jueves, 30 de octubre de 2014

Urbina Tutored Tasting at Gales of Llangollen Hotel & Wine Bar



GALES OF LLANGOLLEN HOTEL & WINE BAR

- History: The building that houses Gales at 18 Bridge Street has a rich history. For hundreds of years the hostelries of Llangollen served the needs of travellers taking he road from London to Dublin. As they approached the wilds of Snowdonia the small town of Llangollen must have seemed an outpost of civilisation.

From the late 17th Century the premises of 18 Bridge Street, then the Lion Inn was one of those hostelries. (The building that houses the Wine Shop was The Butchers Arms).

In 1815 the renowned engineer Thomas Telford forged a new road through the area diverting the increasing volume of traffic away from Bridge Street, the original main road. Eventually in the 19th Century the licenced premises that had been the Lion Inn became an Ironmongers shop.


In 1977 Richard Gale was looking for premises to start a Wine Bar. By chance a friend suggested Llangollen as a suitable location and so a chain of events began that led to 18 Bridge Street once again becoming a haven for travellers visiting or passing through North Wales.

Initially the reception was mixed - this was, after all, the first Wine Bar in North Wales! Over 35 years, however, local support has ensured the ongoing sucess of Gales and underpinned the development of the business that now includes Gales Wine Bar, Hotel and Wine Shop.

With a second generation of the Gale family now firmly established in the business, the future of the old hostelry is assured.

- Name: Gales Of Llangollen Hotel & Wine Bar
- Adress: 18 Bridge Street, Llangollen, Denbighshire, LL20 8PF
- Tel: +44 (0) 01978860089
- Fax: +44 (0) 01978861313


- Wine Bar: The wood panelled Wine Bar is the award winning centre of the business. Its character is largely unchanged from the original 9 table experience back in the 70’s. It now boasts 20 tables but still works on the foundations of simple home cooked food using the best local ingredients and wine expertly picked to offer the best range and value.

Gales owes its busy informal nature to the fact that it never takes a table booking and takes orders though a bar service of friendly, knowledgeable staff. Whenever you come though the door you know you will receive the same amiable welcome.

Opening Hours:
. Lunch: 12.00 - 2.00 Monday to Saturday
. Dinner: 6.00 - 9.30  Monday to Saturday


- Food: At Gales they offer a variety of dining options from casual ‘grazing’ dishes based on the Spanish tradition of tapas, through to monthly changing a la carte evening menus.

To compliment their grazing menu they offer fromagerie and charcuterie selections utilising carefully chosen examples of artisan Welsh & British cheeses alongside the finest imported chorizos, salamis and cured pork products.

Permanently featured on their chalkboards and available during both lunch and evening service are a range of salt baked potatoes and a regularly changing selection of pastas, salads, sharing platters and lighter meals.

The full a la carte menu is available Tuesday through Saturday; this four course individually priced menu changes monthly and is strongly based around the seasons, taking influence from British, European and Mediterranean basin cuisines. Monday nights feature their special 'Supper Menu' with a reduced price set menu.


- Hotel: Situated in one of the oldest streets in Llangollen and a few seconds from the high street, Gales has 15 en-suite bedrooms. All their rooms are individually decorated and sympathetically restored in keeping with the historic character of the buildings.

Eight of the rooms are above the Wine Bar in a Georgian townhouse, with many original features.

The remaining rooms are in a much older timber framed building across the driveway. These rooms have exposed beams, wattle and daub walls and all have original features.

All the rooms are available as double or single occupancy, many can be used for twin or family occupancy.

All the rooms have tea and coffe making facilities, hair-dryers, direct dial telephones, widescreen televisions and wifi access.

Room Rates (Prices correct as of April 2013)
- Single Occupancy £60
- Double Occupancy £80
- Suite (Room 10) £90
- Executive Suite (Courtyard Cottage) £110
- Extra Person £10
- Continental Breakfast £0
- Cooked Breakfast £5


- Gales Cottages: Gales Cottages are situated in the beautiful town of Llangollen, only a few minutes  walk from the town centre.

Three of the cottages are on the banks of the River Dee overlooking Castell Dinas Bran in Church Street, the oldest street in Llangollen. The fourth cottage is in a courtyard behind Gales Hotel in Bridge Street.

The properties have been sympathetically renovated maintaining original features such as beams and wattle and daub walls wherever possible. Nos. 21 and 23 Church Street date back to 1695 and were once the Quaker Meeting Rooms.

All of the cottages have wall mounted televisions, ipod dock/radios and free wi-fi. All are equipped with washing machines/tumble driers and dishwashers.

The cottages are comfortable retreats in which to relax and unwind or an ideal base from which to explore the town's attractions, the local area and the beauty of North Wales.


STAFF

- Richard Gale: Wine buff and so addicted to “winebar lifestyle” that he decided many years ago that the less expensive option would be to have one of his own. Gales is an extension of Richard's personality. It's a business but it has to be fun for the family, staff and most importantly the customers. (Richard thinks broccoli is ridiculous: loves Emerson Lake and Palmer and The Hollies and we suggest all customers ask him to relate the ‘Bible Salesman Joke').

- Pip Gale: On graduating from University in 2001, Pip traveled extensively to expand his knowledge and understanding of wine before joining the family business. As Director and General Manager he has embraced the Gales business philosophy, keeping the style and traditions whilst introducing new features. Pip continues to explore; tasting and travelling around European Wineries. Pip is an active member of the wine community, and in 2013 was admitted to the prestigious Academie du Champagne. (Pip won't play monopoly on moral grounds).


- Gillie Gale: Gillie and Richard started the Wine Bar in 1977 where Gillie's cuisine brought a change of style to Llangollen. Gillie now runs the Hotel and Wine Shop side of the business in addition to being the voice of reason. (Occasionally, Gillie 'needs' a G&T).

- Andrew Gale: Andrew is a freelance photographer and web designer. His artistic and creative abilities have led to his input at Gales as Design Consultant in which capacity he deals with marketing, advertising and publicity (and the website). (If you see him in the bar his drink is rum).

- Holly Gale: Over the years Holly has been a great help behind the bar and in the shop but she is now living and working in London. (Holly would like to be a vegetarian, but she loves Steak too much).

- Andrew Mckernan: Andrew started working at Gales of Llangollen in 2006 at the tender age of 16. Gerk, as he is known to the staff (Richard still thinks his real name is Gerk Mckernan) took a great interest in everything the job had to offer moving quickly from KP to waiter and trying his hand at most positions in the Kitchen and Bar. He left to work on the railway in 2008 but returned to in 2009. Over the years he has taken on more and more responsibility and can often be found in charge of the place. His friendly and attentive nature towards customers makes him a big hit with the locals and hotel guests alike.


- Daniel Gaskin: Despite gaining his degree in Film at Liverpool back in 2003, Dan decided it was the chef's life for him (luckily for the Gales of Llangollen) and has speedily progressed through the ranks to become a talented and focused chef.

Dan joined Gales of Llangollen as head chef in late 2011 having spent a few years with gastropub specialists Brunning & Price following his formative years in restaurants and hotels in the north Wales area, Liverpool & north Shropshire.

Since joining Gales he has been broadening his experience securing 'stage' placements with Michelin level chefs, Adam Gaunt-Evans & Bjorn Van Der Horst in Wales & the Maldives respectively and hopes to continue with further placements during the coming years.

- Scott Griffiths: Rarely have they seen a team member progress at the rate Scott has. Coming to Gales of Llangollen in early 2012 with little-to-no experience in a professional kitchen, Scott has advanced with leaps and bounds to become a truly indispensable member of the team. Scott worked as roofer's apprentice after finishing school. This trade has left him with a keen eye for precision, neatness and a passion for a quality finish, skills which transfer nicely into the kitchen environment. He is as hard working as they come and is sure to go far on his new found career path.

- Dyfan Hughes: Dyfan joined the team as an apprentice in late 2013. Dyfan grew up in the picturesque Ceiriog valley and one would struggle to find a more patriotic Welshman. Mad about all things sporty he is a keen footballer and has represented Wales as a crown green bowls player. Dyf is particularly fond of seafood (and the bountiful Welsh coastline) his tastes are expanding and his palate improving all the time. In Gales of Llangollen have no doubt Dyfan has what it takes to become a great chef in the future and they’re having fun getting him started on his journey. He is fresh faced and eager to learn - a joyful addition to the brigade.


WINE SHOP AND RECEPTION

The hotel reception is situated within our Wine and Gift Shop.

The cellar-like ambience of the room adds to the character, with slate floor, wattle and daub wall and huge inglenook fireplace.

- Wines and Spirits: All their listed wines are present as well as many bin-ends and unsual selections from around the World. Ranges incude their own shipped wines from Europe to vertical vintages of Chateau Musar. Wine is arranged by region in custom made racks.

Glass shelves and back lighting provide a fantastic display piece for their spirits selection. They stock an interesting and unusual range catering for all tastes - from classic single malts and cognacs to boutique gins and tequilas.

- Paraphernalia: The gift shop began as a few items for sale in at the reception. Now they have a wide range of stock from wine paraphernalia and exclusive glassware to kitchen gadgets, china, jewellery, games and gifts for men.


THE WINE LIST

Their extensive wine list boasts labels from around the world. Many of the wines are shipped by themselves and offer quality and value for money. Try Burgundies, Bordeaux and wines from other French regions, Spanish Riojas and wines from the Lebanon. Sample New World wines from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and North and South America.

As well as wines behind the bar, they carry a wide selection of other drinks including interesting and different bottled lagers and ales, soft drinks and specialist spirits. They have a huge fan following for our Westons ciders.


