The little French thing with Spanish wine

May 29, 2012

9.69 EURO worth of food and wine

When I arrived yesterday morning here in Brussels I found myself caught out. It was a public holiday (Pentecost Monday) and everything seemed to be closed.

It was a beautiful sunny and warm day and I walked around a bit and explored the area around the hotel. Lots of tourist were doing the same thing. Fortunately, I found an open Carrefour express so that I could buy some groceries.

I was reminded of my glorious day as a student, and in reminiscing about the past, I bought some cheese, bread and red wine. Today, I know of course that red wine is not necessarily the best accompaniment with cheese. But I bought it nonetheless.

Normally, I always pack my Swiss army wife but this time I had left it behind in Bangkok. I knew this while browsing through the supermarket shelf with all the many wine bottles.

And that was the main reason why I settled for the bottle of Tempranillo: it had a screw cap, whereas most other bottles had a cork enclosure. I only paid 5.99 EURO for it which is cheap considering wine prices in Thailand.

2010 Tempranillo – REALCE by Union Campesina Iniestense

By sheer coincidence, I had found a treasure. This wine comes from the relatively new and unknown wine region of Manchuela which is located in the larger La Mancha wine region.

So it’s a Don Quixote wine, one could say.

One of the Spanish indigenous grape varieties grown in Manchuela is Bobal, a red grape, which comes originally from Valencia and is the third most planted variety in Spain (after Airén and Tempranillo).

If you want to learn more about the wines from Manchuela have a look at the video clip by Simon Woods.

Manchuela got its appellation status only in 2000. Of course vintners have grown grapes there since Roman times.

I was very happy.

It has intense red berry aromas, beautifully structured tannins, great resilience and character just like the old Don Quixote. I sipped along after I had finished my frugal peasant meal.

When I saw that the wine was made by a wine cooperative, the Union Campesina Intestense, I thought I have to find out more. Today the vintners cooperative has more than 1200 members and about 7,000 ha under vines. So this is a big undertaking.

The Tempranillo I had bought is one of their simpler wines. The reserva wines they produce cost more than 30.- EURO. Most of their wines are around 10 EURO/bottle.


Bodega Berberana – Wine from Rioja

December 12, 2010

Pasta ai funghi porcini

A pasta ai funghi porcini needs a strong wine as accompaniment. Therefore I selected a ‘2003 Carta de Oro Crianza Rioja’ by Bodega Berberana, one of the oldest Rioja wine producers.

The ‘2003 Carta de Oro Rioja’ by Berberana

I believe it is high time that the 2003 vintage is consumed. The wine’s colour is already changing from dark red to the brick brown. But it has still the strength, the flavour and the body which makes this Rioja wine so superb. This blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Grenache is just the perfect wine for a “heavy” pasta. It is velvety and smooth with a long finish, a complex wine for every day drinking. Just honest and good stuff.

The back label of the Berberana Rioja

The colour is slowly changing


Viña Tondonia White Reserva 1987, Rioja, Spain

October 18, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, we drank a very special type of wine, a white Rioja, vintage 1987, called Viña Tondonia White Reserva! Our wine-making friend, Timo Mayer from the Yarra Valley had brought the bottle all the way from Europe to Bangkok.

The winery is owned and managed by the third generation of the López de Heredia family. For a hundred and thirty one years this enterprise is producing exceptional and unique wines. The founder of the company, Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta, defined in the late nineteenth century what a “Supreme Rioja” wine could be. Viña Tondonia White Reserva 1987 bears witness to this philosophy.

Timo Mayer opening the bottle in our kitchen

The wine is made from Viura (about 70%, also called Macabeu in France) and Malvasia grapes. It was kept for 10 years on the yeast in old, large oak barrels and for 13 years in the bottle before the wine is finally released.

1987 is the current vintage! Who can afford to leave wine for 23 years in the cellar?

The wine is a unique experience. It is completely dry, has a fine bouquet with a hint of dried fruit. First, we did not know what to make of it but with each sip it dawned on us that we held something very special in our glasses. Awesome stuff, indeed. One can taste the passion which went into this wine.

Cheers mate

The wine can be bought in Germany from “Weinhalle“. It is not cheap but worth to be explored if you long for a unique and amazing wine experience.


Bodegas Muriel Reserva, Rioja

November 30, 2009

2001 Bodegas Muriel Reserva, Rioja

I do not buy a lot of wine from Spain, main reason being that I do not know enough about Spanish wines. But the other day I made an exception and bout a bottle of ‘2001 Muriel Reserva’ from Rioja, Spain. Made of Tempranillo grapes, this wines is just wonderful, rich and full, lot’s of red forest fruit, silky and smooth the tannins.

As you can see from the picture below, the colour of the wine is already like a brick. Reserva wines by Muriel are aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels and three years in the bottle. It was a great pleasure to drink this wine. I need to learn more about the wine region of Rioja and its wines. We had the wine with dinner, of course.

The colour of the Rioja

Muriel is located in the heart of the Rioja region in the small town of Elciego, next to the river Mayor, east of the E-804 from Zaragoza to Bilbao. When in 1973 on our final study tour before concluding “Gymnasium” (high school), I passed the area on my way from Burgos to San Sebastian not knowing anything about the famous wine region (not that I would know much more today).

Muriel also makes a white wine, from Viura grapes, the website said. Honestly, I have never heard of the Viura grape, what an ignoramus I am. There is so much to learn out there. Life is just beautiful.