Rioja Redux

Dhane Chesson Rioja Trade Tasting

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a Rioja trade tasting hosted by my friend Dhane Chesson of Vibrant Rioja and held at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.  The event featured over 100 different wines from producers all across the region and was a terrific opportunity to try the new releases that are just arriving in retail stores and popping up on restaurant lists throughout Florida.  It also afforded me an opportunity to reminisce a bit, my recent trip to the “Land of a Thousand Wines” still fresh in my memory.

Artadi wines Many of the top wineries were represented – traditional stalwarts like Marques de Caceres, Bodegas LAN, CVNE and Marques de Riscal were side by side with the more modern interpretations of Finca Allende, Bodegas Artadi and Muga.  Even tiny “boutique” producers like Dinastia Vivanco were on hand which really got my mojo going as I had just visited this unique winery with its distinctive wine museum in the little hamlet of Briones. 

Brad lewis and dhane chesson ABCFWS staff in attendance included our Director of Fine Wine, Brad Lewis, and Shamba Warlick, Wine Consultant at our
Lake Mary location.  We were among the multitude of local industry insiders shuttling from table to table to sample the wines and talk shop with the enthused suppliers, importers and winery reps dutifully pouring their featured selections.  All present were also treated to a nice selection of tapas expertly prepared by the Columbia’s culinary staff. These delicious little morsels of traditional Spanish “finger” foods were ideal to satisfy the appetite and invigorate the palate.  The paella was really good too.  Made me wish to be back in Andalucía.

Vibrant rioja at columbia Tasting table

It was great seeing Dhane as well.  Kudos to her and the rest of the Vibrant Rioja team for making this event worthwhile.  BTW, Vibrant Rioja has a terrific and informative website any Rioja wine fan will enjoy.  Check them out at

Jim Greeley

Wine Supervisor SW Florida

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