On the Grill with Rioja Wine, Including Rosado


This post is by Jill Barth from L'OCCASION


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Rioja for summer, red wine from Spain, What to drink with steak
Bodegas LAN D-12 Rioja 2015. Photo Credit: Jill Barth

I’ve been a wine lover since I was in college. Like most, I started out with whatever I could get my hands on and moved around from there. I hear a lot of talk about how millennials are left out of the wine conversation in certain ways, and while I’m sure that’s true, I contend that it was more difficult for young people of my generation (I’m in my 40’s, so Gen X, if we must label) to ‘break into’ the wine world.

No constant internet access, no cell phone, very little in the way of wine writing that was easily consumable — shipping was administered from a catalog! It was hunting and gathering in the truest sense, no real planning ahead (at least for me, and most of my other young professional friends in Chicago).

But there is a bright …

barbecue bbq beef charcoal
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new Rioja classification, pale Spanish rosé

Vinos de Madrid Open Tasting in Washington DC


This post is by Terry from Wine Trail Traveler LLC


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Vinos de Madrid seminar at Barcelona Wine Bar in Washington DC

Earlier this week we had an invitation to attend a seminar tasting with wines from the Vinos de Madrid DO. The seminar was followed by a walk-around tasting. The venue was held at the Barcelona Wine Bar on 14th Street NW in Washington DC. We have attended several wine tasting at this restaurant all featuring Spanish wines. The restaurant does a wonderful job with tapas served during the walk-around tasting.

One of the purposes of the tastings and seminar was to introduce wine enthusiasts, distributors, importers and writers to Vinos de Madrid, an often undiscovered wine region in Spain. Many of the producers in this area are crafting premium wines at very reasonable prices. Gretchen Thomas, Vice President of Beverage at Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group that owns Barcelona Wine Bar, conducted the seminar and tasting. 

Gretchen became interested …

A Little Effervescence for Mom


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My parents were teetotalers, my father because his father was a drunken lout, my mother because she believed that the merest drop of alcohol meant one was fated to a life in the gutter among cigarette butts and dead pigeons. No wonder I took to drink! But seriously, folks, even though my late mother would not have enjoyed a sip of Champagne or other sparkling wine on her day, in this post I’ll mention several products in those genres that will bring delight to your Mom’s celebration. We have a cava brut rosé from Spain, a pinot noir-dominated sparkler from Alta Langa in Italy, and a majority pinot noir rosé Champagne. In fact, pinot noir could be the sub-theme of this post. In any case, Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there; I hope your enjoy your day, imbibing in moderation, of course.

These sparkling products were samples …

Wine and Food Holidays in Basque Country Spain


This post is by Marisa D'Vari from Wine Region Travel & Reviews: A Wine Story


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Basque Country Wine and Food experiences

Basque Country Wine and Food experiences

Wine and Food Holidays in Basque Country Spain

How to Plan a Great Wine and Food Holiday in Basque Country Spain

When I was 14 years old, I remember the first day of my Spanish class in Junior High.

I walked into the classroom.

When I caught my first glimpse of my professor, my heart began to race!

His name was Mr. Leon.

While not exactly tall, he was extremely dark and handsome.

He was from the Basque region of Spain.

And from that moment, I could not wait to learn the language and visit the Basque Country of Spain.

My Taste of Basque Country Cuisine

Ten years later, a family friend invited me to taste the cuisine of Martin Berasategui.

It was then that I had my first taste of octopus prepared with its own black ink.

Though the dish sounds …

Basque country city of San Sebastian
Basque Country sunny beach_Gexto
Basque County San_juan_de_Gaztelugatxe
Basque Country sea and beach_playa_laga

The Eighth Day of Christmas with Champagne & Sparkling Wine


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While the regulations that govern the production of Cava sparkling wine, in the Penedés region in Spain, allow chardonnay and pinot noir as well as the traditional indigenous grapes, the producer Agustí Torelló Mata will have none of that. This estate, now run by Alex Torello Mata, son of the founder, uses only native grapes from organically-farmed vines at least 30 years old. One result of this methodology is the Agustí Torelló Mata Trepat Reserva Rosado 2014, made completely from the trepat grape and aged 30 months on the lees in bottles. This is a different order of Cava. The color is a startling, bright copper-salmon hue; bubbles exhibit an almost furious froth in their glinting upward surge; aromas of wild raspberries and red currants are permeated by notes of woodsy spices, raspberry leaf, black tea and blood orange, with a background of flint and steel; exuberantly effervescent on the …

Wine of the Day, No. 428


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Our previous Wine of the Day concerned an albariño, partly fermented and aged in oak, from the unusual origin of Uruguay. Today, we look at an albariño wine from the Spanish region of Rías Baixas, where the grape is indigenous. Rías Baixas is in Galicia, in northwestern Spain, right up against the Atlantic Ocean, atop Portugal. The name of the region means “lower Rías,” or rivers, and refers to four estuaries that open to the Atlantic and mingle fresh and saltwater. The sub-regions of Rías Baixas are distributed among these rivers. While soil types vary, of course, among these sub-regions, generally the soil is granitic with an alluvial overlay. The Pazo Cilleiro Albariño 2017, Rias Baixas, made all in stainless steel, offers a shimmering pale gold hue and lovely aromas that partake of meadows and mountains, that is, not to be too fanciful, of heather and hay, high-altitude herbs and …

Partida Creus SM 2014


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Sumoll (late ripening, large bunched varietal from Catalunya Spain). 11%. Cork. Spain. Approx $A45.