RED WINES

Argentina:
- Pablo Y Walter Malbec £19.95
- Monteagrelo Malbec £25.95

Australia:
- Wakefield St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon £40.95
- Chapotier Shiraz £19.95
- Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache £19.95
- Jim Barry McRae Wood Shiraz £41.95

California:
- Byron Pinot Noir £30.95 



Chile:
- Andes Peak Merlot £15.50
- Andes Peak Carmenere £15.50
- Viu Manent Secret Pinot Noir £19.50

France:
- Ch Bernadotte £25.95
- Chateau Saint-Andre Corbin £22.50
- Fleurie £18.95
- Gevrey Chambertain Vallet £49.95
- Morgon £18.95
- Beaune 1st Cru £40.00
- Chateau Neuf Du Pape Rouge £29.95
- Domain La Colombette Pinot Noir £16.95
- Henry Fessy Chenas £19.95
- Chateau Matt £21.95 


Italy:
- Chianti Classico Paglia £18.95
- Suri Barbera D Asti £19.95
- Tommasi Arele Appassimento £22.50
- Poderi Colla Nebbiolo d' Alba £21.95

Lebanon:
- Hochar Pere et Fils £19.95
- Chateau Musar £31.95
- Musar Jeune £17.50

New Zealand:
- Mudhouse Central Otago Pinot NoiR £19.95
- Craggy Range Syrah £33.50 


Portugal:
- Duas Quintas £18.50

South Africa:
- Peacock Ridge Merlot £16.95

Spain:
- Tres Picos Garnacha £21.95
- Corimbo £32.50
- Roda £39.95
- Urbina Crianza £19.95
- Urbina Selection £25.95
- Urbina Gran Reserva £34.95 


SPARKLING

Australia:
- Compose Sparkling Shiraz £32.50

France:
- Bolinger Special Cuvee £59.95
- Ayala Brut Majeur NV £37.95
- Louis Roederer Champagne £55.00

Italy:
- Prosecco Extra Dry £17.95 

WHITE

Australia:
- Yalumba Y Series Viogner £18.95
- Oxford Landing Chardonnay £16.50

California:
- Byron Santa Maria Chardonnay £29.95

France:
- Gewurztraminer Traditional £19.95
- Meursault Les Tillets £44.95
- Chateauneuf - du - Pape Blanc £29.95
- Muscadet Sur Lie £15.95
- Pouilly Fume Malt £22.95
- Chablis 1er Cru Vaulignea Motte £25.95
- Due De Morny Picpoul Pinet £17.95
- Tariquet Classic £14.95
- Tariquet Sauvingnon £15.95
- Tariquet Chenin Chardonnay £16.95 

Italy:
- Terrazze Pinot Grigio £16.95
- Soave Classico Pra £19.95

New Zealand:
- Twin Islands Sauvingnon Blanc £18.50
- Mudhouse Sauvingnon Blanc £18.50

South Africa:
- Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 28.95 

 
DESSERT

France:
- Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes £50.50

South Africa:
- Klein Constantia Vin De Constance £49.95

ROSE

Italy:
- Ancora Pinot Grigio Rose £14.95
 

URBINA RIOJA TUTORED WINE TASTING

- White Urbina 2012: The 2008 White Viura is 100% fermented and aged in stainless steel. Medium straw-colored, it Offers up a nose of melon, apple, and pear. On the palate it is smooth-textured, flavorful, and lively. This nicely balanced Offering Should drink well for Another 3 years.

- Rose Urbina 2013: 100% Tempranillo, 48 hours maceration at 10 ° C and Fermentation at 18 º C. Pinkish-red. Very pleasant fruity aromas and complex. Compact taste and very smooth, with long aftertaste.

- Urbina Tempranillo 2013: 100% Tempranillo, maceration for 15 days at 25 º C. Intense red cherry, with Ruby very bright, upper middle layer. Intense primary aromas of red fruits, strawberries and raspberries, elegant, discovering slight aromas of licorice and flowers. Fresh taste, good body, feeling strong and balanced flavors of nuts.


- Urbina Crianza 2008: 95% and 5% Tempranillo and Graciano Mazuelo. Fermentation at 28 º C and macerated for 28 days in stainless steel tanks, the wine spends in oak barrels for 12 months after it is bottled and a minimum of 6 months in bottle before release. Cherry-ruby color, balanced, nuanced black currant on the palate, good structure and persistence. This wine comes from vines that reach 20 years of age, but all coming from our high quality vineyards.

- Urbina Tinto Seleccion 1999: 95% and 5% Tempranillo and Graciano Mazuelo. This wine comes from the best grapes from the winery, all from vineyards over 20 years. These are wines that reach the winery Gran Reserva quality. Fermentation at 28 º C and macerated for 28 days. Stay 16 months in oak barrels. Color ruby red with purple tones. Intense aroma of fruit. Pleasant complex flavors and intense aftertaste. Well conserved at temperatures between 15 º and 18 º develop its great qualities and will become a type Gran Reserva, after 3 or 4 years.


- Urbina Reserva Especial 1998: 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano and Mazuelo. This wine comes from the best grapes from the winery, all from vineyards over 20 years. It has been 12 months in new oak and 12 months in 7 years oak. And in bottle has been 12 months before commercialization. Dark ruby color with amber tones, rich bouquet of vanilla oak, elegant, attractive sweet mid palate with good concentrated ripe fruit, excellent length, classic and complex.

- Urbina Gran Reserva Especial 1994: 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. This wine comes from the best grapes from the Estate, all from vines over 20 years. Fermentation at 28 º C and macerated the last 28 days, followed by 24 months in oak and 48 months in bottle. Garnet-red color, splendid maturity, complexity on the nose, the palate is seen in the harmonious and balanced oak and fruit tannins, elegant and velvety soft, and wonderful length.

The 1994 Gran Reserva Especial (from a great vintage) is medium ruby colored with a lovely bouquet of cherry blossom, earth notes, spice box, leather, black cherry, and plum. On the palate it is multifaceted, elegant, concentrated, impeccably balanced, and holding strong. It should drink nicely for another 10-15 years if not longer.


THE AREA ATRACTIONS

- Llangollen: The gateway to North Wales, Llangollen offers a wealth of attractions. The river and the glorious Dee Valley are a centre for kayaking, white water rafting, gorge walking and abseiling as well as an ideal spot for walking and relaxation. The Llangollen Heritage Steam Railway and the canal Wharf are great places for a trip back in time. From the Wharf you can take either the gentle horse drawn canal boat to the Chain Bridge and Horseshoe Falls or the trip across the remarkable Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a World Heritage site built by Thomas Telford in 1805.

The Dee Bridge, which can be seen from the Church Street cottages' gardens, was built in 1345 by John Trevor of Trevor Hall, who became the Bishop of St. Asaph. There are numerous historic treasures around the town, such as Plas Newydd, home of the 'Ladies of Llangollen' and Dinas Bran Castle, alleged resting place of teh Holy Grail. Valle Crucis Abbey and Eliseg's Pillar are just on the edge of town as is Llangollen Motor Museum.

The Royal Pavilion in Abbey Road attracts visitors from across the world for the International Musical Eisteddfod and hosts the annual Hamper Llangollen Food Festival. The railway holds Thomas the Tank weekends, Beer Train events and Santa Specials.

Llangollen is also the ideal base location for exploring further afield. From the lakes of Bala and Betws y Coed to the mountains of Snowdonia and the Coastlines of North and Mid Wales. In Llangollen you are also positioned within easy reach of the main arterial routes to Chester, Shrewsbury, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.


- Richard's Route: There are many local wonders worth a visit in and around Llangollen, over the years Richard Gale has devised a car journey that takes it all in!

Taking the A5 towards Corwen will bring you to the charming Tudor style Railway Station at Berwyn. Crossing the river here will take you past the Interesting Chan Bridge, from here it is but a stone's throw to the Thomas Telford designed Horseshoe Falls, which feeds the Llangollen Canal from the River Dee.

Past Valle Crucis Abbey and Eliseg's Pillar towards the spectacular Horseshoe pass. Returning down the old Horseshoe pass Road will take you to World's End, the Eglwyseg Rocks, the Panorama and the back of the ancient ruins od Castell Dinas Bran, where views over the town are simply breathtaking.

Drop town through the quaint village of Garth to Thomas Telford's Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Cross the river below and return to the town to see the famous 'Old Ladies' House - Plas Newydd. Then return to Gales for liquid fortification - you've earned it.


- Plas Newydd: Plas Newydd is an historic house only a short walk from the wine bar and a must see. With bowling greens, dovecots, sunken garden walks and a main house with beautiful carved beams. Ask Richard over breakfast to give you the low down.

- Valle Crucis Abbey: Valle Crucis was dissolved by royal decree in 1537 but its ruins still show what a beautiful building in the perfect setting it must have been. A must visit.

- Dinas Bran Castle: With spectacular views, it is worth the short but very steep walk to the top. Locals cheat by driving up to the panorama road and start half way up but the walk is easily managed from the centre of town.

- St Collen Church: Our local church and how the town got town got its name. Llangollen literally means church of Saint Collen. A beautiful church at the end of the street on which Gales is situated. Pay particular attention to the beautifully carved wooden ceiling.

- Eliseg's Pillar: A striking monument that sits upon a mound in the middle of the valley just by the Abbey.


- Erddig: A National Trust house which contains an amazingly well kept stately home and gardens. A whole day should be allotted to explore everything they have to offer. Great for all the family.

- Chirk Castle: A huge National Trust castle set in stunning grounds. Exploring the dungeons, moat and extensive gardens is a real adventure.

- Llangollen Canal: Llangollen Canal received the prestigious World Heritage status for this calm meandering canal created by Thomas Telford. It is a feat of engineering that melts into the local scenery as if it has always been there.

- Pontcysyllte Aqueduct: The famous Thomas Telford construction is, even after 100 years, still a technical marvel. There are boat trips but just walking across gives you an idea of the scale and beauty of the structure. If you see one thing in the area it should be this.

- Horseshoe Falls: Also created by Mr Telford, this man-made waterfall is an incredible example of using natural resources in a way that is sympathetic to its surroundings.



- Horse Drawn Boats: A casual ride along the canal, powered the way the boats used to be. The Wharf is situated in town and is the ideal place to start your discovery of the Llangollen Canal.

- Steam Railway: The Llangollen Heritage Steam Railway is one of the town's biggest draws, whether visiting one of the Thomas the Tank weekends, enthusiast festivals, booze trains or just going on a short journey to some of our neighbouring towns and back. The trains and friendly volunteers make an amazing journey back in time.

