Rioja Reserva Shoot-Out

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9-1494360416This month we have two stunning Rioja Reservas on offer. We’re calling it a Rioja Shoot out as both wines represent not only different sub zones of Rioja, Alta and Alavesa but also modern vs more classical styles of wine making.

Rioja has 3 sub-zones, Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental ( Previously Rioja Baja),each one enjoys a diversity of soils, terroirs and micro-climates, each making wines of unique personality and character.

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Rioja Alta: Located on the western side of Rioja, this sub-zone has an Atlantic climate and its soils are mostly clay mixed with limestone. Due to the sub-zone’s varying elevations, the wines produced here can have great structure and high acidity.

Rioja Alavesa: The smallest of the sub-zones, it also experiences an Atlantic climate. In fact, it is coolest of the three. The soils are predominantly clay and are situated in terraces. The wines from this region tend to be lighter-bodied.

Rioja Oriental: This eastern sub-zone is  much warmer, drier climate due to the Mediterranean influence and its lower elevation. This area, composed mainly of alluvial soils, produces wines with high extract and alcohol, lower in acidity.

Both Rioja Alta and Alavesa are considered the higher quality areas. Most wines are produced mainly from the local Tempranillo grape although blends and even wines with no Tempranillo are allowed by the DO. For our purposes here comparing the ostatu_reservaReservas here’s a brief refresher on what makes a Reserva.

Reserva: Wines from the best vintages, have to be aged for a minimum of 3 years and at least one year in oak barrels.

And now the wines:

Ostatu Rioja Reserva 2011, Rioja Alavesa

Intense and clear aroma, red fruits with outstanding expressive notes on a creamy wooden background, spicy nuances and mineral touch. Tasty, fleshy, with excellent weight of fruit, firm and sweet tannins, fine toasty notes with a great structure.  From 50 year Tempranillo Vines and aged for 16 months in New French oak barrels.

1765109bGomez Cruzado Rioja Reserva 2010, Rioja Alta

30-year-old bush vine Tempranillo was hand harvested into small baskets, where the grapes undergo a three-day cold soak. The grapes were fermented in cone-shaped stainless steel vats. The juice is the racked to half French and half American barriques, of which 50% is new wood, where is ages for 18 months. The wine is blended to tank prior to bottling and laid to rest in the cold cellars for 2 years prior to release. Clean and shiny, dark red cherry colored. Very expressive nose, with the tertiary aromas of the aging displaying vanilla, cocoa and orange peel, and those of the variety, showing dark and candied fruit. In the mouth it’s rounded, fresh, with a fine acidity, silky tannins and fruit driven aftertaste. It clearly shows the character of a classical Reserva from “Barrio de la Estación.”

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Mencía: What you need to know

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mencia-3Mencía (“Men-thee-ah”) is a medium-bodied red wine grape that produces high quality wines with floral and red fruit flavours. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s not surprising, Mencía only grows in Spain and Portugal on the Iberian peninsula.If you love Pinot Noir and other medium reds, then Mencía is something worth investigating.

Mencía has lovely flowery aromas, strawberry, raspberry, black licorice, pomegranate and cherry sauce.It has a deep red colour with some violet edges.The palate tends towards medium to full bodied with recurring notes of cherry, red currant, pomegranate and some peppery spice. Like all Iberian grapes it doesn’t mind the kiss of oak or even a big hug.

Mencía grapes are grown in Bierzo, Valdeorras and Ribera Sacra in Spain, and Dão in Portugal. The highly prized Mencía wines generally come from older hillside vineyards where the grapes are more concentrated. In the mountainous Ribera Sacra region, the position of the vineyard slope will also affect the ripeness of the grapes.

Check out some of our great Mencía’s at our wine tasting this Friday.

Spanish delights

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Somehow, Spain seems to fly under the radar compared to its next door neighbour, France. Spain is actually the third largest wine producer in the world and has the most land dedicated to vineyards–over a million acres. Spanish wines range from great values to highly prestigious wines, such as Vega Silicia’s Unico.

