Madeira tasting at The Spanish Table in Mill Valley

Join us in Mill Valley Thursday, August 4th as we taste through the full spectrum of Madeira styles – from dry to sweet. Madeira is probably thebookleast-known category of wine here at the store, which is a shame, as they’re fabulous both at the start of a meal and with desserts. Manny Berk, truly an expert on Madeira, will be on-hand to educate us on these varied and unique wines.  He has re-published Noel Cossart’s, “Madeira – An Island Vineyard”, which details the fascinating history of Madeira with notes on vintages, special tastings, etc. (Tasting fee includes a copy of the book.) We’ll set out a variety of cheeses and other snacks that will pair nicely with the wines. There is a lot of interest in this tasting, and space is limited. For more information or to reserve a spot, please call the Mill Valley store: (415) 388-5043)

Joe’s Wine News:

cono%2042008 Primitivo Quiles Cono 4
This is one of the oldest wineries in Alicante and is famous for their amazing 1948 Fondillon and Raspay.  The Cono 4 is a new, younger monastrell that is very tasty.  Floral blackberry, rose, cracked pepper, and a touch of chocolate on the finish.  Great balance and acidity, to boot. A tremendous value wine at  $11.99.

yunquera2010 Valduero Yunquera Albillo
Best known as a producer of excellent red wines, Bodegas Valduero also makes one white wine from a little known grape called Albillo. Just 2 % of the estate vineyards at Bodegas Valduero are planted to Albillo.

Yunquera is made from 100% Albillo fermented in stainless steel and allowed to rest on its lees to give the wine weight and textural richness. It displays citrus blossom aroma with additional notes of fresh green herbs, petrol and bees wax on a firm mineral foundation. The golden color makes me think of this as a perfect white wine for cooler weather and richer meals. $16.99

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New 2010 Albariño

We are receiving numerous new white wines in the 2010 vintage, among them several fabulous Albariño wines from the coastal Rías Baixas region in Galicia. Here are just a few suggestions to get you going:

pazo_senorans__268502010 Pazo Señorans Albariño

The 2010 Pazo Señorans is a standard setting example for top quality Albariño. The interplay of floral aromas and flinty minerality creates an intriguing and refreshing expression of Galician soil and climate. Hints of tropical fruit, green herbs, and granite dust add to the rich complexity of this wine. An ideal pairing is seafood (of course!).  Try it with a salad topped with broad flakes of ventresca tuna or, the Spanish favorite, some braised pulpo (octopus) with pimenton and potatoes. $22.99


img_0217__765152010 Igrexario de Saiar Albariño

Benito Santos is a small producer from Rias Baixas that focuses on natural winemaking and on highlighting the unique terroir of the region.  All of the wines are certified organic and are hand crafted, using native yeasts and very little manipulation.  The 2010 Igrexario de Saiar Albariño is ripe and balanced, with notes of peaches, green apples, white flowers, and tropical fruit.  It’s soft texture is countered by great acid that keeps the flavors fresh and lively. $17.99

sete cepas 2010 Sete Cepas Albariño

Sete Cepas is a fresh, young 100% Albariño wine that really delivers on quality at a very reasonable price. The most striking feature of this wine is its finely tuned balance of bright, lively fruit character set against a background of flinty minerality. This combination is found in all the best wines from the Rías Baixas region. The mental image it conjures up is of freshly sliced grapefruit served on a bed of crushed seashells. This wine will surely be a contender for most popular white wine of the summer. $13.99

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Cerveza / Cerveja – Beer from Spain and Portugal

The start of summer grilling season is here and cooking over a fire is thirsty work so make sure you have plenty of refreshing Spanish and Portuguese beer on hand. Beer makes a wonderful accompaniment to cooking, even if you have plans to drink wine with the meal (when visiting the Bodegas in Spain the winemakers always say “Before we try the wines, would you like a beer?”). We have a new reach-in refrigerator in Berkeley so now we are keeping all the beer cold and ready to drink. Here are a few suggestions to get you going:

Sagres is the most popular beer in Portugal. This lager style beer is refreshing and crisp. It features predominantly at the various Portuguese festas that take place all across California in the summer and is almost mandatory if you are grilling up some fresh sardines in the Portuguese style. Available in 6 packs of glass bottles or single half liter cans.

Catalunya’s largest brewery, Damm, recently released a new beer designed by Chef Ferran Adria and his team of sommeliers from El Bulli restaurant. The end result of two years of experimentation is Estrella Damm Inedit. Made in a style resembling Belgian wit beers or one of our domestic hefeweizen wheat beers, Inedit is a cloudy amber color with creamy texture and yeasty flavor adding context to lightly spicy notes of citrus peel, coriander and clove. Craft brew lovers will appreciate this unique style of Spanish beer sold in  full sized 750 ml bottles.

Daura is the gluten free version of Estrella Damm. This golden lager style beer, made with barley instead of wheat,  is crisp and refreshing. It currently holds the title of “best gluten free beer in the world”. Try it with your favorite tapas for a refreshing taste of Catalunya. 4 packs of 11.2 oz bottles.

