For the first two Wednesdays of this month, Jay and I have been traveling to Spain through Barcelona‘s “Passport through Spain” wine series. Each class in the series focuses on a particular Spanish region. For the sessions 1 and 2, Wine Steward of Barcelona Stamford, Jose Valverde, took us on a tour of the Rioja and Galicia regions.
Jose is an amazing instructor who exhibits passion and a great wealth of knowledge. When he speaks, you can follow what he is explaining. He uses terminology that even a wine novice could understand. I’ve learned more in this series than what I’ve tried to learn at other wine classes. He taught us about the history behind the wines, how the grapes are grown, wine and food pairings, and how to taste the wines. Each wine class is set up with a 3-course tasting: 3 fantastic wines paired with 3 delicious tapas prepared by Chef Michael Lucente.
Here’s a recap of the first two sessions.
Session 1: Rioja Region
The first wine-pairing class covered the Rioja region best known for its Old World style and their well-aged red wines. White wine only accounts for about 10% of Rioja’s total wine production.
Pairing 1: We enjoyed a glass of NV Ondarre Millenium Brut Cava served with Hamachi Crudo topped with citrus segments and hearts of palm. Cava is a sparkling wine that is drier (has less sugar) than Champagne.
Pairing 2: 2007 La Rioja Alta, Viña Alberdi, Reserva was paired with a hearty, and comforting, Wild Boar dish made with carrots, parsley, chestnuts. (NOTE: This tapa has recently been added to the Barcelona Greenwich menu). The aroma of this medium-bodied wine was best described as tobacco and smoky.
Pairing 3: 2010 Palacios Remondo, La Montesa, Crianza served with what Jose described as “Wild Paella,” also known as Salvaje Paella. The paella was made with chorizo, rabbit, Morcilla, chickpeas, and roasted garlic bulbs.
Session 2: Galicia Region
The second session covered Galicia, a seaside region. Most of the wine produced are floral, crisp, and light. The wines are typically paired with the people from that region mostly eat – seafood.
Pairing 1: 2011 Albariño, Lagar de Costa, Rias Baixas accompanied with grilled pulpo (octopus) served in lemon and olive oil, sprinkled with a dash of chili flakes and garnished with fried matchstick potatoes. The Albariño was a crisp white wine. As I ate the octopus and sipped the wine, I immediately thought of what Jose said, “the wine has the acidity to cut through the grease.”
Pairing 2: 2011 Godella, Bodegas Val de Sil, Valdeorras was paired with a Baccalà Crostini. I could see this as being my summer wine. The wine was a citrus-y and easy to drink. The crostini was based off a dish Chef Michael Lucente ate while in a restaurant called Casa Montaña in Valencia, Spain. It took Chef Michael one year to perfect the recipe.
Pairing 3: 2011 Mencia, Abadia da Cova, Barrica, Ribeira Sacra was the last of the wines we sampled. It was a smooth red wine that was paired with an amazing tapa – Drunken Goat Cheese a la Plancha. The cheese was marinated in red wine then grilled and served over caramelized onions with a membrillo (quince paste) reduction. This wine also pairs well with meat, like the Wild Boar we had in session one.
The wine and food pairings in both sessions were phenomenal. I can’t wait to attend the next two sessions. If you haven’t signed up for the last two wine classes, we strongly recommend that you do. It’s a wonderful experience. The food is amazing. The wine is fantastic. The third class on March 19th covers Montsant/Priorat, known for its powerful, elegant and complex wines and the last class on March 26th will focus on the Valencia region.
Each class is $35 per person (plus tax and gratuity) with a maximum of 20 people attending. With the first class you attend, you’ll receive a Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant passport. Each time you attend a class, your passport will be “stamped” and you receive a complimentary tapa token to redeem on your next visit. For those who attend all four classes, they will each receive a ‘Dinner for Two’ gift certificate. Reservations can be made by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to see you there!
Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant
18 West Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830