Monthly Archives: August 2007

Big Reds

At The Spanish Table we are firm believers in eating and drinking according to the seasons. Throughout the summer we have focused our attention on the cool, refreshing white and rosado wines that go so well with summer meals as well as the bold, youthful red wines that are perfect accompaniments to meat on the grill. 

As we move into late summer we start to bring in more hearty, mature red wines as well as richer, more aromatic whites. 

This week we have some new wines that fit these descriptions perfectly. Like the first robin of spring these wines are harbingers of the season to come. It may not feel like it yet in the Bay Area, and we still have plenty of pink/white/red summertime wines, but as the season progresses we will continue to shift our focus toward these more autumnal flavors and characteristics.

Meanwhile, our friends at Happy Quail Farms have been delivering fresh Piquillo peppers to us for the first time. The search for a source for fresh Piquillos has been something of a grail quest for me over the last few years ever since trying one that our store manager (and food newsletter editor) Caty Salas grew in her yard in Oakland. I was so impressed with this homegrown version of the classic Navarra regional specialty that I made a video to commemorate the event.

Now, with access to the plump, crunchy fresh Piquillos from Happy Quail, I get to expand my repertoire of pepper recipes. Here is the recipe for a little tapa that I served to visitors last weekend.

 

Kevin’s Roasted Fresh Piquillo Peppers with Ventresca Tuna

Serves 4 as an appetizer

 

½ lb. fresh Piquillo peppers (5-6 peppers)

1- 4 0z. can Ortiz Ventresca Tuna

3 tablespoons Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Toro Albala PX Vinegar

1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley, minced

1 teaspoon sea salt

 

Char the peppers briefly over a flame to blister the skin. Let the peppers cool and remove the blackened skin along with the stem end and the seeds. Slice the peppers into thin strips. Drain the tuna and gently separate the pieces into big flakes. Arrange the peppers in a pile on a serving plate and top with the flaked tuna. Drizzle on the oil and vinegar. Sprinkle parsley over the top and salt to taste.

 

Cerveza:

Skol Beer $10.99 In our continuing quest for interesting beer we recently started selling some rare and tasty Argentine micro brewery ales. Based on the success of those new products, this week we are bringing in one of Brazil’s most popular beers.  This crisp, refreshing lager is said to induce sentimental nostalgia among the local Brazilian population. I like the 11.2 ounce bottles. They remind me of the diminutive cañas (small glasses of draft beer) served in Spain.

 

Vino Blanco:

Versatus 2006 $12.99 Galician white wines from the Ribeiro region have not gotten as much attention as the Albariño wines from neighboring Rías Baixas. Versatus is a D.O. Ribeiro wine composed of equal parts Treixadura, Palomino, Godello and Torrontes. The flinty, mineral element is predominant in this crisp, light bodied wine.

 

Santiago Ruiz 2006 $17.99 The newest vintage of this bright, aromatic white wine from Galicia is a blend of estate grown Albariño, Treixadura and Loureiro, vinified completely in stainless steel. Pale lemon color with aromas of citrus blossom and tropical fruits. Crisp acidity and background minerality add balance to the wine and maintain the refreshing quality that makes this such a perfect wine for pairing with light appetizers and seafood.

 

Do Ferreiro 2006 $24.99 The new 2006 vintage of this 100% Albariño wine reminds us of why this producer retains almost cult status among Spanish white wine appreciators. The various components of this wine (color, texture, aroma, flavor) are precise and balanced. The gently perfumed floral aspect never overwhelms the citrusy fruit character which in turn balances the firm minerality. An excellent wine for a special meal.

 

Vino Tinto:

Vina Herminia Tempranillo 2005 $11.99 Located in the Rioja Baja subzone of D.O.C. Rioja, at the southeastern end of the region, Viña Herminia belongs to the Luis Caballero group of companies, also owners of Lustau in Jerez. This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from a combination of estate grown fruit as well as fruit purchased from the local coop. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel (no oak barrels) helps retain the fresh berry fruit character of the wine. Dark garnet colored, Viña Herminia displays ripe berry aroma and abundant, youthful fruit character.

