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My Wine Recommendation Nº 10 - For under €10
29 March 2019


Today I bring you another great wine. One of those wines that are always a guaranteed hit. A safe bet which everyone will enjoy. Cune Crianza is a wine I have been drinking for over 20 years, it was the wine I served at my wedding reception many years ago and I still enjoy it to this very day. It is readily available in Mercdona and Consum for around €6,50 and it is worth every penny.



The history of the company CVNE (Compañia Vinicula del Norte) begins in the winery located in Haro in the neighbourhood of the railway station - Barrio de la Estacion -  which dates back to 1879. The railway tracks, for a time, led straight into the cellar so the oak barrels and then the bottles could be easily transported.

The winery is composed of 22 buildings, which include the original 1879 premises, as well as the warehouse designed and built by the Eiffel architectural studio in 1909 and later refurbished.



This winery combines tradition, quality and innovation. In 1940 it was a pioneer with the construction of the first concrete fermentation cellar in Spain. In the 80´s it was a pioneer with the first non-aggressive vinification plant, using gravity instead.

CUNE Crianza is aged in cask for 12 months and then in bottle for a further 6 months. It goes through regular rackings to develop its finesse before it is bottled and released.


It is bright-cherry in colour with some violet nuances. In the nose, it offers red berry aromas. In the mouth, it has a very balanced acidity and is smooth and easy to drink with medium tannins.


Here you can buy it:

Like 1        Published at 20:52   Comments (14)

Spain's other Sangria
22 March 2019

A Calimocho (also spelt Kalimotxo) is a 50/50 mixture of red wine and Coca-Cola — yes I know what you are thinking, I thought exactly the same thing when I saw it for the first time. Favoured by Spanish youth looking for a sweet, cheap buzz, teenagers will sometimes mix the wine and Coke by swishing them in a plastic grocery bag for distributing at "botellones", makeshift parties held in parks and other public spaces.
The drink was supposedly created — or at least named — at a festival in Algorta (Basque Country) in 1972 when some young entrepreneurs discovered that the wine they had planned to sell tasted not just bad but toxic and added Coca-Cola-and ice to mask the flavour. It was an improbable hit. Automatically people see wine and Coke together and they think, ooh, that’s going to taste bad. However, it doesn’t, though the taste is one that could be considered “acquired”. Like the teenage years themselves, it’s simple-minded but mystifying.
It’s an affront to the wine only if you’re using the wrong wine. Actually, it's no different than making a whisky with coke, you wouldn't use a Single Malt, would you? Wine used for Calimocho should be “strong and dry”  or, if you wish to follow botellón tradition, the cheaper the better. The kind of wine that begs for a little helping hand.
One measure of a cocktail’s drinkability is its universality, and here the Calimocho scores big. In Chile and Argentina, a red-wine-and-Coke combination is known as a Jote; in Croatia, it’s a Bambus; in Germany, a Kora or Korea. Go ahead and grimace, if you like. But the world will keep on drinking.
In New York, they have given it a sophisticated touch by adding freshly squeezed lemon juice and a slice to garnish the glass. They are not that sophisticated here.. the chances are you will only be able to buy a Calimocho in a bar in Spain served in a 1 or 2-liter plastic cup to share. As a refreshment, it isn't that different to sangria and a lot less hassle but if you do use a cheap wine don't drink too much because it won't let you forget it that easily. Nonetheless, it is an easy drink to jazz up and create your own version. Some add a dash of rum or a dash of lime and if you don't like Coke, try 7up! 

Like 1        Published at 20:46   Comments (2)

'Allioli'- How to make it...and how to cheat!
14 March 2019

‘All-i-Oli’ or ‘Ajo Aceite’ in Castillian Spanish, is probably the simplest and one of the hardest recipes you will ever try to make. Simple, because traditionally it only has three ingredients and hard because it will make you break out in a sweat, especially if you make it in summer! All-i-Oli is often translated and served as garlic mayonnaise but in fact, it is not mayonnaise at all, it's not far off mayonnaise but it isn’t mayonnaise.

This is probably the recipe where your choice of olive oil is most important as it is the main ingredient and is pretty much 90% of the final product. So if you want to make it you need to find a very good quality extra virgin olive oil, which is fruity but not too bitter and not very pungent. The variety Arbequina is by far the best due to its high quantity of linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid) that favours the cohesion of emulsions and sauces. However, any good extra virgin will do. Cornicabra is very popular as is Serrana de Espadán here in Valencia. But if you can’t find these varieties look for an Extra Virgin ‘Suave’. I have read many recipes throughout the net suggesting sunflower oil and refined oils for this recipe. Please do not use these types of oils as they will definitely not give you the same result and are far less healthy.

The recipe I am going to share with you is the authentic one, the one passed on from generation to generation, not the popular garlic mayonnaises being offered around most of Spain (However I will also tell you how to make that towards the end of the post). It is a recipe that dates back thousands of years and has spread all over the Mediterranean so I can assure you it was never made with refined olive oil or sunflower oil. Basically, All-i-Oli is an emulsion of olive oil, garlic and salt, nothing else. The secret to the recipe is in the technique, which does take a bit of practice. This is not mayonnaise, a traditional recipe that originated from Mahon in Menorca, as it does not use egg yolk or lemon.  In the case of mayonnaise, it is the egg that acts as the emulsifying agent and with All-i-Oli, it is the garlic that has the emulsion-producing properties.




