Movie & Wine Pairing

wine

Pagos de Tahola 2012
Rioja DOCa, Spain

Carmen Jones (1954)
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Though the original Bizet opera was set in Spain, this adaptation from Twentieth Century-Fox transplants the melodrama to America and stars Oscar-nominated Dorothy Dandridge in the title role. Matching the character of this delicious Tempranillo, a thick-skinned grape that ripens early in the season, Dandridge’s performance made her an overnight sensation with critics and the public.

THE WINE

Rioja is Spain’s most famous red – and this classic Crianza example comes from one of our favorite family estates. Two generations of the Chavarri family currently run Bodegas Larchago: father Francisco and daughter Ruth (below). Their talented winemaker Miguel Lopez Nuñez completes this winning triumvirate. Rich limestone soil and higher elevation help Miguel coax deliciously deep flavor from the estate’s ancient, low-yielding Tempranillo; a year in American and French oak barrels impart a toasty coconut note to the succulent red berry flavors.

THE GRAPE

Tempranillo makes some of Spain’s (and the world’s) greatest reds. From the word temprano (‘early’) it ripens before most other red grapes, especially in warm, sunny climates. Dark and thick-skinned, it’s made to be barrel aged – typically in American oak (for vanilla-rich complexity), though some winemakers prefer more subtly spicy French barrels. Either way – the longer the aging, the more mellow the wine.

THE REGION

A 19-mile valley bordering the Sierra Cantabria mountains and the mighty rivers Ebro and Oja (‘Rio Oja’), Rioja has produced wine since Roman times. But, it was only in the late 1800s that the Rioja wine we know and love began to emerge. The catalyst: the arrival of winemakers from Bordeaux, who helped introduced the art of barrel aging.

WITH FOOD

Riojan Crianzas must be aged for two years before they are released – and one of those years must be in oak barrel. This time spent “mellowing out” helps gives the wine its seriously food-friendly nature by making tannins silkier and integrating more complex aromas and flavors that really sing with a hearty, Spanish-style meal. Try garlicky roast lamb or an assortment of tapas.

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