Spanish Wine Review: Finca Zerberos Pizarra 2007

December 11, 2013

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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Spanish Wine Review: Gaznata Finca Mariano 2010

October 6, 2013

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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Madrid’s Best Restaurants: Street XO

August 8, 2013
StreetXO:  one of Madrid's best restaurants

You have to eat standing up and you are on the top floor of a department store, but despite that StreetXO is one of the most exciting places to eat in Madrid at the moment. This is the casual street food outpost of the most sought after reservations in Madrid, Diverxo. Chef David Muñoz is now presenting his Asian fusion cuisine at this open kitchen joint where the music is loud, the atmosphere slightly chaotic, and young dynamic chefs prepare each dish fresh to order. Really unique flavor combinations and beautiful presentations made for exciting, adventurous eating. I loved all the dishes I tried and wished I could fit more! The location is actually great…in the awesome Gourmet Experience Gran Via on the top floor of the El Corte Ingles Callao. Stay for a drink afterwards and watch the sun set over the rooftops of Madrid!

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Best Tapas with a View in Madrid

August 6, 2013
StreetXO:  one of Madrid's best restaurants

El Corte Ingles, the famous Spanish department store, launched the Gourmet Experience several years ago and it’s a great concept. It’s a luxury food court concept, with eat-in and take-away gourmet food and drink stands, eating areas, bars, and gourmet market….all rolled into one. Each new inauguration has stepped up the concept and the latest one is by far the best: the Gran Via Gourmet Experience on the top floor of the Corte Ingles Callao. Located right at the heart of Madrid and convenient for both tourist and locals alike, the space offers spectacular views of the Madrid skyline. It’s also initiated extended hours and is open until midnight seven days a week! There is a wonderful terrace, great tapas bars and restaurants…it’s the perfect place for a full meal, or just drinks and dessert. Lots more detail after the break…

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Spanish Wine Review: Las Retamas del Regajal 2009

July 30, 2013
Las Retamas del Regajal 2009:  Spanish wine from the Madrid region

We were in Bar Amor in the Malasaña district of Madrid for my birthday dinner. It had been a full day of great food and wine…honestly it was a bit of a blur. Bar Amor has a short, but good wine list, with a nice selection of Spanish wines and local Madrid bottles. The Retamas 2009 caught my eye right away as it was on my hit list. It’s the little sister to the well known Madrid wine El Regajal, one of the wines that changed Madrid’s reputation in the wine world. The Retamas del Regajal, a Tempranillo blend, is a big, fruity and attractive wine at an amazing price. It was the perfect match with our delicious presa ibérica dish, an intensely flavored cut of ibérico pork. The dish and the wine both stood out from the enjoyable birthday haze.

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Madrid’s Best Bars: The Dry

July 25, 2013
Best bar in Madrid:  The Dry

Besides friends, wine, and food, one of my greatest pleasures of going back to Madrid is the gin culture. Spain remains obsessed with gin and despite persistent rumors, the gin and tonic wave is still going strong. The Spanish really know how to do justice to a gin tonic, with a huge selection of premium gins and tonics, carefully selected garnishes and proper preparation. Though we have great gin cocktails in many parts here in the US in what I am happy to see is a growing trend, I’ve been generally disappointed with the gin tonics. There are many places to get a great gin tonic in Madrid, some pretentious and overpriced, others cozy neighborhood bars, but the place to go for great cocktails, perfect service, and to feel really special is the Dry Bar in the Hotel Melia Fenix.

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Best steaks in Madrid: Vaca Nostra

July 21, 2013
Vaca Nostra restaurant in Madrid for great steaks

Great meat is easy to find in Spain, we are spoiled with fantastic chuletón steaks and amazing ibérico pork. The best quality cuts are prepared most simply, grilled, rarely a sauce in sight, allowing the meats to shine. I have such great memories of simple Basque steakhouses or asadores, where the only thing on the menu is a great steak served with peppers, green salad and Rioja wine. Restaurante Vaca Nostra in Madrid, takes the cult of meat in Spain to an even higher level. An almost all-meat menu, with rare cuts of dry-aged beef and special artisanal lamb, a meat consultant to aid you in your selection, and a great supporting cast of starters, side dishes and wines to support your meat experience. It can come at a price, depending on how far you let yourself go, but you will have an outstanding, truly carnivorous experience.

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Spanish Wine Review: Peña Caballera Garnacha 2011

July 16, 2013
Peña Caballera 2011:  Great Spanish wine from the Madrid region

I was back in Madrid and my first Spanish wine had to be from Madrid region and a Garnacha. It was a bit of a risk as I was having a perfect steak experience at the Vaca Nostra restaurant and elegant, lean Madrid Grenache might not be everyone’s first choice. But I couldn’t resist the Peña Caballera, a top bottling from Bodega Marañones, especially at such a great price. What a joy to be back where wine markups, even in expensive restaurants, are so reasonable! The Grenache turned out to be a great match for both the steak tartare and the very special 4 month dry aged Galician steak. Great balance, freshness, and a good tannic structure were the perfect, subtle framework for the meats. So happy to be drinking some great Garnacha back in Madrid!

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Wine lovers visiting Madrid: I feel your pain!

March 10, 2010

See my Dec 2012 update to this post with my favorite wine spots and best wine bars in Madrid! I get a ton of requests for wine resources from visitors to Madrid.  We originally offered sign-up classes on Monday nights to address that need partially but unfortunately no longer do.   Madrid is still a town sadly lacking in tasting […]

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