Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

Onward! To The Canary Islands!

August 11, 2011

Volcanoes can kill, it’s true!  Mount Vesuvius totally wiped away Pompeii.  Mauna Loa off of Hawaii may soon blow,  Mount Merapi is just waiting to ruin Indonesia’s day, remember Krakatau?  Iceland took it pretty hard from Lakagigar!  But before you duck and cover and give up all hope remember that volcanoes are our friends too.  They can give birth to land masses, forming beautiful vacation getaways with unmatched sunsets and baked-sanded nude beaches.  Take the eastern most island of Lanzarote off the coast of Spain.

Lanzarote is the fourth largest island of the Canary Island’s fame born from volcanic ash creating an otherworldly landscape reminiscent of Mars (if Mars wasn’t red, wait a minute…Lanzarote is named after the Genoese explorer Lancelotto Malocello, the original name-Insula de Lanzarotus Marocelus translated from the original, native island tongue means “THE RED MOUNTAIN”!!) Oh my god, where are we???


These two wines from Los Bermajos come from quick draining volcanic soils which have a hard time holding water from the extremely harsh and dry, wind swept climate.  The vines are actually trained in foxholes to deflect the intense breezes meaning they have to be carefully tended by hand (no tractors can cruise through these vineyards!) making the yields extremely low producing wines of intense composition transmitting an honest sense of place.

2009 Los Bermejos Malvasia Seco Lanzarote, $25.  Imported by Jose Pastor Selections.

If there is any doubt that terrior is fantasy this wine will make you a believer.  Medium bodied, wildly textured, dry and savory.  This is  zesty fruit flavor mixed with a handful of sea pebbles.  Drink it with a sun baked and seasoned mackerel or by itself while shakin your ass at Carnival.

2009 Los Bermejos Tinto Carbónico Lanzarote, $22.  Imported by Jose Pastor Selections.

Carbonic maceration is the process of throwing whole clusters of grapes into a sealed container.  The grapes on the bottom get slightly crushed and eventually kick start fermentation, carbon dioxide is released and permeates the skins of the grapes on top fermenting them from the inside.  This process reduces natural malic acid and creates a softer, less tannic and fruity wine.  The 100% Listan Negra is definitely fresh and fruity but is interwoven with a wonderfully raspy herbal note giving it a stiff, mineral structure.  Have it with any combination of pork, cilantro, dried pepper, boiled egg and potato.

Check out the cool lip on the bottle, you can pour without dribbling!

Fun fact!  Did you know the islands are not named after canaries?  They are in fact named after “canaria” which are wild, fierce dogs that Romans encountered when they first landed here.

Welcome to Richmond Wine Culture

February 27, 2011

There are a lot of ways to make wine.

The number of methods makes it seem like wine can be made anywhere in the world. One can easily create a vineyard on a plot of land (away from trees) with well-prepared soil (through tilling, weeding and composting) that has good drainage and a steady flow of water (either by rain or irrigation) ample sun (from Spring through Fall) and enough dry air (or chemical spray) to keep rot and mold away.

If owning and maintaining a vineyard is too costly or labor intensive, one can easily source grapes from differnet growers and have the fruit delivered
to his/her newly constructed, state of the art winery. There, one can fill the mechanical hopper and crusher-destemmer (to separate leaves and twigs and such) to prepare the grapes for a brief, chilly stay in a heat exchanger.  After this, the grapes will get blasted with sulphur dioxide (to prevent fermentation and to slow down oxidation) then move on to a full-on mechanical stomp in a pneumatic press to produce the juice. The juice is then pump pump pumped into settling tanks (add some carbon dioxide in gas form) and then pumped again into the fermentation tanks.

Added here are some specially selected yeast strains intended to impart special characteristics into the finished wine.

The colder the fermentation, the fruitier and more aromatic the wine; the hotter the fermentation, the quicker the tanks can be refilled with the next batch. From there, the wine can be refined in new, more costly oak barrels, or, to keep it cheap, oak chips and saw dust can be thrown into the fermenting wine. After a run through the sheet filtration system the wine is ready to be bottled and slapped with a label!

These are generalized steps of course. One can easily buy the juice already crushed to ferment at will, or buy finished wine and manipulate anyway wanted. The easiest way to make wine, though, is to hire a consulting oenologist to do it all…

There are ways to grow wine, as well.
Wine is an agricultural product and comes from longstanding cultural traditions. Many Artisan growers uphold responsible farming and reflect a sense of place through their wines. When wine is grown rather than constructed, the process honors the land, natural growing cycles, and the integrity of heritage. And, it often tastes better, offering more complex and fresh flavors.

Richmond has access to all kinds of beautiful, real wines. Richmond Wine Culture will let you know where to find these special wines in local shops and restaurants. Join us online for discussions with wine distributors, restraunteurs, and wine shop owners to explore our city’s wine culture. Here, you will find information about noteworthy wine events around town (and notes on which tastings to avoid.)  To thoughtfully think about wine, Richmond Wine Culture will not provide unclear tasting notes like “Stewed gooseberries” or “Asian-spice box” or “Peruivan tree bark” or other ultimately senseless descriptors.  Instead, we’ll talk about how a wine is used to complement cuisine. Richmond Wine Culture will explore off the beaten path wine regions and direct you to wines that celebrate those regions.  We’ll cover the best ways to enjoy these special wines.

We look forward to tasting with you!