Category Archives: spain

Women In Wine: An Interview With Maria Elena Jimenez from Pares Balta in Penedes

I didn’t post this on a Friday so I am reposting to keep in line with my women in wine series. Enjoy the holiday weekend and remember to think about what Memorial Day actually means, http://www.history.com/news/8-things-you-may-not-know-about-memorial-day. Say hello and thank you to a sailor if in NYC during Fleet Week.

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Today I am posting an online conversation I had with Maria Elena Jimenez, one of the winemakers at Pares Balta.

1. How did you get into the wine business?

Although it may seem sappy, love was the reason for everything. My husband, by then just my boyfriend, was the one to introduce me to wine and make me fall in love with wine along with him. I am a chemical engineer, and in those days working as a consultant, when my husband proposed me to return to the university to study enology in order to work together in the family business.
And all the tiny pieces began to fall in its right place after that, wine , love, family, children, passion till reaching the point where I am nowadays, managing the cellar altogether with Marta

2. What has been the hardest part of the wine business for you in…

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Filed under Memorable Events, Penedes, spain, wines, Women in Wine, Women in Wine Fridays

Women In Wine: An Interview With Maria Elena Jimenez from Pares Balta in Penedes

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Today I am posting an online conversation I had with Maria Elena Jimenez, one of the winemakers at Pares Balta.

1. How did you get into the wine business?

Although it may seem sappy, love was the reason for everything. My husband, by then just my boyfriend, was the one to introduce me to wine and make me fall in love with wine along with him. I am a chemical engineer, and in those days working as a consultant, when my husband proposed me to return to the university to study enology in order to work together in the family business.
And all the tiny pieces began to fall in its right place after that, wine , love, family, children, passion till reaching the point where I am nowadays, managing the cellar altogether with Marta

2. What has been the hardest part of the wine business for you in terms of gender issues, if any?

Even when I have been fortunate to have the backing of the family, public trust and prestige does not come easily for women, just after years of consistent work does it arrives, whenever men achieve it more naturally.

3. What trends and changes have you seen since you started? What do you see happening in the next 5-10 years in your sector of the business?

Talking about wine, I saw the rise and decline of the “thick” wines (red full-bodied wines you could nearly cut with a knife or smoky barrel branded whites) in favor of a much more elegant and balanced style.

In the last few years, it has appeared a new trend that looks for a much more natural approach to winemaking, in favor of a more artisanal way. Decreasing or avoiding the use of sulfites and technological manipulation, favoring traditional local varieties and accepting wines out of the mainstream taste.

At Parés Baltà we are traveling along this road, searching for the maximal expression of our vineyards and our soil. Organically and biodynamically certified, we try to respect our environment, our heritage and bring them to our customers.

4. What do you see happening in the Spanish wine world in the coming years?

I am not a wine guru neither I pretend to be a visionary so I leave this role to others who are more involved in the end market development.

But as far as there appears to be an increasing interest in different grapes, tastes…, new opportunities seem to open for Spanish wine apart from the well-known good-for-their-price Riojas.

5. Are people interested in different varietals? International varietals?

As I was just telling you in your prior question there is an increasing interest in local varieties, unknown by the general customer, who nowadays is looking for different wines and tastes from the mainstream chardonnays ,cabernets and Riojas.

6. What wines from Spain are truly interesting to people in the US these days?

Following with the same argument, there would be two sort of wines that would be interesting.

On the one hand, we find the good value reds and whites that provide easy drinking and lovable wine for an affordable price.

On the other hand, there are that many different wines that bring new experiences for the more mature palates tired of always the same old taste.

That gives an opportunity to other wine regions from Spain with an incredible variety of grapes and styles since now invisible for the US market.

7. What do you think about the level of wine education in general in the US about Spanish wines?

Spain is still a country to discover for the Americans. Its culture, gastronomy, differences and of course, wines.

8. Who is the average wine drinker today? What do they care about?

There are many kinds of drinkers today, interested in different kinds of wine. Uncomplicated wines to enjoy in a relaxed way, exotic wines for the curious, natural, organic… wines for the more concerned ones. The customer spectrum is becoming broader and new market niches appear every day.

9. Where are women going to be in the industry in the next 10 years?

The presence of women will be increasing in the end of the process, not so much in the winemaking in such a short term, unfortunately. I am not seeing an improvement in the fight for the equality between men and women.

10. What secrets can you share about pairing Spanish wines with food?

Due to the incredible variety of grapes, regions, styles. There is always a perfect, or many of them, pairing for any food you may think.
Rich in acidity or mature, dry, sweet, full bodied or light, oaked or non, white, rose, whites, dessert wine. Flavorful or delicate. Anything you may need.

Cava with everything, especially iberico Ham.
Xarel·lo as our Calcari and oysters

There are endless possibilities.

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Filed under spain, winemaker interviews, wines, Women in Wine

Spanish Sundays: Calcari from Parés Baltà

Today’s wine hails from Spain, specifically from the Penedes region from Parés Baltà. I tried it at a Wine Media Guild lunch I was lucky to be invited to at the beginning of the month. The theme was all about Spanish white wines. It was an exciting line-up in general and this one stuck out to me. I was also sitting with the export manager of the winery and that is always helpful. Then I found out the amazing story of the family and the two winemakers who are women and it seemed like a perfect fit for this blog.

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The wine in question is made from Xarel·lo at one of their vineyards which is at 254 meters above sea level. I am always interested in monovarietal wines made from varieties that are usually blended. Xarel-lo is one of the principal grapes in Cava, Spain’s famed sparkling wine.

The wine ferments in stainless steel tanks and then rests on its lees with daily battonage for four months.

