Share This Blog Post

Instagram

12/31/2015

Experience Gerry Dawes's Spain: Customized, Specialized Food, Wine Cultural & Photographic Tours of Spain & Tour Advice


* * * * *
Drinking Godello at Estado Puro in Madrid.
Photo by Harold Heckle, Associated Press, Madrid.

In October 2013, I led 28 people, including baseball great Keith Hernandez, on The  Commonwealth Club of California Taste of Spain Tour with Gerry Dawes 2013 to Madrid, Córdoba, Sevilla, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Ronda, Granada, Almagro, Toledo and Chinchón, highlighting gastronomy, culture and wine. 

In January 2014, I organized and led the Club Chefs of Connecticut and New York on a culinary educational tour through Barcelona, San Sadurni d'Anoia (Cava country), Valencia, Alicante and Madrid. 

The following week, I organized and led John Sconzo (Docsconz:  Musings on Food and Life http://docsconz.com/2014/02/a-master-cortador-makes-his-mark-in-avila/) and his son L. J. on a week-long trip through Segovia, Ávila, Segovia, Cáceres, Mérida, Jabugo, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the Sierra Morenas north of Córdoba, Chinchón and Toledo.  With more posts to come on his blog, John Sconzo wrote this in one of his first entries about the trip:

"Nights like this are ones that just need to be appreciated for the something special that they are. It is no exaggeration that Gerry Dawes, my friend, traveling companion and guide “knows and appreciates Spain more than all but a few Spaniards” let alone people from other countries. That statement came from our host for the evening, Benjamin Rodriguez Rodriguez, the proprietor of the humble appearing, but fully sensational El Rincon de Jabugo situated in the equally humble, but comfortable Gran Hostal San Segundo located just outside the historic walls of Avila near the  San Vicente gate."
 
* * * * *

For customized trips, contact Gerry Dawes (based in New York) with desired dates, areas of interest in Spain (gastronomy, wine, art, history, culture, photography, etc.), specific sights you might like to see, number of possible travelers, and an estimated budget for your group. 


Phone: 914-414-6982 
Teléfono movíl (during stays in España): (011 34) 670 67 39 34



12/06/2014

José Andrés on The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections


 * * * * *

"You have worked on Spain like no one else.  You have done it a step at a time, little by little, but I think it is great that you are finding success (with The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections) and that after so many years of trips to Spain and of knowing and loving Spain, that your efforts are finally going to pay off.  You deserve to make it with your new venture and I am very happy for you." 

- - José Andrés, James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Chef 2011 and Chef-Partner of ThinkFoodGroup in Washington, D.C. and Operator of such restaurants as Jaleo (four locations in metro D.C. area and one in Las Vegas; minibar, Zaytinya, Oyamel, America Eats in D.C.; The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, California; and China Poblano by José Andrés in Las Vegas.


José Andrés & Albert Adrià at Tickets, Barcelona.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / http://www.spanishartisanwinegroup.com / gerrydawes@aol.com

___________________________________________________ About Gerry Dawes Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés. ". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
video
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

12/05/2014

Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group Stars from Ribeira Sacra: The most awesomely beautiful wine region on earth. "Tasted the new Holy Grail of Ribeira Sacra producers yesterday - Decima, Sabatelius, Toalde, Cazoga - just insanely good, low octane fireworks." - - John B. Gilman, Publisher of View From The Cellar


* * * * *

Tourist boat on the Sil River in the Amandi subzone of la Ribeira Sacra. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

Ribeira Sacra: A Renewed Obsession 
by Chris Barnes, Chambers Street Wines, New York City

“The Mencia grape is to Ribeira Sacra as Gamay is to Morgon or Syrah is to Cote Rôtie – a grape perfectly matched to its terroir. One doesn’t have to be a viticultural historian to know that it takes inspired people in addition to great grapes and great terroir to spell success. Today we’re celebrating a superb vintage in Ribeira Sacra, the burgeoning career of a new importer, and one young winemaker’s outstanding work with a special three-pack selected to renew your obsession with Ribeira Sacra. 

Gerry Dawes has been travelling in Spain for over 30 years. He has been to Ribeira Sacra many times and considers himself a true Galicia-phile.

Tired of passing his discoveries off to other importers, Gerry has taken the plunge and started importing his favorite Spanish wines to the States, with a focus on the northwest of Spain.  This has been a breath of fresh air; the wines are delicious, and show the best of what Ribeira Sacra has to offer: vibrancy of aroma and flavor, layers of red fruits, juicy acidity, minerals, and flowers with a lingering saveur, “red wines with the soul of white wines”, to use a colleague’s words. 

Esteemed critic John Gilman, upon tasting Gerry’s group of wines, proclaimed on his Twitter-feed that he had tasted “the new Holy Grail of Ribeira Sacra producers”, calling them, “low-octane fireworks.”


John Gilman at a tasting lunch for The Spanish Artisan Wine Group -Gerry Dawes Selections 
at Barcelona Wine Bar, Greenwich, CT.
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com


(John Gilman, the great wine palate who publishes the best wine newsletter in the United States, View From the Cellar, loved the wines of The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections: @JohnBGilman on Twitter ,  "Tasted the new Holy Grail of Ribeira Sacra producers yesterday - Don Bernardino, Decima, Sabatelius, Toalde,  Cazoga - just  insanely good, low octane fireworks."- - GD)

As Gerry’s first customer here in NYC, I concur;  Sabatelius, Decima, and Cazoga are delicious and authentic to their respective places.  I am especially fond of the Sabatelius from the Chantada sub-zone on the western side of the Minho.  This is a project led by sculptor/painter turned vigneron, Primitivo Lareu.  Chantada is the coolest and most Atlantic influenced Ribera Sacra sub-zone and Lareu produces wines with beautiful freshness.  Thanks to Gerry for bringing these wines our way!”

