We are constantly on the hunt for special and rare bottles with some age. After all, that is one of the many things that makes Spain so unique in the wine world. Historically speaking, Bodegas would cellar their wines until they were ready to drink; never releasing wine too young.
Recently we found the holy grail straight from a private cellar, virtually untouched, outside of Madrid. There was a gentleman who owned a restaurant and was a bit of a bon vivant/gourmand. He excessively collected cases of Rioja upon release and slipped them quietly into his underground cellar for decades. Most people had no idea he was even amassing such a collection!
He passed away a year or so ago, leaving his goldmine in the hands of his sons. There is more wine than time to drink it, so they have been selling off small quantities of their father’s stock. Moved only once from the bodega to the cellar and then a second time to NYC, these bottles are in impeccable condition. If you’re a fan of aged wine – the great old Barolos, Burgundies, and Bordeaux then this is a virtual candy shop of treasures. The prices are also fantastic, for the amount of age and condition the bottles are in.
The wines we purchased are from the late 50s – 80s, a time when labeling and rules were a little different, especially in Rioja. You will not find the same designations as in modern times. Although bottles were commonly aged in barrel beyond the level of a Gran Reserva in the past, by labeling it a ‘Crianza’ meant you paid less in taxes to the government. Clever vignerons! This is the first email in a series that we will send, giving you first access to these rare bottles before we list them online.
Quantities are incredibly limited on these wines so let us know if you’re interested.
Berberana Carta de Oro 1966
Researching blends is difficult for wines of this era, though it appears likely that this Crianza has some Garnacha and Mazuelo in addition to being predominantly Tempranillo. As with aged wine, this is crimson-garnet with clarity at the rim. The nose is that perfect combination of sweet mature fruit, dried flowers (petals) and cigar box. Much like us as we age into maturity, we begin flesh out and become lean. The body on this bottle is a gentle medium. With a gorgeous nose like old Burgundy, this aged Rioja is rare treasure from the cellar.
This wine is very much alive, with lively acidity and delicate, silky red fruit. The tannins have softly matured. A sheer pleasure for those who enjoy older wines. We recommend using a Durand key to open this with care, as corks are delicate at this point in its life. We’ve tasted through several bottles of the gem and are very happy with the harmony showing here.
A special dinner of Filet Mignon in delicate béarnaise sauce sounds like something we’d like to be eating with this wine. But it would also be lovely to drink a bottle with a close friend and think about food later.
CVNE Cune Monopole, Rioja Blanco, 1981 (375ml)
This is a crazy bottle of Rioja Blanco, made of mostly Viura with a fantastic addition of Manzanilla from Jerez. Yes, you read that right. CVNE is one of the top Bodegas in Rioja Alta, and this style of wine, as classic as it was, is almost unheard of nowadays. Color is light pale golden with aromas of apple, pear, and ground almonds. Remarkably it has a serious amount of acidity, and drinks rather youthful and vibrant.
A true treat from the past – history in a small bottle – that would be great with seared scallops or omakase sushi because of the complexity and length on the finish. Serve chilled, but not too cold, to capture the nuances here in this special wine.
An easy way to distinguish between the two is the fruit on top.
Sangria is wine (red, white or rose) mixed with Brandy, Triple Sec (sometimes), soda of some sort or Cava, and fresh fruit as garnish (apples, oranges, grapes, berries, peaches, etc) all over ice. Usually this is made overnight or earlier in the day to allow the flavors to combine nicely before serving. Everyone has a different way to make it. And everyone is convinced theirs is the best. In our Tapas Café we are incredibly proud of our Sangria. Our Cafe Manager, Victoria, makes small batches with her special secret recipe and we’re convinced it is the best we’ve ever tried! (see what I mean). For the rest of us at home, we’ll include some easy recipes to try out below.
Tinto de Verano (quite literally ‘red wine of summer’) is a much simpler combination of red wine and fizzy/soda-type drink over ice. In Spain this is usually Casera, but you can substitute it state-side with Kas Limon soda from Despaña. We’d suggest using an inexpensive bottle of fruity red wine with low to no oak influence. Bodegas Sommos “Xiloca” is a perfect juicy Garnacha from Calatayud that tastes great on its own, but could be combined into a spritz with ease.
Here are a few creative recipes to test out this summer. Invite a few friends over and give one of these sunny “cocktails” a try!
Mango-Peach Sangria with Costers del Sio “Petit Sios Blanco” a lovely blend of Viognier from Cataluñya.
Strawberry & Lemoncello Rosé Sangria with Enanzo Rosado from Navarra.
It’s that time of year…the nights are chilly and long. We crave the cozy comfort of warm beverages in front of the fire (or wrapped up in blankets on the couch). This is a simple, but heart-warming way, to beat the post-holiday slump and make January a little more festive.
Mulled Wine Recipe (serves 4-5)
- 1 bottle (750ml) fruity red wine (like young Rioja or Tempranillo)
- 1 orange, sliced into rounds
- 1/4 cup Brandy (optional, but much like in Sangria, this adds a little structure)
- 1/4 cup sugar or honey
- 8 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- Feeling fancy? Optional garnish: slices of citrus, orange peel, float a star anise or cinnamon stick in the glass or add cranberries!
Combine all your ingredients in a stainless-steel pot and gently warm (not BOIL or you burn out all the alcohol) on medium heat to simmer out all the delicious flavors for 20 minutes (up to 3 hours).
Strain, and serve warm to your guests. Garnish as you like. Incredibly easy, and so soul-warming. Salud!
(photo credit: Rioja Wine )