Extra Virgin Olive Oil


& Rock Salt


How do we make it the tradicional way?

To start with we need a pestle and mortar, not a blender or a mixer, this is a traditional recipe and must be done by hand to achieve the best results.

For this recipe, we will use 100ml of olive oil and 3-4 large cloves of garlic. Depending on how strong you like it you can add more or fewer cloves to the recipe. As this involves a substantial amount of garlic it is a good idea to remove the roots of the cloves before starting. This means slicing it down the middle, lengthways and taking out the core of the garlic, this will help reduce the characteristic bad breath and the taste of garlic coming back up throughout the day. It the root of the garlic that our stomach finds so hard to digest and it just seems to linger around for most of the day!

 Once the garlic is peeled and the cores removed place them in the mortar with a pinch of rock salt and start grinding them. Once we have a lumpy paste we need to start adding the olive oil. It is very important not to add too much or too quickly. Patience is a virtue with this recipe. Start by adding the oil drop by drop and move the pestle in a circular action from left to right following the hands of the clock. Once you have started this action you should not stop until the Ali Oli is ready.

This is when it gets a bit tiring, as you need to apply force as well and keep the pestle moving at a constant speed to draw out the juice from the garlic. Slowly you start adding more olive oil, little by little but always waiting until the previous dose has blended with the emulsion. This continues until you end up with a thick sauce/paste or find the consistency that you prefer. The whole process can take up to 15 minutes. You will probably have problems along the way to achieve an emulsion, it takes practice and isn’t as easy as it sounds but it is really worth the effort! Here is a video that might help ...




For those of you who find it too difficult there are a couple of tricks that help to keep the garlic moist and facilitate the cohesion of the emulsion, one is adding 3 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the mortar at the same time you add the garlic and the salt. This will help you keep the emulsion stable and also reduce a little bit more the pungency of the garlic.


GARLIC MAYONNAISE.....and cheating

Finally, if you prefer a garlic mayonnaise, which isn't as strong, the only thing you have to add is an egg yolk (no egg white) to the garlic with the lemon juice before you start adding the olive oil. Another trick which works with either recipe is making a little ball of dough from a loaf of sliced bread and wetting it with water. You add this dough ball when you add the egg or just before adding the oil and grind it into the mixture, this will help create the emulsion and stop it from separating!


No time? Don't mind cheating a little?....

Although this may be cheating I know dozens of restaurants on the Balearic islands which use this quick method for their popular 'Pan y All-i-Oli' (one of them told me about it) and it goes down a treat, I use it too and to be honest and I have grown to love it!. Sometimes I just find All-i-Oli too strong and this is just perfect. All you will need is the following:


1. Tub of fresh All-i-Oli from the supermarket

2. Hellman's Mayonnaise (Do not substitute for a different mayonnaise)

3. Finely ground Black Pepper

Quite simply add equal parts of Allioli and Hellman's mayonnaise to a bowl and sprinkle in some black pepper. Mix well until completely blended, sprinkle a little chopped parsley on top and serve with some crispy bread.


In Valencia, it is particularly common to eat All-i-Oli with anything from fried potatoes seasoned with paprika or Black rice which is a dish which uses the ink from squids. It is very versatile and fantastic with vegetables, fish and meats so use it to accompany anything you want.

A very traditional dish is simply Potato All-i-Oli, which is a boiled potato salad eaten cold but made with All-i-Oli (normally with egg yolk), absolutely delicious with cold meats and salads.









Like 1        Published at 14:29   Comments (5)

My Wine Recommendation Nº 9 - For under €10
08 March 2019

Here we have another great wine for under €10. It is one I have been enjoying for years and I recently had a bottle and realised I hadn’t written a review of it yet.

This winery has been one of my favourites for a long time, always producing top class wines but most of them are well over the €10 mark (for their reds) but this one, fortunately, falls into the budget at €7.50 and I can assure you it is worth every Euro. 

Most of the Protos vineyards are planted on south-facing hillsides, beckoning the rays of sunlight needed for optimal ripening. They range in elevation from those located on plateaus to elevations of up to 900 metres, with some located in valleys at 750 to 800 metres above sea level.

The climate in this region has a great influence on the vineyards, which can be seen clearly in the life cycle of the vines and plays an important role in plant development and grape ripening, giving the Tempranillo variety from this region its very special quality. 

It really is a surprisingly balanced wine for a 100% Tempranillo.


Wine data Protos Roble :

GRAPE VARIETY Tempranillo 100 %
VINEYARDS Less than 25 years old.
FEATURES Hand-picking harvest in 20 kg crates. Sorting table. Skin contact maceration and fermentation for 15 days at 24 ºC.
AGEING 6 months in American and French oak barrels and 6 months in bottle.
COLOUR Bright cherry colour with purple rim, bright and clean.
NOSE Very expressive, powerful, complex, fresh fruit, sweet spices, creamy oak, red berry notes.
TASTE Flavourful, fruity, toasty with round tannins and good finish.