We brought not just the three afore-mentioned wineries from La Ribeira Sacra, but FIVE* (and possibly 7 or 8) bodegas! We love La Ribeira Sacra and its small artisan producers.  We believe it is somewhat like Burgundy's mix of small estate producers and reminiscent of the Loire Valley as well, but the grapes are not Pinot Noir or Chardonnay as in the case of Burgundy, but the native red Mencía grape is very reminiscent of the Loire's Cabernet Franc and the white grape Godello can be on a par with Chardonnay.   Look for pomegranate-cranberry fruit and graphite (lead pencil) minerality in these great value wines."


Décima, José Manuel Rodríguez, Vilacha (Lugo)


José Manuel Rodríguez, President of the D.O. Ribeira Sacra and producer of  Décima, showing 
California chef Michael Chiarello around his precipitously steep Ribeira Sacra vineyards on the Sil River.
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Décima Amandi Mencia Tinto 2011 Ribeira Sacra 12.5% 12/750ML $21.99   

“My favorite tinto (red wine) was the sophisticated 2010 Décima made from the mencía grape in the Ribeira Sacra region.  Beautifully structured,  quietly scintillating, almost poetic, it requires a patient, careful reading.” - - Howard G. Goldberg

Thomas Carter, Wine Director of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, pours Décima Ribeira Sacra Mencia 2011,
Manuel Formigo Finca Teira Ribeiro 2011 and Viña Catajarros Cigales Rosado 2011 by the glass. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

The unique, rich, pomegranate-like fruit-driven Décima Mencia (with 10% garnacha tintorera) from Amandi is underpinned by a graphite-like slate minerality that comes from the preciptiously steep pizarra terraces on which Décima’s vineyards grow. The vineyards are owned and farmed by José Manuel Rodríguez, who in addition to farming his own vines, is also the President of the Consello Regulador de La Ribeira Sacra.  This wine is a masterpiece, reminiscent in style and quality, if not in Pinot Noir flavors, of a wine from Burgundy’s northern Cótes de Nuits. 



I have been visiting vineyards and bodegas with José Manuel for nearly a decade and count him among my best friends.  He has not only introduced me to the bodegueros and wineries we are bringing in, he has lead me to nearly three dozen other bodegas and tasting of hundreds of wines, which helped me immeasurably in the research for my articles on the region, but also in finding this particular set of unique wines.

 
Sabatelivs, Primitivo Lareu, Chantada (Lugo)


Primitivo Lareu, owner of Sabatelivs, Chantada, Ribeira Sacra.
 Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Sabatelius from Primitivo Lareu, both a Godello-and-Treixadura white and a Mencía-based red, are both truly special wines from the westernmost Chantada subregion. Primitivo, who is a painter-sculptor, is one of the most dedicated viticulturists we know and his attention to his vineyards shows in his superb terroir-driven wines.

Sabatelivs Godello/Treixadura 2010 Ribeira Sacra 12.5% $21.996/750ML $21.99

 
Exotic, white peach and stone fruit flavors, with a mineral-laced finish.  A superb white wine that is 60% Godello, 40% Treixadura.


Chantada, Ribeira Sacra, Primitivo Lareu makes Sabatelivs Godello/Treixadura, 
 Sabatelivs Mencía Tinto Joven & Sabatelivs Mencía Carballo, which is aged in oak.
  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Sabatelivs Mencía Tinto Joven 2011 12.5% 6/750ML $21.99

Medium deep pomegranate color.  Pomegranate and graphite nose.  An intriguing, compelling wine reminiscent of a great Cabernet Franc-based wine from the Loire Valley, but distintive because of the difference in soils (the Loire is calcareous, here it is granite and slate.  Excellent, clean, sharp fruit flavors reminiscent of pomegranate, laced with cranberry and lead pencil, with an intriguing, complex finish from the stony vineyards on which these grapes grow.  This young Mencía-based tinto will benefit from decanting to allow the aromas and flavors to fully develop.  


Primitivo Lareu, owner of Sabatelivs, Chantada, Ribeira Sacra.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com


“From old vines on the Sil River, this is "back-country" wine as described to me by the importer Gerry Dawes.  I am not sure if he is referring to the rustic qualities of the wine or the people that make it.  Either way, "the ram's head" is all rustic beauty - cherry, raspberry, smoky, spicy, meaty with lifted aromas of lavender and rosemary. Cazoga is serious business.  Although drinking now, I would hold onto this; there is enough density, concentration and balance to age at least for a few years.” - - Chris Barnes, Chambers Street Wines    


Toalde, Roberto Regal, Ribeiras do Miño (Lugo)

 

Roberto Regal, artisan producer of Toalde Mencía, in Ribeira Sacra vineyards 
overlooking a bridge over the Miño River in Belesar near Chantada.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com 


 

Toalde Mencía Tinto 2010 Ribeira Sacra 13.0% 6/750ML $24.99
    


From Ribeiras do Miño, one of the five sub-regions of La Ribeira Sacra, the mineral-driven, but soft and voluptous Toalde Mencía is made by the talented young enologist, Roberto Regal from stunningly beautiful, bucolic vineyards overlooking the Minho River. A silky, pomegranate & mineral-driven jewel. One of the best wine in our portfolio.

Mencía grapes, with traces of other old vines indigenous varieties, grow here on steep rock (the majority granitic, some slate) terraces with a 66% incline.  The soil is poor and shallow, which drives the vines deep in search of nutrients.  The orientation of the vineyards is from northeast to southeast.  The altitude of the vineyards is 820 to 1150 feet above sea level, which allows a progressive harvesting the grapes, beginning with the grapes from the warmer lower vineyards, which ripen first, and finishing with the higher vineyards, which ripen last.