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Vinho Verde: White, Pink, Red (but not green)

We have several distinctive  and fabulous Portuguese wines from the Vinho Verde region located along Portugal’s northern border with Spain. Traditionaly thought of as the home of fun, fizzy,non-vintage picnic wines, Vinho Verde can also make elegant varietal wines in a range of styles including rosé and red wines. Here are a few of our favorites:

2010 Muralhas Rosé Vinho Verde
Adegas de Moncao makes top notch Vino Verde wines that are very popular in Portugal. They make vintage dated wines (unlike the mass market versions that are non-vintage)from high quality fruit. The 2010 Muralhas de Moncao Rose is made from a blend of indigenous varieties including Alvarelhao, Pedral and Vinhao. This refreshing low alcohol (11.5%) rosé displays fresh berry aroma and citrusy fruit character carried along by the same slight effervescence of the traditional white Vinho Verde. $12.99

2009 Afros Vinhao
Here is a fine example of the rare and elusive red Vinho Verde. Afros is made from the Vinhao grape, distinctive for having red flesh as well as red skin. Afros Vinhao is very dark, inky dark, and, true to style, is slightly effervescent. Youthful, cranberry fruit character and assertive grape skin tannins make for a nervy, taut wine with expressive character. $15.99

2008 Dorado Alvarinho
Marcial Dorado makes this excellent 100% Alvarinho Vinho Verde. After searching in vain for the perfect Albarino vineyard in Spain, he crossed the Minho River and bought a vineyard of 70 year old Alvarinho located just above the little town of Melgaco where he also built a small gravity fed (no pumping of wine from tank to tank) winery called Quinta do Feital. The unoaked ‘Dorado’, the flagship of the winery, is rich with melon and pear aromas and flavors. Bright acidity punctuates the ripe fruit character, creating a long, lingering finish. $24.99

Rioja Tasting:

Don’t forget about our tasting in Mill Valley with Cune on May 26th from 6-8 pm!  There are only a few spots left and they’re filling up fast.  Aside from the lineup of their current releases we’ll be tasting through a number of their Gran Reservas from the ’70s and even one from 1928(!!!).

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Rites of Spring

This week marks the dual religious holidays of Passover and Easter. Be it shank bone or roasted leg, lamb will be on the menu at many homes this week. Families will gather, dinner will be served and wine drinking will occur. This is what traditions are all about. To help with your personal spring rituals we have some suggestions for Spanish wines that will be perfectly matched to the season. We can offer you a couple of stellar red kosher wines from the Montsant region in Catalonia. We also have numerous options for wines from Ribera del Duero. They eat abundant quantities of lamb in Ribera del Duero and their wines pair extremely well with lamb in all its guises. Of course we have an ever growing selection of rosé wines from Spain and Portugal too, just in time for springtime sipping. Come let us show you how truly exciting a time it is in our wine department. You are sure to find something you will enjoy.

img_3706__210342005 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib
Capcanes is famed for their Kosher wine Peraj Ha abib, also known as the Flor de Primavera.  We’ve been trying to get it here in CA for over 5 years and finally managed to secure a few bottles of the 2005 vintage.  It received 91 points from Spain’s most respected wine reviewer Penin.  He states that an expressive nose of ripe fruit, wood and kirsch liqueur.  Full-bodied and flavorful with a complex, dense, spicy and complete wine with firm tannins.  This is a serious wine for any wine drinker and without a doubt the best Kosher wine I have ever tried.

capcanes_peraj_petita_kosher__633902007 Capcanes Peraj Petita
The Capcanes Peraj Petita is the younger brother to their famed Flor de Primavera.  This is has brighter red fruit, a hint of purple flowers, a quick shake of cracked pepper and nice mineral notes on the back end. 60% Garnacha and some Tempranillo and Samso (Carinena).


protos_crianza__706002004 Protos Crianza Protos, founded in 1927, was making wine for decades before the Ribera del Duero region even had a name. Recognized by traditionalists as one of the names they remember from back in the day, this winery still produces earthy, expressive wines that express classic Spanish character. Slow maturation in oak casks gives these wines firm foundational structure and great longevity. The 2004 Protos Crianza spent 14 months in French and American oak before bottling, with an additional 12 months in bottle before release. Composed of 100% Tinto Fino from the excellent 2004 vintage, this rich, expressive wine will age beautifully for many years to come, but may be enjoyed right away if allowed to breath a bit before service. Dark berry fruit character adds context to earthy notes of trail dust and saddle leather.

federico_crianza_05__79595
2005 Federico Crianza Federico Fernandez (brother of Alejandro Fernandez of Pesquera fame) runs a small winery in Ribera del Duero. Bodegas Federico uses all estate fruit from 70 hectares of old vine Tinto Fino. Federico Crianza spends 12 months in barrel and several years in bottle before release. The tannins are substantial and chalky when the wine is first opened. With air the wine reveals a core of trail dust, saddle leather, black cherry fruit and an intriguing gamey note on the finish.


img_4082__546782010 Ameztoi Rubentis We have been a champion of this distinctive pink Txakoli since its introduction a few years ago. This Basque wine, made in the town of Getaria along the coast near San Sebastian is lean and mineral with just a whiff of unripe strawberry aroma. This tart, spritzy rosado is much in demand and hard to find in retail shops. Our supply is very limited, making Ameztoi Rubentis a short lived opportunity, so act now or be disappointed.