Food pairing ideas:

• Meat: oven-baked suckling lamb, fried lamb chops, roast lamb, veal tongue in a sauce, sweetbreads, oxtail, etc.
• Game: quails sautéed or in sauce, garlic rabbit, roast pheasant, hare served with potatoes and rice, venison loin, stewed partridge.
• Cereals and pastas: rice with partridge, chicken or rabbit, spaghetti bolognese, beef lasagne, macaroni with chorizo, tagliatelle bolognese.
• Cold meats: cured ham, wild boar pate, chistorra (spicy sausage), chorizo, foie gras, fuet (catalonian sausage), shoulder of pork, black pudding, morcón (large blood sausage).
• Eggs: in any of their varieties or as an omelette.
• Pulses: haricot beans with chorizo, fabada (asturian bean stew), pinto beans and all kinds of stews.
• Cheeses: the wine matches very well with any semi-aged cheese.
• Soups
• Vegetables



Where to buy Protos


A little history about Protos


In 1927,  the love a group of local vine growers felt for the land achieved the union of their best efforts, creating a winery, now a symbol of the Ribera region. A project that has continuously grown and multiplies year by year, taking its name proudly to the highest international levels. Protos, which comes from the Greek word for "FIRST" is without a doubt one of the great wines from what is now known as 'Ribera del Duero'. The 30s represented its definite settlement at the international level. The 1929 World Exposition in Barcelona gave a particularly strong impulse, awarding Gold Medals to its red wines and establishing it as a benchmark for the region.

The company's rapid growth brought about the problem of lack of space for the first time and the winery began its expansion throughout the region. The construction of a wine-ageing cellar began in the heart of the mountain, literally beneath the Castle of Peñafiel.


The quality and prestige this winery acquired in the eighties led a highly recognised vine-growing area to take on its own name, Ribera del Duero, to identify the D.O. Control Board that watches over the quality of area wines. In 1995, the wine-ageing cellar was enlarged and the winery succeeded in the international winemaking panorama.

The project continues growing: In the town of Anguix (Burgos), Protos has acquired a winery that has the latest cutting-edge technology. It can produce up to three million kilos of grapes, of which 1.5 million kilos go through the sorting table.

It is in Peñafiel, a Valladolid town held together by the Duero River, where this gift of the land is born. Protos has the privilege of having been engendered in the heart of one of the most important fortresses in the area – Peñafiel Castle –. This castle is a landmark for the Castilla y León region since the wine museum is housed in it.

The new winery is an architectural jewel that has already become a symbol of the Ribera del Duero D.O.- and the area's interesting culture and gastronomy have placed Protos at the centre of a new trend known as "Wine-Related Tourism".


Tradition and vanguard were combined in the designing of the new winery where guided visits and special events can also be arranged. Only a few can resist the temptation to discover the Duero's Heart, an incredibly beautiful place.

 The new Protos winery facility is located at an interesting historical crossroads: the extension of the Camino de las Eras and the San Pedro sheep drove road, an ancient Roman road. It is on the edge of a low-lying area that, in the past, was partially covered by a small pond fed by waters from the nearby Botijas stream. It is also located quite near the existing winery facilities, connected to them via an underground link, and buried into the Peñafiel Castle hill.

The project was conceived as a contemporary reinterpretation of traditional wine cellar construction in the region. On the one hand, the base of the building is excavated into the land, reminiscent of wine cellar construction methods that have been used since time immemorial in the Peñafiel Castle hillside. With this reference in mind, and for practical reasons that are commonplace to vernacular architecture in relation to making the best use of the lower temperatures underground, most of the facilities used in the preparation and ageing of wine are buried underground.

On the other hand, the above-ground structure, technically known as the “light structure”, is a reinterpretation of vault-shaped winery construction methods. This structure is made of parabolic arches of laminated wood. The shape and materials were chosen because they are structurally efficient and appropriate for the production process, as traditional winery construction has shown.

The roof is the most noteworthy visual feature of the outside of the winery. This is the result of the exceptional location of the winery at the foot of the castle. In the project concept, the roof was considered as yet another façade, to be viewed from the privileged position afforded by the castle.

Therefore, it was designed with the five vaulted bays oriented towards the Castle. In the treatment of the roof materials and construction, using large format terracotta pieces, it represents a contemporary reinterpretation of typical vernacular roofs. In effect, seen from the Castle, Peñafiel offers muted red tones that range from orange to brown, typical of traditional tile roofs. This is the colour that is also used for the winery.

Protos allows you to visit its two wineries: the oldest that extends through the interior of the mountain, and the new one that was designed by the architect Richard Rogers. All visits include a tour of the two wineries and a wine tasting at the end of the tour which is highly recommended. Visits must be arranged in advance by calling +34 659 843 463 or by sending an e-mail to

Visits are 1.5 hours long on average, including a tasting of a Verdejo white wine and a Crianza red wine. Please note that the tours are available upon demand for individuals or groups and visits require a minimum of 8 people.


Like 1        Published at 19:51   Comments (4)

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