The Atlantic climate helps provides aroma and freshness to the wines and the Iberian sun provides the necessary heat in the summer and moderate temperatures in autumn and the Minho river, over which the vineyards perch, provides a moderating influence.  Average rainfall is 750mm in Winter; 250 mm in summer.


Viña Cazoga, Jorge Carnero, Amandi (Lugo)

Even the most expensive wine in Dawes's porfolio, "Viña Cazoga Don Diego Crianza from Ribera Sacra, an exotic, chocolate- and tobacco-flavored wine with some of the "wild" character the French call animal, retails for only $50." - - Colman Andrews, The Daily Meal.




Jorge Carnero, Viña Cazoga, La Ribeira Sacra (Lugo province), Galicia.
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Viña Cazoga Tinto 2010 Ribeira Sacra 13.5% 12/750ML $26.99

Viña Cazoga Tinto 2010 ($27). Another Ribeira Sacra mencia, surprisingly soft, with a generous bouquet, a blackberry-and-black-pepper tang on the palate, and a long, satisfying finish. - - Colman Andrews, The Daily Meal.  Read more: Spanish Wines — A Seductive New Crop: Godello, mencia, and other less-than-famous Iberian grapes shine in a new selection from Spanish wine expert Gerry Dawes
 
Viña Cazoga Don Diego Tinto 2008 Ribeira Sacra 13.5% $49.99

"Oh, and he doesn't have much patience with excessive pricing, either, and all but one of the 30-plus selections in his portfolio (he is adding more) have a suggested retail price of less than $30 a bottle, and some are less than $20. (Even the exception, Viña Cazoga Don Diego Crianza from Ribera Sacra, an exotic, chocolate- and tobacco-flavored wine with some of the "wild" character the French call animal, retails for only $50.)"- - Colman Andrews, The Daily Meal.  Read more: Spanish Wines — A Seductive New Crop: Godello, mencia, and other less-than-famous Iberian grapes shine in a new selection from Spanish wine expert Gerry Dawes

One of the stars of this group is a unique wine from a rustic bodega in the back country. It is owned by a young winemaker, Jorge Carnero, who took over his late father’s vineyards and decided to make his own very personal wine, Viña Cazoga. We import both Jorge’s Viña Cazoga Tinto 2010 and Viña Cazoga Don Diego 2008, a wine that spends some several months time in 4-year old, 500L re-conditioned Allier oak.

We don’t expect either of these wines to be for everyone because they are so unique and unlike other red wines you may have tasted before.  For this reason, on my fourth visit to the winery when I took a guest l I decided not to say anything and just let him make up his own mind about the wine without any pre-suggestion from me. Cazoga wines were the ones the guest liked the best of all from our 2,500 km., 20-winery trip.


Viña Cazoga Don Diego 2008, a wine that spends some several months in 4-year old, 500L re-conditioned Allier oak, is one of the top wines in The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections.
 Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Cazoga wines show themselves best with food. By the time you get to the last glass in the bottle, you realize you have been drinking something unique and special.  And you don't like that old-fashioned label with the Cazoga (ram) head you say.  Cazoga is Gallego for Carnero, or ram, the owner’s name.  Get over it and concentrate on the wine in the bottle.  We wouldn't change a thing about this place.  Besides, there is not enough wine to fill even the modest demand we think those who really like this wine will create.  The Spanish Artisan Wine Group’s wild child; if you don't like it, I will drink it.

Viña Cazoga consists of 3.9-acres in a single plot bordering on a slope just above the water line of the Sil River.  The site wine was traditionally recognized as the best for growing wine grapes in the parish of Amandi.  The grapes are 95% Mencia, the rest Merenzao and Tempranillo.
The history of the winery is very old.  Jorge Carnero’s grandfather Raimundo Vidal owned the largest winery  in Amandi, which he inherited from his father. Carnero’s grandmother remembered from her childhood bringing down to the fair in Monforte 37 carts each with a cask of new wine.

But at the beginning of the 20th century the cultivation of those steep river banks was not profitable, so there was much emigration and many descendants inheriting their portion of a vineyard )under the Galician mini-fundia iherititance rules, so the old family vineyard was divided into dozens of plots among the cousins, some of whom kept making wine for themselves for home consumption, but other vineyards were abandoned. 
It was not until the late 70's when Jorge Carnero’s father, Diego Carnero Vidal, set out to re-unite the former vineyards of the Vidal family, re-open the old winery and recuperate the denominaciónde origin claim for Amandi, for which he always acted as ambassador, when, at a time, it was considered insane to try to cultivate those precipitous river banks.

While the Carneros were in the process of reconstructing the old winery, they  used a cuba (a large horizontal wine vat, a huge barrel) from the epoque of Jorge’s great grandfather to sleep in.  They cut a door in one end of the barrrel and put a bed, lights and a television inside, making a bedroom out of the ancient barrel.  They called my father “el tolo de Cazoga,” the crazy Cazoga, slept in a barrel and was going to bury los cuartos, the money from the vines.  The barrel now has a taxidermist-prepared head of a ram mounted on the front of the barrel, the image of which is on Cazoga’s wine labels.

 

Jorge Carnero (Carnero is Cazoga, or “ram,” in Galego, thus the ram’s head,  the symbol of the winery), tasting his wines with a visitor.  Jorge Carnero is inside a large barrel formerly used to make wine, now with door installed and a bed and television inside. Carnero sometimes spends the night in the barrel during the long hours of the grape harvest.  Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2011.

Cazoga was the first important winery in what would later become the Ribeira Sacra D.O.  Cazoga is a pago, a single vineyard cru, in the most rocky location with the best orientation.  Among those who know the Amandi subregion, the wine was always considered the best.  The production is very low and most of  the vines are a century old. 

