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Posts Tagged ‘Ramon Bilbao Rioja’

Celebrate Tempranillo!

November 11, 2015 2 comments

I hope you are done with that celebratory bottle of Merlot from the last week, as a brand new grape celebration is upon us. This time, it is about the grape which is not as widespread as Merlot, but still a foundation of some of the absolutely best wines in the world – dark skinned grape called Tempranillo. On Thursday, November 12, we will be celebrating International Tempranillo Day, with festivities around the world as you can see at the TAPAS web site.
First and foremost, Tempranillo means Spain – Rioja, Ribera deal Duero, Toro and many other regions in Spain craft world class wines which rival in their longevity wines of Northern Rhône and Bordeaux (but still quite affordable, opposite to the latter).
Of course Tempranillo’s success is not confined to Spain only – Texas makes excellent Tempranillo wines, with some interesting efforts in California (for instance, Irwin Family – delicious!), Washington, Oregon and Australia. Tempranillo also shines in Portugal under the names of Tinta Roriz and Aragonez.
I can spend hours going through my favorite Tempranillo wines and experiences – just search this blog for “Tempranillo”, you will see what I’m talking about. Instead, I want to mention just my most recent encounter with Tempranillo wines from two weeks ago – Ramón Bilbao Rioja.


2011 Ramón Bilbao Rioja Crianza (13.5% ABV, $14, 100% Tempranillo, 14 month in oak) – open inviting nose of the fresh dark fruit with touch of cedar box. Fresh, firm, well structured on the palate, nice core of ripe cherries, eucalyptus, pencil shavings and touch of espresso, good acidity, overall very balanced. A perfect example of wine which is drinkable now, and will gladly evolve for the next 10–15 years. Also at the price – very hard to beat QPR.
What are your Tempranillo experiences? Got any favorites or celebration plans you care to share? Please do so below. And until the next grape holiday – cheers!

Divine Experience, or Happy 15th Anniversary Brasitas!

July 28, 2013 16 comments

A few days ago I got an invitation to attend the wine dinner at Brasitas restaurant in Stamford, in honor of Brasitas 15 years anniversary. The invitation came through by ways of the Connecticut Bloggers group, run by Wendy and Greg Limauge (if you live and blog in Connecticut, you definitely want to be a part of this group).  Now, take your wild guess – do you think I accepted the invitation? Okay, that was a dumb question, so let’s move on – closer to the great food and wine.

I had been to Brasitas a number of times before, and it is safe to say that this is one of my favorite spots in Stamford. Brasitas identifies its cuisine as “Latin Fusion”, and considering the food which is served there, this is a pretty good designation. Now our dinner this time was a special event. The menu consisted of 5 dishes, paired with the special wine program (courtesy of Brescome Barton, one of Connecticut wine distributors) – so let me share that with you (but please keep in mind that this can make you hungry…).

We started our evening in style, with the Cave based version of Kir Royale:

This Codorniu Brut Cava, Penedes had a tiny drop of raspberry liquor, which didn’t change its very dry, austere character of the Cava. It is interesting to note that Codorniu family makes wines for 5 centuries (starting in 1551), and it was one of the first Cava producers in the region in 1872.

The very first dish of the day was Ensalada Catalana (Baby Spinach, Manchego Cheese, Golden Raisins, Pinenuts, Caramelized Quince, Blue Cheese and Sherry Vinaigrette):

Ensalada Catalana

Ensalada Catalana

The caramelized quince provided perfect support for both blue cheese and Manchego, overall creating very nice and refreshing appetizer.

Our next wine was 2012 Mar de Frades Albariño,  Val do Salnés,  Rias Baixas DO:

Mar de Frades Albarino

Mar de Frades Albariño

Mar de Frades means “A sea that is also a wine” in Galician. Bodegas Mar de Frades started producing wine in Val do Salnés region of Rias Baixas in 1987. The winery is located in the area where river Umia meets the sea, so you can see this sea relationship perfectly incorporated in the bottle itself. The label on this wine is also pretty unique, showing the blue ship on the label when the wine is at ideal drinking temperature (46F – 50F).

