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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2017 Wine Harvest, a difficult year.

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Healthy chardonnay grapes, left, and sunburned ones. Photographer: Elin McCoy/Bloomberg

January is as good a time as ever to deliver bad news, and many European countries are taking time adding up the tallies of the previous year’s grape harvest and reporting yield’s down as much as 25%. Adverse climatic conditions in 2017, including heavy hailstorms and hard frosts in the spring as well as drought in the summer, caused considerable damage to vineyards all over Europe. The result, most of the wine-growing regions in Europe are had a very low harvest for 2017.

Italian wine body Assoenologi estimated that Italy would see one of its smallest wine harvests for 60 years in 2017, down by 25% on last year, that’s a reduction of roughly 5.5 billion bottles. Things are not much better in France where they have had the worst harvest since 1945, according to France AgriMer, an agency that works with both the industry and government. Wine production to fall by 18% on 2016 after spring frosts ravage vines, but hot summer could deliver top vintages – meaning price increases across the board for low yields but higher quality fruit.

The outlook in Europe’s other large producer is not much better with Spain’s output dropping down 20% from 2016, and in Germany the estimated vintage is down 12%. All in all 2017 proved to be a difficult year in Europe.

Despite wild fires in both California and Oregon the north American harvest is likely to be similar to last year. South Africa saw very small increases in yields, about 1.4%.  In South America, both sides of the Andes were affected to varying degrees by the shift from the wetter El Niño  weather system to the drier conditions associated with La Niña weather system. In Mendoza, Argentina yields were down about 30 percent compared to normal. And in Chile yields were down about 22% due to drought and forest fires. New Zealand also experienced a drop in yeilds by about 9%. Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand winegrowers, attributed the smaller harvest of 2017 to wet weather over the summer season. Australia was the only country to undergo modest yield increases at roughly 5% despite a tricky vintage.

The conclusion is that unfortunately the price of your favourite wines will probably increase this year a wineries increase excellar prices to try to cover lower quantities produced.

 

 

 

Foodie Forum 2015

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Last Tuesday we were delighted to be invited to give a presentation at The Foodie Forum 2015 in GMIT. The Foodie Forum is an interactive one day experience that showcases the abundance and variety of food on offer in Ireland and in particular along the West Coast. The day includes a series of Master classes with leading chefs and food & wine workshops, which we were privileged to be part of. We had lined up a tasting of Spanish wines and you can download our presentation here.

 

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

 

Gorú’s Puppet Brother

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Last year we added the two lovely wines from Ego Bodegas to our portfolio, and the reaction, well lets just say these wines flew out the door. So when we were re-ordering from the guys in sunny Spain we added a few of their other wines to the order. Including the wonderful Marionette opposite. The grapes for the Marionette are selected from the best vineyards carefully and according to specific requirements. The blend consists of equal parts of Monastrell and Syrah that is matured for 2-3 months in oak barrels. Fresh and fruity aromas of black fruits and hints of spice on the nose and an intense red-violet colour. The fruity notes of dark berries combine with subtle oak notes in a seamless red wine, which is just too drinkable! Supple tannins  on the palate round out the a lovely fruity red. This wine is easy to enjoy one its own, but it also accompanies Mediterranean salads and grilled vegetables.

Ego Bodegas has 25 hectares of vineyard, with varieties such as Tempranillo, Syrah, and the local hero, Monastrell,  which are about 50 years old. They are situated in a privileged location in the Jumilla region of Spain.  The climate of the area is continental, influenced by its proximity to the Mediterranean on the east side and La Mancha plateau on the west side. It is a sunny and dry climate, with scant rains. The average annual temperature is 16º, with cold winters that reach temperatures below zero and hot summer of temperatures exceeding 40º. It is in these baking hot days of summer that the Monastrell grapes ripen.