- Pro Adventure: A not-for-profit provider of a large range of activities including rafting, gorge walking and climbing - locally or on their indoor wall in the middle of town.

- Safe and Sound Outdoors: Everything is catered for by expert and frendly instructors, you are in safe hands.

- Ty Nant: Andy at Ty Nant can provide you with all the kayaking, boating and other extreme activities you can think of.


- Llandegla Mountain Biking: Mountain bike trials for all skill levels with green runs right up to blacks. (We don't have a bike lock up at Gales but if you wish to have your bike safely stored we can arrange something).

- One Giant Leap Downhill: Top downhill track, not for the faint hearted. Plays host to some of the country's top competitions. Some easier tracks are available along with guides from the excellent Cambell Coaching

- Fauxdegla Clay Pigeon Shooting: A top shooting facility only a small drive from Llangollen. It features seven shooting areas, each with a different discipline.

- Paragliding: One of the best ways to see the valley is from a vantage point only available to the birds or members of this paragliding club.

- Fishing: The river is fed by the headland lakes of Alwen, Brenig, Celyn and Bala and is one of the purest rivers in Europe, renowned for it's brown trout and grayling. Llangollen Maelor Angling can supply day tickets for ten miles of the River Dee.


- Golf: The Vale of Llangollen Golf Club is one to the best and most beautiful golf courses in the area. With stunning views on every hole it's a must visit for any golfer. Other courses within a short distance are Hentley, Oswestry, Llanymynech and Carden Park all well worth a visit.

- International Eisteddfodd: Set up in the same act of parlament as the Edinburgh Festival to bring the world together after the war, this festival brings colour and fun to the town.

- Fringe: This eclectic festival is a strong favourite for locals and visitors alike. Expect comedy, punk, pop, poetry and more.

- Hamper Llangollen Food Show: This long standing and extremely popular food festival takes place over a weekend in October. You can enjoy local produce and cooking demonstrations - you might even find a friendly local wine bar showing some wines and spirits.

- Llangollen Museum: A great place to get further information on Llangollen's rich history from friendly, local, knowledgeable volunteers.

- Motor Museum: An amazing hidden gem a short walk along the canal. Full of cars, parts and memorabilia.

Bodegas Urbina Wine Tasting at the Sea Trout Inn Hotel & Restaurant (Staverton - England)



BODEGAS URBINA WINE TASTING AT THE SEA TROUT STAVERTON INN HOTEL  RESTAURANT (STAVERTON - ENGLAND)

- Description: The Sea Trout Inn Hotel offers an ideal place to stay, relax and wine & dine with friends, family, business colleagues or romantic couples.

It is a traditional South Devon Inn dating back to the 15th century. Situated in the picturesque South Hams village of Staverton near Totnes the Sea

Trout Inn hotel and restaurant is an idyllic country retreat.


- Accommodation: The Sea Trout Inn offers 10 luxury en-suite bedrooms situated above the Inn and the Annexe which adjoins the Inn. All are available for bed & breakfast. There are a mix of doubles, kingsize and twins as well as their Feature room (Rococco Room) with its ornate kingsize bed, roll-top bath and separate shower. They also have a triple occupancy room with double and single bed with option for a 4th person of an additional pull-out trundle. The Annexe forms a suite consisting of separate bedroom with kingsize bed, bathroom and lounge area. Perfect for a cosy hideaway for two or with the option of a sofa bed for an additional person/child. All bedrooms have freeview TV, tea & coffee making facilities; central heating, hairdryers and direct dial telephone.

There are a couple of rooms in which your dog is welcome to stay with you. As these are limited please check availability of these rooms to ensure they can accommodate you and your four legged friend.

There is a large carpark with space for approximately 30 cars.

Optional extras such as champagne, strawberries, flowers & chocolates are available by prior arrangement. Please ask when making a reservation.

Gift Vouchers are available to purchase for that someone special who deserves a treat!


- Location: Wonderfully positioned between Plymouth and Exeter they are an ideal base to explore the South Hams with plenty to keep you entertained. Take a trip on the South Devon steam railway from Staverton to the remarkable town of Totnes, set on the beautiful River Dart. Explore the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of Dartmoor National Park or visit Agatha Christies Greenway.

They are a dog friendly Inn and encourage guests to bring their dog with them. South Devon is the perfect place for walking with breathtaking scenary right on from the doorstep.

The Sea Trout Inn, Staverton Totnes is perfect for a restful weekend break, pub lunch or a romantic dinner. A welcoming and friendly place for all.

- Name: Sea Trout Inn hotel and Restaurant
- Location: The Sea Trout Inn; Staverton; Totnes; Devon; TQ9 6PA
- Telephone: 01803 762 274
- Email: info@theseatroutinn.co.uk


RESTAURANT

- The Menu: The menu changes often with dishes to reflect the seasons. A daily specials board with an emphasis on fresh fish and seafood is also available. Vegetarians are also catered for but if you have any special dietary requirements please let them know and they will do their utmost to provide it for you.

They source thier products from local suppliers and farms around Totnes with fresh fish and seafood landed at Brixham or Plymouth and meat from farms surrounding Staverton village.

- Dining at the Sea Trout Inn: You can choose to dine either in the slightly more formal area often referred to as the restaurant or the informal surroundings of one of their bars. The lovely bright conservatory is perfect for breakfast and overlooks the patio. The cosy lounge bar has a wonderful warming log fire for those chilly winter months and comfy seats for sitting back relaxing and enjoying a glass of wine. There is also the pretty patio garden where guests can dine alfresco on warm summer days and evenings.


- Food is served during the times stated below:
. Monday to Thursday: Lunch 12.00 - 2.00pm; Evening 6.00 - 9.00pm
. Friday: Lunch 12.00 - 2.00pm; Evening 6.00 - 9.30pm
. Saturday: Lunch 12.00 - 2.30pm; Evening 6.00 - 9.30pm
. Sunday: Lunch 12.00 - 3.00pm; Evening 6.30 - 9.00pm
. They are open all day for tea and coffee from 9.00am.

- The Stags Bar: The Stags Bar is a fine example of the quintessential "locals bar”. Many of their guests enjoy the friendly and sometimes noisy banter created by those out for a good night. Dogs are also welcome in the Stags Bar.

Both bars are served from one servery with a selection of award winning Palmers ales, cider and a good range of wines.

MENU

Please note that their menu changes regularly. The is a sample only. For their current menu please ask them, they we can email one to you.


Appetizers:
- Homemade soup served with bread - £4.95 (v)
- Halloumi  pepper kebabs, Moroccan cous cous - £5.95 (v)
- Pan seared scallops & tomato salsa- £8.25
- Crispy goats cheese, beetroot tapenade, soused vegetables & candied walnut - £6.75 (v)
- Smoked mackerel fillet, spring onion potato salad - £6.95
- Ham hock & apple terrine, tomato chutney, granary toast - £6.75
- Fresh figs wrapped in parma ham, melted blue cheese & pine nut salad - £7.25

Mains:
- Chicken breast stuffed with sunblush tomato, mozzarella & basil, wrapped in parma ham, sauté potatoes and green beans - £14.25
- Seafood risotto, squid, scallops, tiger prawns, clams, topped with rocket - £14.50
- Slow roasted pork belly, bubble & squeak, apple and vanilla puree, cider gravy - £14.25
- Sea bass fillet Mediterranean vegetables sauté potatoes, rocket pesto - £14.95
- Thai green curry (white fish, scallops & prawns) with jasmine rice - £15.25
- Tomato, aubergine & spinach gnocchi with rocket - £11.95(v)


Pub Favorites:
- Crispy battered fish & chips, garden peas, homemade tartare sauce - £11.50
- Homemade burger, lettuce & tomato, chips & relish - £10.50 (add bacon OR cheese £1.00)
- West Country ribeye steak, chips, field mushroom, cherry vine tomatoes - £17.75
- Lambs liver, smoked bacon, mash potato, spinach & onion rings - £10.95
- Wild mushroom & spinach linguini, white wine cream sauce, rocket & coriander - £10.95 (v)
(add prawns or chicken - £2.00)

Salads:
Poached salmon nicoise salad with new potatoes, olives, egg, crispy battered anchovies - £6.75 / £12.95
- Chicken caesar salad, bacon, anchovies, croutons, egg & parmesan - £10.50
(please note : traditional dressing made with anchovies)

Side Orders:
Bowl of chips -£2.50
Cheesy chips - £3.00
Savoy Cabbage & Bacon - £3.00
Mixed vegetables - £ 3.00
Organic leaf mixed salad - £ 3.50
Garlic Bread - £2.95
Garlic Cheese Bread - £3.25
Hand cut bread basket - £ 2.50
Rocket, pesto & parmesan salad - £3.75
Peppercorn OR Blue Cheese sauce - £2.75


Wraps & Ciabatta Rolls Available Lunchtimes only (Served with organic salad leaves & crisps):
- Chicken Caesar salad £6.95 / £7.15
- Falafel, mint & cucumber yoghurt (v) £6.00 / £6.20
- Smoked salmon & cream cheese £6.95 / £7.15
- BLT - Bacon, lettuce & tomato    £5.95 / £6.15
- Cheddar & homemade chutney (v) £5.75 / £5.95
- Prawn marie-rose £6.55 / £6.75
- Halloumi & roasted red pepper (v) £5.95 / £6.15

Homemade Desserts:
- Lemon & basil posset with citrus fruit jelly -£6.00
- Chocolate pannacotta, honeycomb & raspberry sorbet - £6.00
- Strawberry mousse & crushed meringue - £6.00
- Tonka bean crème brûlée, ginger biscuit - £6.00
- Rhubarb Eton Mess - £6.00
- Fresh fruit salad with choice of sorbet - £6.00
- Yarde Farm ice cream - 3 scoops - £4.95 / 2 scoops - £3.95 /1 scoop - £2.25
- Selection of West Country cheeses - £7.50 (Sharpham brie / Devon blue / Parkham mature cheddar / Gunstone goats / Devon smoke)


Dessert Wine:
- Tabali Reserve Late Harvest Muscat - Chile 100ml glass £3.95 / 375ml bottle £14.75