* * * * *


___________________________________________________  

About Gerry Dawes
  
Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 

 In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés

 ". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
video
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

The Great Harold McGee on High Alcohol in Wines


* * * * *
 "We do not represent wines that conform to the conventional canon, i.e.,  wines so dark that you can't see the bottom of the glass; wines with jammy, overripe fruit; wines low in acid; "dry" red or white wines with pronounced residual sugar; wines that taste more of oak than wine; or wines with high levels of alcohol  higher that 13.5%.   We prefer 13% and lower, but will consider wines of 14% and, on very, very rare occasions 14.5%, but only if they seem particularly well balanced, which is a sleight-of-hand performed by very few maestros." - - From The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group Mission Statement.

* * * * *
Harold McGee on High Alcohol in Wines

Harold McGee at the book party at Per Se for Ferran Adrià's A Day at El Bulli.
Photo by Gerry Dawes ©2008. gerrydawes@aol.com.

"High-alcohol wines, those that exceed about 14 percent alcohol, are often described as “hot” and unbalanced. Alcohol’s irritating effects account for the heat. And flavor chemists have found that high alcohol levels accentuate a wine’s bitterness, reduce its apparent acidity and diminish the release of most aroma molecules. Alcohol particularly holds down fruity and floral aromas, so the aroma that’s left is mainly woody, herbaceous and vegetal

I couldn’t find any recent trials of wine dilution, but it’s been practiced since the days of ancient Greece, so I went ahead and tried it on a California zinfandel with 14.9 percent alcohol. I poured a partial glass of the wine and added about a quarter of its volume in water, to get it down to 12 percent.

A glass of the full-strength wine tasted hot, dense, jammy and a little sulfurous, while the diluted version was lighter all around but still full of flavor, tarter, more fruity than jammy, and less sulfurous. . ." -- Harold McGee, aka Curious Cook and author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, on High Alcohol in Wines in his article, To Enhance Flavor, Just Add Water in The New York Times (July 7, 2010).



* * * * *

(Note:  These quotes from Harold McGee, who is a friend of mine, are in no way meant to construe or imply that Harold in any way endorses the wines or philosophy of The Spanish Artisan Wine Group.  His conclusions on high alcohol in wine speak for themselves.  It was about time that someone with a scientific background said what many people have been thinking for a long time.  High alcohol is an albatross around the neck of a fine wine, in fact I believe it keeps many wines from being truly great. -- Gerry Dawes, Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel.)

Heavy Wine Bottles, The Abuse of New Oak and High Alcohol


* * * * *

Bar El Xampanyet, Barcelona. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2004.

Tyler Colman on his Dr. Vino's Wine Blog had a very interesting post on April 16, 2010 Tony Soter sheds some weight [carbon footprint] on Oregon winemaker (and long-time California winemaker-consultant) Tony Soter.  Soter had recently decided, according to Dr. Vino, "The Oregon vintner shipped his 2007 Pinot Noirs in bottles weighing 900g, more than the 750g of wine in the bottle. But for his 2008s (which were to be released soon), the bottles will weigh 600g.  Needless to say, the reduced packaging mass greatly reduces the carbon footprint of the wine."

“The time has passed that you can try to impress people with the substance of the bottle as opposed to what is in the bottle,” he (Soter) said.

No kidding, Tony? (Back in the day, I used to sell Soter-made wines, which I quite liked.)!  What gave you the first clue that maybe you and the rest of the winemakers in Oregon--and in California, Spain, and elsewhere--should have been considering substance and content over form in the first place? 

Maybe more new wave (now old and very tired wave) Parkerista-bent winemakers from around the world should consider the words of star chef Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon and an original, charter member of The Chefs From Hell Acrobatic Unicyclists and Winetasters Club of New York) from the Wall Street Journal yesterday (April 15, 2010).  Keller was quoted as saying, "We do what we believe in, not what our guests want us to do." 
(Sounds akin to the philosophy of the Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group!)

 
Thomas Keller at jamón Ibérico de bellota producer Joselito's hospitality suite at San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010. (Joselito: "Declared the best jamón in the world." 
Photo by Gerry Dawes ©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com

How unique!  Maybe some wineries--those who are always telling me that their overblown, overripe, high alcohol/new oak-trashed wines (many put up in hernia-inducing bottles)--are "what the market is asking for!," should hire Keller as a consultant.

This was my comment in response to the Soter "heavy bottle" piece on the Dr. Vino Wine Blog:

"Isn't it amazing how people who ought to have known better in the first place change their thinking when the wind starts to blow from a different direction. Now, in addition to getting rid of super-heavy bottles (duh, the shipping costs alone for such pretentiousness ought to have been their first clue!).

We will soon see a massive shift away from the “new French oak” religion, not because the inexpert use of new oak screws up the taste wine, but because new oak designer barrels cost too bloody much.  

Having their wines taste like someone had just dragged a new piece of lumber from the midnight shift at the sawmill over the drinkers was not enough for winemakers--toadying up to wine reviewers, who must have been moonlighting as raw furniture reviewers--to abandon their embrace of laying the wood to the fruits of their labors.  

No, was is not the impact of oak on the taste the taste of wine isn't the reason the oaky monster crowd of winemakers is going to less and less new oak.  After all many of them preached "good" (read expensive) wood over good winemaking as a religion.   It was the impact of the falling dollar (since changed) against the Euro laying the wood to their wallets that is causing this sudden change of heart.  Follow the money trail, folks, in wine, politics, even religion.
 
