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JUNE 2010







Do you have a favorite recipe and Rioja wine you’d like us to try? Have a great story about wine or Rioja that you’d like us to print? Or a question you’ve been wanting to ask about food and wine pairing, travel to Spain or other Rioja topics? Talk to us! Send us your ideas, recipes or stories. Simply contact

And remember, this Memorial Day Weekend, don’t forget to celebrate with Rioja!


The Vibrant Rioja Wine Team


Can you think of anything better than good food, friends and family, and a bottle (or two, or three, or four… well, you get the idea) of Rioja? This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend and for most of us, that means bringing out our grilling and barbequing skills to the test! So go ahead and bring out those steaks, burgers, ribs, chicken, barbecue rubs and sauces, anything you’d like, because we have the best friend for you: Rioja wines. As you know, Rioja wines are often considered some of the best food-pairing wines in the world. And this weekend, we want YOU to put us to the test… trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

In fact, start off the grill/barbeque session by sharing a nice rosé – nothing is better than these crisp and refreshing wines on a hot day. As the day progresses and you move towards the appetizers, pair these with a clean and fruity white. And of course, while enjoying the succulent burgers or chicken or lamb or steak, you’ll want to make sure to drink a nice red reserva. Our mouths literally watered after writing this.

If you’re looking for great retailers that offer a vast selection of Riojas to go along with your meals, you can search our Rioja Retailer section on So far, we have a list of excellent retailers in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.

If you know of other great retailers that are not on the list, please let us know so we can include them! If you want some advice so you play sommelier in front of your friends and family you can always visit our Food & Wine Pairings section on

Now you’re ready to tackle and enjoy the long weekend! Make sure to send us your stories and pictures at You may be featured in future newsletters!


This article comes to us from Summer Martin, B-21’s Spain Advocate. For those of you who don’t know, B-21 Fine Wine & Spirits is a large wine retailer based in Tarpon Springs, Florida and online at Now in their family’s 4th generation, B-21 remains to be about quality wines, competitive prices and exceptional customer service. They know wine by vineyard, not just by book, and have been traveling, tasting and loving wine since 1948.

Everyone has a story of how they began to love wine. My adventure began a few years ago at B-21 when Bob Sprentall, the 3rd generation proprietor, gave me a challenge to “live, eat, and breathe Spain.” It was a challenge I was ready to take on. Spain has been an interest for me since I was a little girl growing up in Latin America and I first learned to speak Spanish from my teacher who hailed from Madrid. She taught us “Castellano” rather than “Español”. For a solid year my “S” sounded like “TH”, appropriately reflecting her dialect. So now that I was older, this was my chance to experience Spain for its wine, and Rioja is where I started!

One of the most inspiring events on my journey was meeting importer Jorge Ordonez. Jorge was the “catalyst” in discovering truly amazing wines from Spain and has even twice been named Wine Personality of the Year by The Wine Advocate. You can tell by Jorge’s wines that he loves Rioja, and when he speaks about Rioja, he is passionate. One of my favorite bodegas in his collection is Bodegas Muga where traditional winemaking is at its best. At Muga they continue to use oak barrels and egg whites to fine their wines, and they hand make each barrel they use.

What’s great about Rioja, is while there are traditionalists, there are also rebels “going rogue” like Diego Pinilla at Bodegas Bilbainas that produces Viña Zaco. He uses modern techniques and releases wines early, not as a crianza or reserva, but when he thinks its ready.

Vibrant is exactly what the Rioja region of Spain is, be it traditional or modern. It is an area rich in culture, tradition, old vines and great wine. I challenge you to live, eat, breathe and most importantly drink Rioja!


Roberto, an avid reader of Vibrant Rioja newsletters and (most importantly) Riojaphile, wanted to share the story of his latest trip to Spain with his son with us:

“My son and I just returned from a golf vacation in Andalucia, playing at the best-kept course in continental Europe, Valderrama, and at the hottest resort and club in Costa del Sol, Finca Cortesin. We stayed in Puerto Banus and had extraordinary tapas at the Michelin rated La Moraga and dinner at the hip Finca Besaya, a refurbished farmhouse with a great view, awesome food and a great chill atmosphere; there is an outdoor sitting area, bar and great music. In a short side trip to Barcelona, we walked and biked from La Sagrada Familia to el Barri Gotic, and on to the Barceloneta. On arrival, we went straight to the Cerveceria Catalana, right off of las Ramblas Catalunyas, where we shoved with the chic crowd and sat at the counter for tapas, bocadillos, pinxtos and wine. Breakfast found us at Quim de la Boqueria (eggs and chipirones, with a glass of cava) and dinner at a small, seven-table marvel few folks know about (its a locals favorite), Can Pineda. The owner, Paco, and staff, couldn’t do enough to satisfy us and the experience was delectable. To top it all off, all of our meals throughout the trip were accompanied by our favorites Spanish reds from Rioja. Vale!”

Roberto, thanks for the story and I’m glad you and your son were able to enjoy everything Spain has to offer (aside from Rioja wines, of course). I’m sure you’ve also given our readers wonderful ideas for their next trip overseas.

Remember that if you have a question or want to share anything with us – including recipes, trips to Spain, interesting stories, etc… - you can email us at


Jill Paradiso is a classically trained chef that has worked in the kitchens of Mario Batali and Jean-Georges Vongerichten – you might recognize them. She has also done recipe development for Martha Stewart, Whole Foods Markets, and Dean and Deluca and she’s been kind enough to share some of her recipes with us.



Grilling season has finally arrived! Here is a fun, non-traditional grilling recipe to incorporate into your grilling repertoire. Grilled pizza has a deliciously chewy texture and of course, a subtly smoky flavor from the grill.

Note: Making pizza dough is relatively easy, but a bit time consuming. Should you opt not to make your own dough, most pizzeria will sell you some if you call ahead and order it.

Yield: makes 2 14-inch pizzas

1/4 cup Rioja crianza or Rioja blanco
3/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 ounces fresh yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
3 1/2 cups flour

1. Place wine, water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Let sit 10 minutes until mixture is frothy (that means the yeast is alive). Add the salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix well to combine.
2. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until the consistency is that of a loose batter. Add in remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, while continuing to stir. When all the flour has been added, stir for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, incorporating as much flour as you can with the wooden spoon.
3. Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a clean, floured counter top or wooden board. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until dough is smooth and firm. Coat a bowl and the dough with olive oil and cover with a towel- the bowl should be large enough to allow to the dough to double in size. Let rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for at least 45 minutes, or until dough has doubled. Divide dough into 2 pieces.
4. If using a charcoal grill, start the fire about 1/2 hour before you intend to cook the pizza. You can determine if the fire is the right temperature if you can hold your hand 5 inches above the the grill for about 3 or 4 seconds.
5. Oil a baking sheet and spread and flatten the pizza dough with your hands. The shape of the dough is unimportant (it does not have to be a circle), but the thickness should be uniform.
6. Put dough on grill and sprinkle with salt. The dough will puff immediately. Cook about one minute, then use tongs to flip the dough- pull onto the coolest part of the grill.
7. Use tongs to pull the dough back to the hot part of the grill and cook another 5 minutes, rotating the dough constantly to keep from burning.
8. Finish pizza with a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt and serve immediately!

Remember, if you have any questions or comments regarding the recipes, you can email me at