Many people discovered and continue to discover the wines of Rioja while on a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. For pilgrims, the Camino starts the moment you leave the house: that’s when you begin on “The Way.” Some say “The Way” begins the moment you commit to it. There are several main routes as you can see from the map below, but the most popular route starts in France near the Pyrenees and the Spanish border in Navarra and passes through Rioja. Over 300,000 pilgrims traveled the Camino in 2017 returning home with a new appreciation of affordable Spanish wine like the ones we are writing about today. Hopefully one day soon I’ll discover this for myself! I wanted to walk in 2018 but we stayed and walked in Wales. In 2019, I walked to the top of Kilimanjaro as well as all over the Loire and Champagne, and of course no one walked much of anywhere in 2020…
What is your budget for wine? There are wines to enjoy today like this white and rosado from La Rioja and other that can lay down for years that become gems in later. There are other wines that are only ho hum after years in the cellar. If you can afford to buy two and lay one down and check it out in years to come. It is all about being a wine geek and appreciating the art of appreciating wine and what wine has to offer.
Overall wines from Rioja offer a surprising value and range as we learned and also wrote about here:
- “3 Rioja For #TempranilloDay: Rojo, Blanco y Rosado.”
- “An American Summer BBQ with Spanish Rioja Wine: LAN Crianza and Beronia Rosado #WinePW”
- “Along the Camino with Spanish Rioja plus Pairings”
For full appreciation of the Tempranillo grape, red wines should be cellared for a while as this grape gets better and better with age; today we have one for this article from 2006 that I put in my cellar 10 years ago!
For pairings, firmer cheeses are usually a good choice when serving wine from Rioja. Lamb, pork and beef are all meats typically paired with these wines. They are great with tapas cheeses and charcuterie from Spain, excellent with osso bucco on mashed potatoes, fabulous with lamb chops, but while great with pork in general, AWFUL with a smoked ham with a pineapple clove marinade!
SCROLL DOWN FOR REGIONALLY INSPIRED RIOJA RECIPES FOR
SUPER EASY HEARTY BEAN, KALE, CHORIZO SOUP,
CITRUS SALAD WITH AVOCADO DRESSING.
- 2019 Monopole Rioja Viura
- 2019 Vina Real Rosado
- 2011 Consejo De La Alta Reserva
- 2006 Vina Zaco Tempranillo Rioja
- salmon roe
- warm olive salad with preserved citrus rind and cranberry
- citrus and green salad: avocado, oranges, fried chorizo on spring greens with an orange vinaigrette (see recipe below)
- bean kale chorizo soup (see recipe)
- patatas bravas (see recipe)
- rack of lamb with rosemary and garlic and blackberry sauce
2019 CVNE Monopole Rioja Viura
sample for my review
Color: Pale straw, very pale lemon, lemon chiffon
Nose: Expressive, aromatic, stone fruit, grass, wet stone, wet river stone
Palate: Tart citrus, grass, mouthfeel, clean, with citrus on the side of the palate, dry on the back of the throat, limestone, bright acidity.
Pairing: Nice greeter wine that’s enjoyable on its own or with seafood. We thought this would be a great wine with the oysters, but the oyster almost overwhelms the wine, and all of the fruit is lost when the two are together. It was crazy good with our warm olive salad with dried cranberry and lemon rind. Love, love, loves the avocado in the salad bringing out nice minerality in the wine. The citrus and the citrus dressing was perfect for the wine standing up to it nicely. Sue doesn’t often gobble salads down, but it was so perfect with the wine that she wanted more. The rosemary herbs in the chopped Marcona almonds were also quite nice with the wine. Fantastic with our chorizo bean soup. There is a kick, and a richness when the two are paired.
2019 Vina Real Rosado
sample for my review
Color: Pink rose, not quite salmon but almost
Nose: Lots of cherry, watermelon, asian pear, red delicious apple. Cherry is dominate. Going back to the nose, Sue stated how she really appreciated the wine.
