The #WorldWineTravel group is kicking off 2021 by virtually exploring the world of wine, one country or region at a time. This month features one of our favourite regions of all, Rioja. We’ve been lucky enough to visit twice and we can’t wait to return once we can travel overseas again. Our submission is a primer aimed at providing a background on the region’s history, geography, climate, sub-regions, and styles of winemaking. To read the other articles related to this month’s topic, please refer to the links at the end of this article.
View of the Ebro River at Valpiedra Winery.
Rioja is Spain’s best known wine region. It occupies 63,593 Ha along both sides of the Ebro River in Northeastern Spain, spanning 100 km between the towns of Haro and Alfaro. The Rio Oja, a tributary of the Ebro, is where the region takes its name. Rioja is Spain’s oldest Denominacion de Origen (D.O.), the Spanish equivalent of a viticultural region, having earned the designation in 1926. In 1991 it earned the highest designation of Calificada (D.O.Ca.), and remains only one of two region in Spain to hold this designation alongside Priorat. It produces both red and white wines though over 90% of the production is red. Over 600 bodegas (wineries) call Rioja home. As a region it is capable of producing excellent wines, not just in the premium category, but it also can produce some incredible bargains.
The French #Winophiles is a group of wine writers that are fans of French wines and come together monthly to share their views on a certain aspect. The group is kicking off 2021 with a virtual visit to Bordeaux and we’ve chosen to shine a spotlight on a lesser-known area of the region: Fronsac. To see the other articles related to this month’s topic, please refer to the links at the end of this article.
Chateau Pichon Baron.
Bordeaux might just be the most famous and talked about wine region in the world. The word conjures up pictures of fabulous castles that sit at the end of long, tree-lined drives and its wines are often thought of as out-of-reach, costly treasures that are enjoyed after decades of cellaring by Barons and Baronesses and other well-heeled connoisseurs. While that may be an accurate snapshot of the top growths of the Medoc, there is much more to Bordeaux than that.
Our latest video AdVINEture features one of the most interesting and more surprising regions we’ve explored yet: British Columbia’s Cowichan Valley. Tucked in the southern part of Vancouver Island, the Cowichan Valley is BC’s newest sub-Geographical Indication (GI) and for good reason. Despite this region being one of the most demanding growing areas in the world, we visited 4 wineries (Venturi-Schulze, Blue Grouse Estate Winery, Averill Creek & Unsworth Vineyards) who are proving that making great wine there is possible. This video shows just a few highlights, click on the individual links for the full story on each…cheers!
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s how quickly things can change…and how much a significant change can stay the same.
The new normal…
In a year defined by physical distancing, restrictions, and lockdowns, we’ve all experienced firsthand our own version of “Groundhog Day” as a result of months of self-isolation. Personally, COVID-19 not only prevented us from overseas AdVINEtures, it forced us to scale back on the thing we love most about wine, its inherent ability to bring people together.
In terms of up and coming wine regions to watch, BC’s Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island is definitely worthy of consideration. Not only has it been named the Province’s newest sub-GI, it’s also getting the attention of some serious global wine players who didn’t just consider it, they invested in it, purchasing Unsworth Vineyards earlier this year.
This year during the holiday season we think it is more important than ever to do some celebrating. The holidays are traditionally about celebrating. For 2020, most of us will not be able to celebrate with all the people we would like to celebrate with, due to the travel and gathering restrictions made necessary by the spread of COVID 19. The size of the celebration must be smaller, but it is still possible to celebrate. Just making it to the end of 2020 is a reason to celebrate!