Varietal of the Month: Tempranillo

In Spain, Tempranillo is the most widely planted grape in the country and thrives in Spain’s hot, dry climate. Typically, it is the dominant grape in Spanish Rioja wine, and it creates a wine that is full-bodied with fresh fruit flavors. As Tempranillo ages, it takes on a spiciness that is reminiscent of vanilla, tobacco leaf and leather.

Tempranillo ripens earlier and is a black grape with dark purple – almost black – skin. It crushes red meaning the interior of the grape is a dark, rich red color. Grapes that crush red get their color from the juice, and not just from the skins, like other red grape varietals.

Wine of the Month: Marques de Riscal Gran Reserva Rioja, Spain

Intense black-cherry color with violet hues. On the nose it expresses its complex, balsamic, aromatic intensity in perfect balance with the fruit and lightly toasted aromas which recall fine wood. In the mouth it is smooth and full, in harmony with the fruit, with good concentrated tannins, round and with a long, lingering finish.

To make their Gran Reserva wines, Riscal use grapes produced by old vines over 80 years old from estate vineyards and brought in from regular local growers. After blending the wines from the harvest, the wine destined to become a Gran Reserva is transferred into French-oak casks where it will remain for up to 3 years, followed by a further 3 years in the bottle prior to release.

Marqués de Riscal Gran Reserva is a timeless wine which represents almost two centuries of the winemaker’s skill. It has the traditional style of the Rioja Alavesa, recalling the aspirations of the founders of the bodega back in the 19th century.

The experience and know-how of the bodega ensure the best vintages of this wine will keep for 50 years or more in the bottle, preserving a delicious flavour for sure. A wine for eternity.

Food Pairings:
Tempranillo pairs well with the rich flavors found in Spanish cheese and cured meats. It also matches with many types of red meat, mushrooms and stews.

Braised Chicken with Chocolate Sauce

1 package chicken legs
1 package chicken thighs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
Chopped parsley, garnish

Place the chicken in a large plastic bag. Add the salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of flour. Toss to coat. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven to almost smoking. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the onions and sauté until just soft. Add garlic and sauté for one minute. Add the remaining flour and stir to combine. Add the wine, let reduce slightly. Stir in the broth and return the chicken to the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pan and let simmer for about 40 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Add a bit more broth if the liquid becomes too low. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and using a slotted spoon remove the onions to the platter. Bring the liquid to a boil and let reduce and thicken slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate. Continue to stir until melted. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

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