Monasterio de las Viñas, Reserva 2006 (Cariñena)

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One of the facinating things about Spain is the number of unknown wine regions. The new vanguard of Spanish winemakers is pushing into abandoned vineyards across the country and building some amazing value wines. Telmo Rodriguez comes to mind. He has land in Cigales, Valdeorras, Avila, Malaga. Have you had anything from these places? Me neither. One region at a time. Tonight I’m drinking something from Cariñena, Monasterio de las Viñas. Cariñena is about an hour south of Rioja. The wine is 70% Grenache, 20% tempranilla and only 10% Cariñena or Carignan as it’s called in France.

Food Match: Paella

Okay, I’ve tagged Jamie Olivers paella recipe because his cooking method is close to what I saw done by Miguel, a friend of mine from Valencia, the birthplace of paella. I told him that I cooked paella for the last fifteen minutes in an oven. He studied me for a good thirty seconds before finally muttering, “Hombre, that is simply not permitted.” Jamie’s oven use is more acceptable to the Spanish mind.

Tasting Notes: 

Minerals. Pepper. Spice. Plum. Black Cherry.

What the wine brought to mind: 

Spain. Pure Spain. Maybe it was the giant paella in the middle of the table, but to put something like this together for a few friends is to feel like a Spaniard, even if there’s a blizzard outside. The wine had freshness and spiciness. It worked very, very well.

Anecdotes to make you look savvy: 

–DO Cariñena is one of the oldest appellations in Spain.

–The Cariñena/Carignan grape is known as Mazuelo in Spain.

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