Coffee (Made with freshly ground locally roasted beans):
- White coffee with hot or cold milk - £2.15
- Black coffee - £2.00
- Americano (long strong Black) - £2.10
- Cappuccino £2.20
- Hot Chocolate - £2.35
- Viennese - £2.45
- Espresso - £2.00
- Double espresso - £2.40
- Latte-£2.25
- Mocha-£2.60
- (Liqueur Coffees available)
- Selection of Teas Available - £2.10


THEME NIGHTS, FUNTIONS & EVENTS (SPANISH WINE TASTING & MENU)

Bodegas Urbina Tasting at The Sea Trout Staverton Presented by Pedro Urbina Jnr

Tapas Selection:
- Gambas al Ajillo (sautéed prawn in garlic and olive oil)
- Tortilla Española (potato, onion, and egg omelette)
- Champiñones al Ajillo con Jerez (mushrooms sautéed in garlic, sherry and olive oil)
- Pa'amb Tomaquet (toasted baguette topped with Serrano ham and cured tomatoes, and olive oil)

Main course:
- Lamb Fillet (served medium rare)
- Smoked paprika potatoes & chorizo spinach sautéed with pine nuts & roasted garlic

Dessert:
- Pear poached in Riojan wine with star anise, vanilla crème fraîche
- Coffee & Polvorones (almond & cinnamon biscuits)

Tasting Wine:
1. Olivella Ferrari Cava Brut Rose N.V., Penedes, Spain
2. Urbina Blanco 2013, Rioja, Spain
3. Urbina Tempranillo 2012, Rioja, Spain
4. Urbina Crianza 2008, Rioja, Spain
5. Urbina Selection 1999, Rioja, Spain
6. Urbina Reserva Especial 2001, Rioja, Spain
Price list available at the bar or at Palmers Wine Store (Wine & Spirit Merchants Since 1794)


TOTONES AND SURROUNDING AREA

Stunning, unspoilt walks along the River Dart and upto the historic Staverton Bridge and Devon Steam Railway Station.  Totnes with its castle and excellent specialist arts and crafts shops is within easy reach and can be visited via the Devon Steam Railway trains which run directly from Staverton into Totnes.

The area of South Devon has a lot to offer. The River Dart which lends its name to Dartmouth, Dartmoor, Dartington and Dartmeet  is on our doorstep. The national park of Dartmoor is but a stones throw away with local historical buildings such as Buckfast Abbey and the renowned Dartington Hall.  Superbly located for exploring the English Riviera with Torquay/Paignton being only a 15-20 minute drive away, Blackpool Sands, Dartmouth Harbour, to name but a few are all within easy reach.  The list is endless.

An ideal base for exploring the English Riviera and Darmoor National Park where the recent movie War Horse was filmed.


 The Sea Trout in perfectly situated and an ideal base to tour this beautiful part of the South West from.

Being close to the stunning Devon coast opens up not only the chance to walk a part of the beautiful and awe-inspiring Southwest Coastal Footpath but offers fishing both onshore and off one of the many wrecks that litter our shoreline.

The wild and rugged Dartmoor National Park is minutes away and offers walking for all ages and abilities. Again fishing is available on many of its calm and peaceful reservoirs but permits may be required.

An ideal base for exploring the English Riviera and Darmoor National Park The Sea Trout in perfectly situated and an ideal base to tour this beautiful part of the South West .

A perfect place from which to start your adventure - The Sea Trout Inn, Staverton, Totnes.


RIVER DART

The River Dart is a river in Devon, England which rises high on Dartmoor, and releases to the sea at Dartmouth. Its valley and surrounding area is a place of great natural beauty.

- Watercourse: The river's name is presumed to be Brythonic Celtic meaning 'river where oak trees grow' due to the banks of the lower Dart being covered in ancient woods of native oak. Bray notes in 1832 that the name was occasionally spelled 'Darant'.

The river begins as two separate branches (the East Dart and West Dart), which join at Dartmeet. The paths along these rivers offer very attractive walking, and there are several small waterfalls. The rivers are crossed by a number of clapper bridges, notably at the hamlet of Postbridge.

After leaving the moor, the Dart flows southwards past Buckfast Abbey and through the towns of Buckfastleigh, Dartington and Totnes. At Totnes, where there is a seventeenth century weir (rebuilt in the 1960s), it becomes tidal, and there are no bridges below the town.


A passenger ferry operates across the river from the village of Dittisham to a point adjacent to the Greenway Estate. Formerly the home of the late crime writer Agatha Christie, this has stunning views across the river, and the house and gardens are now owned by the National Trust and are open to the public.

The Dart estuary is a large ria and is popular for sailing. The village of Kingswear and town of Dartmouth are on the east and west sides of the estuary, and are linked by two vehicle ferries and a passenger ferry. The deep water port of Dartmouth is a sheltered haven.

The entrance to the river from the sea is a rocky entrance with cliffs either side. On the East side Kingswear Castle sits very close to the water's edge, and on the west side Dartmouth Castle is built on a rocky promontory at sea level. The castles once operated a defensive chain across the estuary, which was raised at dusk to destroy enemy ships attempting to attack the harbour. The remains of the operating mechanisms for the chain are still visible in Dartmouth castle.


- Crossings: The flooded ria that forms the lower reaches of the Dart, with its deep water and steeply sloping valley sides, is a considerable barrier to crossing traffic. There are no bridges below Totnes.

At the mouth of the river, it separates the communities of Dartmouth and Kingswear. There have been proposals to bridge the river here, but these have come to nothing. Instead the two places are linked by, in order going upstream, the Lower Ferry, Passenger Ferry and Higher Ferry. The Lower and Higher ferries both carry vehicles, the Higher one linking the A379 road.

Some 2.5 miles (4.0 km) upstream of Dartmouth, the Greenway Ferry carries pedestrians across the river from the village of Dittisham to Greenway Quay.

A further 5 miles (8.0 km) upstream is Totnes, where the river is spanned by two road bridges, a railway bridge and a footbridge over. Totnes Bridge is the nearest bridge to the sea and is a road bridge built in 1826-28 by Charles Fowler. Some 1,000 feet (300 m) upstream is Brutus Bridge, constructed in 1982 as part of a road traffic-relief scheme and carrying the concurrent A385 and A381 roads. A further 0.5 miles (0.80 km) upstream, the railway bridge carries the National Rail Exeter to Plymouth line over the river. Immediately upstream of the railway bridge is a footbridge, built in 1993 to provide access to the Totnes (Littlehempston) terminus of the South Devon Railway.


- Canoeing and kayaking: The upper reaches of Dartmoor, especially those on the Dart, are a focal point for whitewater kayakers and canoeists. The best known sections of the river are:

. Upper Dart from Dartmeet to Newbridge (Grade 3/4 (higher in high water), advanced run).
. The Loop from Newbridge to Holne Bridge (Grade 2/3, beginner/intermediate run).
. The Lower from Holne Bridge to Buckfastleigh (Grade 2, beginner section).

Sections of the East and West Dart above Dartmeet, as well as the Webburn are also paddled when conditions permit. This is somewhat controversial, as riparian landowners and those responsible for local fisheries maintain that the East and West Dart should not be paddled.

The lower reaches of the Dart, including the estuary are suitable for flat water touring.

- Angling: Angling is very popular in the Dart Valley. The West Dart is notable ground for salmon spawning redds.


- Literature and folklore: The River Dart is the source of much folklore on Dartmoor, where it is traditionally respected and feared - the waters have a tendency to rise without notice following heavy rainfall on the moors above, adding to the dangers of its rapids and powerful currents. This gave rise to the couplet:

"River of Dart, Oh River of Dart!
Every year thou claimest a heart."

The 1951 non-fiction book The River Dart by Ruth Manning-Sanders centres on the river and its history.

The English poet Alice Oswald wrote the 48-page poem Dart (2002), which was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize for 2002. The poem's voice is that of the River Dart, which Oswald adapted from three years of recorded conversations and research with people who inhabit the communities along the river.

The Weaver Twins from Stoke Gabriel wrote a song entitled, "Dart". The music video was filmed along the river and has been featured on Radio Caroline television.


STAVERTON (DEVON)

Staverton is a village and civil parish in the South Hams of Devon, England consisting 297 households and a population of 717 (total parish). There is one pub, The Sea Trout, which is in the centre of the village.

Staverton's Church of England parish church of St Paul de Leon is mostly early 14th century. It has a nave and north and south aisles and a thin west tower. The medieval windows have been replaced by ones of a later period. Features of interest include the rood screen (much restored), the 18th century pulpit, and a monument to the family of Worth, 1629.

There are two stops of the South Devon Railway Trust within the village boundary: Staverton railway station and Nappers Halt. Staverton railway station is next to Staverton Bridge, which crosses the River Dart and was probably built around 1413. It is considered to be one of the best examples of medieval bridges surviving in Devon. "Seven obtusely pointed arches; one of the oldest Devon bridges". The bridge's name was adopted for the folk group formed in the 1970s by Sam Richards, Tish Stubbs and Paul Wilson.

The village also has a public phone box, multiple notice boards and two post boxes.


STAVERTON RAILWAY STATION

Staverton railway station is situated on the South Devon Railway, a heritage railway in Devon, England. It serves the village of Staverton.

The station was opened by the Buckfastleigh, Totnes and South Devon Railway on 1 May 1872. The railway was amalgamated into the Great Western Railway in 1897 and this in turn was nationalised into British Railways on 1 January 1948.

The station closed to passengers in November 1958 although goods traffic on the line continued until 7 September 1962.

It was re-opened by the Dart Valley Railway, a heritage railway, on 5 April 1969. The South Devon Railway Trust took over the running of the line on 1 January 1991.

- Services: The station is served by trains on all operating days of the South Devon Railway. Trains operate daily from late March to the end of October. On most days a single train set operates, providing four journeys a day in each direction. On busy days two train sets may operate, providing more journeys.

- Film and television: In 1982 the station was used as a location in Five Go Mad in Dorset, the first in the "The Comic Strip" comedy series.

miércoles, 29 de octubre de 2014

Rioja Wine Masterclass with Pedro Urbina



RIOJA WINE MASTERCLASS WITH PEDRO URBINA

Thursday 16th October 2014 - Rioja Wine Masterclass 7.30-10.30pm(ish) at The Angel Hotel, High Street, Market Harborough.

