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Pairing red wine and Japanese cuisine is not an easy task. But I have discovered a new red that lets you enjoy the best Japanese dishes and even enhances the experience. It is called “La Bruja Avería”. I drank the 2012 vintage at Miyama, Castellana 45, Madrid, a restaurant on its way to becoming the top Asian in the city.

La Bruja Avería is a name hard to translate (a witch in an accident? all suggestions are welcome!), taken from a muppet TV show in the eighties. The wine is 100% Grenache, beautifully made and tastes like roses. It comes from a Madrid winery, created by some Garnache lovers, called Comando G (no translation needed). It is presented in a fun bottle, which can be of one of four or five different colours, depending on your luck, or witchcraft.

I have tried recently three wines that share two common traits: greatness, combined with a bad name. How come wine makers (or vignerons, if you prefer) sometimes choose names without thinking twice about how well they will sound and what will they evoke? Our words are our worlds, as Philip Allot wrote, or in a close to home version, we live in the words we use, Octavio Paz dixit.

Here are the three wonderful wines that caught my attention in spite of their names.

The first one is Predicador (“Preacher”, translated into English), a fantastic new Rioja, around 18 euros, so well made that even the ugly label with a hat from a cowboy B-movie should not deter you from triying it.

The second one is El Regajal (around 15 euros), from the Madrid region, a successful experiment, made out of four different grapes (tempranillo, cabernet, shyra and merlot, from a beautiful Aranjuez vineyard that is also a butterfly natural reserve. In this case the label improves the harsh sounding name of “regajal”: with an expresionist drawing of a butterfly, inspired long ago by Diego Mora-Figueroa, artist and friend.

The third wine is Eolo, from Navarre, a modest wine (around 4 euros, can you beat that?) that in spite of this silly name (Eolo is the god of wind, a tacky name with no connection to the wine) is worth trying, a very good coupage of Cabernet, Garnache, Merlot, Tempranillo and Merlot.

Yesterday we had an interesting dinner at La Penela, Madrid, the famous Galician restaurant of La Coruña that has also opened in the capital, in Infanta Mercedes 97.

La Penela reached culinary heights thanks to its “carne asada” (roasted meat) and specially, “tortilla de patatas”, no need to translate this, I hope, besides other great Galician goodies like fish, seafood, Padron peppers…

Our dinner revolved with equal passion around the super yellow tortilla and the US presidential elections. Consensus was that the Clinton-Obama contest has become a true globalized race, so much that newspapers all over the world spend a lot of time analyzing it, as if non US citizens could vote in the primaries or in November (NB: in my other blog, on European affairs, http://www.blogeuropa.eu, I have endorsed Obama, not just because we went to law school together). We drank our humble and delicious semi-liquid tortilla with a sophisticated wine, El Rincón, from Madrid, a new-new thing of Pagos de Familia del Marqués de Griñon (check out the beautiful label and presentation of the wine, way to go!). Everybody around the table agreed that it was a very different wine from any others we had tasted -we had among us the former Master of the Cellar of one of the Oxford Colleges and he was pleasantly surprised. El Rincon is made with shiraz and garnacha grapes and will shock you with its wondrous mineral notes and a touch of spices like cinnammon. The combination of this powerful and ambitious wine, designed to have a global projection, with the simple tortilla was another metaphor of the US elections being experienced with trepitation by citizens of so many different countries.

I have recently tried three magnificent wines and by coincidence they all had Roman sounding names: Malleolus, Summa Varietalis and Tagonius. It was a brave act, because in my very one-sided perspective, I don’t like the Spanish trend of giving Latin names to wine: Romani ite domum!

I admit that a Latin name has a universal ring to it and that Romans loved wine from all of the Iberian peninsula -we don´t know how good it was but they certainly enjoyed it a lot. And yet this return to Latin inevitably reminds me of the surreal names in Asterix comics or in a Monthy Pyton movie. I cannot help smiling when I see some of the new wine names. (“All right, but apart from sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?)

In any case, “in vino veritas”: I would drink again any of these three wines, even if they had Skimo-sounding names! Although each of them deserves careful individual attention, let me summarize in this post how much I enjoyed them.

Malleolus is the top wine of Emilio Moro´s vineyards in Ribera del Duero. It is a light, smooth and balanced wine, so elegant that it went well even with the famous dish of seafood and “acelgas” (bot chard?) that attracts me to La Bodeguilla restaurant in La Coruña. In a shop you can find it for 30 euros, a price well justified.

Summa Varietalis is the creature of Xandra Falcó, daughter of the Marqués de Griñón, the visionary winemaker. Like her father, she is an innovator and shares a similar passion for refined, interesting, out of the box wines. Summa belongs to the Dominio de Valdepusa school in Toledo, but it stands out in this fantastic microcosmos. It is a wine that combines beautifully the three grapes that have grown so well in South Castilla- cabernet sauvignon, shyraz and petit verdot- and surprises you with many nuanced flavors while you drink it. We had a bottle from 2003 it at a recent dinner while discussing the fate and future of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. The wine helped us become mellow, joyful and even merciful. At around 20 euros, it is still a great buy.

Tagonius is a top Madrid red, clearly connected with the wine revolution of La Mancha. It is a strong, full bodied wine, very direct and exhuberant. It sells at 10 euros per bottle. I very much admire the way this tempranillo-based wine combines fantastic fruit and wooden flavours.

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