Cinco De mayo

When I think of Cinco de Mayo, bright festive colors come to mind. The costumes, sombreros, the food, the drinks – every celebratory item is aglow. Reds, yellows, greens, oranges, purples come splashing left and right — similar to the colors of Frida Kahlo’s unique head wraps that were often filled with glorious colorful flowers. In fact, flowers were often illustrated in her paintings, including the painting, “Xochitl”, also known as the “Flower of Life.” (I Will Never Forget You: Frida Kahlo & Nickolas Muray, by Salomon Grimberg, $24.95).
Meanwhile in Berkeley, I keep thinking that rosado season is just about to begin and then we get a bit of rain or cool weather and I think “no, not yet”.  So maybe it is fortunate that most of the 2006 pink wines have yet to reach our shelves. They tell me that the dock workers are on strike, or the wines are stuck in customs, or some other vague shipping issue, but it all boils down to us not having a whole bunch of rosado to sell at the moment.  The few new rosados we do have are delicious and we hear good things about the wines yet to come, so if your personal clock is set to rosado time we have a couple of excellent new wines for you.

Meanwhile, most of us are still enjoying the latest arrivals in the white and red wines.

This week we recap the new rosados that we do have, as well as alerting you to some new wines from Spain and Portugal as well as  a delicious new arrival from Argentina.


New Pink:

Marques de Caceres Rosado 2006 $10.99 At last! We are very excited to offer this, the first Spanish rosado of the season. This refreshingly dry wine displays pale watermelon color, fresh berry aroma and bright citrus fruit character. Composed of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha, this is sure to be as well received on your table as it is in our store.


Amestoi Rubentis 2006 $15.99 Here’s a new one for you…rosado Txakoli. You heard it right. That dry, spritzy Basque white wine that is so refreshing and food friendly now comes in a pink version. This blend of white Hondarribi Zuri and red Hondaribbi Beltza grapes (grown only in the Basque lands) stays true to its Txakoli name with spritzy effervescence and lean minerality. Just a hint of fresh berry fruit sets the pink version apart from the austere grapefruit character of the other Txakoli wines. This is my new standard for warm weather refreshment.


New White:

Con Class 2005 $ 11.99 Verdejo is the primary grape variety in D.O. Rueda in the same way as Albariño is the predominant varietal in D.O. Rías Baixas.  Con Class is a D.O. Rueda wine composed of 80% Verdejo, 10% Viura and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. This crisp, aromatic white wine displays orange blossom aroma and guava fruit character. It would be  a perfect accompaniment to a springtime lunch composed of young vegetables (green peas or fava beans), fresh cheeses (Manchego Tierno, or fresh goat cheese) and egg dishes (Tortilla Española, or quiche). 


Lagar de Cervera 2006 $19.99 This wine is consistently one of the most requested Albariño wines in our store. Produced by the same group that also makes red La Rioja Alta wines, this white wine is produced in a winery located in D.O. Rías Baixas on the Atlantic coast. The new 2006 vintage is so fresh, so pure, so lively that it perfectly embodies the spring season. 


Viña Godeval 2005 $17.99 Back in the day (way back, like, three or four years ago), this was the only D.O. Valdeorras wine made from the Godello grape that most of us had ever seen out here on the west coast. Thing have improved for Godello appreciators and now we carry several of these wines, but Viña Godeval was the first, and it still represents the grape and the region in fine fashion. For those who have not yet tried Viña Godeval, it is a crisp, unoaked white wine that displays grapefruit aroma and flavor along with gentle white peach fruit character balanced by edgy minerality. Superlative refreshment.


New Red:

Equis 2004 $10.99 This V.T. Castilla wine from Bodegas Luan, produced from vineyards not far (roughly 100 miles) from the Mediterranean is a blend of 40% Bobal, 20% Merlot, 10% Syrah, 10% Garnacha, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Tempranillo. Although much of the wine of the region is filtered, the US importer Eric Solomon has requested that it not be done with Equis in order to preserve the concentration and aromas that naturally occur in this bottling. The end result is a wine that combines dry, earthy foundational aromas and flavors with bright, youthful fruit character. Equis is a wine that will pair well with Spanish dishes such as garbanzos and chorizo or the bread thickened traditional game bird and tomato stew called Gazpacho Manchego. 


Vinha da Palestra 2003 $11.99 This is a young Portuguese wine from D.O.C. Douro composed of roughly equal parts Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo by another name) that offers a gentle glimpse at the powerful Douro reds of days gone by. This new style of Douro trades rustic power for poise and balance. The brash tannins are pushed to the background in favor of bright fruit character and lively acidity. Hints of smoky oak are faintly discernable though present in sufficient quantity to remind one of where this wine comes from. Serve Vinha da Palestra with your favorite Portuguese chicken recipe (there are so many) and a big salad.


Navarro Correas Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 $14.99 This hearty Argentine Cabernet attracted our attention for several reasons. For starters, it displays abundant black pepper aroma and dark berry fruit along with well integrated tannins. Also, we have tasted many excellent Argentine wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon lately and this one offers ample pleasure at a great price. Finally, our newest Employee, Jehan, lived in Argentina for many years and this wine reminded him of home.


Pico Madama 2003 $32.99  This is a D.O. Jumilla wine made in limited quantities (approximately 1250 cases) by Marcial Martínez Cruz especially for Guy Anderson, the English importer responsible for Mad Dogs and Englishmen as well as a popular French wine known as ‘Fat Bastard’. Originally intended for the British market, the wine somehow found its way to the US where it has been very well received.

Pico Madama is composed of 55% Monastrell and 45% Petit Verdot. The former was aged in American oak and the latter in French oak for 13 months before being bottled unfiltered. The inky dark violet color is just what one would expect from a Jumilla wine. What distinguishes this bottle is the firm tannic structure and a slight grapeskin-like bitter background note that serve to balance the rich, sweet fruit character.

 Serve Pico Madama with rich, spicy, meaty meals ranging from chili con carne to skirt steak with a pimentón dry rub.

(The Wine Advocate gave the 2004 vintage 93 Points, noting “if you should see the 2003 Pico Madama on the shelf, do not hesitate. It is nearly as good as the 2004”.)


Leva Daniel 2004 $34.99 In 2003, Spanish importer Aurelio Cabastrero and his wife Jenny had their first child, a son they named Daniel. To celebrate, Aurelio worked with some of his producers to create special cuvees named Daniel. Bodegas Bernabe Navarro in D.O. Alicante is one of those producers. It is a small family estate owned by Rafael Bernabe. The 40 hectares are predominantly planted with Monastrell, but they also grow Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The high altitude of the vineyards, the low yields and the lack of rainfall produce grapes with a high level of concentration.

The 2004 Leva Daniel (the second vintage for this wine)is made from 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Tempranillo, 15% Syrah, and 15% Merlot, fermented and aged separately in 50%  new and 50% second generation French oak barrels for twelve months before final blending and bottling.

Inky dark and unfiltered, the wine has deep aromas of blueberries and cassis. Huge spicy fruit flavors of blackberry and gently tannic oak combine for a round, juicy and complex organaleptic experience.

Serve this wine with barbecued pork ribs or a Catalan stew of pork and prunes. 

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