Happy International Tempranillo Day! I love a good Tempranillo, especially from Rioja, so I was delighted to be invited to a virtual Rioja wine tasting and cooking class hosted by Get Cooking.
This was my first virtual wine tasting. A few places in Edmonton have started doing these and I expect we’ll continue to see more as time goes on, since the pandemic doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. Virtual tastings have pros and cons versus in-person ones, which I’ll explore in another post.
The wine tasting part of this event was hosted by Sergio Soriano, export director of Baron de Ley Group for North America. The three wines on the menu were the Baron de Ley Rosado, the Baron de Ley Reserva, and the Coto de Imaz Gran Reserva. Scroll down to find my detailed tasting notes on each of these wines.
Rioja is the spiritual heartland of Tempranillo. It’s located in northeast Spain and over three-quarters of the grapevines planted there are Tempranillo. Tempranillo produces wines with flavours of strawberries and spice, tobacco and leather. It can be a bit rustic, austere even, so it’s commonly blended with Grenache to give it some extra body and ripeness.
I thoroughly enjoyed each of the wines and they are definitely a good representation of Rioja. I had tried a past vintage of the Baron de Ley Reserva and recently raved about the Coto de Imaz Reserva, so it was a treat to try the next tier up, the Gran Reserva. I also haven’t tasted any wines side-by-side in a while so it was nice to indulge in splashing around three bottles at once.
After an introduction from Kathryn Joel of Get Cooking, Sergio gave a presentation on Rioja and Baron de Ley. Then we went back to Kathryn’s cooking demonstration in the Get Cooking kitchen. She prepared Patatas a la Riojana, a stew of chorizo and potatotes, as well as pan-seared lamb cutlets with roasted and marinated red peppers.
Virtual cooking classes aren’t as weird as you might think – have you ever been mesmerized by those quick cooking videos all over Instagram and YouTube? (I definitely have.) This was much more in-depth, obviously. After you register for Get Cooking’s virtual classes, they email you the full recipes ahead of time along with a handy supplier list, in case you’d like to cook along.
I wasn’t able to cook in real time during the class (my toddler needs to eat around 5pm OR ELSE), so I made both recipes earlier on my own. The instructions were detailed and easy to follow, though admittedly I’m pretty comfortable in the kitchen. If you were a total cooking novice you’d benefit from watching the demonstration, for sure. There seemed to be quite a few regular attendees in the Get Cooking group and a wonderful camaraderie and welcoming vibe, so I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to upgrade their kitchen skills and/or find a new social event in These Unprecedented Times.
In between the cooking, Sergio walked us through tasting the three wines and talked about food pairings. The Baron de Ley Rosado was a perfect match with the roasted and braised red peppers, as they are braised in orange juice which really brings out the orange peel/citrus qualities of the Rosado.
The Baron de Ley Reserva is pretty heavy on the vanilla oak (a pretty typical trademark of modern Rioja), but it was a good match for the patatas a la Riojana. The Coto de Imaz Gran Reserva also paired beautifully with both the patatas and the pan-seared beef. Kathryn prepared lamb cutlets but I didn’t have time to source out lamb so instead I grilled some Piedmontese beef sirloin steaks from the Italian Centre. They were a good substitute for lamb as they have a deep earthy flavour. Both reds were great with the beef.
See below for my detailed tasting notes.
Name: Baron de Ley Rosado
Region: Rioja, Spain
Grape: 90% Tempranillo and 10% Grenache
Taste: fresh strawberries, cantaloupe, orange peel
Texture: round and juicy, a hint of sweetness balanced by juicy acidity
Name: Baron de Ley Reserva
Region: Rioja, Spain
Taste: punchy vanilla oak, licorice, Swedish berry candy
Texture: straightforward red fruit with some tannin grip on the finish but fairly soft and chuggable
Name: Coto de Imaz Gran Reserva
Region: Rioja, Spain
Grape: Tempranillo and Graciano
Taste: refined vanilla oak, forest floor, blackberry, blueberry
Texture: balanced and elegant with a very smooth finish