But, I digress.  As long as we are on the subject of heavy bottles, my partial solution to the outrageously high alcohol levels in the wines of California--and of Priorat, Ribera del Duero, Toro and other place–besides stopping the harvesting of irrigated fruit allowed to overripen, sometimes a necessity because the grapes are on the slow-drip water tit–is to put these charicature trophy wines in 500ml bottles, which are now not legal in the U.S. 

A half liter (500ml.) is about all two people can drink of these high alcohol monster these days anyway, especially in restaurants (from which many customers have to drive), so that would stop customers from leaving a fourth to a third of the bottle un-drunk on the table.  Also, when you stop to think about it, a wine with 15% alcohol is not just 2.5% higher in potency than a wine of 12.5%, it actually has 20% more alcohol than a .750ml. normal bottle at 12.5%, which makes the experience almost like drinking a full liter of wine. 

Half-liter bottles would allow producers to simultaneously drop their price per bottle by about 25% and make more bottles available to the public for wineries who have tight allocations (the few left who do).  Sure, they would still keep bottling in 750ml. for collectors and wine aficionados who want to cellar those wines.

And, while we are at the carbon footprint thing (Dr. Vino's Wine Blog), how about doing away with plastic stoppers, which are going to end up in those huge floating plastic trash dumps in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean? And the carbon footprint on natural cork (News on Spanish wine and food- Qué se dice del vino y alimentos de España) is so far above that of the horrid screw-top closure that, now that TCA and bad corks* have generally been brought under control there is not real excuse for continuing the screw-top madness. (Yeh, I know they are easier to open, just don’t slice your finger on that aluminum that is going to end up in the landfill and create pollution.)

*Of the samples I am sent to taste for articles about Spanish wines, I seriously can’t remember when the last cork-tainted wine turned up.

Cork harvest, production and quality control at Amorim in Portugal.


_____________________________________________________________________________________________
About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés.

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 



video
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com.



The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections Mission Statement


* * * * *



The Philosophy of
The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group  
Gerry Dawes Selections™

“Wines the Way They Ought to Taste”

What makes the world of wine so interesting, compelling and even romantic is the diversity of vineyards, grapes, producers and wines, not homogeneity or sameness.”


Eugenio Merino of Bodegas Crescencia Merino in the family vineyards in Corcos del Valle (Valladolid) 
that he works so hard to tend, allowing him to produce one of the truly great rosados of Cigales.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com

We prefer family-owned bodegas with their own vineyards (preferably un-irrigated or minimally irrigated) or those who work with controlled growers under long-term associations.  We are looking for winemakers with a dedication to producing wines that reflect their own unique tastes and the uniqueness of their vineyard sites, grapes, soil, climate and individual tastes, not preconceived tastes "that the market is asking for."  We represent unique wines that taste the way the people who make them think the product of their years-long labor in the vineyards ought to taste. 


Gerry Dawes with members of La Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas (Artesan Bodegas) of Rías Baixas, some of the more than a dozen small grower-producers who use native yeasts to ferment their Albariño wines. These Galician bodegueros make Albariños the way they think the wines ought to taste and each of their wines is as distinct from the other as they are as individuals.  At the end of July, these artisan producers hold their Feria del Vino de Autor, to show their wines, with an "author" behind each one.  They only bottle their wines of the previous vintage in time to have them for the Feria, while most producers bottle theirs just 2-3 months after the harvest.  Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com / www.gerrydawesspain.com

We do not represent wines that conform to the conventional canon, i.e., wines so dark that you can't see the bottom of the glass; wines with jammy, overripe fruit; wines low in acid; "dry" red or white wines with pronounced residual sugar; wines that taste more of oak than wine; or wines with levels of alcohol higher that 13.5%.   We prefer 13% and lower, but will consider wines of 14% on rare occasions, but only if they seem particularly well balanced, which is a sleight-of-hand performed by very few maestros.

A No-Can-See-Bottom-of-Glass Wine of the Inky Monster School.
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com

We see no virtue in wines so extracted and concentrated in color that you can't see the bottom of the glass. Depth of color is no indicator of a great wine in the glass, it merely a very dark wine, which often means it has very high alcohol and is a very extracted wine made from overripe grapes.  Such wines are usually made to please reviewers during the two minutes they may have to evaluate one wine among the 30-100 wines they will taste that day.  We don't believe that is the criteria by which really good wines should be judged. 

We don't mind if the wines are lightly filtered, since we don't put much stock in the unfined, unfiltered wisdom, nor do we believe in exaggerated concentration of flavors as a virtue. 

We do not seek wines that rely on harvesting overripe grapes and submitting them to long macerations to achieve dark color, high alcohol and so-called "flavor."  We discourage the abuse of battonage, the popular stirring of dead lees back into the wine, a practice that effectively breaks and often obliterates the seamless marriage of great minerality with the taste from great grapes, putting an artificial volume-appearance enhancing element in wines that misses the point of what a great wine should be about.   

And we discourage barrel fermentation in new oak and aging wines in improperly prepared new oak, either French or American, all of which tend to obscure both the taste of the grape variety and any terruño (terroir), or unique sense of place, that a wine may possess.  


We believe that wines subjected to the harshness of too much improperly conditioned new oak 
taste more like a the product of a saw mill than of a vineyard.  Photo: Gerry Dawes©2009 / gerrydawes@aol.com

We prefer to work with wineries that use only hand-harvested fruit.  In the case that we may begin to work with a producer who machine harvests, we will urge that producer to begin hand harvesting the fruit as soon as possible for the wines we import.


Harvester monument, Cacabelos, Bierzo.
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2009 / gerrydawes@aol.com

We do not represent wines with artificial closures, i.e.,  screw caps, plastic "corks," and composite corks with chemical binders.  We will be working with a major Portuguese cork supplier, Amorim, who will guarantee our producers’ wines against cork taint and we will say so on our labels. (To be implemented by all our suppliers by the second year of their Spanish Artisan Wine Group association.)


