In my humble opinion, a good dinner is not just a selection of good dishes. A good dinner for me is the combination of good company, good service, good food and good wine. As I always say, life is way too short to drink bad wine. I refuse to do that, and this has been my philosophy to choose wines for Canela’s wine list. You might like some of our wines, more than others, but I can guarantee you that all of our wines are genuinely “good” wines. These are wines made with care, only from high quality grapes and that are unique for one reason or another.

Once in a while, I cross paths with a wine that is so over the top, that we take extreme measures to bring it to you at Canela. During the summer of 2013 Mat and I spent almost three weeks traveling in the north of Spain and visited La Rioja, the best known wine making region of Spain.  We had the chance to meet Carlos, a medical doctor that shares his family passion of making good wine, and like every other person in La Rioja, has a vineyard. Carlos and his father (an amazing man in his eighties with an extraordinary ability to make you feel at home) were kind enough to show us their vineyard. After a wonderful walk around their property they took us to one of the most far away plots of the vineyard and pointed at a handful of vines that are used to make “Caudum”, one of the most extraordinary wines I have ever tasted.

This vines are what is called “pie franco”, a term used for vines that are pure, that are not grafted with American rootstock. European rootstocks are susceptible to phylloxera, a terrible pest that killed almost all vines in France and Spain during the 19th century. American rootstocks are resistant to this plague, so it is mandatory in La Rioja today to plant only vines grafted with American rootstocks to prevent this devastating pest. In the past when regulations were not so strict, somebody planted a small number of ungrafted Tempranillo vines in Carlos’ father vineyard, and they have survived until today.

Carlos grows these grapes to make “Caudum”, a true artisan wine of which he only produces a maximum of 3,000 bottles a year. After fermentation, Caudum is aged in French and American oak barrels. The wine is manually bottled without any filtration and is ready to be further aged for another year in the bottle.

Caudum is a bold, full-bodied Tempranillo wine. It is rich, with strong dark berry and currant tones. Concentrated, on the nose and on the palate, dense and silky with smooth and structured tannins. And you will always get a long and surprising finish.

Mat and I fell so much in love with this wine that we convinced our good friends from Bon Vivant Imports to bring this wine to the US exclusively for Canela this year. Considering the quality of this wine, it is probably one of the most amazing values you will find in the San Francisco wine circles. You will be able to enjoy it at Canela starting this month of October.