Archive | August, 2012

Wine Importers to Rely On: Jorge Ordoñez’s Fine Estates from Spain

26 Aug

by Sharon Kapnick

For more than two decades, Jorge Ordoñez has brought many great Spanish wines and inexpensive Spanish wines of great value to the U.S. via his Dedham, Mass., firm. He’s played a leading role in modernizing Spanish wines and then creating a market for them. As wine lovers in the U.S. started to move beyond Rioja and sherry, Ordoñez was exploring, discovering and improving wines from other regions. And then, after Americans embraced wines from Rías Baixas, Priorat and Ribera del Duero, Ordoñez partnered with some of the best winemakers in Jumilla, Montsant and Calatayud.

Wine figured in his life from his early childhood in Málaga, where his family ran a wholesale food and wine business, selling to restaurants along the fashionable Costa del Sol. Ordoñez managed the company for several years before moving to Boston, his wife’s hometown, in 1987. There, importing Spanish wines seemed a promising business for him.

Ordoñez is a savvy, hands-on businessman. He’s guided his producers in all stages of winemaking, suggesting blends, emphasizing quality control and solving problems. He knows which grapes will thrive in each region and ensures that the appropriate grapes are planted in the correct spot. He convinced vignerons to keep their old vines of native Spanish grapes instead of replacing them with better-known non-indigenous grapes. Ordoñez claims to have brought the first Albariño, Spain’s seafood-friendly signature white wine, to the U.S. in 1991. He also introduced Godello, Monastrell and Txakoli to American consumers. He was the first to  insist on refrigerated storage areas and refrigerated shipping. He basically revolutionized the Spanish wine trade.

Ordoñez’s talents have received much recognition. In 1997 Food & Wine magazine gave him its Golden Grape Award, which honors “visionaries in America who are not only changing the way we think about wine but also determining what we will be drinking in the 21 st century.” Influential wine critic Robert Parker Jr. twice named Ordoñez one of the Most Influential Wine Personalities of the Last 20 Years. In 2012 he was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional.

In a recent interview with the online Shanken News Daily, Ordoñez said, “Today Americans know Spanish wine regions better than most Spaniards.” That, in large part, is due to the efforts of Jorge Ordoñez.

When shopping for Spanish wines, you’d do well to look for Jorge Ordoñez Selections or Fine Estates from Spain on the label.

Volére “Purses”: Chic, Fashion-Forward Box Wines

2 Aug

by Sharon Kapnick

In the past few years, some box wines have been getting the clever packaging they deserve.* Just as an appealing wine bottle and label attract attention, so does a well-designed bag-in-box. And since the box may be around for a month or more, it’s especially smart to use an eye-catching container.

Kudos goes to Volére Wines, which has recently introduced three novel pocketbook-shaped boxes, cord straps included, to the U.S. market. The wines, from the Delle Venezie region in northeastern Italy, are appealing too. (While this area is best known for its white wines, I preferred the Rosé and the Merlot-Pinot Noir.) They’re all made by the Cantina di Soave cooperative winery, which boasts more than 2,200 members. Although the group was founded in 1898, today it’s not only thriving but also leading and innovating. It was recently named one of 43 Rising Stars by the Beverage Information Group in part because it’s showed notable growth over the past few years.

As with all box wines, the  inner bag collapses as the beverage is dispensed, which ensures that no oxygen–a spoiler of wine–reaches it. The wine stays fresh for at least five weeks. The container is recyclable, conveniently lightweight when full, and easy to carry. Although each 1.5-liter box, equivalent to two standard-size bottles, has a suggested retail price of $14.99, the purses can be found for $10.99.

Pinot Grigio 2011: Aromas and flavors of green apple, peach and pear. Crisp, fruity. Serve as an aperitif or with antipasto and other appetizers, salads, white meats, sushi and seafood.

Rosé 2011: A blend of grape varieties indigenous to the Veneto Hills. Aromas and flavors of strawberries, raspberries and rose petals. Bright, fresh. Rosé is extremely versatile. Try this one on its own or with appetizers, charcuterie, salads, chicken, white meats, grilled vegetables, barbecue, picnic foods and seafood.

Merlot-Pinot Noir 2011: Aromas and flavors of red berries, cherries and currants. 80% Merlot-20% Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is usually bottled–or boxed–on its own, but  it’s been turning up more and more blended with other grapes. The combination works nicely here.  Serve with pasta, duck, grilled meats and mushrooms, vegetarian entrées and cheese.

*See my story “Tacky No More: Making Boxed Wines Look Chic” at,8599,1995832,00.html to read about Underdog’s cool Octavins and Wineberry’s wood Berry Boxes.

Note: I requested samples of these wines.