Carlos de Jesus of Amorim in Portugal explains the process of preparing cork that will be made 
into natural cork wine stoppers.   Photo by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com

We recognize that some vintage years are better than others, but we put our stock in small producers who make every effort to get the best of any vintage, even if it means throwing out half their grapes.  From long experience, we believe true wine lovers should follow producers, not vintage years.  When a great producer harvests an exceptional vintage truly great wines can be made.  In a so-called great vintages, many mediocre producers make as much wine as possible to take advantage of the fame of that vintage year.  Such wines are seldom as good as those that conscientious producers make, even in an off year. 

We believe that there is a substantial market for wines that express our philosophy. 

 - - Gerry Dawes©2013.
___________________________________________________ 
  About Gerry Dawes

 Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel  

Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.

 In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés

 ". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
video
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

10/11/2014


* * * * *

 Gerry Dawes's Persistence of Memory* (Salvador Dalí)  Melting Watch Awards.
Four Watches to Casa González, Calle León 12, Madrid.  91 429 56 18



Casa González, Calle León, 12, 28014, +34 91 429 56 18, one of my favorite breakfast places in Madrid.  Owned and run by Paco Carmona, this extraordinary little find is one of the jewels of el Barrio de las Letras, the literary quarter in Madrid.  It is an exceptional little deli with fine cheeses, jamones, vinos and other jarred and tinned high'quality denominación de origen products.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Olympus Stylus 1 - 10.7x i.Zuiko Optical Zoom Lens 28-300mm (equivalent) f/2.8
__________________________________________________________

About Gerry Dawes

Writing, Photography, & Specialized Tours of Spain & Tour Advice

 For custom-designed tours of Spain, organized and lead by Gerry Dawes, and custom-planned Spanish wine, food, cultural and photographic itineraries, send inquiries to gerrydawes@aol.com.  


I have planned and led tours for such culinary stars as Chefs Thomas Keller, Mark Miller, Mark Kiffin, Michael Lomonaco and Michael Chiarello and such personalities as baseball great Keith Hernandez and led on shorter excursions and have given detailed travel advice to many other well-known chefs and personalities such as Drew Nieporent, Norman Van Aken, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg, Christopher Gross, Rick Moonen, James Campbell Caruso and many others.

 * * * * * 
“The American writer and town crier for all good Spanish things Gerry Dawes . . . the American connoisseur of all things Spanish . . .” Michael Paterniti, The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and The World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

* * * * *

"Gerry Dawes, I can't thank you enough for opening up Spain to me." -- Michael Chiarello on Twitter. 

"Chiarello embarked on a crash course by traveling to Spain for 10 days in 2011 with Food Arts
contributing authority Gerry Dawes, a noted expert on Spanish food and wine.  Coqueta's (Chiarello's new restaurant at Pier Five, San Francisco) chef de cuisine, Ryan McIlwraith, later joined Dawes for his own two week excursion, as well. Sampling both old and new, they visited wineries and marketplaces, as well as some of Spain's most revered dining establishments, including the Michelin three-star Arzak, Etxebarri, the temple to live fire-grilling; Tickets, the playful Barcelona tapas bar run by Ferran Adrià and his brother, Albert; and ABaC, where Catalan cooking goes avant-garde." - - Carolyn Jung, Food Arts, May 2013.


* * * * *

"In his nearly thirty years of wandering the back roads of Spain," Gerry Dawes has built up a much stronger bank of experiences than I had to rely on when I started writing Iberia...His adventures far exceeded mine in both width and depth..." -- James A. Michener, author of Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections
 * * * * *
Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 


video
Viedo from a proposed reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

7/12/2014

Upgraded to Four Dalí Watches: El Crucero in Corella (Navarra), Lunch with the Wines of Aliaga at One of the Great Restaurants of Navarra's Ribera Baja Wine-growing Region, Also Home to One of Spain's Finest Vegetable Growing Regions and Some of Navarra's Little-known, But Best Country Restaurants.



* * * * *

 Gerry Dawes's Persistence of Memory* (Salvador Dalí)  Melting Watch Awards.
Four Watches to Nabor Jiménez's El Crucero Restaurant in Corella (Navarra)

Updated to FOUR WATCHES after highly enthusiastic reports from Chef Michael Chiarello, Chef Susan Spicer and Debragga Meats CEO George Faison and his wife, publicist Stephane Crane Faison.  


Cardos con semillas de granada (fresh cardoon salad with pomegranate seeds and the restaurant's own extra virgin olive oil), El Crucero, Corella (Navarra).

Long legendary for their quality, the vegetables of La Ribera de Navarra region-fat white esparragos, green asparagus, pimientos de piquillo, artichokes, beans (pochas [fat white, cranberry bean-like and delectable), vainas [green beans], alubias [smaller white beans] and habitas, [tender young fabas]), cardos (cardoons), ajetes (green garlic shoots), etc.  

Esparragos Blancos de Navarra, Denominación de Origen protected, just like wines.


Some of the top vegetable canneries--such as Camporel in Cintruenigo 
(see slide show below)--in Spain are located in this region.  

The classic vegetable dish from this area is menestra, a melange of vegetables (vainas, peas, asparagus, carrots, cardoons, etc. cooked together, sometimes with ham)–are some of the best in Spain.  Menestra, when the vegetables, especially young spring vegetables, are cooked al diente is one of the great vegetable dishes of Spain.  However, in the past, menestra and other vegetables were overcooked, which ruined the dishes.  

 
Menestra, San Ignacio Restaurante, Pamplona.

