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Scenes from Rioja Wine & Tapas Festival at Union Station

A fine wine & dining experience! The Hollywood Home and friends took the Metro Red Line down to beautiful Union Station on Saturday, May 21 to sample and enjoy 200+ Rioja wines, a jamon bar, paella garden, a cheese cave, and delicious Rioja-inspired Tapas from over 30 notable US chefs from LA and beyond.

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Rioja is Spain’s oldest and most prominent wine region. In addition to producing great wines of incredible diversity and value, the region has much to offer: scenic beauty, extraordinary architecture, and delicious cuisine.

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Here are a few highlights of the event:

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DTLA Cheese shop served a wide variety of Spanish cheeses. My absolute favorite was the Cana de Oveja, an artisan soft-ripened sheep’s milk cheese resembling a French Bucheron, served on a Torres Black truffle potato chip. It was a perfect combination.

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We sampled several delicious red and white wines (not all 200+, of course!). Each sommelier that poured our samples was well versed and knowledgeable about the particular wine they were offering. They were able to recommend the best wines for pairing with the exquisite cheeses and tapas.

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Out of all the wines we sampled, a real stand out was the Muga Reserva Selecccion Especial 2010. 2010 was one of the best years for Rioja. This particular wine was aged in French Oak. I also really enjoyed their Muga Blanco. Our host Carmen Garcia-Baquero was a delight to talk to!

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Marques de Ceceres’ poured a lovely and refreshing 2014 rosé Excellens and several of their trempanillo vintages from 1990, 1994, and 1995. What a treat!

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It was an extremely well orchestrated event. The tapas was brought out on large wood planks and set on top of wine barrels so a large amount of guests could enjoy. I am used to seeing servers come out with trays only to be intercepted by the first party goers the minute they exit the kitchen while the majority of folks never get any food.

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Some of the tapas veggie and pescetarian highlights were the veraduras: grilled vegetables with a romesco sauce by the students of the Cordon bleu, Mussels conserva with Koda farms chick peas, shrimp nudga and the seafood ceviche.

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The paella garden offered something for everyone including the vegetarians.

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I was concerned that the festival would be focused too heavily on meat, which is a specialty in Spain, but this was thankfully not the case.

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I steered clear of the whole body roasted animals and heads – although, everyone else seemed to love it! – and headed to Chef Rich Penny’s clams in a saffron broth! Yum! I also really enjoyed the veggie Paella.

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The desserts were divine and included a decadent turron de ganache by pastry chef Christopher Ford of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and ice cream postres by Coolhaus, everyone’s favorite ice cream truck.

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And to top it all off it was a gorgeous and warm Los Angeles day! Perfect for both red and white sips.

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We were able to take home a souvenir Rioja wine glass, a tote bag, and many great memories.

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Thank you to the Rioja Wine Festival for inviting us to attend your event. A wonderful time was had by all!

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Go here for more information on the Rioja Wine & Tapas Festival.


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