 

Convento Oreja Roble 2005 $15.99 This young Ribera del Duero region wine, fashioned from the local Tinto del País grape and aged for 4 months in oak is structured and ripe while retaining a certain youthfulness. Dark berry aromas and flavors with gentle tannins and background minerality.

 

Corpus del Muni Roble 2005 $17.99 A blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Garnacha produced just outside of Toledo in central Spain. Dark garnet color with aromas of berries and spicy oak. Black cherry fruit character with earthy tannins. A few months of barrel age lends complexity to the blend without stripping the final product of its youthful demeanor.

 

Termes 2005 $26.99 The Toro region wines from Bodegas Numanthia Termes have become very popular among our customers who appreciate concentrated, powerful red wines. The more exclusive Numanthia and Termanthia (the latter rated a perfect score of 100 by The Wine Advocate in the 2004 vintage) have already sold out in their previous vintage, but the newest release is this, the youngest of their wines. Sourced from small plots of old vine Tinto de Toro and aged in oak for 16 months before bottling, this rich, structured, tannic red allows those of us on a budget to taste at least something from this highly rated producer. Give this one lots of air and serve with wild boar or grilled buffalo steak.

 

Alonso del Yerro 2005 $35.99  This wine is made from 100% Tempranillo sourced from the family owned 65 acre vineyard. Aged for 12 months in oak before bottling, this wine captures the essence of the Ribera del Duero region. Dark garnet color, rich fruit character and firmly tannic structure are what one looks for in wines from this region. Alonso del Yerro expresses all of these attributes in a finely balanced offering that possesses both elegance (not a common descriptor in this region) and precision.

 

Mas de Can Blau 2004 $42.99 We love the inky dark, juicy, ripe Can Blau from D.O. Montsant and so do you. It is so popular that we have trouble keeping it in stock. Now this producer has released a more mature version produced from the fruit of their oldest vineyards and aged for 20 months in oak before bottling. This is a big, powerful red that will age well for years to come. Mas de Can Blau has been well reviewed by both Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Both publications awarded the wine 92 Points.

Josh Raynolds (IWC) wrote: “Deep, saturated red. Explosively perfumed nose features exotic scents of blackberry, cassis, cola, sandalwood, patchouli and smoked meat. Broad, deep and remarkably sweet, with lush dark fruit flavors showing remarkable depth and purity. Intense mineral accents and firm tannins add structure and precision.

Jay Miller (WA) said: “The 2004 Mas de Can Blau, the first vintage of this cuvee, comes from the estate’s oldest Cariñena, Garnacha, and Syrah vines. It received malolactic fermentation in barrel, was aged for 20 months in new French oak, and bottled unfiltered. Dark ruby/purple-colored, it offers a flamboyant nose of pain grille, scorched earth, tar, and kirsch. Full-bodied with a supple texture, the wine has layers of sweet fruit, nicely integrated oak, tannin, and acidity, in its racy personality. Drink this outgoing wine over the next 8-10 years.”

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Filed under beer, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

Back to School?

It’s that time again.

Hey, wait a minute.  Is it really “that time again” already? I keep flipping the pages of my wall calendar back and forth between August and September trying fruitlessly to shake loose a few more weeks of summer and wondering where the days went.

Yes, it really is “that time again”, arriving a bit early this year, but the changes in Berkeley (a college town at heart) are already evident.  University professors and staff are gearing up for the fall semester. Campus residence halls are abuzz with activity as new students arrive laden with personal possessions. In the morning, grade school and high school students trudge past my window on their way from home to class and back again in the afternoon, dragging rolling luggage filled with books and homework behind them. In the early evening my local park swells with crowds of young boys at football practice, sprinting back and forth in unison to the short repeated bursts from the coach’s whistle. No question about it, school is back in session.

Wine, of course, knows no season, and while some wines are better with summer meals and others are more suited to winter fare, new and delicious wines (and beer) continue to arrive at The Spanish Table year round.  

In case you have been elsewhere lately and may have missed out on some of the recent new products at The Spanish Table we are playing catch up this week with some highlights from our recent acquisitions.

Here too is an easy plan, not even a recipe, for a simple meal that needs no cooking and tastes best served on an overturned packing box or on the tailgate of your truck.

Welcome back everybody!