Now, with advent of the well-trained chefs of the Ferran Adriá era, the overcooking vegetables--while still not a thing of the past–is much less frequently encountered.  Chefs like Enrique Martínez of Maher in Cintruenigo, Atxen Jiménez of Tubal (Tafalla), Casa García (one of the underground legends of great vegetable cooking in Navarra;  frequented by Juan Mari Arzak, Juan Suárez and other food luminaries, in Cascante, and Nabor Jiménez are doing justice to the mother lode of vegetables available in southern Navarra (and neighboring southeastern Rioja, the Rioja Baja wine growing region, also known as Rioja Oriental).


Slide show of top restaurants in La Ribera Baja region of Navarra.

If you happen to visit Corella, in the Navarra Ribera Baja wine growing region, don’t miss having lunch at El Crucero in the center of town, where Nabor Jiménez is doing some great food based on the products of this famous vegetable growing region of the Ebro Valley, the Ribera de Navarra, where Corella is located.  


Nabor Jiménez, Chef-owner of El Crucero, Corella.

I have had the good luck to have had lunch at El Crucero, twice this year, once with Carlos Fernández Aliaga, English wine merchant Anthony Sargeant and Basilio Izquierdo.  Izquierdo was the winemaker at CVNE for thirty years (until 2006) and now the winemaker owner of the tiny Rioja Alavesa bodega, Aguila Real, where he makes B. de Basilio wines (a garnacha blanca-based white that is one of the best Rioja whites I have ever tasted and a spectacular red that is reminiscent of the great CVNE Viña Real Oro wines of years past.  

Gerry Dawes, Basilio Izquierdo, Carlos Fernández Aliaga and 
English wine merchant-importer Anthony Sargeant, lunch at El Crucero.

In January, Sargeant, Izquierdo and I drove down to Corella to see Carlos and taste his wines, since Sargeant was looking for new properties for his English wine importing business.  Carlos put us in Nabor Jiménez’s capable hands and asked him to do a tasting menu for us to accompany a lineup of his wines.  First off, this being January, you may be wondering what vegetables are available in the middle of winter.  The Navarrese are masters at cooking winter vegetables such as cardoons, borrage and cabbage; making dishes with the region’s bounty of tinned and glass jarred vegetables; and turning dried beans into something magical.  


Slide show of Navarran vegetable dishes.

Our luncheon began with Viña Aliaga’s superb, cherry-red Garnacha Rosado de Lágrima 2009 (see Spanish Rosados: Among Spain's Most Delightful Wines), a brilliant, delicious rosé with good acidity, rich fruit and full-bodied (13.9%; weighty, but not over-the-top), then we sampled a 2009 Verdejo, a nice white wine with the oak, fruit and acid in harmony (and perhaps a touch of Viognier in the blend to spice it up). 


Aliaga Rosado de Lágrima.

With these wines, Nabor Jiménez served us a salad of cardos con semillas de granada, a refreshing dish of cardoons with pomegranate seeds.  


Cardos con semillas de granada.

The next dish was bright green steamed borrajas (borrage)--a stalk vegetable that is believed to have originally come from north Africa, where in Arabic its name is abu rash-- dressed with Jiménez’s own Condado de Martinega aceite de oliva virgen, olive oil.  


Borrajas. 



Nabor Jiménez with his own Condado de Martinega aceite de oliva virgen.

He followed that with slightly picante pimientos de cristal (red peppers not to be confused with the famous local piquillo peppers), which were served with a minced black olive-infused oil.  


 Pimientos de cristal.

Next up, with a Viña Aliaga Tinto 2007 (supposedly Tempranillo, but probably with 25% Syrah in the blend) came one of my favorite of all Navarran dishes, pochas, this with verduras (veggies: pimientos rojos y verdes, zanahorias, tomate and cebolletas, scallions) for which I put five *****, my stars.  These beans were buttery, heavenly and the soft, smooth Aliaga 2007 that came next was the right wine with which to finish this stellar dish. 


Pochas

The region’s wonderful alcachofas, artichokes, tender young hearts of artichoke at El Crucero, came with foie gras and just the right squirt of the normally dreaded balsamic vinegar. 



For me, it was a four-star dish, but the combination of artichoke and balsamic vinegar royally screwed up the flavor of the Garnacha Vieja 2007, one of Aliaga's best wines.   



Then Nabor sent out a exceptionally flavorful dish of caracoles (snails) cooked with Ibérico ham, codorniz (quail), ajos morados asados (roasted purple garlic cloves) and pimientos de cristal.  


El Crucero's Snail dish.

The purple garlic cloves reminded me of Las Pedroneras (Castilla-La Mancha) in the province of Cuenca, which is the ajo morado capital of Spain (read Gilroy, California, the garlic capital here) and has a festival to celebrate the bulb every year.  The town is also home to arguably the best restaurant in that region, Las Rejas, where the great chef of La Mancha, my friend Manuel de la Osa cooks.  Nabor Jiménez brought out a plate of the big purplish cloves to show us.  “Ajo morado is much finer garlic than the kind we have here in Corella,” Jiménez said.  


Ajos morados (purple garlic).

To accompany this dish, we had an Aliaga Cuveé Tempranillo-Cabernet Sauvignon that was well-balanced, smooth and elegant despite its 14% alcohol and with the patorillo, practically embryonic baby, baby lamb parts (the feet, tripe and and bones; all tender, but  this was not the all-time favorite lamb dish on my lamb pleasure meter).


 Patorillo.

With the patorillo, we had the dark, silky Aliaga Reserva de la Familia, a blend of 85% tempranillo, 10% cabernet sauvignon and a 5% hit of “other,” which I guessed may be the dastardly outlawed (not permitted in Navarra) grape, Syrah.  The wine was rich at just under 14% and had sweet cherry and black raspberry flavors with a hint of clove and a bit of oak bite in the finish.  