My first bottle from this small but well known label; a pair of ectopic Italians making lo fi wines with indigenous Spanish grapes. . .

Pale and lively; savoury, quite elusive, wild, salty, very delicious. . . A funky nose, animal and woody herbs, bark. . . but it also seems green and sappy – like a fresh cut star fruit. Dry and meaty, but playful acids and sharp edges; the technical taster in me finds brett – but at an acceptable level.

What We’re Drinking Now: Chill White Wine from Spain and Portugal


This post is by Jill Barth from L'OCCASION


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Chill white wines. Perfectly refreshing but so much more. White wines from the Iberian Peninsula, abundant Spain and Portugal, are not only cooling and chill but also wise cultural ambassadors for their region.

Iberian wines
A selection of white wines from Spain and Portugal. Credit: Jill Barth

What these wines offer in terms of drinkability (especially in dog-days August) comes naturally, exhibitions of indigenous varieties calibrated by geographically-centered winemaking. Native yeasts, ancient methods, attention to detail and sheer craft enthusiasm make these wines serious contenders for top-of-my-list wines to drink. And wines to talk about — interesting helps, in our house, because we talk a lot about wine.

My hubby and I work together on every meal that makes a showing on L’Occasion. To achieve our partnership, we talk a lot about wine and food. This week, as we worked on this post about Iberian wines I’m simultaneously publishing a piece on …

Discover Jewish Heritage throughout Portugal and Spain


This post is by Gabriella Opaz from Food and Wine Tours in Portugal and Spain


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Orange trees scent a patio in Lisbon’s ancient Alfama neighborhood. Cilantro is used to season a seafood stew, made just like this for over a thousand years. Sausage made with bread stuffing hangs in a smokehouse and its true origin is hidden. A cook fries tiny fish in olive oil, unaware of the stories that belie this humble dish. Almond blossoms bloom and announce the eventual nut harvest which…

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Eat and Drink like Hemingway in Spain’s Navarra Region


This post is by Jill Barth from L'OCCASION


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I’ll get this out first and be done with it — I’m absolutely not into bullfighting or rhino hunting. However, like millions of others, I fell in love with the works of Ernest Hemingway decades ago and haven’t properly separated myself from the fantasy of his creation since. In his iconic work, The Sun Also Rises, friends spend time in Pamplona, a city filled with Northern Spanish culture.

books and wine, wine for book group, wine paired with books
Cover art from The Sun Also Rises

Though the friends (a loose term — these are unraveled relationships) spend much time focused on sex and bullfighting there is an above-average focus on food and drink. As is Hemingway’s custom – the reader becomes hungry and thirsty for more. Navarra on the lips becomes an irresistible character.

Navarra Food and Wine

Navarra is located in Northern Spain, bordering Basque Country and Rioja. In addition to geographical borders, the region shares a 300-year historical …

Spanish wine, rosato wine, rosado wine, wine

Wine of the Day, No. 359


This post is by from Bigger Than Your Head


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So, let’s say you are weary, weary of chardonnay and perhaps a tad disenchanted with all the sauvignon blanc wines on the market and even — heaven forbid! — a bit cynical about riesling — or perhaps you just want to sip something different. Ta-dah! Of course I have just the white wine for you. It’s the Godelia Blanco 2015, from Bierzo, the wine region in northwest Spain, just above the border with Portugal. If you’re one of those wine consumers who likes to add interesting or obscure grapes to your list of accomplishments, you will be heartened to know that this wine is a blend of 80 percent godello grapes and 20 percent Doña Blanca. It’s made all in stainless steel tanks. The color is very pale straw-gold; initially, the nose is a subtle melange of hay and boxwood, roasted lemon and lemon balm that gradually unfurls notes of …

How the Cork Gets from a Tree to Your Bottle


This post is by Jill Barth from L'OCCASION


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The cork wine stopper is synonymous with preservation – not only of the wine in the bottle but of a way of life for cork farmers and the natural ecosystem of the forest. The process has been the same for generations because the system is a sustainable network benefiting the local economy, the environment, and the industries that utilize cork – particularly the wine industry.

Catalonia, Portugal, eco-tour, sustainable travel, cork, wine bottles
The authenticity of the cork harvest. Courtesy: Cork Forest Alliance Bark to Bottle Eco-Tour

Cork grows naturally in only two areas of the world: the Mediterranean region of Europe – particularly the Iberian Peninsula, where Portugal and Spain produce more than 80% of the world’s cork – and, Northwest Africa.

Los Alcornocales Natural Park – a name that literally means “the cork oak grove”  is the largest mass of cork oak on the Iberian Peninsula, and the cork woodlands are home to rich biodiversity including …

sustainable, eco-travel, eco-tour
Champagne, sparkling wine, bubbly
Cork tree, rainforest, sustainable forestry, nature, ecology
cork harvest, sustainable agriculture, women in agriculture
trees, endangered species, Rainforest Alliance, WWF

Chef José Pizarro’s Top Foodie Tips for Spain


This post is by Gabriella Opaz from Food and Wine Tours in Portugal and Spain


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With a focus on simple, authentic Spanish cuisine, Chef José Pizarro has been at the forefront of bringing both traditional and innovative tapas to London. With three successful restaurants across the city, author of several Spanish cookbooks, and a regular on morning television shows, his career has taken him a long way from his farming background in Extremadura. Today, we’re honored to…

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