This 2012 Mar de Frades Albariño,  Val do Salnés,  Rias Baixas DO (100% Albariño, 12.5% ABV) had muted fruit on the nose, with nutty undertones, then it showed some white stone fruit. On the palate the wine was a little flat and acidic. I don’t know if this was really the right drinking temperature for the wine, as it showed more fruit as it warmed up. It was definitely not the Albariño I know, but I would think that it was specifically produced in this less fruity style. Drinkability: 7

Paired with Albariño was the dish called Pulpo a la Portuguesa (Roasted Portuguese Octopus, Bacalhau & Potato Cream, Charred Scallions, Chorizo, Mojo Verde):

Pulpo a la Portuguesa

Pulpo a la Portuguesa

The octopus was perfectly cooked it was definitely the star of the dish ( as expected).  I have to honestly tell you that Bacalhau was lost for me in that potato cream, and I would probably appreciate a bit more assertive presence from the chorizo, but overall that didn’t take much out of this excellent dish. An interesting side note – this was a first encounter with an octopus for a number of people at our table – but I think they all happened to like it!

Next up was 2010 Ramon Bilbao Crianza Rioja, Spain:

This 2010 Ramon Bilbao Crianza Rioja, Spain (100% Tempranillo, aged for 14 month in oak, 8 month in the bottle, 13.5% ABV) is produced by Bodegas Ramón Bilbao, founded in 1924 in Rioja Alta region. The winery had somewhat of the turbulent past, going through the number of owners but really turning around in 1999. The wine was outstanding (note to all – 2010 was a great vintage in Rioja, make sure to stock up on those wines). Nose was amazing – luscious dark fruit, some hints of eucalyptus. The nose sensation continued on the palate – dark red fruit, soft and luscious, perfect acidity, perfect balance overall, medium long finish. Drinkability: 8

This excellent Rioja was paired with… nothing else, but fish! The dish was called Pajespo con Romesco (Monkfish, Jamón Serrano, Saummer Pea Casserole, Ramesco Sauce, Pisto and Clam Broth):

Pajespo con Romesco

Pajespo con Romesco

How do you think the pairing was? In a word – spectacular! Earthy flavors of the sauce and nice saltiness of the fish wrapped in Jamón Serrano perfectly married the wine! I’m the first to ignore “fish with white…” rule, but in my experience this was the first truly spectacular pairing of such sort which I experienced. Bravo!

This was definitely the hard-to-top-off experience, but the next dish was … well, it was not better, but it was definitely on par.

First, the wine. 2008 Cruz de Alba Crianza Ribera del Duero, Spain:

Crus de Alba Ribera del Duero

Crus de Alba Ribera del Duero

This 2008 Cruz de Alba Crianza Ribera del Duero, Spain (100% Tempranillo, 15 month in barrel, 10 month in the bottle, 14.5% ABV) produced by Bodegas Cruz de Alba in Ribero del Duero region. This is relatively young winery, which came into existence only 10 years ago, in 2003. The winery web site is available only in Spanish, so just on my understanding it seems that this is a new venture of Bodegas Ramón Bilbao.

In general, the wines in Ribera del Duero are made from the same Tempranillo grapes as the wines of Rioja – but typically Ribera del Duero wines are more massive and concentrated than those of Rioja. This wine was no exception – dark fruit, structure, power, cherries, espresso and dark chocolate on the palate, perfect cut-through acidity, perfect balance. Definitely an outstanding example of Ribera del Duero wine.  Drinkability: 8.

This wine was paired with probably a culmination dish of the evening – Chicharrón (Pork Belly Brined in Smoked Paprika, Cauliflower-Manchego Foam, Crispy Cauliflower, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Solera Vinegar, Pickled Cherries):

Chicharrón

Chicharrón

This dish was a symphony of flavor and texture – succulent meat, the sauce with enough sweetness and acidity, crispy skin – all worked together perfectly. Cruz de Alba Crianza, with its sour cherries profile, was creating a delicious combination.

And then there was dessert – Torta de Aceite (Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake, Grapefruit Sorbet, Cosecha Miel Marinated Grapes):

Torta de Aceite

Torta de Aceite

The dessert was paired with Licor 43, a citrus essence with the touch of vanilla, which naturally complemented the dessert perfectly. This was a great finish to the fantastic meal.

Last, but not least – Jaime Guerrero, chef and owner of Brasitas, came to talk to us, which was a great ending for the evening:

Chef and Owner of Brasitas

Jaime Guerrero, Chef and Owner of Brasitas, talking to CT Bloggers

There you have it, my friends – great dinner, great food, great wine, great company – life at its best. I really enjoyed meeting all the Connecticut Bloggers who came to this dinner – Denise (and Jay) from DeeCuisine, Alicia from Local Food Rocks,  Bonnie from Home Place,  Greg and Wendy from Connecticut Bloggers – and I hope to seem them again soon.

And we are done here. Until the next time – cheers!

Brasitas Restaurant
954 E Main St
Stamford, CT 06902
(203) 323-3176
http://www.brasitas.com/

Disclaimer: I was invited to this dinner as a guest of management. All opinions are my own.

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