Rioja [ˈrjoxa] is a wine region, with Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.Ca. Qualified designation of origin) named after La Rioja, in Spain. Rioja is made from grapes grown not only in the Autonomous Community of La Rioja, but also in parts of Navarre and the Basque province of Álava. Rioja is further subdivided into three zones: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. Many wines have traditionally blended fruit from all three regions though there is a slow growth in single-zone wines.

HISTORY

The harvesting of wine in La Rioja has an ancient lineage with origins dating back to the Phoenicians and the Celtiberians. The earliest written evidence of the existence of the grape in La Rioja dates to 873, in the form of a document from the Public Notary of San Millán dealing with a donation to the San Andrés de Trepeana (Treviana) Monastery. As was the case in many Mediterranean lands in mediaeval times, monks were the main practitioners of winemaking in La Rioja and great advocates of its virtues. In the thirteenth century, Gonzalo de Berceo, clergyman of the Suso Monastery in San Millán de la Cogolla (La Rioja) and Spain's earliest known poet, mentions the wine in some of his works.

In the year 1063, the first testimony of viticulture in La Rioja appears in the "Carta de población de Longares" (Letter to the Settlers of Longares). The King of Navarra and Aragon gave the first legal recognition of Rioja wine in 1102. In 1560, harvesters from Longares chose a symbol to represent the quality of the wines. In 1635, the mayor of Logroño prohibited the passing of carts through streets near wine cellars, in case the vibrations caused a deterioration of the quality of the wine. Several years later, in 1650, the first document to protect the quality of Rioja wines was drawn up. In 1790, at the inaugural meeting of the Real Sociedad Económica de Cosecheros de La Rioja (Royal Economic Society of Rioja Winegrowers), many initiatives as to how to construct, fix, and maintain the roads and other forms of access for transportation of wine were discussed. The Society was established to promote the cultivation and commercialisation of Rioja wines and 52 Rioja localities participated.


In 1852, Luciano Murrieta created the first fine wine of the Duque de la Victoria area, having learned the process in Bordeaux. In 1892, the Viticulture and Enology Station of Haro was founded for quality-control purposes. In 1902, a Royal Decree determining the origin of Rioja wines is promulgated. The Consejo Regulador (Regulating Council) was created in 1926 with the objective of limiting the zones of production, expanding the warranty of the wine and controlling the use of the name "Rioja". This Council became legally structured in 1945 and was finally inaugurated in 1953. In 1970 the Regulations for Denominación de Origen were approved as well as Regulations for the Regulating Council. In 1991, the prestigious "Calificada" (Qualified) nomination was awarded to La Rioja, making it Spain's first Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa).

In 2008, the Regulatory Council for the La Rioja Denomination of Origin created a new logo to go on all bottles of wine produced under this designation. From now on bottles of wine from the La Rioja Qualified Denomination of Origin will no longer bear the familiar logo. In an attempt to appeal to younger wine-lovers, the long-standing logo will now be replaced with a brighter, more modern logo with cleaner lines. The aim is to reflect the new, modern aspects of wine-growing in La Rioja without detracting from the traditional wines. In theory, the new logo represents a Tempranillo vine symbolising “heritage, creativity and dynamism”. Consumers should start seeing the labels in October 2008. The Joven from 2008, Crianza from 2006, Reserva from 2005, and Gran Reserva from 2003 being released this year should bear the new label, in theory.

GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE

Located south of the Cantabrian Mountains along the Ebro river, La Rioja benefits from a continental climate. The mountains help to isolate the region which has a moderating effect on the climate. They also protect the vineyards from the fierce winds that are typical of northern Spain. The region is also home to the Oja river (Rio Oja), believed to have given the region its name. Most of the region is situated on a plateau, a little more than 1,500 feet (460 m) above sea level. The area is subdivided into three regions - Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja. La Rioja Alavesa and la Rioja Alta, located closer to the mountains, are at slightly higher elevations and have a cooler climate. La Rioja Baja to the southeast is drier and warmer. Annual rainfall in the region ranges from 12 inches (300 mm) in parts of Baja to more than 20 inches (510 mm) in La Rioja Alta and Alavesa. Many of Rioja's vineyards are found along the Ebro valley between the towns of Haro and Alfaro.


WINE REGIONS

The three principal regions of La Rioja are Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja with each area producing its own unique expression of Rioja wine. Most of the territory subjected to the Rioja Protected designation of origin is in the La Rioja region, even though their limits do not coincide exactly. There is a narrow strip in the left bank of the Ebro river lying in the southernmost part of Álava included in the La Rioja wine region, whereas the south-southwestern part of the La Rioja region is not a part of this Protected designation of origin.

- Rioja Alta: Located on the western edge of the region and at higher elevations than the other areas, the Rioja Alta is known more for its "old world" style of wine. A higher elevation equates to a shorter growing season, which in turn produces brighter fruit flavors and a wine that is lighter on the palate.

- Rioja Alavesa: Despite sharing a similar climate as the Alta region, the Rioja Alavesa produces wines with a fuller body and higher acidity. Vineyards in the area have a low vine density with large spacing between rows. This is due to the relatively poor conditions of the soil with the vines needing more distance from each other and less competition for the nutrients in the surrounding soil.

- Rioja Baja: Unlike the more continental climate of the Alta and Alavesa, the Rioja Baja is strongly influenced by a Mediterranean climate which makes this area the warmest and driest of the Rioja. In the summer months, drought can be a significant viticultural hazard, though since the late 1990s irrigation has been permitted. Temperatures in the summer typically reach 35 °C (95 °F). A number of the vineyards are actually located in nearby Navarra but the wine produced from those grapes belongs to the Rioja appellation. Unlike the typically pale Rioja wine, Baja wines are very deeply coloured and can be highly alcoholic with some wines at 18% alcohol by volume. They typically do not have much acidity or aroma and are generally used as blending components with wines from other parts of the Rioja.


A PRIVILEGED REGION FOR QUALITY GRAPE GROWING

Rioja is a privileged region for growing grapes and making top-quality wines, with a unique personality and an exceptional aptitude for ageing. The Rioja wine region is located in northern Spain, on both sides of the River Ebro. The local terrain perfectly delimits the region and sets it apart from surrounding territories. From an administrative point of view, however, its 63,593 hectares of vineyards are divided between three provinces on the Upper Ebro - La Rioja (43,885 ha), Alava (12,934 ha) and Navarre (6,774 ha).

One hundred kilometres separate Haro, the westernmost town, from Alfaro, the easternmost. The valley has a maximum width of about 40 kilometres, covered in vineyards which occupy successive terraces to an altitude of about 700 metres above sea level. With few amendments in the last thirty years, the DO's Regulations list 144 municipalities (118 in La Rioja, 18 in Alava and 8 in Navarre) which hold "the lands that the Control Board considers suitable for producing grapes of the necessary quality."

The whole area benefits from the confluence of two distinctly opposed climates -Atlantic and Mediterranean- which provide mild temperatures and an annual rainfall of slightly above 400 l/m2 -ideal conditions for growing grapes. The Regulations recognise the existence of three sub-areas with distinct vitivinicultural characteristics. In Rioja Alavesa there is a significant influence of the Atlantic climate and the soils are chalky-clay situated in terraces and small plots. In Rioja Alta the climate is also mainly Atlantic, while the soils are chalky-clay, ferrous-clay or alluvial. Rioja Baja has a drier, warmer climate, thanks to the Mediterranean influence and the soils are alluvial and ferrous-clay.

The characteristic soils of Rioja are also the most suitable for quality viticulture, as they have a balanced structure (sand, silt, clay), are slightly alkaline, have a poor organic content and moderate water availability in the summer. The wine region has many different soils -chalky-clay, ferrous-clay and alluvial being the main ones- and microclimates -depending on vineyard orientation, protection against wind, etc.- that provide the wines with unique traits. This, together with the use of different grape varieties and growing practices, allows local winemakers to make a wide range of wines with a different personality, although always within the framework of a perfectly-recognisable common identity.

In order to optimise wine quality, the Regulations of the D.O.Ca. Rioja set maximum allowable yields which are 6,500 kilograms per hectare for red grape varieties and 9,000 kg/ha for white grape varieties. The wine region's annual production currently stands at 280 to 300 million litres, of which 90% is red, the rest being white and rosé.


VITICULTURE AND GRAPES

Rioja wines are normally a blend of various grape varieties, and can be either red (tinto), white (blanco) or rosé (rosado). La Rioja has a total of 57,000 hectares cultivated, yielding 250 million litres of wine annually, of which 85% is red. The harvest time for most Rioja vineyards is September–October with the northern Rioja Alta having the latest harvest in late October. The soil here is clay based with a high concentration of chalk and iron. There is also significant concentration of limestone, sandstone and alluvial silt.

Among the Tintos, the best-known and most widely used variety is Tempranillo. Other grapes used include Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, and Mazuelo. A typical blend will consist of approximately 60% Tempranillo and up to 20% Garnacha, with much smaller proportions of Mazuelo and Graciano. Each grape adds a unique component to the wine with Tempranillo contributing the main flavors and aging potential to the wine; Garnacha adding body and alcohol; Mazuelo adding seasoning flavors and Graciano adding additional aromas. Some estates have received special dispensation to include Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend due to historical inclusion of that grape in their wine that predates the formation of the Consejo Regulador.

With Rioja Blanco, Viura is the prominent grape (also known as Macabeo) and is normally blended with some Malvasía and Garnacha blanca. In the white wines the Viura contributes mild fruitness, acidity and some aroma to the blend with Garnacha blanca adding body and Malvasía adding aroma. Rosados are mostly derived from Garnacha grapes. The "international varieties" of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have gained some attention and use through experimental plantings by some bodegas but their use has created wines distinctly different from the typical Rioja.

Some of the most sought after grapes come from the limestone/sandstone based "old vine" vineyards in the Alavesa and Alta regions. The 40 year plus old vines are prized due to their low yields and more concentrated flavors. A unique DO regulation stipulates that the cost of the grapes used to make Rioja must exceed by at least 200% the national average of wine grapes used in all Spanish wines.


