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When We Can't Be in Spain

It still makes sense to do what the Spanish do - which is to enjoy the perfect sinergy of some classic marinated olives and a glass or two of Rioja.

If you're a fan of the Wine Spectator Top 100, you'll already be familiar with the number one wine for 2020 from Bodegas Marques de Murrieta, simply referred to by fans as Ygay (pronounced EE-gay). Typically fetching over $100 a bottle and worth every cent, this flagship wine offers its "baby" Rioja Riserva, which delivers amazing quality for under $30. With two years of barrel aging and a year and half in the bottle, the 2016 offers classic Tempranillo notes of black cherry and currant, but with an elegance and finesse indicative of the care that is put into crafting this blend.

94 pts. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

The wine is textured and fine, and it's more elegant than the 2015 I tasted next to it.

91 pts. Wine Spectator

Black olive and forest floor notes frame tangy black cherry and currant flavors in this polished red. Well-integrated tannins and orange peel acidity support the supple texture. Balanced, in a savory style. Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha. Drink now through 2026.

Warm Marinated Olives

Makes 2 cups

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. sherry vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves

1 Bay leaf

½ tsp. fresh orange zest

2 cups unpitted olives (choose a variety of sizes and colors), drained

Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

8 oz. aged Manchego, cut into ½ inch cubes (optional)

3 sprigs rosemary for garnish

Whisk the olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic and red pepper flakes together in a medium bowl. Add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and orange zest. Add the olives and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and discard the Bay leaf.

Pour the mixture into a medium skillet and heat over medium for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the Manchego cubes if using and add the rosemary sprigs to serve.


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