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In This Issue:

Happy Holidays with Rioja!

Rioja Tip

Rioja in the News

Consumer Events

Consumer Tastings

Rioja Recipe

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Happy Holidays with Rioja!


Talk To Us:

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


The Vibrant Rioja Wine Team

Before we can get to the fun part of the holidays, spending time with friends and family, and stuffing ourselves with food and wine, we must tackle the dreaded gift list! While the holiday season means different things for everyone, the gift shopping torture is something we all have in common.

Looking for a way to put a smile on your best friend’s face, impress your in-laws, or for that special someone to get you out of the friend-zone (Oh, we all know about the friend-zone)? You could go the route of a cool wine book, or you could just let Rioja do the work. Take the stress out of holiday gifting with a bottle of sultry Rioja reserva. It’s a sure bet for the ultimate host/hostess in your life, and it won’t break the bank to impress.

Happy holidays from your friends in Rioja!

Rioja Friends & Family Promotion

Are you participating in the friends and family promotion? You and your family can win an iPad2, a pair of Manolo Blahniks, $250 gift card and more! Simply forward this newsletter to your friends and family and have them click this link! Merry Christmas!

Rioja Wins Big at Tempranillos al Mundo 2011

Rioja’s Mirto 2006 de Bodegas Ramón Bilbao took home the highest, “Great Gold” medal at the seventh annual Tempranillos al Mundo international wine competition this mid-November. Held in the U.S. for the first time, the wines were judged by an expert panel of 25 acclaimed winemakers, wine writers and sommeliers.

Facing fierce competition among over 400 Tempranillo submissions from around the world, Rioja won the only Grand Gold, 29 gold and 30 silver of the 125 medals awarded. Tempranillo al Mundo aimed to showcase the diversity and richness of Tempranillo; to encourage quality and improve tasters' knowledge of the varietal; and to award producers and oenologists.

More information on the event and the awards

Rioja Tip: Best Vintages

According to Wine Enthusiast (February 2011 issue) the best “vintage” DOCa Rioja vintages are 1985, 1982, 1981, 1970, 1968 and 1964. 2001, 2004 and 2005 also received an “excellent” rating from the regulatory council in Rioja. Now’s as good a time as any to try one!

Rioja in the News

In a recent edition of the Chicago Tribune, Bill St. John highlighted Rioja reds as “the world’s best value in elegant, delicious aged-for-you red wine.” Titled “Unfamiliar territory – delve beyond tried-and-true for good wine with good value,” the story focused on varietals and wine regions with great quality and great consumer value. Our favorite quote: “Bless the bodegas of Rioja. They baby-sit their red wines for you, for years upon years, then sell it to you with nary a markup for all that time.” Read the full story.

The winter issue of Wine & Spirits magazine is studded with “Best of 2011” rankings. Rioja’s López de Heredia was named one of the best international wineries of the year. Rioja Crianzas stood out in the “100 Best Buys” section, with three wine recommendations: Carlos San Pedro Pérez de Viñaspre 2006 Rioja Alavesa Viñasperi Crianza, Ramón Bilbao 2006 Rioja Crianza, and La Emperatriz 2006 Rioja Alta Finca La Emperatriz Crianza. Read the full story.

Consumer Tastings


In-Store Rioja Wine Tasting at Acker Merrall and Condit
Wednesday, December 14
160 West 72nd St.
New York, NY 10023

In-Store Rioja Wine Tasting at Whole Food, P Street
Thursday, December 15
1440 P St., NW
Washington, DC 20005

In-Store Rioja Wine Tasting at Whole Food, P Street
Friday, December 16
1440 P St., NW
Washington, DC 20005

In-Store Rioja Wine Tasting at Cleveland Park Wines
Saturday, December 17
3423 Connecticut Avenue, NW - Washington, DC 20008

In-Store Rioja Wine Tasting at Despaña Vinos y Mas
Thursday, December 22
410 Broome St.
New York, NY 10013


Rioja In-Store Tasting at Lush Wine & Spirits
Friday, December 16
1412 West Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642

Rioja Red Tie Party at Eno Wine Room, Hotel Fairmont
Enjoy tapas style food and club style music. And remember, the dress code is RED. 
Saturday, December 17
200 North Columbus Dr.
Chicago, IL 60601
Cost: $40 per person
To RSVP, please call 312.946.7000

