SIERRA CANTABRIA Wine Class and Tasting

Featuring Ambassador / Educator Alejandra Naranjo

On Monday, August 5th at 7pm, please join me in welcoming VIÑEDOS Y BODEGAS SIERRA CANTABRIA Ambassador / Educator AlejandraNaranjo (bio below) to The Wine School at L’Alliance Française for a discussion and tasting of their wines: Protocolo (Castilla y Leon), Sierra Cantabria and San Vicente (Rioja), and Teso La Monja (Toro).

The line-up includes:
Protocolo Blanco, Castilla Y Leon, 2018
Protocolo Rosado, Castilla Y Leon, 2018
Protocolo Tinto, Castilla Y Leon, 2017
Sierra Cantabria Rosado, Rioja, 2018
Sierra Cantabria Seleccion Tinto, Rioja, 2017
Sierra Cantabria Crianza, Rioja, 2015
Sierra Cantabria Rioja Reserva, Unica, 2014
San Vicente, Rioja, 2015
El Puntido Gran Reserva, 2006
Teso La Monja Romanico Toro, 2016
Teso La Monja Almirez Toro, 2016
Teso La Monja Victorino Toro, 2016

This Sierra Cantabria Tasting will cost $40.00per person (cash or check) or $42.11 regular. The class meets on Monday August 5th at 7pm at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

L’Alliance Française is the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd. (77006), l’Alliance is on the southeast corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).

If you buy a ticket and will not be able to attend, please cancel at least 24 hours before the class or you may be charged. Later cancellations will not be charged if we can fill the seat. This is often case as we regularly have waiting lists for these classes.

About  Alejandra Naranjo:
After a 13 year career (that includes education and certifications from WSET, Académie de Bordeaux, the International School of Sommellerie, and the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona) in the wine business and wine education spanning four countries and three continents, Alejandro Naranjo went to Vinedos Y Bodegas Sierra Cantabria in Rioja as an ambassador / educator in 2017 with a portfolio including all of their brands from their three regions of production. I met Alejandra in May of 2019 and was impressed with her knowledge and passion and her ability to communicate those same qualities in talking about the wines she represents.

Wine-Of-the-Week: BODEGAS VOLVER Tempranillo, 2011

The web-site says “… a project developed and co-owned by Jorge Ordoñez and Rafael Cañizares.” I generally hate “projects.” When a  winemaker or wine salesman says he has a new “project,” it usually means he is working some kind of deal where “… we can make 8,000 cases of Cabernet that you can sell at $19.99 with good margins …” at which point I have already tuned out. There is usually a friend’s vineyard and a “virtual winery” or custom crush facility involved. Blah, blah, blah … Well, it seems that this is different. Bodegas Volver is an actual winery on a 247 acre vineyard site in La Mancha. Winery and vineyard are owned by winemaker Rafael Cañizares and wine salesman Jorge Ordonez. A real winery with real estate vineyards with a real (and talented) winemaker working in tandem with a knowledgable sales and marketing guy seems like more than a “project.”

BODEGAS VOLVER Tempranillo, La Mancha, 2011 ($13.49)VolverTempranillo
15% Alcohol. Estate-bottled, dry-farmed 100% Tempranillo from a single 72 acre vineyard (Finca Los Juncares) planted in 1957 on sand-over-clay-over-chalk yielding as little as 2 lbs. of grapes per vine. Malolactic fermentation and 18 months aging in all new French oak barrels before it is bottled unfiltered.   Purple in color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics.  Rich, ripe, and rounded with dark red fruit and notes of tobacco and subtle leather. Lovely freshness. Hints at garrigue. Fine old-world steak wine. BS: 90+.

Thinking about Wine:
Beer is made by men, wine by God. – Martin Luther

PLEASE check the EVENTS PAGE for my upcoming WINE 101 class beginning January 6th at the Wine School and the annual 2011 CRU CLASSÉ BORDEAUX TASTING on January 21st at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice.

Champagne Friday: MONTSARRA Brut Cava, NV

WELL,it is Friday but this is little “c” rather than big “C” champagne. Which is to say that it is not real Champagne but rather Cava from Spain. Even though they can no longer use the term, Cava producers utilize the methode champenoise (the classic Champagne process) in producing their wines. As Cava producers go, Montsarra is on the small side and as smaller Cava producers go, on the traditional side in that they use only the three classic native varieties (Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo) rather than adding in Chardonnay and even Pinot Noir.

MONTSARRA Brut, Cava (Spain), NV ($17)

A blend of 65% Macabeo, 17.5% Parellada, and 17.5% Xarel-lo grown on a 99 acre estate near Torrelles de Foix in the classic Penedes part of the larger (and non-contiguous) Cava zone, fermented using methode champenoise, and aged 18 months on the lees in the bottle before disgorging. Finished at 12% AbV.   Sensory: Medium straw in color and fully sparkling; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity.  Clean but classic Cava offering toasty-yeasty notes with some mineral earth supporting citrus and an essence of earthy red fruit. Has a welcome richness and enough weight to accompany food. Think of Montsarra as the entry level to “top tier” Cava; it is way past the high-volume mass market offerings that come in black bottles or sport fake French names. 90+. We have often enjoyed this with a range of tapas and recently had a bottle with grilled lamb served over a hearty spinach-and-spring-mix salad with red grapes, blue cheese, and black walnuts.