The texture of this wine indeed was one of the things that drew me to it. It paired perfectly with a variety of tapas dishes that were served at the luncheon. It also seemed to me like a wine which would lend itself to drinking more than one bottle at a time. At an average of $15 around the country, that is also a feasible option for a party wine of a great during the week wine with a chicken or fish based dinner.

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Spanish Sundays: 2012 Numanthia Termes From Toro DO

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Spain is rarely discussed on this blog but it is never too far from my heart. I have a couple of Spanish DOs that I work with and I often drink Spanish wines. I studied Spanish for seven years after returning home from Italy but alas alak, have spent precious little time in that country of late. I do get to travel there though thanks to the wines I can savor here in New York.

This week’s Spanish Sunday is about a wine from the DO of Toro in Spain in the province of Zamora, located in the west of the region of Castilla y León. It is from the well-known winery Numanthia. While a tad less famous than Numanthia and Termanthia, Termes, the wine I had at the Mandarin Oriental in the Lobby Lounge is more affordable and approachable. Retailing at around $25, check out Wine-Searcher, it’s a beautiful expression of the Tempranillo grape in Toro where it is known as Tinta de Toro. The Toro region has been famous since Roman times for its great red wines.

I first tried this wine at a Numanthia dinner back in 2011 hosted by Gregory Dal Piaz, then Editor-in-Chief of Snooth. I thought the wines were lovely and the dinner pairings were outstanding at the time.

The wine comes from vineyards located at 700 meters above sea level and there are some 100 year old vines. Many are also ungrafted because phylloxera never flourished in this region. It macerates for an extended time on the skins before fermentation at controlled temperatures. Post-fermentation, the wine spends 16 months in one year old French barrels.

On the nose and palate, you get the berries you expect from Tempranillo driven wines together with pepper and spice, cedar notes and a hint of leather and cacao. If you can afford the pricier Numanthia and Termanthia, they are certainly wines to try once in a lifetime. If you can’t, I think you’ll find the Termes a great alternative from this region.

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Sindrome da Rientro – Start of the Year

Sunset on the Cape

The year always begins again for me in September. Initially, it was the start of a new school year. While I continue to study and have all my life, September now also represents harvest and the beginning of a different season for work. My son is also a September baby so that ties into my feeling that the year begins this month. That said, as a New Yorker, the year never really gets going for me until after September 11 – a day of reflection and remembrance.

On the wine front, in addition to all important harvest time, September also brings the start – sometimes – of colder weather and a desire to drink bigger red wines. This summer, I was lucky enough to spend a month in Italy, a couple of weeks on Cape Cod and attend a wine conference in DC. I have much to write about and be thankful for as the new “year” rolls around. I also have much catching up to do in terms of writing. I’ve tried in the past to write everyday of the month on this blog with some modicum of success yet my plans always go awry when I make big pronouncements so I think I will try another tack and chart my course according to the prevailing winds. Let’s see if that is an easier way to go.

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Today, I want to mention a wine that graced my table this past month, Destello from Penedes in Spain which is a private label brand from Opici. Destello Cava is produced using the traditional method in which the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle. It ages in the bottle for 18 months before release. Made from a blend of 50% Trepat, 30% Monastrell and 20% Garnacha, it was a great match for seafood and pasta as well as an aperitif. It was also incredibly inexpensive at $12. I first tasted a wine made from Trepat in 2010. It’s a grape I find interesting and refreshing. I love Cava in general and the Cavas Roses in particular. Like much of the world, I was slow to the Rose game but this summer, have made up for my lack luster Rose years with a vengance and tried Roses, Rosados, Rosatos from all over the world with much to recommend them. I look forward to drinking more this fall but also to getting into some great reds.

World of the day: Destello – flash, sparkle, twinkle

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Monday Musings: Society of Wine Educators Conference – Exploring Cavas

Tracy Ellen Kamens, a great wine educator and a friend, held a really informative seminar on Cavas during this year’s conference in Washington. She had an interesting slide comparing Cavas and Champagne and showed many aged Cavas. I have always loved cava but had never really considered their aging potential before as I tend to drink them young. My mistake apparently. This was one of my favorites from Castillo Perelada.

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I love the yeasty, almond, pear notes and the crisp enveloping mouth feel that I get with this cava. It is very dry and exactly the way I like to drink sparkling wine. According to the winery website, “When United States President Dwight Eisenhower visited Spain in 1959, Castillo Perelada was commissioned to choose a cava for the reception banquet, and for the occasion it chose one of its own small reservas. The idea for the creation of Gran Claustro was born from the resounding success of this choice. This cava is made using traditional methods and ages in the convent bodegas adjoining Perelada Castle, the same cellars used by the Carmelite monks to make wine over six centuries ago.” With all Eisenhower had to worry about at the time, I am happy to know he was drinking good wine.

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Recovering from the Society of Wine Educators Tour de Force

Riviera.Ligure.di.Ponente-Granaccia

As usual I was overly ambitious about what I can accomplish in a short amount of time. I have not been blogging everyday but I am thinking about it every day at least. I often need to think and plan my way into things. Like most busy and ambitious people, I’ve got lots of projects going on at the same time but I also like to take time to think and assess what I have seen and learned of late. The Society of Wine Educators conference that I attended last week is always the beginning of the school year if you will. It always serves to renew my interest and commitment to the field and peaks my curiosity about new parts of the busy I am less familiar with. Case in point this year were seminars on indigenous Spanish varietals being restored by the Torres family, the Chinese wine market in Ningxia , Canadian wine and older vintages of Chilean Cabernet. That was just the last day I think. There are so many interesting sessions to attend that my mind is often racing as is my palate. This coming few weeks will see posts on some of the sessions I attended, all worthwhile and interesting. The conference is a great way to learn, see friends and make new ones.

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