 

Kevin’s Moving Day Spanish Picnic

(Serves 4)

 

1 Palacios Spanish dry cured chorizo

¼ lb. sliced Redondo Iglesias Serrano ham

½ lb. Don Alonso Aged Manchego Cheese

1 jar The Spanish Table Lemon Olives

1 jar Matiz Piparras pickled green peppers

1 jar Ferrer Gazpacho

1 sml.  Arte Oliva Ali Oli

1 large bottle Vichy Catalan sparkling mineral water

1 bottle Muga Rosado wine

 

Slice the chorizo thinly on the bias. Tear the pre-sliced ham into rustic bite sized bits. Slice the cheese into thin triangles. Splash the olives and peppers out into a bowl, mixed together.  The gazpacho is ready to go, just serve it chilled with bread and Ali Oli on the side. Crisp, cold rosado and salty, sparkling mineral water satisfy your thirst. ¡Salud!

 

Cerveza:

Jerome Cerveza Roja $4.99

Jerome Cerveza Negra $4.99

Named after the family German shepherd (who’s profile is featured prominently on the label) Jerome Brewing Company is a pioneer in the production of small batch (and I mean really small, as in 5 barrels a day) Argentine ales. Using pure Andean water and top quality ingredients, this small company shows that Argentina’s wine renaissance is spreading to the beer market too. We currently carry the Roja, a bold, hoppy ale that reminds me of some of our local bay Area brews, as well as the Negra, a dark and creamy version of a British stout.

 

Vino Rosado:

Muga Rosado 2006 $12.99 From one of our favorite D.O.C. Rioja wineries, Bodegas Muga, comes one of the best rosado wines of the summer. This pale, salmon colored blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo and Viura makes a wonderful companion to lighter food as well as being supremely refreshing on a hot afternoon.

 

Artazuri Rosado 2006 $12.99 This dry rosado is made from 100% Garnacha grapes grown in the high altitude vineyards of D.O. Navarra, the traditional home of Spanish rosado. This perennial customer favorite displays gentle fresh berry scent along with a bright citrus fruit character. The finely detailed aromas and flavors blend effortlessly in this excellent summertime wine.

 

Vino Blanco:

Avinyó Vi D’Agulla 2006 $12.99 This lightly effervescent white wine made from Petit Grain Muscat is floral and aromatic like a Moscatel, but the flavor is dry and grapefruity. The assertive bubbles lift the scent and give the wine a lively, fresh character. The prickly effervescence is what gives the wine its name. Serve Vi D’Agulla as a welcoming cocktail to your dinner guests and watch the smiles spread with each sip.

 

Oreka 2006 $19.99 Our newest Txakoli wine from the Basque lands in Northern Spain is a stunner. Oreka (a Basque word that roughly translates as ‘balance’) is made from the indigenous Hondaribbi Zuri grape.  Richer and more abundantly fruity than the rather lean and mineral wines that are typical of this windswept coastal region, Oreka displays slight spritzy effervescence and a firm mineral foundation overlaid with flavors of grapefruit and quince.

 

Uriondo Txakoli 2006 $14.99 This wine is from D.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina, near Bilbao. Unlike the coastal D.O. Getariako Txakolina wines that are made from the Hondaribbi Zuri grape, Uriondo is composed of a blend of 70% Mune Mahatsa and  30% Txori Mahatsa (say that five times fast). Less spritzy than most Txakoli wines, with riper fruit character and less assertive minerality.

 

Abad Dom Bueno Godello 2006 $16.99 D.O. Bierzo is known primarily as a red wine region, but this Bierzo region white wine is made from the local Godello grape that is more common in neighboring D.O. Valdeorras.  This yellow gold colored wine is fermented in temperature controlled tanks that preserve all the fresh citrus and melon aromas that are typical of the Godello grape. Bright acidity adds to the refreshing quality that makes this such a perfect accompaniment to composed salads, pasta or poultry as well as a full range of seafood.

