Monthly Archives: December 2007

Holiday Wines, Version 1.6.3, The Aftermath

In this phase of the Holiday Season, just getting off the sofa can require more effort than you can muster.  If you have been celebrating Christmas then chances are you’re reading this from deep within a wasteland of shredded and discarded ribbon and wrapping paper. Brush off the lethargy (and the cookie crumbs from breakfast that are stuck to your new sweater) and rejoin the world. If Christmas is not your thing, you too can come back out from hiding. The scary Santas are mostly gone and the city is once again open for business.

 As the Holiday season, and the year, winds down I want to take this brief opportunity to thank you, our newsletter subscribers, for allowing us past your spam filters and onto your desktop on a (mostly) weekly basis these past 12 months.  

I know it’s a busy, marketing driven world out there. We all get a constant stream of sales pitch wherever we go in the real world as well as on-line. If, amidst all this you are still taking the time to check up on what’s happening wine-wise at The Spanish Table then you deserve our sincere appreciation.

In exchange for your attention this past year I have offered you a first peek at the many new and exceptional wines that flow through our little store year in and year out. This ‘insider information’  leaves newsletter subscribers well equipped to discover the many new wines now available for purchase for the first time here in our part of the globe.

In the New Year we will continue to bring you the best of the Iberian wine world. Even in the face of unprecedented currency exchange rates, these imported wines from Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Chile will continue to provide superlative quality at exceptional prices. I hope you will join us on this continuing journey.

Meanwhile, we just got in some of my all-time favorite wines in larger than usual quantities and we have priced them all lower than usual too. Come see our big pile of wine and pick up a bargain or four. I promise it will be worth your effort.

 

Arribeño Roble 2003 $6.99 ($5.99 by the case) Arribeño Roble is a young Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero red that fully expresses the character of the region. Dark garnet color, loamy forest floor aroma and firm grape skin tannins. Light oak aroma comes from a short 4 months of barrel age. Black cherry fruit character and a smoky finish round out the picture. This wine is one of The Spanish Table’s ‘House Wine’ selections. These great bargains are all $6.99 by the bottle with a special (mix & match) discount of $5.99/each with full case purchase.

 

Altos de La Hoya 2006 $9.99 (was $11.99) This wine from Jumilla has always been a benchmark Monastrell from Spain. Ungrafted old vines with fat and lush flavors of deep, sweet dark berries, some black pepper and just a touch of baked earth. Great concentration and richness. This tastes like a much more expensive wine than it is. Another wine that we managed to negotiate a special price on.

 

Pétalos 2006 $19.99 (was $23.99) We just got a great deal on one of my personal favorite wines from D.O. Bierzo in northwestern Spain. The grape here, as in all Bierzo reds, is Mencía. This wine displays dark garnet color with leafy aroma and tangy pomegranate fruit character.

Josh Raynolds with Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar gave this wine

91 points, saying: “Ruby-red. Vibrant red berry and cherry aromas are underscored by pungent minerality and rose; this smells like a great Chambolle-Musigny. Sweet raspberry and floral pastille flavors are enlivened by brisk acidity and gain sweetness with air. Very suave, focused and strikingly pure wine with superb complexity and poise”.

 

Les Terrasses 2005 $29.99 (was $36.99) Andy Booth, co-owner of The Spanish Table reports: “This has been one of my favorite Priorats for years, especially because I could afford it. The price has crept up over the years but we managed to negotiate a great price on this. Chewy but supple black cherry, currant and berry flavors mingle perfectly with dusty cocoa, dried flowers and a touch of anise. Elegant tannins frame this nicely and the acidity makes this wine sing on the finish…and I like the song.

 

 

 

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Holiday Wines, Version 1.5, The Little Gift

By now, unless you are like me, you have probably taken care of your major holiday responsibilities. The office party is over and done with, the big holiday meal is in process and the gift shopping is winding down. Nevertheless, something will come up, as it always does, leading you to need one more small gift (or a few) to satisfy last minute situations. Secret Santa, stocking stuffer, hostess gift, call it what you will, sometimes the small gesture speaks louder than the grandiose one.

