Rioja Grand Tasting in Miami

Despite the hurricane-like conditions (hello Miami!), hundreds of trade members and consumers met in Florida to attend “NextGen Rioja,” Vibrant Rioja's 4th Annual Grand Tasting. Held on April 30, this year's event featured the most comprehensive showcase of wines from Rioja in the U.S., and highlighted the new generation of Rioja winemakers and winery owners that are not only following in their ancestors' footsteps, but are also carving a new path of their own. During the day, Rioja hosted 50+ trade and press guests for a seminar lead by wine author/writer/consultant Marine Old. Panelists included Raquel Perez Cuevas (Bodegas Ontañón), Javier Murua (Bodegas Muriel), Carlos Martinez (Bujanda, Bodegas Valdemar) and Andy McNamara (Master Sommelier). The seminar was followed by a walk-around tasting where 170 guests sampled 250+ Riojas from more than 60 importers. In the night preceding the event, a live Tweet Chat was held with Spanish winemakers and host Gregory dal Piaz, editor in chief of Snooth.com, where several new generation Rioja wines were tasted and discussed.

In the evening, Vibrant Rioja and Snooth Media hosted a tasting event for more than 200 consumers featuring a global food lounge and DJ. Guests enjoyed a selection of 250+ Rioja wines, and 100% of the ticket proceeds benefitted the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Southern Florida. Vibrant Rioja also donated $1 per live tweet generated during the consumer event to the organization.

Thank you to all who attended! For more event photos, visit the Vibrant Rioja Facebook page.

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Rioja CorksRioja in The New York Times!
Titled "For Reservas, No Cellar Required," wine critic Eric Asimov and The New York Times' tasting panel conducted a blind tasting of 20 different Rioja Reservas! Here is a quick highlight from the article:

"It's accepted wisdom today that most wine drinkers do not have the money, the storage space or the patience to wait years as their bottles age to maturity. Consumers expect wines to be ready, or at least enjoyable, immediately after they buy them. Who among us would not like the opportunity to drink aged wines without paying a fortune or waiting them out? What about tonight? May I humbly offer a happy solution: Rioja Reservas." – Eric Asimov

New York Times logo Read the full article here.

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Rioja Spring Sips Launch at Tyrp NYC

With nearly 200 attendees, Vibrant Rioja's launch party and tasting kicked off Tryp's Spring Sips program with a bang on April 19. Tryp's Gastro Bar welcomed Chef Ignacio Echapresto from Rioja, who designed the evening's menu and special tapas to pair with Gastrobar's Rioja offerings. Guests tasted delicious selections from each winery represented on Gastrobar's list, in addition to Rosado gems just arriving on the market. Spring Sips with Rioja @ Gastro Bar continues through May 18.

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Rioja Regional Specialist Dhane Chesson and Vibrant Rioja team members

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Guests enjoying the launch event

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Tryp Chef John Walsh, Tryp Vice President of
Food & Beverage Fernando Salazar, Chef Ignacio Echapresto from Rioja

Chef OceanaireInterview with Chef Wade Wiestling of Oceanaire

Rioja recently partnered with Oceanaire restaurants across the country for a month-long promotion featuring Rioja wine pairings and daily specials. As we are seeing a rise in the art of food and wine pairings, we interviewed Chef Wade Wiestling, Vice President of Culinary Development of Oceanaire restaurants, to hear his thoughts:

Q: Food and wine trends: how do you incorporate them into your restaurants? Or do you?
A: We are always sharing ideas and trends with our teams to capitalize on current trends; with Oceanaire, we have 12 executive chefs who are constantly scouring their markets for new ideas and new approaches to food and wine. With Landry's, there are so many resources and so much sharing of ideas between departments, we like to consider ourselves a trending forward company.

Q: How do you all train staff so they are educated to suggest flavor profiles of wine and appropriate dishes?
A: We have daily pre-shifts with our service staff to discuss our food items, and get server and chef's input on pairing suggestions. It is a virtual free flow of knowledge, experience and expertise that everybody can learn from. We have some real savvy wine lovers on our staff who take it upon themselves to learn the list and taste as many of our wines as possible, to be able to help assist the guests with suggestions.

Q: Why does Rioja work with YOUR food at YOUR restaurants?
A: With the variety that Rioja offers, Rioja wines offer such a diversity, something for every taste and style, and therefore very food-friendly and ready to drink. Our menu can be very diverse… from fried shrimp to sashimi, from great steaks to foie gras, so Rioja's diversity plays well with Oceanaire's offerings.

About the Chef: Wade was an original member of the Oceanaire's founders and parent company Parasole Restaurant Holdings where he held positions of Executive Sous Chef, Executive Chef and General Manager. In 1998, Wiestling opened the first Oceanaire Seafood Room. The restaurants sleek, supper club design and fresh, seasonal ingredients coming from waters all over the world resonated with diners and critics alike. In 2000, Oceanaire earned a coveted spot in Gourmet Magazine's Top Tables award. Now, this award winning recipe has created 12 hit restaurants all over the country in major cities such as Houston, Washington DC, San Diego, Boston, Atlanta and Miami just to name a few. Under Wade's guidance, the Oceanaire has had four James Beard House appearances, and has led 16 chefs through the James Beard House kitchen in hosting popular events.

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Aspen LogoRioja in Aspen
Will you be there? We will! Stop by the Wines From Spain tent at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic (June 15-17) to taste more than 15 Rioja wines and chat with Rioja experts. During the festival, you can also catch Rioja pouring some of our premium wines at the VIP Jose Andres party. We hope to see you there! For more information about the festival, click here.

To view all our upcoming events around the country, click here.

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Buying RiojaInterested in creating a rich Rioja program to offer the clientele at your store, restaurant or bar? Vibrant Rioja resources are vast and attractive and can generate a dynamic and prosperous program for your establishment with a wine category on the rise.

Please contact vpinzon@crt-tanaka.com for further information.

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