 

Soalheiro Vinho Verde 2006 $21.99 Typically, Vinho Verde is light, spritzy and simple non-vintage white Portuguese wine. These days, as people discover the joys of Vinho Verde we are seeing more and more higher priced wines from this region. Soalheiro is a vintage wine produced from the Alvarinho (Albariño in Spain = Alvarinho in Portugal) grape. Well known in Portugal as a top shelf Vinho Verde, this wine is just starting to find a market here in the USA. Flinty mineral background lays a foundation for light floral aroma and bright citrus fruit character. This finely detailed and multi-layered wine cries out for choriço and clams, salt cod and potatoes or other such traditional Portuguese fare.

 

Vino Tinto:

Carro Tinto 2006 $10.99 The new vintage of this popular red wine from D.O. Yecla has just arrived. Composed of a blend of a blend of 50% Monastrell, 20% Syrah, 20% Tempranillo and 10% Merlot, this easy drinking red will add spice and contrast to your next backyard cookout. Dark, bold and fruity with intriguing flinty background flavor.

 

Arbanta 2005 $10.99 An excellent young Rioja produced from Organic fruit.  Recently rated 89 Points by The Wine Advocate, Jay Miller reviewed the wine, saying “The 2005 Biurko Gorri Arbanta offers superb value, among the best in my Spanish tastings. It is 100% Tempranillo, tank fermented and aged. Medium ruby in color, it exhibits remarkable aromatic complexity for its price point with cherries, red currants, and spice in evidence. The wine is elegant, balanced, and fruity right through the lengthy finish. Drink it over the next 1-3 years.

 

Cune Crianza 2004 $17.99 If you go to Rioja and walk into any small bar and request a glass of vino tinto, chances are you will be served this wine. This blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo is aged for two years (12 months in American oak barrels and 12 months in the bottle) before sale. The 2004 vintage shows dark garnet color with black cherry fruit character and balanced oaky tannins that combine to create a picture perfect example of crianza Rioja.

 

Can Blau 2005 $17.99 This D.O. Montsant wine has been getting lots of positive feedback from customers.  Josh Raynolds reviewed this blend of 50% Cariñena, 35% Syrah and 15% Garnacha wine for Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar and rated it 90 Points. His description matches mine, but his wording is better. He said: “Bright ruby. Focused, fresh and brisk on the nose, with energetic cherry and candied licorice aromas. Intense mineral notes add complexity and depth to the explosive blackberry and cherry fruit, with notes of candied violet and rose coming up on the back. Finishes with superb intensity and length. An excellent value, and built for cellaring.

 

Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec 2003 $21.99  From one of the oldest wineries in Argentina we recently received this 100% Malbec wine sourced from estate vineyards located in the prestigious Lujan de Cuyo district of Mendoza.  This finely balanced wine displays the dark color and ripe aroma of a typical Malbec, but the mid-weight tannins and the multi-layered aromas and flavors here are sophisticated and well tuned. This is one of the best Malbec wines I have tasted so far.

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Filed under Argentina, beer, Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, White Wine

Montecillo and More

“Where should I start?” is a common question shoppers ask when faced with literally hundreds of choices in our wine department.

We are proud of our unique selections at The Spanish Table, but newcomers can get overwhelmed by the sheer number of wines and other products, few of them familiar to those who grew up outside of Spain. Even our expatriate Spaniards can find unique and unfamiliar wines from the new wineries that are popping up all across Spain like mushrooms after a spring rain.

So, for those of you who are still wondering what the big deal is with all these Spanish wines you keep hearing about, continue reading (actually, everyone should continue reading, even the true Spanish wine aficionados, because the excellent values may well get you to re-try an old favorite or two).

If you are searching for a new favorite white wine, look no further than our newest Basque Txakoli or this week’s latest Galician Albariño. If your appetite yearns for a new wine to liven up a traditional back yard cookout, then you owe it to yourself to try the new vintage of one of our more popular young red wines from D.O. Yecla on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. For an excellent introduction to the wines of Rioja, check out our new promotion featuring the wines of Bodegas Montecillo. 

Located in the Rioja Alta town of Fuenmayor, Bodegas Montecillo has roots that stretch back to the early glory days of Rioja. Founded in 1874, this winery has crafted traditional Rioja wines for over a century. Now owned by the large Grupo Osborne (the same Osborne that decorates the Spanish roadside with immense cutout silhouettes of their trademark black bull), Montecillo continues to make young white and aged red wines of consistently excellent quality thanks to the tireless efforts of Maria Martinez Sierra.