To satisfy this need we carry a variety of wines in small bottles. The labels are mostly well known and the wine inside the little bottle is identical to the wine in the full sized version.  These bottles fit into even the smallest of picnic hampers (or lunch boxes) and add just the right touch to a gift basket of assorted holiday goodies. They make perfect accompaniments to intimate dinners as well as lavish multi-course (and multi-wine) meals. These fabulous wines in diminutive sizes come in many styles and varieties. Here ar4e some of our current selections:

 

Quinta dos Grilos 2004 $10.99 (375ml) Grilo is Portuguese for cricket, and while you won’t find any crickets in this wine, the flavor may remind you of a warm summer night in the back yard, grilling something tasty, swatting mosquitoes and listening to the (you guessed it) crickets.  From the Dao region of Portugal, this wine is bright and savory, with cherry-like fruit overlaying a tannic core. Chirp!

 

Muga Reserva 2003 $13.99 (375ml) Muga Reserva, one of the most celebrated wines from Rioja is just as tasty in the small bottle as it is in the big one. Dark color, loamy aroma and rich elegant fruit character are what one looks for in a wine such as this. You will not be disappointed.

 

Arzuaga Crianza 2004 $15.99 (375ml) The Ribera del Duero region is known for bold, earthy red wines. Bodegas Arzuaga makes exactly this style of wine. Dark color, smoky/oaky tannins and rich multi-layered fruit character. In the sprit of all things tiny, serve this wine with a traditional Ribera del Duero meal of tiny, thin cut lamb chops quickly grilled over vine cuttings. Muy tipico.

 

Odysseus garnacha Blanca 2005 $22.99 (500ml)

Odysseus PX 2005 $26.99 (500ml)

Penélope Garnacha Blanca 2005 $31.99 (500 ml.) 

Penélope Garnacha Peluda 2005 $34.99 (500 ml.)

“Small is beautiful”, the motto of Viñedos Ithaca, is reflected in many ways. Viñedos Ithaca sits on a small 50-acre property of steep hillside vineyards near the little village of Gratallops. The wines they make are all produced in limited (almost miniscule) quantities. The flagship wine is the red Odysseus (the Puig family is much enamored with Greek mythology), a wine that has garnered many awards and much accolade in the few years since its creation. Additionally, they make several unique and distinctive white wines as well as a stunning rosado.  As if that were not enough, Viñedos Ithaca also produces not one but two spectacular late harvest dessert wines, one white and one red.

Odysseus Garnacha Blanca is a rare white Priorat wine made from native Garnacha Blanca grape.  Notes of peach, pear, and honeysuckle on the nose with a long, silky finish and great complexity in the mouth. Great personality crafted in an original style. The wine was carefully fermented in the “old-style” without temperature control and a unique maceration within the French oak barrel for 8 hours. Limited production of 400 cases. Odysseus PX is made from  Pedro Ximénez, best known as a sweet sherry grape. After discovering a parcel of old vine PX within their vineyards Josep and Sylvia decided to vinify the PX separately.  The final result is a unique rich, dry white wine and the only still wine made from PX grapes in Spain. Apricots, peaches, nectarines and green apple find room in the nose with additional highlights of roses. Higher toned than the Garnacha Blanca showcasing abundant bright fruit a wonderful mouth feel and a finish of golden raisins. Limited production of 150 cases. Penélope Garnacha Blanca is a totally natural sweet wine using hand selected late harvest Garnacha Blanca fruit from the oldest vineyards near Scala Dei. Aromas of white peach, wet stone, jasmine and honeysuckle with a touch of mint and melon.  On the palate it is slight meaty and creamy with juicy stone fruit flavors.  Pure, clean and round.  250 500-ml. bottles produced (yes, bottles, not cases). Penélope Garnacha Peluda is fashioned from late harvest Garnacha Peluda (the same grape is picked earlier for the Odysseus Tinto) fermented with minimal manipulation. Opaque garnet color.  Spicy clove and dried fig aromas. Gentle and balanced sweetness with flavors of pomegranate and cranberry.  Distinctly different style of sweet wine. Miniscule quantities produced.

