Hola, Feastadores.

This month’s Last Sunday tasting features two whites and six reds from Rioja- learn what separates a Joven from a Reserva and a Gran Reserva, and taste Viura and Tempranillo Blanco, plus get some paired snacks and camaraderie, all in one fell swoop.  The tasting is at 3:30 on Sunday, December 30, and it’s only $30 plus tax and tip.  The only two catches are these:

  1. you’ll need to make a reservation; and
  2. web and email reservations won’t hold you a seat at the event, so you’ll need to call us.

The number to call is 326-9363, and it promises to fill up; there’s no better way to put the stress of the holidays behind you than half a dozen tastes of Rioja.  Please come taste these Spanish delicacies with us.



2017 Cune Monopole Rioja Blanca, Rioja    $15.00

This was the first white wine ever made in Rioja. CVNE has produced this wine since 1915. This wine is made from the Viura grape variety. 100% Viura. All grapes come from the ‘Rioja Alta’ subzone, where higher altitudes and Atlantic influences make for a moderate climate which is ideal for producing wines of elegance and finesse. Soils are composed of iron-rich clay and limestone. This wine is aged in tank and bottled in January to preserve freshness and fruit.
The 2017 Monopole is 100% Viura that fermented in stainless steel with neutral yeasts and was bottled early. It has notes of pear, with some waxy apples as well. This wine is meant to be fresh. It has a bit more weight than normal, with pungent flavors and a faint minerality in the finish.


2017 Ontañón Tempranillo Blanco, Rioja    $15.00


In 1988 a Rioja winemaker found a bunch of white grapes growing amongst the Tempranillo vines in his Murillo de Rio Leza estate in Rioja Baja. After several years investigation, the Consejo Regulador of Rioja accepted that this was a natural mutation of the usually red Tempranillo grape and approved it as a variety to be grown DOC Rioja. It is thought that just one generation separates the white and red versions of the grape – similar to white mutations of both Pinot Noir and Garnacha. Only a handful of growers in Rioja have Tempranillo Blanco vines. Bodegas Ontañón saw the potential of this grape and planted 15 ha in 2010. 2016 was the first vintage Tempranillo Blanco that Bodegas Ontañón have released. Intense tropical fruit aromas with hints of pineapple, white flower and citrus. The palate has texture, minerality and balance with ripe stone fruit characters, a hint of orange blossom, crisp acidity and a lengthy finish.


2017 Viña Herminia Tempranillo, Rioja        $12.00


100% Tempranillo from the foothills of the Sierra de Yerga and the Ebro river, at the south-eastern end of the Rioja Baja. The wine undergoes carbonic maceration, followed by 3 months in American oak and 3 months in bottle to achieve and elegant balance.  This wine shows an intense red cherry color. Primary aromas on the nose of red fruits and blackcurrants. A medium-bodied wine with a soft and long fruity finish.


2011 Cune Gran Reserva, Rioja      $38.00


Cune is a top producer in Rioja with a long and storied history dating back to the founding of the Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE, ‘Cune’ is an anachronism for that) in 1879. The 2011 Cune Gran Reserva is a blend of 85% Tempranillo 10%, Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, which matured in barrel for two years and in bottle for three.

Intense dark cherry color. Attractive aromas of blackberries, blackcurrants and raspberries, blended together with hints of spice and vanilla. Complex and elegant on the palate with fine tannins and a good length.


2012 Óscar Tobía Reserva, Rioja       $21.00


Made from 93%Tempranillo & 7% Graciano. Aged for 24 months in French and Hungarian oak, and then for another 15 months in bottle. The aroma is flagrant, elegant and complex. The aromas first show fruits such as dried prunes, cherries and blueberries. Then it shows spicy aromas like black pepper, cloves and cinnamon, followed by reminiscences of mint and fine hints of oak, cedar, sour chocolate and tobacco leaves. On the palate it is gentle, velvety, smooth and full bodied, with very polished and ripe tannins. Very structured and fresh, round and powerful.


2009 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva, Rioja    $44.00


The Tempranillo grapes (80%) come from their 30-year-old La Cuesta and Montecillo vineyards, located in Fuenmayor and Cenicero. The Garnacha (20%) comes from La Pedriza vineyard in Tudelilla (Rioja Baja), at an altitude of 550 m above sea level. The grapes were harvested manually and transported in refrigerated trucks to the winery. Alcoholic fermentation took place naturally, at controlled temperatures. Malolactic fermentation concluded at the end of the year. In March 2010, the selected wines were put in barrels to start ageing separately: the Tempranillo for 36 months with six manual rackings in American oak barrels averaging 4 years in age and the Garnacha for 30 months with five manual rackings in American oak barrels with two and three uses. After ageing, the final blend was made and bottled in May 2014.

Medium-intensity, dark cherry-red; clean and bright.  The nose stands out for its fresh, spicy character, with hints of sweet cherries and blackcurrant chocolate, assembled with notes of black pepper, tobacco, nutmeg, coffee, mocha and cinnamon. Pleasant and well-balanced in the mouth. Tasty, with a soft freshness, nice structure, and delicately elegant tannins. Silky finish, with a lovely aftertaste, where liqueur-like notes of cherries and blackcurrants intermingle with toasty notes and sweet spices turning this especial edition of Viña Ardanza into a fine, elegant wine.


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