Rioja: Home to Spain’s Best Red Wine Bargains

TempranilloRioja’s Minister of Tourism describes Rioja as, “a land of history, light and color, vines and wheat, and above all, people for whom friendship is the greatest possible treasure.”  Rioja is indeed a special land, etched by history and endowed by a special wine which shares the region’s name. Spanish Rioja wine is as warm, friendly, and distinctive as the people who inhabit this unique land halfway between Spain’s capital and the towering Pyrenees Mountains.  Rioja is also the most approachable and recognized name in great Spanish wine and the home of Spain’s best red wine bargains.

Vineyards have always influenced the history and character of the people in the Rioja.  Long before France became a bastion of fine wine, the Romans had settled in Iberia and pushed inland from the Mediterranean to the headwaters of the Ebro River and its tiny tributary, Rio Oja, from which Rioja derives its name.  In Rioja, the Romans found ideal conditions for the cultivation of exceptional Spanish grape varietals, like the Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano, and Garnacha (Grenache) grape varieties that today constitute red Rioja.  Given its long history for continuously producing fine red wines, Rioja not surprisingly received Spain’s first Denominación de Origen (D.O.) in 1933.

It is Rioja’s unique blend of red grapes, coupled with an often lavish hiatus in small, mostly American oak barrels, that produces a warm, truly dry, but richly fruity red wine of great finesse and perfume that can appear nearly immortal in great vintages.  Although a few names in Rioja carry hefty price tags, the vast majority of red Rioja comes from 132,000 acres and three distinct zones (Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta, and Rioja Baja). These wines sell for far less than wines of comparable quality from elsewhere, making red Rioja one of the planet’s greatest red wine bargains.

Red Rioja comes in four basic styles: Joven, Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva.  The amount of oak barrel aging, coupled with time in the bottle before release, determines the designation. These styles begin with Joven, which receives little or no time in oak barrels, and culminates with Gran Reserva, which matures in barrels for two or more years and cannot be sold before its fifth birthday.

The best bargains in Rioja are among the Joven, Crianza, and Reserva designations.  Some wonderful bargains in red Rioja include the 2014 Martinez Corta Ceps Antiguas Selección Privada, an exuberant Joven Rioja from old vines, the 2012 Bodegas Montaña Crianza, a smooth, aged Rioja that drinks like a fine Reserva, and the 2008 Valenciso Rioja Reserva, Decanter magazine’s Wine of the Year.

As a well-lauded Reserva, the 2008 Valenciso Rioja Reserva sells for considerably more than Joven or Crianza offerings, yet it still constitutes a bargain vis à vis French and Italian wines of comparable quality.  Other wonderful red Rioja producers to look for are Amézola de la Mora, La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza, and Luis Canas, among others.


Enjoy Huge Savings on Four Highly Rated Wines!

Today we’re very excited to bring you another Special Offer on four limited-production wines which recently blew us away at our tasting panels, including one of the finest Châteauneuf-du-Papes we’ve encountered in recent memory, two impressive Pinot Noirs – from the Old World and the New – and a vivacious, stunning Chardonnay from Napa.

Domaine du Grand Tinel Cuvée Alexis Establet Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012 (France)

Grand Tinel Cuvee Establet 2012Sourced from 100-year-old Grenache vines, the Alexis Establet is regarded as Domaine du Grand Tinel’s best cuvée of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This delicious French wine features crushed flower, menthol, cherry blossom, and white chocolate notes, can be consumed straight away or allowed to age for 10-12 years, and has a 93-point rating from The Wine Advocate. Learn more by visiting

Wine Advocate: 93 points. Panel Review: 93 points.

Retail Price: $60.00, Our Price: $35.95. Save 40%!

Jacques Girardin Santenay Clos Rousseau Premier Cru 2012 (France)

jacques-girardin-santenay-clos-rousseau-premier-cru-2012The Jacques Girardin Santenay Clos Rousseau Premier Cru 2012 is a top choice for those who appreciate a quality Pinot Noir from France’s Burgundy region. This rare, limited-production wine was sourced from a 4.75-acre Burgundian vineyard, and is very difficult to find in the U.S. With a 93-point rating from The International Wine of the Month Club’s panel of experts, this wine is recommended for celebrations, parties, and important events. Visit for more information on Jacques Girardin Santenay’s wines.

Panel Review: 93 points. Very limited production: Almost impossible to find outside France.

Retail Price: $40.00, Our Price: $27.95. Save 30%!

Walt Blue Jay Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2012 (California)

Walt-Blue-Jay-Anderson-Valley-Pinot-Noir-2012With 93 points from Wine Enthusiast and 92 points from Pinot Report, the Walt Blue Jay Anderson Valley Pinor Noir 2012 is regarded as a delicious, well-rounded selection that wine enthusiasts around the world will enjoy. Sourced from California vineyards in Anderson Valley, the 2012 Blue Jay Anderson Valley Pinot Noir contains blueberry, lavender, and mineral tones with a rich, fruity flavor and mouthfeel. Visit to learn more about the Blue Jay Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and its other great wines.

Wine Enthusiast: 93 points. Pinot Report: 92 points. Panel Review: 93 points.

