from the Cebreros area of Avila province, just across the border from the San Martín area of Madrid, where you can find similar styles of old-vine Grenache. The Garnachas from this area are full of personality and are great value. They reflect a particular and surprising terroir and they are some of my favorite Spanish wines.

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Another video review of a great old-vine Garnacha wine. I can't help but come back to old-vine Grenache, especially from the areas around Madrid. This Gaznata Finca Mariano 2010 is actually from just across the border of Madrid, in Avila province. It is from the cooperative of El Barraco and is made by Daniel Ramos, an Aussie-Spanish wine-maker who consults at the cooperative, but also makes awesome Grenache under his own Finca Zebreros label. The wines of this area and the Madrid zone of San Martín are sometimes called Garnachas de Gredos and they are some of my favorite Spanish wines! These are historic, beautiful vineyards, well worth a visit from Madrid, only 45 minutes away. The area and the wines deserve to be much better known. See the video for the full review and after the jump check out a couple of pictures of the beautiful vineyards.

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Spanish Wine Review (video): Amizade Mencía 2010

October 2, 2013

Another Spanish wine from one of my favorite grapes, Mencía. Wines from Mencía have a lot of personality but they are not always easy wines. Lately the NY Times had a somewhat disappointing tasting of Mencías from the Bierzo…they cited bitterness and lack of balance as negatives. I would have like to see the full list of the wines they tasted. Amizade 2010 is a collaboration between top Albariño producer Do Ferreiro and American wine importer De Maison Selections, and is from the northwestern appellation of Monterrei. I’ve already rated it’s sister white wine from Godello. The Mencía seems to be only available on the US market, not in Spain, and costs around 16-20$. For the full review see my video below.

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Spanish Video Wine review: Bovale Bobal 2011

September 22, 2013

Bobal is one of Spain’s most prolific vines yet it remains virtually unknown, especially compared to the neighboring grape variety Monastrell, which has seen a recent surge in popularity. Both of these grapes are from eastern Spain, an area known for an extreme Mediterranean climate. Bobal is uniquely suited for this, with its naturally high acidity, and makes some seriously original and delicious Spanish wines. Much harder to find than either Monastrell or Garnacha wines here in the US market, is worth seeking out. The wine today is Bovale 2011, a Bobal wine from the Utiel Requena region. Check out my video review. FYI: the bottle was hanging around and I was sipping now and then throughout the day, and this wine kept getting better!

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Taste the volcanoes in Canary wines: undiscovered Spanish wines

September 13, 2013
Spanish wines:  Taste the volcanic soils in Canary Island wines

Even in Spain, Canary Island wines are off the radar, except for a few Malvasía wines. Thanks to the marketing clout of Jose Pastor, who imports an impressive portfolio of Canary wines, I’ve seen more press here in the US than I’ve ever seen in Spain. Due to very limited quantities, finding these unique Spanish wines is challenging, but well worth the search. I recently went to a great tasting of the portfolio and I was surprised by the personality and character of the wines. They were also fresh and inviting to drink. It seems a bit cliche, but you really feel like you are tasting volcanic soils! I was very impressed and refreshed, and I’ll be seeking out more Canary wines on my next trip back to Spain.

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Spanish Video Wine Review: Brezo Mencía 2010

September 11, 2013
Brezo Mencía 2010: earthy Spanish wine from the Bierzo region

I’ve had two cats named after my favorite grapes: Pinot Noir and Mencía…my cats are as full of character as these grapes! Mencía is a unique grape, full of personality, from the northwest of Spain, that at it’s best, has aromas of stone, earth and leaf. It’s not for the faint-hearted wine drinker, but rewards the adventurous. Some of my favorite Spanish wines are from Mencía but finding a good deal is increasingly hard as production can be tiny. The wine today is by star wine-maker Gregory Perez of Bodegas Mengoba the Bierzo region of Galicia. Mengoba Mencía has been one of my favorite Mencías for a long time and now we have the baby Mencía from Bodegas Mengoba: Brezo Mencía 2010. Check out my video review.

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Spanish Wine Review: Montecastro 2008

September 5, 2013
Montecastro 2008:  Bold yet balanced Spanish wine from the Ribera del Duero region

One of the best parts of judging the Zarcillos 2013 was talking with lots of young Ribera del Duero winemakers. For years I’ve been put off by many Ribera wines; with their aggressive oak and extraction, they became my least favorite Spanish wines. They can be exhausting to drink. Despite this, there is no denying the style’s commercial success, it appeals to many wine drinkers. Talking to some of the younger new guard, I was excited to see some trends changing, a more moderate approach to oak, a lighter winemaking hand. It’s exciting to see the result of that new approach in the Montecastro 2008. This popular wine was never my cup of tea and though it remains distinctly Ribera, the “new” Montecastro, has an elegance and balance that makes it much more drinkable.

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Misunderstood Spanish wines: rosados and rosés

September 2, 2013
Spanish wines:  delicious and great value rosados perfect for daily life

Many people don’t drink rosados at all, others only drink them in the summer months. It’s a shame, because rosados are some of the most versatile and fun Spanish wines out there. I’m a equal opportunity rosé wine drinker and I think they are largely misunderstood and under-rated, but the ones from Spain are seriously great value. They are from lots of grape varieties and come in many styles and colors, but the best have a very satisfying freshness and dry fruitiness. They are one of the best wines to match with the foods of everyday life as they live at the intersection of white and red wines, sharing a few characteristics of each. Read on for my current top 5 Spanish rosados…ok one is Portuguese!

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Spanish Wine Review: Arindo Verdejo 2011

August 25, 2013
Arindo Verdejo 2011:  Spanish wine from the Rueda region

There is nothing like a white Verdejo wine to bring me back to Spain. It’s this Spanish wine from the Rueda region, not the iconic red Rioja wines that most brings the memories flooding back. You don’t usually give Rueda a second thought, but it is the wine of everyday Spanish life. It is the wine you can always count to be refreshing, consistent, good-value, and everywhere. Rueda is your best wine friend in a country where wine selection can still be spotty. Single-varietal Verdejo Ruedas are usually a cut above, and the more mineral ones and some of the barrel fermented bottles show the potential of this grape variety. The Arindo 2011, from one of my favorite producers, Bodegas Shaya, is one of the good-value, easy-drinking Rueda wines….it took me right back to daily life in Madrid!

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Best burger in Miami…so far!

August 24, 2013
Umami Burger:  The best burgers and drinks in Miami Beach!

I love a really great burger from time to time, and the greater Miami area has some great gourmet burger joints. Some favorites are Charm City Burger, Burger Fi, Shake Shack, and Quickie’s. I also like Elevation Burger because it’s got organic beef and it’s right by my house for a quick fix. But the best burger I’ve had in Miami so far has been from the new branch of the LA chain Umami burger. I’ve only been there once so far, but the Original Umami burger blew me away and I’ll be going back soon to try some other burgers. Good drinks selection, great service and really awesome truffle fries added to the experience…but the outstanding burger is what sealed the deal.

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