Do we love a bargain? Yes we do, and this time of year is perfect for stocking up on some value priced wines that will compliment your meals and spice up your leisure time. We have some new arrivals from Portugal in our ever popular ‘house wine’ section (remember that ‘house wine’ is what we call a special section of traditionally styled wines that we price at $6.99 per bottle with a better than usual discounted price of $5.99 per bottle with full case mix and match purchase). Also in the new, interesting and well priced category are a trio of Argentine wines from Valle de la Puerta that offer distinctive grape varieties and solid winemaking skill at prices that encourage experimentation.
We have not forgotten those of you who are looking for something elegant and rare. This week we received a few special items that you won’t want to miss if you have a taste for unique and hard to find wines. The 2005 Numanthia is available in miniscule quantities as is the new vintage of one of our favorite Priorat wines.
I am happy to report that the Cooking in Cazuelas class was a big success. I hope to repeat it in the near future for those who could not make it this time around. Meanwhile, here is the recipe from the class for my Buttermilk Flan. I cobbled this together from available ingredients to recreate a flan de queso that I had in Madrid a few years ago. The Spanish don’t use buttermilk (how do you say ‘buttermilk’ in Spanish?) but the flavor and texture are similar to the Spanish version I loved so much when I first tried it.
Kevin’s Buttermilk Flan (serves 5)
5 large eggs
1.5 cups cultured buttermilk
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon Mexican vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar for caramel
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set a tea kettle of water on the stove to simmer.
Heat 1/3 cup of sugar in a dry 8” clay cazuela for approximately 5-10 minutes until the sugar is barely liquefied and golden brown (do not over cook or it will burn). Remove cazuela from heat and let cool fully. The caramel will harden.
Whisk together 4 eggs and 1 egg yolk with ½ cup sugar until smooth. Add buttermilk, cream and vanilla. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.
Fill the cazuela with the flan mixture to ¼ inch below the rim (it should all fit). Place the full cazuela in a larger baking dish and place in preheated oven. Pour the simmering water around the outside of the cazuela (about 2/3 way up the side) to create a hot water bath. This will allow the flan to cook slowly and evenly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Check for doneness by tapping on the side of the cazuela. It is ready when the flan is just barely set. If the flan mixture ripples like liquid, leave it in the oven for another 10 minutes.
When cooked, remove the flan from the oven, allow it to cool completely and then refrigerate until cold.
To serve, run a sharp knife around the rim of the flan to loosen it up, invert it on a serving plate and remove the cazuela. Serve with a sweet sherry or other dessert wine.
Gazela Vinho Verde $6.99 This perennial customer favorite from Portugal is the latest addition to our ‘house wine’ section. This is a crisp, flinty white wine with bright, refreshing citrus notes. Low alcohol makes this an excellent lunch or picnic wine.
Charamba 2005 $6.99 This youthful, fresh, fruity red wine from the Douro region of Portugal will pair well with spicy food and party snacks. It is also a fine candidate for using as the base of a tasty Sangría.
Alandra Tinto $6.99 From the makers of Esporão in the Alentejo region of Portugal comes this youthful, rich, fruit-filled red wine made from Moreto and Periquita grapes. This bright and spicy non-vintage red will compliment a wide variety of meals.
Primavera Bairrada Reserva 2003 $6.99 This earthy blend of 60% Baga, 30% Tinta Roriz and 10% Castelão is perfect for hearty meals. This Portuguese wine displays brick red color and smoky aroma with dried cherry fruit character and tannic foundation. Mature reserva wines don’t make it into the ‘house wine’ section very often so take advantage of this excellent value in red wine while it lasts.
La Puerta Malbec 2006 $9.99
La Puerta Shiraz 2006 $9.99
La Puerta Torrontes 2005 $9.99
Valle de la Puerta is a new winery located in Northern Argentina dedicated to the production of value priced single varietal wines that represent the best of Argentine grapes.
The Malbec is a ripe, juicy red that will compliment red meat and spicy foods. The Shiraz is a bold, earthy red that pairs well with savory, slow cooked autumn stews and the white Torrontes is a rich aromatic wine that is perfect with crunchy vegetables and full flavored cheeses.
Numanthia 2005 $58.00 The Toro craze continues unabated and with good reason. The new wines from this region are blockbusters! They are big, inky, concentrated reds fashioned from old (ancient!) vine fruit grown on pre-phylloxera, ungrafted root stock. What they lack in subtlety they more than make up in depth of character. Josh Raynolds recently reviewed this wine for Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. He said “Deep ruby. A deep, youthfully brooding bouquet offers dark cherry, blackcurrant, incense and suave oak spices. Spicy cherry and dark berry flavors show an exotic anise quality and slow-building sweetness. This gently tannic, chewy, extremely persistent wine finishes with echoes of oak spice and floral pastille, not to mention excellent vivacity. 93 points.”
Font de la Figuera 2005 $41.99 Clos Figueras, located in the Priorat region of Catalunya is a small estate owned by famed importer Christopher Cannan and managed by the equally famous winemaker René Barbier. Font de la Figueras is composed of a blend of Garnacha, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Monastrell. This opulent red is an excellent value from a winery and a region known for much more pricey offerings.