Palate: This is a simple wine on the finish. Cherry, dry, fresh, clean. Not much finish. Herbs mid palate, herbs. Herbs on the finish that drop off fairly quickly.
Pairing: Another greeter wine, or summer day sipper. Great picnic wine, we imagined it would go well with a ham sandwich. Great with our salmon roe. Great contrast with our olives. The fruit and the brininess of the olives was a match for the fruit and dryness in the wine. Salad was perfect with the wine because of the fried chorizo crunches on top. Perfect with the richness of the chorizo bean soup. Loving the creaminess of the beans, the smokiness of the chorizo and the crunchy texture of the kale and the rich complexity of the broth. The wine hearts this soup.
2011 Consejo De La Alta Reserva
purchased at Grocery Outlet about $10
Color: Brick rim with an orangish rim.
Nose: Cherry, Dr Pepper, herbs and spice, anise, dill, toast, tobacco, cherry tobacco,
Palate: Cherry vanilla, baking spices, nicely smooth, cloves, very dry yet not chalky, velvety smoothness. Still a good deal of tannins there. Velvety tannins. The finish is not super spectacular, but it has a lingering acidic fruit finish.
Pairing: Fantastic with the creamy beans the green of the kale, and the smoky flavors in the chorizo. Wow it was so fantastic. The creamy richness of the food works so well with the bright acidic characteristics in the meal. The the oven potatoes and braves sauce takes French fries to an entirely different level. Bravas is not at all ketchup, but is a wonderful tomato based sauce. Aioli is not ranch dressing, but has the creamy richness of ranch, and the two together work together with the potatoes. Rich of the lamb and richness of the wine just go together. the tart cherry and the blueberry sauce over the lamb work together so well. “Wow, just wow, what can I say? the salt and the rosemary with the berry sauce. so good. the savory the sweet and the berry was pretty fantastic with the wine. the fat and the fruit and the herbs the food marries nicely and tames the tart wine.
2006 Vina Zaco Tempranillo Rioja
What would you expect out of a $11 wine purchased over 10 years ago? Not much! Both this wine was fantastic that night and on alter nights when I enjoyed it with leftovers and a bacon burger!
Color: Very dense, so dense that you cannot see through it, cloudy, garnet, root beer colored rim
Nose: Cherry tobacco for Sue. My mom loved Dr Pepper and this reminded me of what my mother would have loved. Cherry tobacco, eucptalyptus. Oregano, sage, thyme, tarragon, fennel seed. There is a liftedness to the wine. Light and bright. Very surprising for the age of the vintage. It is still interesting and engaging for a cheap wine that has been laid down since 2009, it has done its work nicely. Sue kept saying that there was an earthy mushroom type of characteristic. This was a noteworthy wine on the nose.
Palate: Tart cherry, cherry, cherry cough drop, rosemary, oregano, surprisingly smooth. This wine has laid down so nicely. Bright fruit, smooth tannins, plentiful herbs, smooth mocha finish, On the front it is tart and tannic, and on the back it is smooth and silky. Kind of a yin and yang with the front and the back of the palate.
Pairing: The meat, the beans, and the kale are like a holy trinity of flavors, rich, tart, spice. All of it going so perfectly with the wines. Just the wine without the meal I find myself so much more interested in everything.
In the end I enjoyed this wine over our 2011 vintage. It has aged nicely and has shown in spite of its price or time in the cellar.
HEARTY BEAN, KALE, CHORIZO SOUP,
CITRUS SALAD WITH AVOCADO
- Preheat oven 350 degrees
- Cut 5 to 6 potatoes into squares and place on a baking sheet.
- Toss potatoes with 1 to 2 T olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary.
- Roast about 20 to 30 minutes until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally.
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 T tomato paste
- 1/2 t garlic powder
- T T smoked paprika
- 1T paprika
- Salt to taste
Hearty White Bean and Kale Soup with Chorizo
- 1T olive oil
- 8 oz Spanish chorizo cubed to 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 shallot or small onion chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cans white beans
- 1T paprika
- Pinch of saffron
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 to 3 cups fresh chopped kale
In a saucepan over medium high heat
- Drizzle olive oil, add chopped chorizo, cook until golden brown.