Rioja In-Store Tasting at Whole Foods Sauganash
Tuesday, December 20
6020 North Cicero Ave.
Chicago, IL 60646

Southern California

Rioja Cooks! at Chef's, Inc. Culinary School
Learn basic and advanced culinary skills, create fantastic holiday meals and pair everything with the beautiful Rioja wines!
Throughout the month of December
1095 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Please contact Chef’s, Inc. for more information:

In-Store Rioja Tasting with Tapas at Whole Foods El Segundo
Thursday, December 17
760 South Sepulveda Blvd.
El Segundo, CA 90245
Cost: $10
No reservations required

Consumer Events

Pure Genius Complimentary Tastings at A&P Wine & Spirits and Best Cellars
Through December 31

Visit two of the tri-state area’s top wine lover’s destinations, A&P Wine & Spirits and Best Cellars, for a season of Pure Genius featuring Vibrant Rioja. The wines of Rioja are a fantastic value, ready to drink now and can be paired with nearly any cuisine. See us in-store through December 31 for complimentary tastings of these special Spanish selections and receive a Vibrant Rioja gift.

Connecticut Locations:
December 24, 3-6pm
December 31, 3-6pm*
*(Fairfield area locations only)

New York Locations:
December 21

View Store Locations

To view all upcoming events, please visit the Vibrant Rioja web site

Other Information

Rioja and K&L Wine Merchants

Why are the holidays the perfect time for Riojas? Just ask Joe Manekin, the Spanish wine buyer at K&L Wine Merchants: “Around the holidays, we like to joke with each other how so many wines in the shop are suddenly magical with turkey.  Thanks to generous fruit, fresh acidity and varying levels of subtle, savory/sweet spice character, Rioja truly is terrific at table. During holiday meals, the wines really have a chance to shine.  We always offer a wide variety of wines from Rioja, upwards of 50, including crianzas, reservas, gran reservas, half bottles, magnums…my colleagues and I love these wines, especially with a well thought-out meal, and that passion is conveyed to our customers.” Thanks Joe, we appreciate it! You can visit K&L at

Rioja in the Spring

If you’d like to experience the vibrancy and passion of Rioja in springtime, why not join the Great Spanish Wine Adventure in June 2012, run by Iberian Wine Tours and jointly hosted by Jessica Bell of My Wine School in Chicago. The tour features a range of visits to the finest modern and traditional bodegas in Rioja and a Michelin dinner in the tiny Riojan village of Daroca. Read more details or e-mail

Rioja Recipe: Manchego Cheese Canapes with Olives and Piquillo Peppers

The following recipe is from Penelope Casas, a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Gourmet, Food & Wine, and Fine Cooking. She is also a consultant and lecturer on Spain, a guest speaker at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society, and an adjunct professor at the New York University.

Looking for a quick appetizer for your holiday party? Here is an extremely easy tapa to assemble that comes straight from El Corregidor, the most delightful restaurant in the region of La Mancha where Manchego cheese is made and windmills form the times of Errant Knight Don Quixote still stand.    

Queso Manchego Con Aceitunas Y Piquillos
(Manchego Cheese Canapes with Olives and Piquillo Peppers)

Makes 24 canapes        

One 13/4-inch wedge (about 1/2 pound) Manchego cheese
30 cured black olives, pitted and chopped
3/4 cup chapped piquillo peppers or pimientos
6 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Minced fresh parsley              

Cut the wedge of cheese lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices to form triangular pieces. In a mortar or mini processor, mash to a paste the olives, piquillos, anchovies, and oil.

Spread about 3/4 teaspoon of the mixture on each cheese slice. Sprinkle with parsley and arrange attractively on a serving dish.

Serve with...

A Rioja Crianza
An easy drinking style, Crianzas tend to emphasize fresh fruit above all else and spend less time in bottle than Reservas. This fruity freshness makes them a perfect foil for aged sheep’s milk cheeses like Manchego, acting almost like a schmear of fruit jam on top of a buttery, slightly piquant cheese.

Big aromas of strawberries, cherries, with varying degrees of oakiness, depending on the producer and the type of oak used; but in general fruity and clean on the palate – superquaffable!

When to Enjoy
As an aperitif, with spicy food (think of how a chutney cools the mouth when you’re eating spicy Indian food), holiday turkey meal, whole roasted fish, lasagna.