Not to be too much of a hedonist here, but in the world we live in, sometimes it is better to enjoy a nice wine than to try to change people who do not want to change. So let us talk about wine.
My dad enjoyed a good glass of wine. He knew many growers and vintners, so growing up I was spoiled by trying wonderful wines. Having said that, they were mostly solid, serious, dry, old school Riojas and the occasional Ribera del Duero, ok and a glass of bone dry sherry before lunch, oh, and nice Champagne at celebrations!
So I come by my hobby honestly. I started enjoying a glass, ok, or a bottle, seriously in college. I learnt a lot from my french classmates and other budding enthusiasts, but, like most, could not enjoy a solid bottle for pecuniary reasons. That is until I got my first job after university and then things got serious. My palate was used to those heavy, dry Riojas, so when one of my summers in university I went on an internship to Bordeaux I was baffled by the awesome flavor of those much lighter wines – that is why Bordeaux used to be called Claret (for clear). Through time I slowly discovered more and more wine regions and could, never mind identify, but more importantly, enjoy different wines.
As I got older I fell in love with different regions, producers, even specific bottles. Here are some of my faves:
Any “old school” Rioja Reserva or Gran Reserva: Marques de Caceres, Ygay, Muga, CUNE, Marques de Riscal… It is a long list, but if I had to pick a couple, they might be Remirez de Ganuza and LAN.
With the Ribera del Duero I am a bit more picky. Real Riberas have very high tannins and only the older, aged, wines have “tamed” those tannins. So my favorites there are Alejandro Fernandez’s Pesquera Reserva – this was a long love of mine. (It’s little brother Condado de Haza is pretty good as well).
I have been lucky to meet and visit a few growers myself, and that makes all the difference, as you get a much better understanding of the wine making process, the land – terroir, the whole shebang!
One such visit was to the Marques de Griñon in Toledo. He is a lovely fellow and clearly loves each and every single grape he grows! While there I tasted his Syrah (Shiraz, you say potato…) and it was love, sorry, taste at first sight! While I have enjoyed many great Syrahs over the years, that one was a spectacular moment.
Another love story might be with Pinot Noir, but not just any Pinot. You see I was never really impressed with this grape, until one good day not too long ago I had a California Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, and it changed my life: light, but packing a whole lot of deliciousness. These are normally tricky (and expensive) to find, as the region is quite small, so good luck!
This summer while doing the Camino de Santiago I crossed the Bierzo region, which until recently was only known in Spain. Well, some of those wines really blew my mind!!
But my fave non-Spanish wine region is Châteauneuf-du-Pape, yes I know I am not very original, but I love the full bodied goodness of these guys!!
Given a choice I drink red, but if I have to pick a white, it usually is an Albariño, followed by a Verdejo, after that I’m not all that interested.
There you have it, a short but sweet list of my favorite wines, without getting all pedantic with technical bits, but still making myself a wine snob/nerd.