GRAPE VARIETIES

The experience of grape growers and wine makers has resulted in a selection of those grape varieties that best adapt to the region’s climate and soils, while producing wine of the highest quality. This historical process has now been complemented by the innovative drive of the wine industry, always on top of market evolution and demands.  This led to the approval of new grape varieties in 2007 for the first time since the Designation was created in 1925. The primary goal behind this is to achieve greater competitiveness in white wines and to bring diversity to wine production while maintaining the wines’ identity and differentiation.

The grape varieties that are currently authorised by the Regulations of the D. O. Ca. Rioja are:

. Red: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo y Maturana Tinta.
. White: Viura, Malvasía, Garnacha Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, Maturana Blanca, Turruntés, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc y Verdejo.

- Tempranillo: Considered native to Rioja, it is the wine region’s most typical grape. It is the origin of the identity of its wines and one of the great grape varieties in the world. It occupies more than 75% of the region’s vineyards and it is very versatile from an oenological viewpoint. It is capable of producing wines that can withstand long ageing periods, with a good balance of alcohol content, colour and acidity, and an honest, smooth, fruity mouthfeel that turns velvety as it ages.

Regarding its agronomic performance, it sets well but is highly sensitive to pests and disease and not very resistant to drought or high temperatures. Its name comes from the Spanish “temprano” meaning “early” and it does in fact ripen quite early. There are varying degrees of similarity with the various varieties that are purportedly the same as Tempranillo de Rioja. This ranges from almost complete similarity in the case of Cencibel, Tinto de Madrid, Tinto del País and Tinto Fino to more distant resemblances such as Tinto de Toro and Ull de Llebre. Tempranillo is currently widely planted across Spain because of its proven quality. It is an authorised grape variety in no less than 28 designations of origin, of which 12 consider it as their main variety or one of the preferred varieties.


- Garnacha Tinta: This grape variety native to Spain is the most extensively grown variety in the world . In Rioja, it complements the Tempranillo with its aromas and body. With good extract and alcohol content, its wines vary depending on environmental conditions (temperature) and tending practices (production). In warm areas, it produces the kind of wine that has given it its reputation as a rugged grape but in cool areas it produces very interesting, well-balanced wines, particularly rosés. Prone to coulure, this is nonetheless a hardy plant, able to withstand periods of drought, and also fairly resistant to pests and major vine diseases such as rust mites and powdery mildew; hence its popularity among growers. Synonyms found in ampelographic collections around the world include: Abundante, Alicante, Cannonaddu, Cannonaddu Nieddu, Cannonao, Cannonau Selvaggio, Canonazo, Carignane Rosso, Garnaccho Negro, Garnatxa País, Gironet, Granaccia, Granaxa, Grenache Rouge, Lladoner, Retagliad Nieddu, Rivesaltes, Rousillon Tinto, Rousillon,  Tinto Aragonés, Tinto Navalcarnero, Uva di Spagna.
 
- Graciano: Graciano is an indigenous grape variety and its cultivation is very limited in other areas. Shown to be an excellent complement to Tempranillo in the ageing process, this grape has a promising future in Rioja, where its planted surface area has increased significantly in the last few years, although it has yet to reach pre-phylloxera figures. It requires clay-limestone soils and a cool climate. It is fairly resistant to mildew and powdery mildew, with low fertility rates and late maturing. It offers wines with a marked acidity and polyphenolic content, ideal for ageing, with a unique aroma that is much more intense than those of other varieties in Rioja. Synonyms found in ampelographic collections around the world include: Bastardo Nero, Bordelais, Cagnolale, Cagnovali Negro, Cagnulari, Cagnulari Bastardo, Cagnulari Sardo, Caldaredou Caldarello, Cargo Muol, Couthurier, Graciano Tinto, Gros negrette, Minustello, Morrastel, Tinta do Padre Antonio, Tinta Miuda, Tintilla, Xerez, Zinzillosa.


- Mazuelo: There is evidence that this grape variety has been grown in Rioja for several centuries, but today it barely covers 3% of the wine region’s vineyards. It is more productive than other red varieties, albeit particularly sensitive to powdery mildew and needs more heat summation to mature. Although short on flavours, it produces wines with abundant tannins, high acidity and stable colour, all of which makes it a good complement to Tempranillo for wines to be aged for long periods. In the rest of the world it is mainly known as Carignan Noir, given its French origin. Other synonyms include: Babonenc, Bois Dur, Boue Duro, Cagnolaro Tinto, Carignan Mouillan, Carignano, Cariñena, Catalan, Cencibel, Crujillon, Crusillo, Girarde, Legno duro, Manuelo Tinto, Mataro, Mazuelo, Mollard, Monestel, Plant de Ledenon, Roussillonen, Samso, Samso Crusillo, Sopatna Blau, Tinto Mazuela, Uva di Spagna.

- Matutana tinta: It has small compact clusters and small berries. It is very sensitive to botrytis, with late budburst but early ripening. As for the wine parameters, it has high colour intensity and anthocyanin content, high acidity and medium alcohol content. Sensorially, it stands out for its purple colour, typical varietal aromas of green peppers with balsamic and spicy notes, a well-structured mouth with notable acidity and tartness and medium persistence. It is not grown anywhere else in the world, making it a very interesting grape to support the uniqueness, differentiation and diversity of Rioja wines.

- Viura: The main white grape variety grown in Rioja, it is more productive than the red varieties and offers fruity wines with floral aromas and a remarkable acidity, making ideal for both young and aged whites. Oak-aged whites are traditional in Rioja, a practice that has been expanded in the last few years to include the fermentation of the must in barrels with its lees. Better known in Spain as Macabeo, the synonyms most frequently quoted are Alcañón, Forcalla, Gredelin, Lardot, , Macabeu, Queue de Renard and Rossan.

- Malvasía de Rioja: There are many Malvasias in the world, but they are not considered synonyms of Malvasía de Rioja, which has an outstanding potential for producing top quality whites. The clusters are a reddish yellow and produce a very interesting, unctuous, intensely aromatic wine. The only internationally accepted synonym is Sibirat Parent, but in Rioja other names are used which make reference to the reddish hue of the skin in ripe grapes, such as Rojal, Blanca Roja and Blanquirroja.


- Garnacha Blanca: It is the variety that occupies the least surface area among authorised Rioja grapes. It may well come from a mutation of red Garnacha. It has very similar characteristics to the red Garnacha (alcoholic wines with significant extract but little aroma and acidity). Grown in cool areas, it produces pleasant wines with good acidity. Alicante Blanca, Garnacha, Grenache Blanc and Sillina Lanc are the synonyms found in ampelographic collections.

- Tempranillo blanco: This variety comes from a natural genetic mutation from a single cane of a red Tempranillo vine , located in 1988 in an old vineyard in Murillo del Río Leza (La Rioja). The clusters are loose and medium-sized and the berries are also medium-sized and slightly flattened. Despite late budding, veraison and ripening come quite early. The total acidity remains high, with marked malic acid content. Its wines have a high concentration of volatile compounds with fruity aromas. Its wines offer excellent sensorial characteristics, just like the red Tempranillo. They are yellow-green with characteristic intense aromas of bananas and citrus and tropical fruit, underscored by floral and terpene notes. Well-balanced mouthfeel with structure and medium-long persistence. It is not found anywhere else in the world.

- Matutana blanca: It is the oldest grape variety known in Rioja, mentioned as early as 1622. It is quite a fertile variety with small clusters and small, elliptical berries. It has also proved to be precocious in all phases of development. It has the disadvantage of being particularly sensitive to botrytis. The most notable characteristics of Maturana Blanca are its low pH and high acidity, with significant tartaric acid content and low potassium content. These aspects compensate for the high alcohol content that can be reached with this variety. Sensorial assessment results are positive. Maturana Blanca wines have been described as greenish-yellow, with fruity aromas of apples, bananas and citrus fruits, and herbal notes. Light yet balanced on the palate, with tangy sensations and a slightly bitter finish of medium persistence.

- Turruntés de Rioja: The name Turruntés often leads to confusion with the Galician variety Torrontés and it has nothing to do with the grape variety grown in Argentina. According to DNA tests, the only similar variety would be the Albillo Mayor found in Castile-Leon. The cluster is medium-sized and compact, with medium-sized, spherical berries. Those with greater sun exposure may acquire a golden colour with dark spots. It features early budding and ripening. Low alcohol content and high acidity, with a low pH and significant concentration of tartaric acid with low potassium content. The wine is described as pale yellow with greenish hues, having fruity aromas with dominating notes of apples, with a vegetal, grassy nature. Light on the palate, acidy and slightly bitter, with medium-short persistence.


INTERNATIONAL WHITE GRAPE VARIETIES:

- Chardonnay: It is the world's most popular variety, equivalent to Cabernet for red wines, the most widely-grown grape for quality white wines across the world. Originally from Burgundy, it is also known as Morillon blanc, Beaunois and Weisser, although Chardonnay is by far the most international version. The vine is not very productive, with small- to medium-sized clusters, which produce yellow wines with green hues of outstanding finesse and aromatic intensity. Significant dry extract and low oxidation levels make this an ideal variety for barrel ageing.

- Sauvignon blanc: It is part of the international cast of quality white wine grapes, considered the finest variety among French white grapes after Chardonnay. It has very small clusters; compact and winged, with a very short peduncle. It has small, spheroid berries with skins of medium consistency and a greenish-yellow colour. Its pulp is quite consistent and intensely aromatic. The leaves are small, orbicular and bulky. The underside of the blade is fluffy and forms balls. It produces elegant, dry, acidy wines.

- Verdejo: A grape native to the D.O. Rueda, it is the Spanish white variety that has undergone the greatest development. It has small clusters, with a visible peduncle and medium-small, short, elliptical berries, with a thick, green-yellow skin and a greenish pulp. The leaves are orbicular and a somewhat shiny dark green. The aromas and flavours of the Verdejo wine has nuances of herbal scrubs, with fruity hints slightly sweetened by a powerful alcohol content offset by an excellent acidity. The extract is perceptible from its volume and its characteristic bitter touch, which projects a flash of originality in the mouth, accompanied by great fruit expression.