Aliaga Cuveé.

With a fine cabrito asado, roast kid with a wonderful crackling skin, we drank the Aliaga Colección Privada 2007, another well-made, silky wine with moderate alcohol (for southern Navarra) at 13.7% and more sweet cherry and blackberry flavors.  


 Cabrito asado.

The Colección Privada 2007 was made from 80% tempranillo, 15% cabernet sauvignon and 5% of the ubiquitous “other.”  It was aged for 13 meses in 60%  French Allier oak and 40% American oak, mercifully none of which was new oak (the barrels are 3-4 years old); instead the wine was well-rounded without the raspy new oak curtain that one finds marring the finish of many so-called “modern” wines.

We finished up this superb luncheon with helado de turrón de Jijona, a rich, nutty, delicious almond turrón ice cream, which was accompanied by the exceptional Viña Aliaga Moscatel Vendimia Tardía (Late Harvest) 2008, a deep green-gold, beautifully fresh, perfumed wine with only 11% alcohol and great acid levels to carry the lovely sweet, but never cloying, honeysuckle flavors that made it taste like a fresh moscatel grape trapped in a bottle. 


Helado de turrón de Jijona.

(Also see Food in Navarra, Navarra's Country Cuisine [Stay tuned for an updated version.])

Recommended Restaurants in La Ribera Baja region of Southern Navarra:  


El Crucero, calle Mayor 1, 31591 Corella (Navarra).  Tel: 948 78 16 83
(Exit 16 off AP-68, Corella-Cintruenigo exit, drive 3 kms.  to center of Corella, straight ahead beyond the stoplight. Parking in streets around and behind the restaurant.)  Moderate.

Maher Restaurante-Hotel, Ribera 19, 31592 Cintruénigo (Navarra)
Tel. 948 81 11 50 . Fax 948 81 27 76 gestion@hotelmaher.com

The one-star Michelin restaurant of maestro Enrique Martínez and his brothers, Martínez Hermanos, thus Maher.  Offers a fine combination of modern Spanish dishes and beautifully prepared Navarrese classics, including vegetable dishes from La Ribera de Navarra. Reasonably priced for the quality of the dishes served.  (Located in the same town as Bodegas Julián Chivite.)

Casa García, Mayor 93, 31521 Murchante (Navarra). 948 838 052

An underground legend of great vegetable cooking in Navarra, frequented by Juan Mari Arzak, Juan Suárez and other food luminaries, in Cascante (Navarra).  Not expensive.

Tubal, Plaza de Navarra 2, Tafalla.  948 79 08 52  70 12 96.  tubal@restaurantetubal.com
Owned and run by Atxen Jiménez, a woman with the highest standards for cuisine and service, and her son, Chef Nicolas, Michelin one-star Tubal is one of the top-ranked and most elegant restaurants in Navarra. It offers first-rate, sophisticated nueva cocina and artfully prepared renditions of Navarrese classics, always based on the best, freshest ingredients. Tubal has an excellent wine list.  Expensive.

Restaurante Hotel Casa Zanito, Rua Mayor 16, Olite.  948 74.00.02

This restaurant serves nueva cocina dishes such as hake-filled crêpes with clam sauce and classics such as brick oven-roasted shoulder of goat.  Moderately expensive.  Has two lovely hotels in Olite. 

Mesón El Chapitel, Mirapies 8, 31390 Olite (Navarra); Tel.:  948 71 22 50

This is a fun restaurante on an interior street in the old village of Olite.  For those who want a break for all those veggies in southern Navarra (all the restaurants have fish and meat dishes on their menus), you can really get off the wagon here.  El Chapitel serves excellent steaks of a wood-fired grill (my friend Michael Whiteman, the ex-jefe of Windows on the World and President of the Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Company, says Chapitel's steak was "one of the best I have ever eaten."  Chapitel also serves grilled rabbit, lamb and veggies, including good salads, for which you would be wise to tell them to hold the balsamic vinegar, and you can even get a good pizza here.

Bodega Chateau-Hotel Pago de Cirsus de Iñaki Nuñez, Ablitas, (Navarra) (5 kms. from Tudela).


The title alone gives you the idea.  This hotel-restaurante-winery is crowned by a glaring white faux castle keep of very recent construction.  It is the property of film magnate Iñaki Nuñez’s and looks like what a film maker magnate might imagine a castle-winery to be.  The hotel is comfortable and the restaurant is good.  I did not like the wines.

Recommended lodging in La Ribera Baja region of Southern Navarra (and nearby La Rioja Baja): 


AC Ciudad De Tudela, Misericordia S/N, 31500 Tudela (Navarra). Tel: 948 40 24 40; Fax: 948 40 24 41; ctudela@ac-hotels.com

Best Western Hotel Hospederia Nuestra Señora del Villar, NA-161 km 2.5, 31591 Corella (Navarra). Tel: 34 948 78 21 97;Fax: 34 948 40 40 32

Hotel-Restaurante Palacios, Ctra Zaragoza s/n 26540 Alfaro (La Rioja). 866-538-0187 (reservations).A good restaurante and wine museum in a hotel owned by the family of internationally renowned winemaker, Alvaro Palacios of Priorat L'Ermita, Clos Dofi, Les Terrasses fame. The family winery, located in Alfaro is Bodegas Palacios Remondo.

 
Parador de Turismo Principe de Viana, Plaza Teobaldos 2, 31390 Olite (Navarra). Tel: 34 948 74 00 00; Fax: 00 34 948 74 02 01; olite@parador.es

A storybook parador alongside a XVth century castle in the magical village of Olite.

________________________________________________________________________________


About Gerry Dawes  


Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 


". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 


video
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series 
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.



Related Posts with Thumbnails