Retail Price: $40.00, Our Price: $29.95. Save 25%!

Poseidon Vineyard Estate Grown Carneros Napa Chardonnay 2013 (California)

Poseidon_Vineyard_Estate_Chardonnay_2013Produced by the expert winemakers at Poseidon Vineyard, the 2014 Estate Grown Carneros Chardonnay features lemon oil, apple blossom, and fresh ginger notes, and finishes with green apple, lime, lemon custard, and buttery oak flavors. With a 92-point rating from Wine & Spirits, this Poseidon Vineyard Chardonnay is a good choice for any time throughout the year. Learn more about Poseidon Vineyard by visiting

Wine & Spirits: 92 points. Panel Review: 92 points.

Retail Price: $28.00, Our Price: $23.75. Save 15%!

To order, visit

Hurry! Sale ends July 1, 2015!

Celebrating Malbec World Day

Manos-Negra-Malbec-DayToday is Malbec World Day and after searching my wine stash for a Malbec, I was surprised that I didn’t have a single bottle of Malbec. All I found was a Meritage from California, that included Malbec grapes in the blend and several Bordeaux blends from France that also included Malbec grapes. With no Malbecs to celebrate with, I had to go out at lunch and pick up a couple of bottles, one for drinking today and the other for my wine stash.

Argentina produces 70% of the world’s Malbec grapes and the hilly northwest region of Mendoza is perfect for growing Malbec grapes. I love a good Malbec from this region so today, I am drinking a 2010 Manos Negras Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina.


Announcing Our “Bold Reds” Wine Sale

red wineTired of winter yet? How about some big, bold, red wines to help shake off the cold?!

We at The International Wine of the Month Club are very excited to announce a sale on 4 powerful, world-class red wines which blew us away at our recent Tasting Panels. We’re making each of these highly-rated red wines available at unbeatable values – up to 45% off retail price, plus extra discounts when you order 6 total bottles or more!

And, you don’t have to be a wine club member to take advantage of this Special Offer, so feel free to let all your wine-loving friends know, too!

High ratings, gold medals, super-limited production – and a huge thumbs up from our 30+ person tasting panel – these wines have it all. Check them out at

Three Aphrodisiacal Food & Wine Pairings to Spice Up Valentine’s Day

The end of next week graces us with (what is supposed to be) the most romantic holiday of the entire year. Hopefully, your night will be spent with a special someone, eating out at a four-star restaurant or cooking a three-course meal fit for the Food Network. But here’s a little tip: the food and wine you choose for your special dinner can play a major role in what happens after you eat. So with a little help from Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, we’ve laid out some food and wine pairings that will ensure your Valentine’s Day is as romantic as the all the commercials promise.

Spicy-&-Wine-2015Chili Peppers

Adding chili peppers to your V-Day dinner is an obvious choice if you’re looking to spice things up. Not only will the Capsaicin found in chili peppers speed up your heartbeat and sweaty up your palms after just one bite, but eating chili peppers also releases endorphins, a chemical in your brain that can immediately fuel up your sex life. Now that’s chemical romance.

Perfect wine pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blancs are typically dry wines with flavors of citrus fruit, melon, fig, and herbs. Sauvignon Blancs can range from dry to semi sweet, and everything in between which can help toward tempering hot and spicy dishes. Though on the dryer side, one of our personal favorites is the Château de Fontenille Entre-Deux-Mers 2013. This Sauvignon Blanc blend is a mélange of scintillating citrus, fig and melon with an underpinning of minerality for the ideal combination of sweet and spicy.


Since more than 200 years ago, raw oysters have been declared the pinnacle of all aphrodisiacal foods. Oysters are said to be the first edibles used to increase sexual desire in the second century by the Romans and by legendary lover, Casanova. The compounds found in raw oysters such as zinc, D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) help to raise your libido and can also raise the levels of estrogen and testosterone found in your body.

Perfect wine pairing: Viognier

Originally from the Northern Rhône region in France, Viogniers are medium-dry to dry and are lighter flavored wines that usually have flavors of tree fruits, nuttiness, and undertones of spice with peachy aromas. The Château du Trignon Viognier Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc 2013 offers finely honed fruit flavors and subtle complexity that will pair perfectly with raw or cooked oysters.


Everyone loves chocolate. Whether it’s liquid or solid, hot or cold, chocolate always seems to bring us instant joy. This is probably because of the “feel good” chemicals found inside chocolate, namely Serotonin and Phenylethylamine. This inseparable chocolate-happiness connection is far from a recent discovery, as the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, is rumored to have consumed up to 50 goblets of chocolate each day in order to fuel his sexual desires. Sounds like he’s trying to overcompensate for something!

Perfect wine pairing: Shiraz

Slightly softer and more subdued than Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz (aka Syrah) is still full of flavor with bright notes of red and dark berries, peppery undertones, and fine tannins. The Bellingham Ancient Earth Pinotage Shiraz 2013 with a luscious and lively core black cherry and mulberry flavors wrapped in a light patina of oak, it pair perfectly with any chocolaty dessert.

For more information on pairing wines with your favorite meals, visit our Food & Wine Pairing Guide and be sure to see our 2014 3 Aphrodisiacal Food & Wine Pairings.