At her post for over thirty years, Señora Martinez Sierra is a very talented and well respected winemaker. She buys the best fruit (Montecillo owns no vineyards) each season for the wines, elaborating all the red wines with varying amounts of time in French oak barrels. Her preference for bought, rather than estate grown fruit allows her to skip a vintage if the primary material is not up to her quality standards. She uses only French oak to age the wines as she feels it gives a more balanced character to the wine than American oak.  She insists that Montecillo red wines are all 100 % Tempranillo, unblended with any other varieties, a rare practice in a region where this primary grape  can be a bit thin and pallid without a boost from darker and riper varieties such as Mazuelo, Graciano or Garnacha, the traditional blending grapes of the region.

Montecillo wines are excellent examples of delicious and well priced Rioja. For a few weeks we will be selling the remaining supply of the current vintages at significantly reduced prices.

To accompany these wines I suggest a typical regional dish known as Patatas A La Riojana.

 

Patatas A La Riojana (adapted from My Kitchen In Spain by Janet Mendel, $14.99)

(serves 4 as a first course)

 

3 pounds potatoes (Russet, Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn work well)

¼ cup Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 medium sized onion

1 medium sized green pepper

1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoon salt

1 lb. Doña Juana brand Chorizo Riojano

2 cups water

 

Peel the potatoes and break them into medium sized chunks by inserting a fork and twisting (breaking the potatoes rather than slicing releases more starch and gives an interesting texture).

Dice pepper and onion into ½ inch pieces.

Heat olive oil in earthenware olla (lidded soup pot).

Add onion and pepper to the pot with 1 teaspoon of salt, Fry for a few minutes until softened.

Slice chorizo into bite sized pieces and add to pot. Fry Chorizo until slightly browned.

Add the chunked potatoes, water, paprika, remaining salt and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook slowly until potatoes are fully cooked and starting to fall apart. There should be enough liquid left to create a starchy broth.

Turn off heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Adjust salt to taste. Remove bay leaf before serving.

 

 

Vino Blanco:

Montecillo Blanco 2005 $7.99 (was $10.99) Pale yellow with green reflections. 100% Viura grapes (the traditional white grape of Rioja) fermented without the use of oak barrels. Abundant melon and pear aroma and flavor, crisp acidity and background notes of tarragon and beeswax.

 

Oreka 2006 $19.99 Our newest Txakoli wine from the Basque lands in Northern Spain is a stunner. Oreka (a Basque word that roughly translates as ‘balance’) is made from the indigenous Hondaribbi Zuri grape.  Richer and more abundantly fruity than the rather lean and mineral wines that are typical of this windswept coastal region, Oreka displays slight spritzy effervescence and a firm mineral foundation overlaid with flavors of grapefruit and quince.

 

Nessa Albariño 2006 $14.99 Our newest Albariño is from Adegas Gran Vinum in D.O. Rías Baixas on the Atlantic coast of Spain. Those of you who are familiar with the varietal will be happy to find such a well priced offering and those who have yet to try this refreshing Spanish white wine will be excited by the crisply bright flavors. Josh Raynolds recently reviewed this wine for Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. He summed the wine up nicely.

Light yellow. Spicy citrus and pear aromas are brightened by white flowers and ginger. Racy, precise and pleasingly bitter, with strong lemon zest and pear skin flavors. This tightly wound albarino shows a lively, persistent finish. A very good value and a great choice for summer guzzling.  88 points.

 

Vino Tinto:

Carro Tinto 2006 $10.99 The new vintage of this popular red wine from D.O. Yecla has just arrived. Composed of a blend of a blend of 50% Monastrell, 20% Syrah, 20% Tempranillo and 10% Merlot, this easy drinking red will add spice and contrast to your next backyard cookout. Dark, bold and fruity with intriguing flinty background flavor.

 

Montecillo Crianza 2003 $8.99 (was $11.99) Made from 100% Tempranillo fruit, aged for 12 months in French oak before bottling. Dark ruby color with initial oaky aroma that gives way to rich cherry and blackberry fruit character. Savory background flavors of minerals and tannic oak.

