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Delhi Wine Club
Rioja Masterclass: Olive Oil and Wines from Roda

Posted: Friday, 03 December 2010 10:31

Rioja Masterclass: Olive Oil and Wines from Roda

After last week’s Masterclass on Champagne, Indian Wine Academy took the wine lovers to Rioja, known for its Tempranillo-based high quality reds, as it organised another session by Bodegas Roda also known for excellent olive oil, with their export manager Arancha Busnadiego conducting a Masterclass on Rioja wines and olive oils,,followed by a guided tasting of Roda, Roda1, Cirsion wines and Dauro and Aubocassa olive oils on Monday.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

She was looking bubbly and spritely-perhaps due to a couple of glasses of Gramona III Lustros sparkling wine she had enjoyed with guests at the cellar of Hotel Aman. The high quality cava from the winery in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia is produced by one of the top Spanish estates and dares challenge Champagne for quality, flavour and after-taste. It would put anyone in a happy mood and Arancha was no exception.

She was also feeling high because of the presence earlier of her Ambassador-Mr. Ion de la Riva,who admitted to the full house of forty-five persons that Roda was one of his two most favourite wines and he always brought as much Roda as he could for his personal consumption. In fact, he recommended that she should talk to some importer and get it at least in ACSA-the US canteen. Teresa Solbes, the Commercial counselor who was present had also been very helpful in making the evening happen along with her team and she was also kicked by the fact that she was conducting the guided tasting for olive oil for the members of the Delhi Wine Club-most likely a first at any wine tasting in India. 

Busnadiego is the export manager of Bodega Roda, a relatively new winery in Rioja, that has created waves internationally by making some of the finest wines from Rioja as well as excellent quality Extra Virgin olive oils. Dauro has been awarded as the Best Spanish Olive Oil in the ripe fruity category for five consecutive times during the last 10 years by the Spanish government, based on blind tastings; the winning companies are not allowed to enter the competition during the year following their winning the award.

After the PP presentation which focused on the landscape, grapes, fermentation process including malolactic, she tasted Roda’06, Roda1 ‘05 (more concentrated fruit but also fuller on the mouth and slightly more tannic due to longer touch with oak) and their signature wine Cirsion 2007.

She emphasized that older vines give less fruit but more complex wine and that all the vines of Roda were older than 30 years. The main grape is the Spanish indigenous variety-Tempranillo with small amounts of Graciano and Grenache. She explained that although Rioja had been known for traditional style in which wines age for many years before one can drink them, the new style evolved was more in the mold of the New World where the wines are fruit forward with silky tannins and though complex can be consumed younger. It didn’t take long for the audience to realise what style they had adopted.

Interestingly, about half the people liked Roda the best- very approachable, friendly wine with generous berry fruit and complexity and length, they opined. The wines needn’t spend years in aging and one can drink them without food if they so crave. Roda 1 was a more serious wine- certainly with food. Cirsion would be delicious with lamb, although Arancha insisted it would pair well with a dish like chocolate fondant as a dessert to bring out its obvious chocolate-like nuances. Really a complex wine with plenty of black and red fruits, molten chocolate and coffee with shades of leather, making it a unique wine .

The highlight of the tasting was olive oil. Earlier, Arancha requested the staff to pour small quantities in the Bordeaux wine glasses and had them covered with coasters- to release and entrap the aromas. She asked everyone to rinse the sides of the glass with the viscous liquid till it was almost wholly touching the sides of the glass. Then she asked us all to lock three middle fingers and placing them vertically on the glass connecting the glass to the nose to enable sniffing. There was an explosion of aromas-distinctly different in both the Dauro and Aubocassa, which are made in completely different areas. One had more vegetal and asparagus aromas, the other reeked intensely of ripe and fresh tomatoes.

But then she asked people to drink up the oil slowly and a few almost fell out of their chairs. Olive oil has been known for external use in India to massage bodies to make the skin softer but it is not known for internal use in its raw form. Once they got over the hang-ups, they realized and enjoyed the flavours.

Majority of wine connoisseurs in India now know that one drinks red wine like Roda or Cirsion, always at room temperature of 18 ° C. They are learning fast that extra virgin oil is not for frying in cooking but pouring on top of salads or breads and these are the easiest ways to eat with it. Not so easy to accept initially that sprinkling some fine quality olive oil on chocolate will give it a totally different character which Arancha suggested to the people sitting in rapt attention. Indian food will go with some of these wines.

I have been used to sprinkling a little oil on top of hot and dry, stuffed parathas made of aloo, gobhi, broccoli or onions mixed with my favourite spices. This is like having your cake and eating it too! So we convinced the restaurant to dish out some parathas in the morsels bites. The Indian cuisine chef obliged but unfortunately, they had become cold and leathery when served; my recipe calls for hot tawa parathas and I cannot wean myself away. The best quality olive oil would bring out the best flavours in them, though-take my word for it!

The Masterclass had people eating out of her palm by the end-without the olive oil, of course. That they continued to enjoy the oil with bread and wines with food was a unique experience that Indian Wine Academy was proud to have pioneered in.

Subhash Arora



Dolores Smith Says:

Fantastic article! One suggestions, extra virgin olive oil of the "intense" style/class is fine for shallow-frying (sauteeing) at medium heat. One would never do so with a delicate style such as Daur which is a finishing oil to add complexity, depth of flavour to foods, and help bring together different flavours in a dish as per one of the properties of olive oil. Also, some olive varietals are very thermally resistant, such as Picual, and are excellent for frying at just below smoking point. Olive oil inhibits the abosorption of excessive oil by the food when frying, creating a beautifully, crispy outer coating. Mediterraneans have been heating olive oil for many, many years. However, there IS technique and art involved in frying with olive oil.

Posted @ December 07, 2010 11:39


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