Northwest “Green” Spain

Galicia, very unlike the rest of Spain, is where lush green valleys are plentiful and the common cuisine includes lots of fresh fish. Albariño is the champion grape of the sub-region called Rias Baixas (RYE-us BYE-shus), which skirts the coast. The area specializes in zesty white wines and a few aromatic red wines made with Mencia in the Bierzo & Monterrei Region which is also famous for the whites of Godello and Treixadura.

Mediterranean Coast

The coast is a very diverse macro-region that contains the sub-regions of Valencia, Catalonia and Murcia. Catalonia is known for Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and a highly acclaimed red wine sub-zone, Priorat based on Garnacha but also the up and coming Terra Alta Region. Valencia and Murcia are warmer growing regions that produce a bulk of value wines from deep red Monastrell especially in the Jumilla Region.

Ebro River Valley

The sub regions of La Rioja and Navarra are found in the Ebro River Valley. Here, Tempranillo is king. Rioja produces some of the most age worthy wines. Navarra produces a large volume of rosado (rosé) wine of Garnacha.  Rioja aging explained: Joven – a young wine with no oak aging; Crianza – A minimum of one year in casks and a few months in the bottle. For white wines, the minimum cask aging period is 6 months.; Reserva – aged for a minimum of 3 years, with at least one year in casks. ; Gran Reserva – Selected wines from exceptional vintages which have spent at least 2 years in oak casks and 3 years in the bottle.

Duero River Valley

The Duero River is the same river as the Douro in Portugal. This region is notable for the rich white Verdejo of Rueda and the red wines of Toro, Ribera del Duero and Leon. The wine grape of Toro, called Tinta de Toro,  and Ribera del Duero called Tinto País or Tinto Fino are local synonyms for Tempranillo.

Central Plateau

Because of its climate characteristics, vines are spaced very far apart and close to the ground. Some of the best value red wines made of Monastrell, Syrah, Tempranillo and Garnacha come from this area. And some serious contenders from districts such as Mentrida based on Graciano & Cencibel (Tempranillo).

 

Galway Food Festival Program

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Easter is once again upon us, meaning we’re closed this Friday, but to make amends we’re running a bunch of tastings and events in the shop.

On Thursday 24th we will kick off with our Game of Rhônes blind tasting from 6pm-8pm.

Our tastings kick-off again at 11am on Saturday 26th with our To Rioja and Beyond Spanish tasting.

This tasting will be run 4 times on Saturday at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

We will also have an Italian Tip to Toe tasting running at 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm.

And if you have room left for a glass or two Saturday night why not call into our popup wine bar between 8pm and 10pm.

We look forward to seeing you over food festival and wish you all a happy Easter.

New Year, New Wines…..Bodegas Ostatu

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Some of you may have noticed in the crazy Christmas rush that some new wines and wineries have graced our shelves. On new winery is Bodegas Ostatu from Rioja.

Bodegas Ostatu is a family winery located in the heart of the Rioja Alavesa region in the town of Samaniego. The Saenz de Samaniego family has been in the area for many generations. The winery dates back over two hundred and fifty years. The vineyards, which are protected by the Sierra de Cantabria range, are composed of chalk and clay and the average age of the vines is 50 years. The estate is comprised of over forty hectares of vines located in and around the town of Samaniego. The poor soils and the unique location at the foot of this mountain range together create a special micro climate that is very favourable to the Tempranillo grape.

Until recently all the wine was made in the carbonic maceration process and intended for early consumption. This philosophy changed when Hubert de Bouard de Laforest of Chateau Angelus saw the vineyard sites of the family and expressed an interest in collaborating on a special project. He realized that the age of the vines, combined with the unique orientation of the vineyards, could produce drastically different wines that could compete on the world stage. By changing from carbonic maceration to traditional fermentation and by reducing yields in the vineyards, Ostatu became able to produce wines which live up to their full potential.

