Spring Food + Wine in El Cubo de Tierra del Vino, Spain

April 17, 2017

When I went to winemaking school in Castile-Leon, Spain I used to make the hourlong trip up highway N-630 by bus. It connected the prestigious Universidad de Salamanca to the local polytechnic faculty up north in Zamora. The bus heaved out of depots after depositing agronomical engineering students and the pensioners making the week’s run into town.

Just after the Semana Santa holy week, the hills filled with little yellow flowers. It was a welcome sight after four months of bitter cold and howling high plains winds. Our small cohort of fellow winemaker students huddled together in underground cellars barrel sampling rich local tempranillo in chilly glasses. We traversed the N-630, visiting a different vintner ever week to learn about their winemaking technique. We spent mornings on frozen, crunchy ground listening to lectures on the cycle of the vine (it was dormant then) and afternoons peering into fermentation vats (don’t fall in).

So when the sun came out and the yellow flowers bloomed, we were happy to change our snow boots for espadrilles. Then just as we had kicked up our heels and the rosés were released to market, the sun became unbearable and the high desert heat took its rightful place above the breadbasket of Spain, known locally as the tierra del pan. The agricultural area also included a long winemaking tradition. Colombus packed wine from Toro on his voyage to the Americas.

One of the coolest little villages we passed through was called El Cubo de Tierra del Vino. Our modern bus barely squeezed between the old crumbling buildings made of barro. I thought being from The Cube of the Land of Wine sounded so much cooler than being from the land of ports, such as I was.

At TwoQuarts we are thrilled to present our spring collection named after my experience traveling to and fro winemaking classes. Email us for promotional discounts at checkout if you aren’t already on our newsletter list. drink@twoquarts.com

El Cubo Primavera Pack
EL Cubo Primavera Deluxe


When Too Much Is Enough: Wine Pairings In Times of Crisis

April 10, 2017

There is a song that I listen to often called “Too Much Is Never Enough” by Bob Moses. Set against a jazzy, foot-tapping, waiting-for-the-subway bass, the kid from Vancouver sings:

A fool’s crutch won’t set me free/
Too much is never enough/
It’s never enough for me.

And yet, sometimes too much is enough. It actually is perfectly sufficient to get pulled over for talking on your mobile when the phone is on speaker and you are unnecessarily and unconsciously handling it purely for theatrical effect. It would have been enough had the fine been $50. It was too much at $160.

Then, it would have been entirely adequate to arrive home to a messy kitchen. Instead you arrive home to be cornered in said messy kitchen and questioned about the state of a close someone’s divorce when all you want to do is pour a glass of silky wine into a dirty glass. That’s too much.

Finally, it would have been enough to work quietly through the evening in a serene house to finish a half-decent blog post and deal with some cat family infighting and consequential territory marking. Yet you end up 18 hours later across town at the Ace Hotel and while swimming in the soft comfort of expensive pillows and impossibly white sheets you emerge slowly from dreamland to realize you are a terrible giver of divorce advice and on the docket for a hands-free infraction. That’s just too much.  At least the overpriced glass of imported red at dinner was exactly what you felt like for the mood you were in. This series of events would never happen to me of course, merely hypothetical.

So what should you drink in times of crisis?

A Breakup — Pour yourself a glass of something hedonistic and intense like a monopole tempranillo from Bodegas Valderiz in Ribera del Duero. They just received 94 points from Wine Spectator for their best-selling crianza, a red bathed in French and American oak for 14-months and then held in the winery to let the tannins settle into the fruit and toast. During production no enzymes are used that do not come naturally from the grapes themselves. The fruit is totally free of any artificial fertilizers or chemicals. No yeasts or anything superficial? Sounds like the future is bright.

A Divorce — Pop something precocious. Take your time in choosing, after all, now is the time to finally find a match. A precocious wine is one that begins to mature quickly or shows its true potential too soon. Otherwise, it is a wine that might age elegantly because of a complex nose or appealing fruit character. The ironic thing about wines is that most aren’t meant for ageing, but are best enjoyed young. Round and bright, a rosé from Cigales, Spain could do the trick. They are tempranillo (red) + verdejo (white) blends and are high in alcohol and body. A little sun from Spain in a bottle won’t hurt.

A Job Loss — There is something particularly acetic and volatile about losing your job. Avoid those wines, too. Elevated levels of volatile acidity in your wine will rapidly turn it to vinegar. For this specific breed of wallowing, you’ll require a rich and focused selection. A rich wine doesn’t have to come with sticker shock. Try a Miguel Merino tempranillo blend from Briones, Rioja. It’ll set you back US$20/£16. They are affordable masterpieces, case studies in fabulous, disciplined winemaking and an expression of typicity. Sip a little tempranillo, then go for a run and get out there and focus on getting rich at a new job.

A Negative Account Balance — Ouch. Definitely bubbles, no doubt. When the balance creeps down, bottoms up. There is a great selection of cava available on the market now. The soft effervescence of Catalonian bubbles won’t do too much damage to your balance. It might even be enough.

Finding Bodega Eduardo Garrido

February 20, 2017

Ábalos, Rioja Alta, Spain —

The N-232a national highway begins at a nondescript roundabout barely 1 km north of Haro, La Rioja. Yet it’s the kind of beautiful drive on which foreigners often lose all sense of reality and fancy themselves converting old bodegas into pastoral palaces like Diane Lane did in Under the Tuscan Sun.

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5 Fabulous Ways That Chorizo and Salchichón (Sal-chee-what?!) Will Hasten The End of New Year’s Resolutions

January 09, 2017

I once went to check out a rental apartment in the center of Valladolid. It was expansive and had great views of the bustling marketplace below. I was ready to drop first and last’s but there was a particularly acrid -almost smoky- barnyard odor that permeated the place.

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