Archive for August, 2016

Navarra Wines: Long History but Modern

August 8th, 2016

Navarra Wines: Long History but Modern
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Spain is enjoying an increased focus for the improved quality of their value wines. One wine region that is still somewhat under the radar is Navarra. The Denominacion de Origen (D.O.) Navarra ( shows diversity with 5 different sub-regions of “Estella”, “Valdizarbe” and “Baja Montana” in the north (actually just south and west of “running with the bulls” Pamplona) with a cooler more humid climate, “Ribera Alta” in the middle where it is drier and the temperature warmer, and “Ribera Baja” most southerly and semi-arid.

The region has a long wine history back to the Romans, continued by the Arabs, and by the Christian monks in the monasteries of the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela. After phylloxera hit in 1900 Garnacha was replanted everywhere during the seventies and eighties reaching 90% for that variety in the vineyards. However, today pushed by a new generation of winemakers the wines are still terroir driven but showing a new modern fresh “bodegas” style that is so attractive to consumers. Now 90% is red grapes but Tempranillo is 33%, Garnacha only 24% (main contributor to a popular modern fruity raspberry strawberry “saignee” rose wine), Cabernet Sauvignon 16%, Merlot 14%, Graciano 2% and a smattering of Mazuelo, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. White grapes represent only 10% with the Chardonnay variety that first arrived in the 13th century still with 4% of plantings delivering a fragrant racy wine from the cooler areas, “Moscatel de Grano Menudo” a small golden berry Muscat for sweet late harvest fortified style, and some Viura, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, and Garnacha Blanca.

Trendy Rose is taking off. Their young reds can be fresh & lively, but tasty Crianza with at least 9 months in oak barrels, and Reserva (at least 3 years old with at least one year in oak) & Gran Reserva (aged at least 5 years with a minimum of 18 months in oak) are more complex.

On your next visit to Spain check this emerging region out. A good tip is to stay at the Parador in Olite and tour the very nearby Ochoa Winery ( to try their balanced “living wine” including some single vineyards. Like their 2009 Reserva blend aged in barrels for 18 months finished with natural cork in a lightweight bottle from 55% Tempranillo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon & 15% Merlot and the reasonably priced good fruit 2012 Crianza of 100% Tempranillo.

Have you tried a new wine from Navarra?

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10 Salsas to kick your summer into high gear!

August 5th, 2016

salsa recipes

By Joseph Temple

With summer well underway, it’s time to kick your BBQ dishes into high gear.  Try adding some cool and fresh salsas to your next outdoor dinner party.  Here are a few inspirations to get you started.  Don’t be afraid to try some new fruit and veggies and have fun pairing with your favorite protein.  Bon Appetit!


pico de gallo salsa
By jeffreyw (Mmm… Pico de GalloUploaded by Fæ) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

1. Pico de Gallo


Pine apple salsa
“Pineapple Salsa” by tvol is licensed under CC BY 2.0

2. Pineapple Salsa


Salsa Verde
By HuriAguilar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

3. Salsa Verde


Mango Salsa
By Maggie from Palm Springs, United States (Mango salsa) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

4. Mango Salsa


straw berry salsa
“Honey Lime Chicken with Mango~Strawberry Salsa” by doremigirl is licensed under CC BY 2.0

5. Strawberry Salsa


watermelon salsa
“watermelon salsa” by greenhouse17ky is licensed under CC BY 2.0

6. Watermelon Salsa


black bean salsa
“Black Bean Chipotle Salsa” by Maggie Hoffman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

7. Black bean Salsa


peach salsa
“peach salsa w/cucumber and mint” by Becky Striepe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

8. Peach Salsa


papaya tropical fruit salsa
“Recipe for Salsa Tropical Appetizer” by Coqui the Chef is licensed under CC BY 2.0

9. Papaya & Tropical Fruit Salsa


roastedcorn salsa
By Pp391 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

10. Roasted Corn Salsa


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Ask Sid: Vin Jaune like Sherry?

August 3rd, 2016
Ask your question here

Vin Jaune tastes like Sherry
By User:Arnaud 25 (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Question: Tasted some Vin Jaune wines from the Jura that made me think of dry Sherry. Am I correct?

Answer: Yes they are similar because after fermentation both are aged in wooden barrels that are not topped up under a layer of yeast that forms on the surface. This gives that distinctive oxidative character you recognize in both. However different grapes are used with Savagnin for Vin Jaune and Palomino in Sherry where the latter is fortified with a spirit under a solera system. Vin Jaune is unfortified from a single vintage aged in oak barrels until the middle of December of the the 6th year after harvest. It also uses the unique 62 centilitre Clavelin bottle. Vin Jaune is very dry with no residual sugar left (like a dry Fino sherry) but has very high acidity with an intriguing spiced nuts complexity.

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Tips by Selbach-Oster on Pairing German Mosel Wine With Food

August 1st, 2016

Tips by Selbach-Oster on Pairing German Mosel Wine With Food
By Michal Osmenda from Brussels, Belgium (Wine tasting at Selbach-Oster, Mosel)
[CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Johannes Selbach of Weingut Selbach-Oster ( was in Vancouver last month showing some of his wines from the cooler 2013 vintage. Also their best selling good value J & H Selbach “Fish Label” Riesling from 2014 (more difficult year because of continuous rain drizzle October 7-31 and fruit flies). They have planted some gewürztraminer and expect their first dry one to be from 2017. Johannes is bullish on the fantastic 2012 Mosel vintage and similarly 2015 when all went so well at harvest. The sweeter wines like Auslese are trending back to less sweetness and to be easier drinking (80 grams residual sugar rather than 200). Also tried 3 vintages in a row to make icewine but with no freezing conditions taking place they now have decided to give it up on that product in the future.

Selbach-Oster have some good tips on helping you match delicious lower alcohol Mosel wines with food:

1. Riesling Trocken (Dry. Maximum 9 grams of Residual Sugar): “Excellent with shellfish, seafood and other fish. Try with raw oysters, clams, and smoked meats or foods calling for a dry unoaked wine”

2. Riesling Halbtrocken (Medium-Dry. Maximum 18 grams): “Favourite with delicate fish (poached, broiled or grilled), not too spicy poultry, veal, pork, smoked meats, sausages, hams and the like. ”

3. Riesling Kabinett: “Cream based sauces, spicy very hot dishes, salmon (smoked or cured), fresh water fish like trout, shrimp, chicken, summer greens and vegetables.”

4. Riesling Spatlese: “Crab, lobster, scallops, sweetbreads all of which have an inherent sweetness. Also fusion, veal, pork, chicken where there is cream, reduced butter, fruit (apples, cranberries, peaches, raisins) in the sauce and spicy but not too hot Asian dishes.”

5. Riesling Auslese: “Sauces with a touch of sweetness that use Madeira, Oloroso Sherry, Port or the like, rich pates including foie gras, blue-veined cheeses (Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Fourme d’Ambert) or soft rind smelly cheeses like Munster or sharp Cheddar. Hot and spicy foods. Savoury roasts or stews. Over 15 years of age excellent with roast of venison. Young with not too sweet desserts that are fruit based like an apple tart or fresh fruit.”

6. Eiswein, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese: “These are desserts by themselves but go with all non chocolate desserts as well. Outstanding with very rich pates especially foie gras and very ripe blue-veined cheeses.”

Riesling is very versatile with food. Always seems to be a better match than you would expect. Selbach-Oster teamed up successfully with restaurant Memphis Blues in showing that Riesling is a magical pairing with barbecued pork. Give it a try.

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