Reserva 2012

(Rioja, Spain) $38

When you look at your notes and see you’ve written, “Yikes; incredibly sexy wine,” you know you’re in the presence of a wine of great personality and complexity. At least that was what I thought after tasting this exquisite red Rioja reserva, a wine that should cost three times what it does. The heady incense, dark chocolate, sea salt, exotic spices, black licorice, and cigar notes are stunning and evocative of tempranillo at its best. The wine has power and fantastic volume and velocity. Remelluri is making some of the most exciting wines in Rioja. If you love Old World wines, you MUST try this. 14% abv

98 points KM

Available at

The WineSpeed Blog

A. Madeira

B. Virginia “Claret”

C. Champagne

D. Bordeaux


Drunk by the founding fathers during the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Madeira was also what Francis Scott Key sipped as he composed “The Star-Spangled Banner.” George Washington (who reportedly drank a pint every night with dinner), Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin all adored it, as did John Adams (who wrote to his wife, Abigail, about the copious amounts they consumed during the Continental Congress). By the end of the eighteenth century, nearly a fourth of all the Madeira produced was being exported to the American colonies. The unbridled American passion for Madeira was certainly a testament to its compelling flavor. But Madeira’s popularity was equally based on something far more mundane: taxes. As of 1665, British governing authorities in the colonies had banned the importation of European goods, unless they were shipped on British ships that had sailed from British ports (and paid British taxes). Merchandise shipped from Madeira was exempted. Merchants in Madeira took full advantage of the loophole, establishing close trading relationships with merchants in Baltimore, Boston, New York, Savannah, Charleston, and Philadelphia.

Answer: True.

Emilia-Romagna, where Lambrusco originated, is Italy’s ultimate food region—the land that gives the world such serious delicacies as Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, and prosciutto di Parma. Not surprisingly, the area’s trademark lambrusco wine tastes quite good with the region’s hearty sausages, cured meats, and rich, meat-sauced pastas. Moreover, locals insist that the light, fizzy, slightly bitter, fairly high-acid wine is the perfect aid to digestion. Lambrusco wines are made from at least thirteen different varieties with the word lambrusco (which means “wild grape” in Italian) in their name. Sadly, the only lambrusco most wine drinkers know is the highly commercial, slightly sweet stuff popularized in America by the giant Riunite Co-op in 1967. (It was America’s number-one selling imported wine brand from 1976-2002). However, the top versions of lambrusco, which use the traditional (Champagne) method of second fermentation in each bottle, are not sweet, but rather, dry and savory. Until recently, the zesty, artisanal lambruscos that any wine lover would prefer were available only in Emilia itself. But today, a number of fantastic small-production versions are easy to find, including Cleto Chiarli, Fattoria Moretto, Fiorini, Francesco Vezzelli, Lini, and Tenuta Pederzana.


Dosage (doh-SAHJ) is the degree of sweetness of the liqueur d’expédition (a combination of sugar and reserve wine) added at the very end in the making of a Champagne wine. The extent of the sugar in the dosage determines whether a Champagne wine will be Brut, Extra Dry, Demi-Sec, and so on. Over the last fifteen years, dosage levels in Brut Champagne wines (one of the least sweet) have dropped an average of 2.8 grams per liter. The rise in temperatures caused by climate change means that the Champenois are harvesting riper grapes; in addition, they are leaving the wines on the yeast lees for longer, both of which mitigate against the need for as much sugar as in the past.

What Makes Wine Sexy?

It’s a WineSpeed tradition on Valentine’s Day to ask winemakers what they think makes wine sexy. Herewith, some fascinating responses from a group of winemakers and vintners we think are pretty special.

Environmental Pioneers

After decades spent witnessing harvests starting earlier and earlier, Champagne became the first wine-growing region in the world to carry out a carbon footprint assessment of their industry in 2003. (Harvests now begin on average 18 days sooner than 30 years ago). At that time, the region initiated an ambitious climate plan aimed at cutting emissions by 75% by 2050. Among the most significant initiatives: reducing bottle weight (packaging accounts for 1/3 of Champagne production’s carbon emissions), waste recycling (100% of winemaking byproducts such as grape pomace and lees, are now used by the cosmetics, healthcare, and agro-food sectors), and biomass conversion (80% of the 120k tons of annually-generated vine shoots, branches, and other prunings are now ground into the soil as natural fertilizer). From its efforts to date, Champagne has been able to cut C02 emissions generated by each bottle of wine by 20% over the last 15 years.


Estimated number of wine blogs worldwide in 2019. One of the original wine blogs—Alder Yarrow’s Vinography—began in 2004, and by 2009 there were over 700. Today, the vast majority are penned by so-called “citizen bloggers,” versus winery or press blogs. Of these citizen blogs, 60% are in English with the rest divided among other languages including Italian, French, Catalan, Portuguese, Czech, German, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, Hungarian, Norwegian, and Indonesian.


Percent increase in off-premise vermouth sales for the twelve weeks ending May 23, compared to last year, according to Nielsen data. Essential to making Negronis, Manhattans, and Martinis, vermouth (wine that’s been fortified and flavored with botanicals) is among the bar staples that home mixologists are stocking up on during the COVID crisis. Will those who’ve mastered the art of the cocktail at home still pay a premium for one at a bar? We bet the wit and wisdom of a veteran bartender will always trump a DIY shot. Oh for those days!


Percentage of immigrant-owned businesses in the hospitality industry, compared to just 14 percent of U.S. businesses overall. The restaurant/foodservice industry is one of the most diverse in America, employing men and women of all ethnicities and backgrounds. The industry boasts more minority managers than any other industry. In addition, the number of restaurants owned by African Americans and Hispanics has grown 59% and 51% respectively over the past five years.

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