 

Montecillo Reserva 2001 $15.99 (was $20.99) Made from 100% Tempranillo fruit, aged for 18 months prior to bottling. Dark garnet color with ruby reflections. Bold aromas of black cherry and minerals. Smooth, elegant texture. Flavors of plum and blackberry. An opulent wine from an excellent vintage. Mature and ready to drink now, but with cellaring potential for at least 3 – 8 more years.

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Filed under Recipes, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

Ca N’Estruc for Everyone!

In our never ending search for new wines at great prices we sometimes come across interesting wine stories that are big news in other parts of the world but are not necessarily on everyone’s minds here in our corner of the globe.

The Ca N’Estruc wines from Can Dez Mas have not yet made a significant impression on many American wine drinkers, but are very much on the minds and in the glasses of the Spanish press and public.

The winery and its 65 acre vineyard, located near Barcelona in a little village called Esparraguera, date back to the 19th century. In 1996, owner Francisco Marti along with celebrated winemaker Álvaro Palacios and Barcelona wine merchant Quim Vila re-tooled the blends and lowered the prices to attract the local market. The wines were well received by the public as well as the press and now are well known throughout Spain. The Ca N’Estruc red and white wines are just becoming available here in our market. These intriguing blends are delicious, well made and well priced.

Also, this week we offer some new wines in our ‘under $15’ section as well as some new choices for our ‘house wine’ selections. In case you missed our earlier description of these fabulous values, it goes something like this:

We have created a special section of youthful, traditionally styled wines (like what you would get in a typical Spanish bar) that retail for $6.99. These wines don’t demand too much attention, don’t cost too much yet are versatile and flavorful. They are cheap enough to buy by the case, but good enough to drink on a regular basis.  Individually these wines are already inexpensive. The standard 10% discount for full case purchases would normally bring the price down to $6.30 per bottle.  With these particular wines we will offer a special discounted price of $5.99 per bottle with 12 bottle purchase.

 

Vino Blanco:

Palacio Menade RS Cuvee 2005 $6.99 Our latest ‘house wine’ is this D.O. Rueda region white, a blend of 80% Verdejo, 15% Viura and 5% Sauvignon Blanc. Bold floral aroma encounters bright acidity to create a citrusy wine with flinty background. Excellent value!

 

Ca N’Estruc Blanc 2006 $9.99 A crisp, herbaceous blend of 83% Xarel-lo, 12% Macabeo and 5% Chardonnay. The Peñin Guide said this about the 2005 vintage. “Straw colored. Fruity nose with musky notes and hints of fresh fruit, herbs. Powerful palate, fresh and flavoursome, with excellent varietal character, good acidity. 87 Points.” (I should mention that a score of 87 in Spain is like a score of 90 here)

 

Ca N’Estruc Idoia Blanco 2006 $16.99 We do not carry many barrel fermented white wines. This one is definitely worth investigating.  The blend here is 40% Xarel-lo, 30% Macabeo and 30% Chardonnay. The Peñin guide described the 2005 vintage as “Straw coloured. Fresh, fruity and smoky nose, elegant, fragrant herbs (lavender, apple). Fresh palate with fruity and varietal expression, flavoursome with bitter traces, alcohol and acidity well balanced. 91 points.”  I didn’t know that apple was an herb, but they sure do like this wine, as do we.

 

Artadi Orobio Blanco 2005 $10.99 (was $14.99) This delicious dry white Rioja is now an excellent value as well. Made from the Viura grape, this lean citrusy white displays aroma of fresh herbs and a firm mineral foundation.  An excellent wine to serve with cheese.

 

Vino Tinto:

Tikalo Rubens 2005 $9.99 was $11.99 This traditional unfiltered Tempranillo displays youthful character and ripe fruit as well a dry earthy quality that is typical of the La Mancha region where it is produced. Serve Rubens Tempranillo with burgers on the grill to turn the simplest of meals into a sublime experience.

 

Luan Equis $8.99 was $10.99 This wine is an unfiltered blend of 40% Bobal, 20% Merlot, 10% Syrah, 10% Garnacha, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Tempranillo. Equis combines dry, earthy foundational aromas and flavors with bright, youthful fruit character. An excellent, very Spanish tasting bargain.