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Time Change

This weekend marks the return of Daylight Savings Time. Now is the moment to celebrate the return of evening sunshine and the impending arrival of Spring. Reset your internal wine clock with a glass of fresh, bright Spanish white wine and toast the upcoming vernal equinox.
While best known for red wines,  it is no longer a secret that Spain makes fabulous white wines too. We continue to find new and interesting choices among the ever growing selection of  vino blanco coming out of numerous regions spread across the Iberian peninsula. We just posted a handful of spectacular Spanish white wines on our website. These wines represent a broad swath of Northern Spain, from the Atlantic coast, up through Basque country, across the Spanish Meseta and finishing up in Catalonia near Barcelona. These crisp, refreshing wines are eminently food friendly and also delicious by the glass with no further accompaniments other than a bit of sunshine and some good conversation.

albet_i_noya_xarel_lo__102982009 Albet i Noya Xarel-lo Classic
is a bright, refreshing Spanish white wine from the Penedes region in Catalonia. This wine features the Xarel-lo grape most often used in sparkling Cava. Albet i Noya makes this still version of a varietal Xarel-lo from from old vine parcels of Xarel-lo, grown organically. Floral aromas blend well with lemon and white peach fruit character. Background minerality and light texture add further context to this young white wine that pairs well with young cheeses, marinated vegetables and cold seafood salads.


pazo_senorans__26850The 2009 Pazo Senorans Albarino
is a standard setting example of top quality Albarino. The interplay of floral aromas and flinty minerality creates an intriguing and refreshing expression of Galician soil and climate. Hints of tropical fruit, green herbs, and granite dust add to the rich complexity of this wine. An ideal pairing is seafood (of course!).  Try it with a salad topped with broad flakes of ventresca tuna or, the Spanish favorite, some pulpo (octopus) with pimenton.


urki__693382009 Urki Txakolina
is a deliciously refreshing white wine from the Basque country. Crisp, bright, white Txakolina wine with a bit of residual spritzy effervescence, abundant grapefruit/lemon notes and a firm mineral foundation is what everybody drinks while wandering through the old part of San Sebastian snacking on Pintxos of many varieties. Urki is an excellent example of this traditional wine. It refreshes the palate and awakens the appetite.


img_0229__633432007 Pecina Blanco
is a wonderfully traditional white Rioja. Hermanos Pecina are one of only a handful of producers left in Rioja who produce their wines in this very traditional style.  Made from 100% Viura, the juice is fermented in stainless steel but then allowed to age for a few years in bottle before release.  The extra time gives it a bit more richness along with notes of dried tropical fruit and herbs.  Totally unique and totally delicious.  Fans of the Lopez de Heredia whites take notice!

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Old Riojas

We just received a small batch of some of Rioja’s most delicious Gran Reservas.  Four outstanding vintages of Montecillo’s Gran Reserva are now available as a set for $130. The owners of the Spanish Table have called this collection “One of the best values we’ve come across since we opened The Spanish Table”. The full set makes a remarkable gift (say, for a 50th birthday…).  We are also offering them individually.
These traditional, clasically styled wines may be enjoyed right away or cellared for years to come but they will sell out before we can get them on the web site so to order, call us at 510-548-1383.

1981 - Reg $95, Now $50:  Impressive liveliness in this 30 year old wine.  Notes of balsamic, dried cherry and cigar box – elegant with silky tannins.
1982 - Reg $100, Now $60:  Exhibits nuance and impressive complexity.  Vibrant and savory, with notes of smoke, mushroom, leather.
1985 – Reg $80, Now $45:  Seemed to be the lightest wine of the four, but it gradually opened up with decanting and was even better the following day.  Make sure to decant this an hour before enjoying.
1991 - Reg $75, Now $40 – Still very young with expressive bright fruit and beautiful taut balance.  Plenty of life ahead for this wine.

Portuguese lunch & wine tasting

Sunday March 20th, 2011 2 pm

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Come spend a Sunday afternoon in the country at La Salette Portuguese restaurant in Sonoma where chef Manuel Azevedo will prepare a traditional meal of Sopas (braised beef in a minted broth with cabbage, bread and sweet potato), a traditional food of local Portuguese festas. An appetizer precedes the Sopas followed by  a traditional Portuguese dessert.
The meal is accompanied by a tasting of four Portuguese wines. Notes on all the wines and the food will be available during the lunch as well as the opportunity to buy the wines through The Spanish Table after the event at discounted prices.
Registration and details can be found here:
http://sopas-sunday-in-sonoma.eventbrite.com/

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