Iñigo Saenz de Samaniego, the youngest of six brothers and sisters, is now at the helm of the wine-making. Building on the innovations of the joint project with the French, Iñigo is continuing to seek elegance through the modernization of the family’s wines.
Ostatu Rioja Crianza 2012
A crianza with body and character that is made from 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha grapes which came from 30 years old vineyards. A new way to understand the crianza wines. Bright purple.  Vibrant aromas and flavours of black raspberry, spicecake and flowers.  Sweet and seamless on the palate, with a sexy, perfumed quality to its raspberry preserve, cherry-vanilla and floral flavours.  Finishes sappy and long, with fine-grained tannins adding shape and grip.
Ostatu Rioja Reserva 2008
This wine is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes which came from vineyards over 50 years old. A perfect balance of variety and its evolution, resulting in an elegant and fleshy wine where the tempranillo’s fruit is the star.  Dark purple.  Heady, oak spice- and floral-accented aromas of black and blue fruits, cigar box and cola.  Seductively sweet and expansive, offering powerful blueberry, cassis and vanilla flavours that show liqueur-like intensity and depth.  Seamless in texture, with smooth tannins adding shape to the clinging finish.
Ostatu Seleccion Rioja 2010
95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano grapes came from selected vineyards over 50 years old: Valpardillo, Ruancho and La Laguna. After 14 months ageing and other 20 refining in a bottle, we can find a wine with an innovative style and daring in its time. Saturated ruby.  Sexy, oak-spiced aromas of cherry-cola and raspberry with suggestions of licorice and darkchocolate adding depth.  Rich and broad for the vintage, offering sweet dark fruit flavors and a suave touch of candied  Finishes smooth and smoky, with impressive vibrancy and a lingering floral note.

 

Spain: To Rioja & Beyond Tasting

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Saturday saw us pack them in for our hugely popular Spanish wine tasting. The wines tasted are as follows.

Whites

1) Altes Garnacha Blanca, Terra Alta                        €13.95

2) Vina Toén Godello-Triexadura, Monterrei             €14.95

3) Diluvio Albarino, Rias Baixas                                €14.95

4) Piedra Blanca Verdejo, Rueda                              €17.95

Reds

1) Altes ‘L’Estel’ Garnacha Syrah, Terra Alta            €14.95

2) Bodegas Ego Organic Monastrell, Jumilla            €12.95

3) Hazana Tradicion, Rioja                                        €16.95

4) Manium Crianza, Bierzo                                        €17.95

5) Tierra Fuerte Graciano, Méntrida                         €17.95

6) Cathar Crianza, Ribera del Duero                        €19.95

7) Eternum Viti, Toro                                                €17.95

 

One for Him this Valentines

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With Valentines day hurtling towards us rapidly we would like to recommend a nice bottle of red for the special man in your life. The Manium Crianza has all his wants wrapped up in one handy bottle! Its got a nice picture of an oldie style warrior, a little story about Homus Manium and to top it of a lovely drop of wine inside.

Homus Manium, was the name given by the Romans to the inhabitants of Bierzo because of their resistance and fortitude. Tiny hamlets, misty hills, running water, the passing of pilgrims lost in thought, thatched silos, all harmonise with the native variety, Mencía, rooted to rocks of quartz and slate, to make Bierzo a magical land for wines. 50-100 year old vines on terraced slopes are hand harvested and produce low yields of no more than 1.2kg per vine. 100% Mencia, spending 12-14 in French Oak Barrels.  The wine is a deep crimson colour that indicates the intensity and concentration of the wine. On the nose, there is plenty of toasty oak character, spice and pencil shavings overlaying a heady mix of blackberry, cassis and violets. On the palate, the structure is firm but with sweet tannins and an elegant, silky finish.

And to make it even better you can save €4.00 this February as the Manium  is on offer @€13.95 (Norm. €17.95)

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