WINEMAKING AND STYLES

A distinct characteristic of Rioja wine is the effect of oak aging. First introduced in the early 18th century by Bordeaux influenced winemakers, the use of oak and the pronounced vanilla flavors in the wines has been a virtual trademark of the region though some modern winemakers are experimenting with making wines less influenced by oak. Originally French oak was used but as the cost of the barrels increased many bodegas began to buy American oak planks and fashion them into barrels at Spanish cooperages in a style more closely resembling the French method. This included hand splitting the wood, rather than sawing, and allowing the planks time to dry and "season" in the outdoors versus drying in the kiln. In recent times, more bodegas have begun using French oak and many will age wines in both American and French oak for blending purposes.

In the past, it was not uncommon for some bodegas to age their red wines for 15–20 years or even more before their release. One notable example of this the Marqués de Murrieta which released its 1942 vintage gran reserva in 1983 after 41 years of aging. Today most bodegas have shifted their winemaking focus to wines that are ready to drink sooner with the top wines typically aging for 4–8 years prior to release though some traditionalists still age longer. The typical bodega owns anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 oak barrels.

The use of oak in white wine has declined significantly in recent times when before the norm was traditionally 2–5 years in oak. This created slightly oxidized wines with flavors of caramel, coffee, and roasted nuts that did not appeal to a large market of consumers with some of the more negative examples showing characteristics of rubber and petrol flavors. Today the focus of white wine makers has been to enhance the vibrancy and fruit flavors of the wine.[8]

Some winemakers utilize a derivative of carbonic maceration in which whole clusters are placed in large open vats allowed to ferment inside the individual grape berries, without the addition of yeast, for a few days before they are crushed.

In the 1960s, Bodegas Rioja Santiago developed the first bottled version of the wine punch Sangría, based on Rioja wine, and exhibited it at the 1964 New York World's Fair. An import subsidiary of Pepsi Cola purchased the rights to the wine and began marketing it worldwide.


VINIFICATION AND AGEING

- White wines: The whole grape is passed to a draining tank. The stems are then removed and it is pressed to obtain the must which is transferred to the fermentation tanks.

- Rosé wines: The grape is destemmed and lightly crushed and sent to draining tanks. Here, it is left to macerate for a short period. It is then pressed and left for a day for the suspended particles to settle. It is then decanted and the almost crystalline must is transferred to the fermentation tanks.

- Red wines: There are two ways of making red wine in Rioja. The most widely used today involves the removal of the stalks in a destemmer before fermentation. This is more appropriate for wines which are to be aged in wood. In the traditional system, the whole grape bunches are fermented in large pools. This is known as "carbonic maceration". The resulting wines are smoother, with good body, intense colour and ideally suited for drinking during their first year.

In both cases the must is overpumped during fermentation, to ensure good colour extraction and maintain a constant temperature throughout the tank. Both systems aim to achieve uniform fermentation and to ensure the aromas from the must are not lost.

After fermentation, the wine is decanted. After separating the solid matter, the wine is transferred to storage tanks and subjected to quality controls.

Control Board carries out sensorial and laboratory tests to determine whether the wine deserves to be considered a "Rioja". The sensorial tests are carried out at the premises of the Control Board and in the Viticulture and Oenology Station in Haro, La Rioja. Lab tests are carried out in the House of Wine in Laguardia, Alava and the Oenological Station in Olite, Navarre and the Haro Station.

Rioja wines are aged in 225-litre oak casks, with periodic rackings, followed by a further period of bottle ageing. There are over 368 ageing bodegas in Rioja which have a total of 1,266,154 casks. The different Rioja wine categories are based on minimum ageing periods, which can vary between 1 and 3 years in casks and between 6 months and 6 years in the bottle, depending on whether the wine is to be a Crianza, a Reserva or a Gran Reserva.


INNOVATION IN TRADITION: WINES WITH THEIR OWN PERSONALITY

One of the traits that sets Rioja Wines apart is their excellent aptitude for ageing, a quality that is exclusive to great wines. Through appropriate ageing,. in which oak wood plays a decisive role, Rioja Wine evolves, its virtues becoming more prominent and acquiring new aromas and flavours. Rioja Wines are aged in 225 litre oak casks, where the wine experiences a slow evolutionary process of micro-oxygenation and stabilisation, and eventually acquires aromas and flavours released by the tannins in the wood. This is the traditional ageing method of great wines, a natural, more costly process than modern proposals of a more "industrial" oenology. The ageing process is completed in the bottle, where the wine continues to evolve in a reducing atmosphere until it reaches its peak. Great wines from historic vintages sleep in bottles for decades in the "sacristies" of the bodegas until they are transformed into true oenological gems.

Depending on the ageing process, Rioja wine can be put into one of four categories, identified by different numbered back labels or seals, which the Control Board issues to those wines that meet quality and tipicity requirements:

- Young wines: Wines in their first or second year, which keep their primary freshness and fruitiness.
- Crianza wines: Wines which are at least in their third year, having spent a minimum of one year in casks. For white wines, the minimum cask ageing period is 6 months.
- Reserva wines: Selected wines of the best vintages with an excellent potential that have been aged for a minimum of 3 years, with at least one year in casks. For white wines, the minimum ageing period is 2 years, with at least 6 months in casks.
- Gran Reserva wines: Selected wines from exceptional vintages which have spent at least 2 years in oak casks and 3 years in the bottle. For white wines, the minimum ageing period is 4 years, with at least one year in casks.


The four models of numbered back labels or seals that should accompany every bottle of Rioja wine that is sold constitute a document that guarantees the ageing category as well as the origin, vintage and quality of the wine. The characteristics of each vintage determine the amount of wine that winemakers will assign to each ageing category -Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

Rioja wines are elegant, original and have the unmistakable character of great wines, something which is only possible when grape varieties, vine-growing methods and winemaking procedures have been honed over time. Given the diversity in winegrowing offered by the Designation, it has been a traditional practice by the bodegas to blend different grape varieties and wines, from different vineyards and towns, seeking the complementary elements which will intensify their respective properties in the end product. This is undoubtedly the best-known kind of Rioja, although bodegas are increasingly offering a rich variety of styles with wines of high fruit concentration which aim to express the traits of specific vineyards.

With Tempranillo as the main element, Rioja reds are characterised by being very balanced in their alcohol content, colour and acidity, by having a body and structure offset perfectly by a gentle and elegant flavour and by being mainly fruity in nature when young and more velvety when aged. These characteristics make Rioja Wines highly versatile when combining with the most varied foods. This, together with the fact that it is a user-friendly, easy-to-drink wine, constitutes one of the keys to its success.

From October 2008, the new guarantee labels will gradually replace the current ones in the new vintages that reach each of the ageing categories.

CLASSIFICATION

Rioja red wines are classified into four categories. The first, simply labeled Rioja, is the youngest, spending less than a year in an oak aging barrel. A crianza is wine aged for at least two years, at least one of which was in oak. Rioja Reserva is aged for at least three years, of which at least one year is in oak. Finally, Rioja Gran Reserva wines have been aged at least two years in oak and three years in bottle. Reserva and Gran Reserva wines are not necessarily produced each year. Also produced are wines in a semi-crianza style, those that have had a couple of months oak influence but not enough to be called a full crianza. The designation of crianza, Reserva etc. might not always appear on the front label but may appear on a neck or back label in the form of a stamp designation known as Consejo.


QUALITY CONTROL - D.O.C LA RIOJA

Rioja wines are protected by the oldest Designation of Origin in Spain, officially recognised in 1926. In 1991, it was awarded the highest category - Calificada - making Rioja the only designation in Spain to be so honoured. Its Regulations establish the borders of the production area, the grape varieties that may be grown, maximum allowable yields, approved vinification and ageing techniques, and so on. The Control Board, which includes grape growers, winemakers and Administration representatives, is the body charged with ensuring compliance with the D.O.'s Regulations in order to protect the type and quality of Rioja wines.

The Control Board runs a strict and efficient control system from production to commercialisation, both for the quantity and quality of protected wines. For this, all Rioja wines have to undergo analytical and organoleptic tests to determine if the wine is worthy or not of the Denominación de Origen Calificada. The analyses are carried out in the official laboratories of the three Autonomous Communities and the blind tastings are performed by a panel of grape growers and oenologists.

The control continues through the ageing process to commercialisation when the Board awards the bodegas the corresponding numbered back labels or seals which guarantee the origin, vintage and ageing of the wines. The compulsory bottling of Rioja wines in the production area also contributes to ensuring their quality and type.

- Viticulture: In both the production and winemaking of Rioja wines, and with the aim of optimising quality, a more rigorous standard is applied than in other vitivinicultural areas. Compliance with this standard, rigorously guaranteed by the Control Board, conveys a sense of security and trust to the consumer and has been a determining factor in the leading position attained by Rioja wines in the Spanish market.

All aspects relating to the viticulture are covered by the Designation's Regulations or by standards issued by the Board on matters such as planting density, which must meet a compulsory minimum of 2,850 vines per hectare and a maximum of 4,000 vines per hectare. Only the seven traditional varieties are authorised: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo, Viura, Malvasía and Garnacha Blanca. Each and every one of the vineyards which are registered in the Designation must appear on the Board's records with the name of the owner, the municipal district, location, surface area, variety, year of planting and number of vines.

Growing practices must generally aim to optimise quality of production, which is the reason why the Control Board adopts the appropriate measures for each harvest, particularly with regard to regulating irrigation according to ecological conditions.

Pruning systems also affect grape productivity and quality which is why, where the traditional goblet system and its varieties are used, a maximum load of only 12 buds per vine over a maximum of six spurs is allowed. If pruning is trellised or espaliered, for the double cordon system the maximum load will be 12 buds distributed over a maximum of six spurs, while for the rod and spur system the load will be distributed along a rod and one or two spurs of two buds with a maximum of 10 buds per vine. Under no circumstances may the maximum limit of 36,000 buds per hectare be exceeded, except for the Garnacha variety, for which 42,000 buds per hectare will be allowed.

