The Oenophiliac

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Nicole Linares: Rioja Road Trip – Days 3 & 4

Day 3-May 4th

Rioja DOC LogoToday we headed out to the town of Santo Domingo de Calzada, a town much larger than ours and much more lively. The center focus of this town was the Cathedral and it just so happened that on this day there was a festival of music with some “peregrines,” or pilgrims doing the Camino de Santiago de Compostella. The pilgrimage route crosses through this town and you can see the pilgrims with their staffs and backpacks. It’s not time for us to enter the cathedral yet, so we break apart into groups and go wander around the picturesque town. It’s very beautiful, with its small roads and cobble streets. Shops are open with fish and bakeries, including chocolate chickens. Chickens are everywhere here, because of the legend. Legend states that a father said that his dead son was alive as the roasted chicken was on his plate. No sooner than he said that, the chicken rose up and began cackling and singing! So these little birds are everywhere. We wandered around town; buying treats like dark chocolate candied oranges and pastries and even met a sweet Golden Retriever named Sally. Everyone in town is extremely friendly and we felt welcome.

Santo Domingo de la Calzada Cathedral

Santo Domingo de la Calzada Cathedral

When the time came to go the cathedral, we all met in front and went in. It was a massive structure with delicate design but strength at the same time. Massive stone pillars rose into curious domes that did not match each other, had no rhyme or reason. In each crevice there were structures with scenes of the Holy Spirit and Jesus. Some were plated in intricate gold and some with silver. There were no electrical lights in the building, just light from the windows. The ambience in the cathedral was dreamlike, with soft light and a very silent feel of respect. The most impressive thing in the cathedral for me was the gold plated scene. It reached from floor to ceiling and touched each side of the crevice. It seemed to quiver with movement from all of the figurines and people carved into it. At the center is Jesus Christ, holding a gold cross. He is almost lost in the scene filled with people and it was truly breathtaking. I wish that I could have gotten closer to inspect the intricate details.

In the evening, we have another tasting with Chip. The first wine we try is from Rias Baixas, an Albariño from the producer Valinas. I like its floral notes of honeysuckle and other white flowers and its greenish hue. This is definitely a seafood pairing wine because of its astringency and high acidity. Then we try a Marques de Riscal Finca Montico 2011, Verdejo 100%. It has a slight effervescence and understated, earthy nose. Smooth mouth feel, light acidity and medium body. It is nice, drinkable but not one of my favorites as far as complexity goes. Next is a Proximo, 100% Tempranillo. It is pretty balanced with notes of mushroom and dark chocolate covered cherries. Last we try a Marques de Riscal Reserva 2007, a blend of Tempranillo, Granache, Granache Tinta and Mazuelo. I’m impressed by its dark intense color, deep purple and red. It had nice long finish and was very balanced.

We finished the day off with a language lesson from our Cilengua teacher, Marta. She is an extremely warm person and knows so much about the culture and life in Rioja. We really love her.

Now off to Rosie’s place for a warm dinner of stewed meats and patatas!



 Day 4 – May 5th

Since a bunch of us went out to Santo Domingo de Calzada last night and had a blast staying out late with the locals,

Mar de Frades Albariño

Mar de Frades Albariño

there’s not much to write.

We tasted a Sauvignon from Marques de Riscal (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite wineries in Rioja for its

consistency in balanced and full bodied wines). Made with the “wild,” Sauvignon Blanc grape, this wine is astringent and acidic with a medium finish. Next we try an Albariño  Mar de Frades 2012 from Rias Baixas. I get notes of lemon zest and tropical fruit like pineapple with a long finish. We try a Ramon Bilbao 2008 Reserva with aromas of vanilla, chocolate, mushroom and cherry. I taste earthy woods, blackberries, pine or mint and bell pepper. It is tannic but not too full bodied. Lastly we try a Ribera del Duero 2009 Cruz Alba Crianza, 100% Tempranillo. On the nose, I get licorice, black pepper and spices. It has a long finish, and you can smell French Oak.

Journal written by Nicole Lindares

Nicole Linares is a student at the Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality, USA, an active member of her schools Wine Academy and budding wine writer


4 comments on “Nicole Linares: Rioja Road Trip – Days 3 & 4

  1. Pingback: Nicole Linares: Rioja Road Trip – Day 5 | Magic's Wine Guide and Reviews for Newbies.

  2. Pingback: Nicole Linares: Rioja Road Trip – Days 6 & 7 | Magic's Wine Guide and Reviews for Newbies.

  3. Pingback: Nicole Linares: Rioja Road Trip – Days 9 & 10 | Magic's Wine Guide and Reviews for Newbies.

  4. Pingback: Nicole Linares: Rioja Road Trip – Days 11 & 12 | Magic's Wine Guide and Reviews for Newbies.

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