 

Ca N’Estruc Idoia Negre 2004 $16.99 A blend of several grapes including 50% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% mixed Petit Verdot, Tanat and Merlot. Structured and spicy with wild herb aromas and flavors. The Peñin Guide awarded this wine 91 Points (few wines in the Peñin Guide ever get over 90 Points). They said “Intense cherry. Aroma with good fruit expression (fresh fruit, varietal character) and fine toasty notes. Medium-bodied, fresh palate with fine toasty flavours and excellent acidity, easy drinking, elegant and very fruity with toasty oak.” Oh, and did we mention toasty?

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Filed under Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

What’s New?

I’m so glad you asked. Even though we are now in August, a month when many of us will head to the beach/mountains/countryside for a last bit of rest and relaxation before the end of summer, here at The Spanish Table we are continuing to search out new and delicious wines from Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina.

We have a new Txakoli from the Basque lands, and new Albariño from Galicia. The latest vintage of one of our favorite Rioja wines is now available as are several celebrated Malbec wines from Argentina, a great Carmenère from Chile and the most prestigious of Portuguese red wines.  

We are having a hard time figuring out what to call this growing collection of wines that encompass such a wide range of styles and nationalities. So far we’ve come up with ‘Iberian influenced’ as a catch all phrase to describe our wine selection, but we are still looking for something that rolls off the tongue a bit easier. How about ‘iberesco’?

Well, clearly I’m just making stuff up now, but I welcome suggestions from any of you that can think up something appropriate.

Meanwhile, before you decamp for somewhere other than home, please come see all our new wines and pick up a few for your trip. Chances are there won’t be a Spanish Table where you are going.

Also, make sure to pack something to eat because you never know what you’ll find for food on the road, in the air or over the water. Here is a recipe for one of my favorite travel snacks:

 

Kevin’s “Don’t make Me Stop This Car” Tuna Sandwich

(Serves 2 adults or four kids)

 

1 large can Spanish Bonito del Norte Tuna

6 Piparra peppers, destemmed and roughly chopped

4 Piquillo peppers, sliced in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

1 stalk of celery, diced

½ teaspoon Toro Albala Vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

2 soft sandwich rolls (‘twinkles’ from Acme Bakery are a personal favorite sandwich roll)

 

Drain the tuna only half way. Put the tuna and the remaining juice in a bowl and flake with a fork. Mix in mustard, celery, chopped Piparra peppers, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Slice rolls in half lengthwise. Divide tuna mixture evenly and spread on the two rolls.

Layer sliced eggs and piquillo peppers on top of tuna mixture.

Close up sandwiches and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. As the sandwiches sit, the bread absorbs the moisture from the tuna and makes the whole thing taste better. Serve after a few hours of travel time.

 

 

Vino Blanco:

Uriondo Txakoli 2006 $14.99 The Txakoli continues to flow unabated a The Spanish Table. This new arrival is from D.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina, near Bilbao. Unlike the coastal D.O. Getariako Txakolina wines that are made from the Hondaribbi Zuri grape, Uriondo is composed of a blend of 70% Mune Mahatsa and  30% Txori Mahatsa (say that five times fast). Less spritzy than most Txakoli wines, with riper fruit character and less assertive minerality.

 

Aforado 2005 $11.99 In D.O. Rías Baixas, the Albariño grape is King, but in the O Rosal sub-zone (where Aforado comes from) other grapes such as Treixadura and Loureira also share center stage. The end result of all this blending is a white wine with more peach and pear aromas and flavors than the typical flinty, citrusy Albariño wines. At this price, Aforado makes an excellent choice for buying by the case.

 

Mesache Blanco 2006 $11.99 We just received the new vintage of this unique white wine from D.O. Somontano. The blend here is 35% late-harvested Macabeo, 35% Gewurztraminer, and 30% Chardonnay. This rich, floral wine displays abundant melon and pear notes. The bold, fruity, multi-layered style will appeal to Riesling lovers, and would pair well with scallops or other rich seafood.

 

Vino Tinto:

Cune Crianza 2004 $17.99 If you go to Rioja and walk into any small bar and request a glass of vino tinto, chances are you will be served this wine. This blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo is aged for two years (12 months in American oak barrels and 12 months in the bottle) before sale. The new 2004 vintage shows dark garnet color with black cherry fruit character and balanced oaky tannins that, combined together, create a picture perfect example of crianza Rioja.

