I love the city of Burgos. This is the historic capital of Castile and the home of the legendary, El Cid Campeador Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, a Castilian nobleman and military leader was instrumental in the recapturing of Spanish lands from their Muslim conquerors. On a personal note, I would like to add that Burgos is the ancestral home of the Alonzo clan.
Today I am joined by long time friend and fellow sommelier, Esmerelda Diaz. We are enjoying Tapas and some of the more popular wines from the Ribera del Duero region, at the ever popular, Cafe de Bocaos.
Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers served along with Spanish cuisine. Tapas may include everything from mixed olives, cheese, breads, anchovies, mackerel, sardines, and one of my particular favorites, chopitos. A popular dish consisting of battered fried baby squid.
“Let me begin by telling the readers,” Esmerelda chuckled softly. “I am not related to El Cid, Rodrigo Diaz.”
“You are too funny,” I chuckled softly.
“I also have a suprise for you,” Esmerelda’s crinkled into a smile. “One of your favorites.”
“Jamon Iberico!” I explained jubilantly.
Iberian ham, also known as pata negra, “black hoof,” is a type of cured ham common to Spain and select regions in Portugal. The Portuguese know this style of curing meats as “presunto Iberico.”
“Our table has been set for a wonderful feast,” Esmerelda beamed with excitement. “Shall we begin?
“Salud,” I toasted her.
Tempranillo is a full-bodied wine wine made from a variety of black grape that is quite plentiful on Spain. The name is derived from the Spanish, temprano, “early.” This is because Tempranillo grapes ripen several weeks earlier than most other Spanish grapes. Tempranillo has thrived throughout the Iberian Peninsula since the days of the Phoenician colonies around BCE.
Our first selection, Vinedos y Bodegas Garcia Figuero Noble 2004, is indeed a noble wine and lives up to the noble tradition that is Tempranillo. This is a big The vines that produce grapes for this very special wine are more than 70 years old. Our 2004 Garcia Figuero Noble was aged in American oak for fifteen months with an additional six months in French oak. Next the wine spends a final fifteen months in the bottle before leaving the cellar. The final product is a sheer delight. On the eye, the color is a deep ruby-red. The nose is herbaceous with hints of berries, plum, vanilla, tobacco, and leather. On the palate, it is full of ripened fruit, jam, followed by a woody mineral quality. The finish is long and will most definitely continue to improve with age. The alcohol content is 14℅on this big red with a price tag of $160 to match.
“The 2004 Noble is often served with steaks and heartier dishes,” Esmerelda paused for effect. “I prefer this Tempranillo with venison.”
“I must say, that this is among the best Tempranillo I have tasted in a long time,”I said in conclusion. “Definitely well-worth the wait.”
Our next selection, Monticello Gran Reserva Rioja Alta 1996, proved to be another wonderful Tempranillo based wine. On the eye it is a deep ruby color with hues of brick. The nose is filled with sweet ripe fruits followed by an array of concentrated flavors. Our Gran Reserva was indeed a complex and powerful wine yet filled with grace and elegance. It is full-bodied with mature tannins and an enticing finish topped off by a hint of seductive spice. The alcohol content is 14.5% with a price tag of $25.
“1996 was actually a good year for Riojas,” Esmerelda smiled in fond reflection. “This Gran Reserva pairs nicely with steaks and sharp cheese.”
“I would even go so far as to pair this Rioja with fish,” I remarked with assurance. “Those aficionados of red wine with fish will find our Grand Reserva the perfect compliment.
Our next selection, Bodegas Medrano-Irazu Rioja Crianza 2001, is from a family vineyard that prides itself on still using the traditional method of foot-pressing the grapes. The vines of Medrano-Irazu boast about that they are least 20 years old and indicative of the Rioja Alavesa region. The wine produced in this hilly terrain of Northern Spain are characterized by the cooler climate. a Rioja Crianza is 100% Tempranillo with a deep ruby red color. There are aromas of tobacco and cigar that spirit the senses. The wine is full-bodied with a long but green finish. Typically Rioja Crianza is aged at least one year in American and French oak, our 2001 could benefit from further aging. The alcohol content is 13% with a price tag of $30.
“On that note, I think we should order another round of tapas, a second bottle of Rioja Crianza,” I paused on the moment to collect my thoughts. “And enjoy the classical guitarist who is about to come on stage.”
“Salud,'” we toasted each other … “But that my friends is another story …”