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Spain's top wineries from the Toro, Roja & Rueda R


One of the oldest wine producing countries embarks on a new revolution

There is little to dispute the fact that many of Spain’s ultra-premium wines have continued their unparalleled march to greatness within the world’s wine canopy. While this progression has occurred mostly during the past twenty years, it has only been successful due to the fact that a broad base of quality had been established by Spanish winemakers for many hundreds of years.

Spanish winemaking can be traced back many centuries and has always enjoyed a unique place in wine history thanks to the varied soils and micro climates that can be found throughout the Iberian Peninsula.

The past two decades has seen a renewed interest in Spanish winemaking through financial commitment to existing wineries and a remarkable investment by a new wave of Spaniards and outsiders through investment in boutique wineries. These smaller artisan-style wineries can be found throughout many wine-producing countries, and Spain is no exception. Utilizing modern state-of-the-art facilities and current winemaking techniques, a number of these small properties have quickly taken their places among the world’s top producing wineries.

This International Wine Club Series selection involves several wineries that fit into this collection. Three distinct growing areas are also featured that argue well for the broad variety of grapes and wines that are currently being produced in Spain.



Spain's top winemakers

Mariano Garcia, Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos is considered one of Spain’s top winemakers by just about everyone in the wine industry, Mariano Garcia is a giant figure in Spanish wine. As the celebrated winemaker for Spain’s famed Vega Sicilia, Garcia earned his reputation over a period of many years. His son Eduardo has carried on his father’s tradition and has oenology degrees from top schools in both France and Spain. Eduardo has also apprenticed in Spain, France and California, giving him an international perspective on winemaking. Mariano Garcia was one of the first winemakers to recognize the Toro D.O. as a top growing region and his presence caused additional wineries to locate in the area.

Bodegas Garcia de Orlano is another family-oriented winemaking team with older brother Fernando Garcia de Orlano as the principal oenologist and winemaker. Siblings Jose Luis and Jorge also help in the winemaking that is basically a team effort. Since their family has been in the wine business for many generations, the Garcia de Orlano Family relies on their classical winemaking techniques to produce their award-winning wines.

Victoria Pariente Prieto, Bodegas Jose Pariente - As with many Spanish wineries, present day winemaker Victoria Pariente Prieto learned the winemaking skill at the arm of her father Jose. Today, she constructs superb white wines that respect the winery’s origins and have a basis in modern winemaking equipment and techniques. She enjoys communicating the terroir and fruit of her vineyards in a passionate and pleasurable manner that has won accolades for her wines in numerous international competitions. Here, too, Victoria’s father’s classic approach to winemaking is always apparent.

Three exciting Spanish Wineries

Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos - Even though Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos has only existed since 1980, its name has always been synonymous with the very finest in Spanish wine and winemaking. This can be traced directly to Mariano Garcia Fernandez, the Mauro Group’s General Director and head winemaker. Garcia was formerly winemaker for the famed Vega Sicilia, long considered Spain’s premier winery and always placed among the supreme wineries in the entire world. Garcia retired from Vega Sicilia in 1998 and immediately devoted his time and expertise to Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos. In 1994, he began experimenting with grapes from the Toro region, an area he considered to possess great potential for producing world class wines. The first release of Bodegas y Vinedos Maudros came in 1998, and was met with great critical acclaim. The Tinta de Toro (from the same family as Tempranillo, but adapted to Toto over the centuries) is the principal varietal used for Maurodos wines and produces more intense aroma and structure than other Tempranillo varietals. The Prima line was initiated in 2003 as collaboration with Garcia’s son Eduardo and has received great acclaim from international competitions and periodicals.

Bodegas Garcia de Orlano - A family owned and operated winery for several generations, Bodegas Garcia de Orlano took its present form in 1991. Francisco Garcia de Orlano and his sons Fernando, Jose Luis and Jorge set out to duplicate their family tradition in the Rioja Alavesa growing area. The family owns just less than 100 acres of prime vineyards where the grapes are mostly Tempranillo. Grown at elevations between 500 and 800 feet altitudes, the vines average around 40 years of age and are always referred to as ‘Old Vineyards”. An incredibly thick leaf canopy shades the grapes from the incessant summer sun, but requires attentive pruning to insure the correct shade/sun ratio. The cellar at Bodegas Garcia de Orlano was built in 2002 and is ultra-modern in both design and implementation. Great attention is paid to moon cycles that govern the winery’s farming practices that are often referred to as biodynamic wine growing. The winery property includes a cave that dates back to the Muslim occupation of Spain in the 8th Century that housed the earlier winemaking attempts of the Garcia de Orlano family. These early efforts were generally sold by the liter to local customers. Today’s wines are sold internationally from grapes produced on the family’s estate vineyards. They have proven to be highly accepted in international competitions and are considered on par with many great international wines.

