Last March, Caitlin O’Brien, our Toro NYC wine steward and social media extraordinaire, took a whirlwind tour through Spanish wine country, which included Rioja, Navarra, Rueda, and Alicante. Junior wine steward Sara Bishop sat down with Caitlin to have a conversation about it and invites you to live vicariously through Caitlin’s eyes and words...
1. Humility and heritage is everything.
"What I saw, over and over again, is that Spanish winemakers are first and foremost humble. They’re making wine without pretense so the way they view their craft is based off being a small part of an immense history, whether it be family history or the history of the land.
2. But Spanish wine isn't ALL about tradition.
"Conca de Barbera, located in Catalonia, is home to many winemakers who are working with the local grape Trepat. Traditionally, the varietal was only used for Cava but now it’s being used on its own for still red that are extremely diverse: from light-bodied quaffers with notes of fresh raspberries to rich and dark meditation wines. It’s even blended with Cabernet—like the Succes Feedback that we’re pouring at Toro!
3. Try Canary Island wine!
"Winemakers from the Canary Islands—a Spanish territory located off the coast of Western Africa—are experimenting with local grape varietals that were once forgotten or used for other purposes. There’s a lot of volcanic soil which lends to extra depth, smokiness, and minerality in the wines. The Canary Islands also evaded the phylloxera plague, so many of Spain’s native varietals and pre-phylloxera vines still thrive there!"
4. There’s more than one way to paella.
"In Alicante we had the ‘land’ paella. It was this ENORMOUS pan with rabbit and snails. We also watched the woman make the paella in this giant fire place with huge flames licking the sides of the dish. It was wild. When we were close to finishing the first paella they put in front of us, they sent out A SECOND ROUND. We were all shook. But of course we finished it..."
5. The perfect pairing does exist!
"I'd have to say: sparkling cava rosat with croquetas. Anything fried and salty paired with bubbles is classic. Okay, so there’s not just one. As a seafood lover, give me delicious carabineros—juicy and sweet red scarlet prawns— with a zesty, bright Albarino. I'll be your best friend."
You can try carabineros with Albarino at Toro NYC as we feature the pairing all summer long. Spend an evening with us soon or stop by for our once-a-year brunch on Mother’s Day, May 12th. While you’re with us, say hello to Sara Bishop, who created this conversation or learn another thing or two about Spanish wine from Caitlin O’Brien. See you soon!