- Add onion, stirring frequently and sauté 2 minutes until soft
- Add garlic, continue stirring and sauté one more minute
- Add chicken stock, white beans, paprika, and saffron
- Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes
- After 20 minutes add chopped kale and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes
Orange Avocado Salad
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2T sherry vinegar
- 1/2 to 1t honey
- 1/2 t mustard ( any kind will work)
- Whisk till slightly thickened.
Learn more about wine, food, and travel in La Rioja:
Andrea at The Quirky Cork shares “Marqués de Cáceres Crianza with Chorizo Sweet Potato Pockets”
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Mexican Ham Soup and a Spanish Rioja Wine“
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Catalan Coques + La Rioja Alta Viña Arana Rioja Gran Reserva 2014“
- Steve at Children of the Grape shares “Tasting Rioja With Aging Eyes“
- Allison and Chris at Advinetures share “Rioja: The Confluence of Tradition & Modernity“
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Viura – There is more to Rioja than Tempranillo“
- David at Cooking Chat shares “White Bean Stew with Sausage and a Rioja“
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest shares “Revisiting Rioja: Vinedos Singulares with Bodegas Ontañon”
- Nicole at Somms Table shares “One Day in Haro“
- Lauren at The Swirling Dervish shares “White Rioja: There’s a Style for Every Palate“
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “Classic Rioja Alta to kick off virtual trip to Spain“
- Terri at Our Good Life shares “Our First Rioja with Assorted Easy Tapas“
- Marcia at Joy of Wine shares “White Rioja: Taste and See What You’re Missing”
- Susannah at Avvinare shares “Exploring Legendary Winery Marqués de Riscal”
- Gwendolyn at Wine Predator shares “Regional Rioja: Tempranillo, Viura, Rosado paired with hearty soup, salad, lamb, patatas bravas”
- Martin at Enofylz shares “Reconsidering Rioja Blanco with the 2008 R. López de Heredia Rioja Blanco Reserva Viña Tondonia“
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “Rioja Oriental – A Cinderella Story“
Join our ##worldwinetravel chat at 8am Pacific or check out the hashtag #WorldWine Travel
- 11:00 am ET Q1 Welcome to the #worldwinetravel virtual Rioja visit. Where are you tweeting from? Introduce yourself, share a link to your blog. Visitors too!
- 11:05 am ET Q2 We’re diving deep into Spain in 2021. What did you know about Spain and the wines of Rioja prior to our event? #worldwinetravel
- 11:10am ET Q3 Rioja is perhaps the best-known wine region in Spain. Did you uncover anything interesting in your research for the event? #worldwinetravel
- 11:15am ET Q4 Tell us about the Rioja wine you’re highlighting. #worldwinetravel
- 11:20 am ET Q5 Some of the grapes in Rioja wines are less familiar, like Tempranillo, Viura and others. What’s your impression of these grapes? #worldwinetravel
- 11:25 am ET Q6 How would you explain Rioja wine character? Old world in style? New world? What’s Unique about Rioja? #worldwinetravel
- 11:30 am ET Q7 Did you pair your wine w/ food? Did you choose a regional food or a creative pairing of your own? #worldwinetravel
- 11:35am ET Q8 How did your pairings go? Are there things you’d try in the future or anything to avoid? #worldwinetravel
- 11:40am ET Q9 Rioja is a popular Spanish wine destination. Have you visited? Did your experience with these wines increase your interest in visiting? #worldwinetravel
- 11:45am Q10 What are your thoughts or suggestions for introducing Rioja wines to your audience? #worldwinetravel
- 11:50am Q11 Open comment time, any thoughts or discoveries you’d like to share? #worldwinetravel
- 11:55am Thanks for joining our #worldwinetravel chat on Rioja. Join us next month as we explore Catalunya, home of Cava, Priorat, Montsant, and who knows what else!