Bodegas Jose Pariente - Fifty years ago, Jose Pariente tended vineyards in the Rueda growing area and produced his own white wines. Pariente’s daughter Victoria succeeded her father and began producing the winery’s first commercial wines. In 2008, Bodegas Jose Pariente entered the modern age with new premises and state-of-the-art wine production. The new facility stands high on a plateau in the Rueda Region whose wine tradition dates back to the 11th Century and King Alfonso VI. The area has always been heavily rooted in vines and is in close proximity to the majestic River Duero that has served as the water source for the area since olden times. Bodegas Jose Pariente was the first D.O. recognized in the Rueda Region and is located some two hours north northwest of the capital city of Madrid. The soil in the Rueda is particularly stony, rich in calcium and magnesium. In the higher elevations, outcroppings of limestone are also present. Excellent air and water drainage are also favorable aspects of this particular growing area. The native and predominating varietal in the Rueda Region is the stately Verdejo grape that normally produces small bunches with tiny seeds and a thick skin. The skin gives the wines of Bodegas Jose Pariente great structure and adeptly combines both floral and herbal aromas.

About The Region

Rueda Region D.O. - The Rueda Region lies in Spain’s northern central area not far from Spain’s border with Portugal. The area is home to more than 50 bodegas (wineries) that produce Spain’s most sought after white wines. Famous in Spanish history, the area was a favorite of Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, most widely known for funding Christopher Columbus’s magnificent voyage of discovery. Wine is an important part of the region’s history and culture and is sought after by wine connoisseurs in many countries. The area is actually a sub region of the larger Castilla y Leon Region and was the first growing area granted DO status under the current Spanish wine laws.
The Atlantic Ocean influences the region’s weather, with harsh winters. There are strong variations between day and night temperatures allowing for sugar content balance and acidity maintenance.

Rioja Region D.O. - The largest and most prominent of Spain’s vast growing regions is located in the country’s Northeast area, not far from the French border. Over 1200 wineries dot this majestic landscape that has long produced Spain’s most respected wines. Rioja Alavesa is a sub-area of Rioja that features arcillo-calcareous soil that allows it to absorb the necessary humidity for vines to flourish. The mountainous Sierra Cantabrias protect the vineyards from the cold north winds that frequent the area and provide numerous micro-climates.
Wines from the Rioja have been top award winners in international competitions for many decades and represent the face of top Spanish wines around the globe.

Toro Region D.O. - Toro is one of the smaller Spanish growing regions located immediately northwest of Rueda. It is home to fewer than 50 wineries but produces an extremely high number of vintages that are frequently labeled as the best in the country. Given D.O. status in 1987, the area is famous for its bold red wines. Many Spanish wine writers believe Toro D.O. produces the best wines in Spain, a belief that is supported by the region’s prowess in top international competitions. The vineyards of Toro tend to be older, with many sections enjoying old vine status. Wines are generally intense with bold structure and accompanied by sweet tannins.


Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Hazelnut Romesco & French Oregano Vinaigrette


Ingredients

2 (1 lb) pork tenderloins
Olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Hazelnut Romesco Sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
6 peeled garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper, grilled, peeled & seeded
2 ripe plum tomatoes
2 ancho chiles, seed,soak in boiling water until soft
1 slice white bread, crust removed,cube
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup shelled hazelnuts
1 Tbs. honey
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Oregano Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 shallot, peeled & finely diced
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. minced fresh oregano, or to taste
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup pure olive oil


Instructions

For the Hazelnut Romesco Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat until smoking. Separately saute the garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes, chiles, and bread crumbs until lightly browned, about 2 min. each. Remove each ingredient with a slotted spoon as it is done. De glaze the pan with the wine. Place all the sauteed ingredients and the de glazing liquid into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the hazelnuts and process until finely chopped. Add the honey and season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the Oregano Vinaigrette: Whisk together vinegar, shallot, mustard, honey, and oregano in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified.

For the Pork: Preheat the grill. Rub pork with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill and grill until golden brown, turn over and continue grilling to desired doneness. Let rest and cut on the bias. Serve with a dollop of Hazelnut Romesco and drizzle with Fresh Oregano Vinaigrette.



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