 

Clos de los Siete 2005 $16.99 This is a high profile project in Argentina that combines the talents of seven celebrated French winemakers, with Michel Rolland (yes, that Michel Rolland) at the helm to create a blend from all these neighboring wineries. The individual winemakers will eventually bottle their own wines, but as the vines are still quite young, the Clos de los Siete blend is the one currently available product from this very substantial group. The blend here is 50% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah. The wine is poised between a big, ripe, typically Argentine style and a leaner, more terroir driven French style, which is exactly what you would expect from these winemakers working in this region.

 

Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec 2003 $21.99  From one of the oldest wineries in Argentina we recently received this 100% Malbec wine sourced from estate vineyards located in the prestigious Lujan de Cuyo district of Mendoza.  This finely balanced wine displays the dark color and ripe aroma of a typical Malbec, but the mid-weight tannins and the multi-layered aromas and flavors here are sophisticated and well tuned. This is one of the best Malbec wines I have tasted so far.

 

Secreto Carmenere 2006 $9.99 The Secreto wines are mid-tier products from the Viu Manent winery in Chile and are intended to express varietal character. The Secreto Carmenere is dark colored, ripe and fruity. A bit of spicy jalapeño pepper flavor is typical of Carmenere grapes and shows up here as a back note. Serve with boldly flavored food. Mexican tortillas and salsa with grilled skirt steak would be just about perfect.

 

Casa Ferreirinha Barca Velha 1999 $160.00 (extremely limited, only 6 bottles in stock) We have been looking for this wine for a long time now, and are very proud to offer it to you. Catherine in our Seattle store just wrote about Barca Velha and she did such a good job that I am shamelessly cutting and pasting her notes into my newsletter (thanks Catherine). She said “Barca Velha is the [Vega Sicilia] Unico of Portugal, only at half the price. While I knew that the winery was extremely selective about their releases, I was shocked to find out that there have only been 15 bottlings since the winery’s inception in 1952!!! Barca Velha is traditionally a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Barroca from three of Ferreira’s vineyards in the Douro Superior. Ferreira’s winemaker was sent to Bordeaux in the early 1950s to decide on a table wine style and he chose the long aging style of Chateau Lafite Rothschild so this is made on that model.  This wine is only made in vintages with the potential of greatness.  It is aged for 7 years in barrel and bottle and then tasted to decide if the vintage is great enough to “declare” a Barca Velha.  Ferreira’s Board of Directors has to be unanimous in their decision before a vintage can be declared. Declarations average 2 to 3 per decade and this has traditionally been considered the greatest wine form Portugal.

Additionally, Mark Squires of Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate recently tasted this vintage of Barca Velha and rated the wine at 94 Points. He said “The 1999 Barca Velha (Casa Ferreirinha) is Portugal’s equivalent of Grange, the seminal cult wine for a nation. The winery (Ferreira; hence, the labeling “Casa Ferreirinha,” hearkening back to a famous owner from days gone by) that first made it has long since been sold to Sogrape, Portugal’s biggest wine corporation. Some younger winemakers openly questioned whether Barca Velha was a bit of a dinosaur. Nonetheless, in this vintage at least, it seemed superlative to me, a blend of a more modern styling than seen in Casa Ferreirinha wines like the 1996 Reserva, together with a slightly old-fashioned air lingering in the background. No one will confuse this wine with some of Portugal’s well-known, high-end, modern reds like the Symington’s Chryseia or Quinta do Crasto’s Maria Teresa. It is powerful, with significant tannins and fine structure. With decanting (which it had here), it can be approached. Deep and intense, it has a focused attack of fruit on the palate, some darker fruit notes like a touch of plum, some earthiness, and grip on the finish from that fine structure. It also manages to have a little brightness and a certain refreshing note, cutting through the muscular presentation. The texture has some velvet and it was a pleasure, too. It also shows some gracefulness and complexity, and it should drink well for a couple of decades, improving steadily in the cellar over the next several years. There were 2,500 cases produced. Drink from 2008-2022.

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