The Regulation similarly establishes maximum authorised production limits per hectare, which are below the average for the more prestigious European designations of origin. For red varieties this limit is 6,500 kg per hectare and for white varieties it is 9,000 kg per hectare. Each year, the Control Board issues a document called the "Grape grower's Record Book" where the owner's hectares of vineyards are listed from the data in the Register of Vineyards for the D.O., as well as the maximum yield allowed for these vineyards. This document, which is supplied with slips, is used to monitor all buying and selling of grapes during the harvest.

Failure on the part of grape growers to comply with these measures regarding vineyard growing practices could lead to loss of the right to use the name Rioja for the production obtained.

- Harvests: Quality and origin guarantees for Rioja wines from harvest. The harvest is one of the key moments when the complete control system established by the Board to guarantee the origin and quality of wines produced in Rioja is applied. During the harvest, the Board Inspection Services monitor the transfer of grapes, control the borders of the Wine region, verify the quality of the grapes and coordinate the more than 200 "harvest helpers" expressly hired by the Board to monitor the weighing of all grape production on each of the scales located at the winemaking centres.

In order to grow or sell grapes with the right to use the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja, the more than 18,000 vineyard owners currently in Rioja must have a supporting document, the "Grape grower's Record Book", where the registered surface area of the vineyard and the maximum authorised grape output in kg must appear, in accordance with the provisions of the Regulations. This is 6,500 kg per hectare for red varieties and 9,000 kg per hectare for white varieties.

The right to use the name Rioja for the production obtained by each grape grower is also conditioned by prior compliance with authorised growing practices and the weighing of harvested grapes in the presence of the Board's weighing supervisor to guarantee the true harvest volume obtained in the D.O. In all winemaking bodegas, whether they are a winegrower, co-operative or trading company, the corresponding weight slip is written out for each consignment of grape received and individualised according to the class of grape, red or white and the place of origin of the grape.

Every bodega wishing to make wine must inform the Control Board sufficiently in advance giving the start date or the opening of the grape harvest, as well as the points or places where this will happen and also reception timetable, as all the grapes must be weighed in the presence of the Board's supervisor. Once the harvest is over and independently of the grape grower's harvest statement, commercial producers submit slips to the Control Board for each consignment of grapes acquired together with the list of sellers and harvest information.


- Vintage rating: The implementation in 1985 of the Approval Plan for Rioja wines, long before it was required by legislation, clearly shows the interest of the D.O. in improving the quality of its wines. Undoubtedly, prior approval of wines for the right to use the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja has greatly influenced improvements in winemaking techniques and has therefore created higher quality wines, which is the main aim of the D.O. Generally, the analytical parameters which determine good winemaking, such as the total SO2 content, volatile acidity and reducing sugars, are well below the margins permitted by current legislation. Once the aim of improving winemaking had been achieved, which has had a direct effect on lowering the number of wines rejected by analytical tests, the Control Board has worked extensively over recent years at improving the organoleptic features, which are fundamental in differentiating wine type and quality.

The approval process is becoming an entrance exam to determine whether the finished wine is worthy or not of the D.O. The harvest approval process takes place between 1 December and 31 March. More than 4,000 samples, representing all wines produced in the D.O. Calificada Rioja, are taken by Control Board experts from the same tanks where the wines have been fermenting and are analysed in one of the three official D.O. laboratories (Oenological Research Stations in Haro, Laguardia and Olite), to determine whether the components meet the requirements of the Rioja Regulations.

Subsequently, the Board's Approval Committees carry out the organoleptic examination of the samples to evaluate the type, colour, clarity, aroma, flavour and quality of the wine. This is the decisive stage in the approval process, which is carried out individually and without prior comments so that tasters do not influence one other, since tasting is the best way of deciding wine quality as well as its distinguished and unmistakable Rioja personality. The Approval Committees work under the supervision of a Control Board expert and employ over a hundred experts. Each committee is comprised of three tasters -a winegrower, a bodega technician and a member of the Oenological Association- who evaluate the wine tasted, independently and according to strict professional criteria, and determine whether it meets criteria. If it is found to be suitable, it will be granted the right to use the name Rioja.

The strict approval process of Rioja wines provides very detailed information on the quality of all wines produced from each harvest, so giving an excellent technical basis for the Control Board's global rating of the vintage. Unlike vintage ratings issued by other DOs based on tasting a dozen samples, specially selected for the occasion, the rating of Rioja vintages is based on results of the chemical and organoleptic analyses of samples taken directly from all the wine-producing bodegas, which is undoubtedly much more objective. This official vintage rating is carried out on recently produced wines which is why "it must be completed with reference to the evolution of wines subjected to ageing", an evaluation reflected by the Board in the Rioja Vintages Chart.


- Control in the bodega: All bodegas wishing to produce and sell Rioja wines must appear on the Control Board's registries and fulfil a series of requirements, such as being located within the Wine Region, the territory of the Designation of Origin, and being separated by a public road from any other place which is intended for non-protected wines, as exclusive dedication to Rioja wines is a prerequisite. The facilities must also meet winemaking, ageing and bottling requirements.

The bodegas are classified into four distinct categories: Winegrowers, Co-operatives, Wine keepers and Ageing bodegas. For the bodega to be an classified as an ageing bodega, it must have a minimum of fifty 225-litre oak casks and 22,500 litres of wine in stock. The period of time during which a wine is aged, which will allow the right to use one or another type of back label, is supervised using control forms containing all the movements of each wine from each harvest within the bodega until it leaves to be sold (tank, cask, bottle, labelling, etc.). These control forms are submitted to the Control Board every month for computer processing and they give a complete picture of the bodega's situation, its stocks and sales of the different types and categories of wine, etc. This also provides very accurate information on the situation of the D.O. as a whole, used to generate statistical analyses.

The Board's Technical Services carry out frequent inspections to check stock volumes by wine type and vintage, number of casks and bottles, back labels, etc., and so verify the accuracy of the statements made by the bodegas. They also control wine movements between different bodegas (mainly sales from winegrowers and co-operatives to ageing bodegas) which require the corresponding authorisation, and they take samples of the finished product for analytical examination and tasting both in the bodegas and at sales outlets in domestic and foreign markets. All the labels used by the bodegas to sell their wines must have prior authorisation from the Board, which must also issue the Certificate of Origin for export to other countries.

- Guarantee labels:
. Young wines: Wines in their first or second year, which keep their primary freshness and fruitiness.
. Crianza wines: Wines which are at least in their third year, having spent a minimum of one year in casks and a few months in the bottle. For white wines, the minimum cask ageing period is 6 months.
. Reserva wines: Selected wines of the best vintages with an excellent potential that have been aged for a minimum of 3 years, with at least one year in casks. For white wines, the minimum ageing period is 2 years, with at least 6 months in casks.
. Gran Reserva wines: Selected wines from exceptional vintages which have spent at least 2 years in oak casks and 3 years in the bottle. For white wines, the minimum ageing period is 4 years, with at least one year in casks.

Inimitable back labels: new guarantees for consumers.


The Control Board de the D.O.Ca. Rioja has implemented a new security system, a first in the world of wine, in order to guarantee the authenticity of Rioja wine back labels and seals. This system involves a device called "Rioja Trustseal" which is manufactured with diffractive optical technology. It consists of a small (7x22 mm) metallic-looking strip depicting parts of the logo and the word "Rioja". Its exclusive design, glossy sheen, sharply-defined edges and optical effects will enable consumers to identify the label as genuine, even under poor lighting conditions. The system, which is widely used on European banknotes, has been developed by a world leader in security systems. It will make Rioja back labels and seals virtually impossible to forge.

The first back labels and seals to include the Rioja Trustseal are the young wines from the 2000 vintage, the 1998 Crianzas, the 1997 Reservas and the 1995 Gran Reservas. The old back labels and seals will still continue on the market for vintages prior to those mentioned above for each category.

Rioja pioneered the seal of guarantee of origin in 1926 and brought out the first ageing-specific back labels in 1974. With this new "guarantee of authenticity", Rioja provides yet another guarantee for consumers worldwide, together with those of quality, origin, vintage and ageing category, which are reflected on each back label and seal.

- Market surveillance: Rioja quality and origin guarantees, safer than ever. Rioja is probably one of the designations of origin in the world which provides the highest guarantees to consumers with respect to provenance, vintage, ageing category and quality in each bottle bearing one of the four back labels or seals issued by the Control Board (Generic, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva). To achieve its goal of maximum quality assurance -and in tune with its standing as the only D.O. in Spain to have the Calificada surname- Rioja goes beyond the strict enforcement of its exacting regulations on grape growing and winemaking by carrying out extensive market surveillance actions.

Generally, the control systems established by most designations of origin are limited to the grape growers and wineries located within their territory, without regular controls of the market outside their borders with respect to possible illegal actions by external agents. One of Rioja's exclusive control measures consists of taking monthly samples of Rioja wines at point of sale, both in the Spanish market and abroad. The samples are examined by the Control Board Technical Services, which check both the product characteristics and the authenticity of the back labels or seals on the bottles.

Currently, the Control Board uses state-of-the-art technology to ensure the authenticity of its back labels and seals. Among these is the new "Rioja Trustseal", a device which makes it easy to identify forged labels, thereby discouraging this practice and making it highly unlikely that anyone will attempt unauthorised use of the Rioja brand.

With its systematic follow-up of its wines at points of sale, a unique practice in our country, the D.O.Ca. Rioja continues to hold its traditional leadership position in offering consumers the most complete quality, origin and ageing assurance system for its protected wines.

WINERIES

In Spain, wineries are commonly referred to as bodegas though this term may also refer to a wine cellar or warehouse. For quite some time, the Rioja wine industry has been dominated by local family vineyards and co-operatives that have bought the grapes and make the wine. Some bodegas would buy fermented wine from the co-ops and age the wine to sell under their own label. In recent times there has been more emphasis on securing vineyard land and making estate bottled wines from the bodegas.

CULTURE

Like most Spanish wine regions, Rioja is an integral part of Spanish culture and cuisine. In the town of Haro there is an annual Wine Festival that is noted for its Batalla de Vino where participants conduct a food fight of sorts with wine.