 

Maestro Sierra Amontillado $21.99 (375 ml)

Maestro Sierra Oloroso $15.99 (375ml)

Maestro Sierra was founded in 1832 by Jose Antonio Sierra, who, as a master carpenter, was responsible for building barrels for all the major Sherry bodegas. Recognized as one of the top coopers in the area, he longed to become involved in the Sherry trade itself. As this business was dominated by the nobility, a start-up such as his was not very welcome. After many hardships he was able to establish and grow his business becoming one of the top Almacenistas (stockholders) of high quality Jerez wines. Poking fun at his struggle, the label depicts an allegorical fox hunt with the “Nobles” hunting the fox (Maestro Sierra).

Pilar Pla Pechovierto currently owns Maestro Sierra. Doña Pilar is a widow whose husband was a direct descendent of the Sierra family. She respected her husband’s wish that the winery remain in operation after his death and over the last thirty years she has kept the winery open, selling very limited stocks of wine to a few of the large bodegas. Because the wines have virtually remained unmoved due to the almost non existent business, the stocks at Maestro Sierra are some of the oldest in Jerez. The soleras at the winery are easily over 60 years old and some maybe close to 100 years old.

Maestro Sierra Amontillado is amber gold in color with a rich aroma of almonds and fresh hay. A very gentle note of raisin-like fruit character is present here. This wine pairs well with aged cheeses and cured meats. The Maestro Sierra Oloroso is dark amber with flavors of walnuts, butterscotch and figs. Serve this wine in a small glass to your special someone, after a big meal, on the bear skin rug, next to the roaring fire, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

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Filed under Fortified Wine, Portugal, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

Holiday Wines, Version 1.4, The Big Gift

Sooner or later around this time of year you are probably going to want to buy something nice for someone deserving.  Some people are easier to shop for than others.  The easy-to-shop-for people will be happy with the same thing year after year, but if you have run out of unique and thoughtful gift ideas for that difficult-to-shop-for person on your list, read on.

During the holiday season The Spanish Table always puts together some special gift box assortments of Spanish wines.  We have several multi-bottle gift packs to choose from this year as well as some very exclusive single bottles in magnums and splits presented in attractive wooden cases.  Mature vintage Riojas, rare 30 year old VORS Sherry, both red and white late harvest sweet wines as well as older Vintage and Tawny Ports all make excellent gifts and can be combined in an endless range of variety and flavor. Some of these hard-to-find wines only make an appearance during the Holiday Season so even if your gift list is complete you will want to check out the current selections to see if anything appeals to your personal taste.

For those of you with extra time on your hands (Ha! Who am I kidding?)…For those of you with thirsty guests to satisfy, here is a seasonal version of Sangria for your next holiday get-together.

 

Blood Orange and Cranberry Sangria

(adapted from The Spanish Table Cookbook by Steve “El Jefe” Winston)

Serves 4

 

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 lb. whole fresh cranberries

3 Moro Blood oranges, sliced into rounds

1 bottle (750ml) Raventos Perfum de Vi Blanc (or other aromatic Spanish white wine)

1 12 oz. can Limon Kas (or other lemon-lime soda)

1 0z.  Spanish brandy

 

Put water, sugar and cranberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove cranberries from heat and cool to room temperature.

Combine cranberry mixture with sliced blood oranges and brandy in a 1-1/2 liter open topped pitcher and let the mixed fruit macerate for an hour or two.

Right before serving, add the wine and the Limon Kas to the pitcher, stir to mix and pour into tumblers filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of the orange and a few extra cranberries.

 

 

 

Lan Gift Pack $42.99 Bodegas Lan, located in the Rioja wine town of Fuenmayor, craft some of our most popular red wines. This sampler includes one of each of their primary brands. The Lan Crianza 2004 is bright and lively. It is one of my favorite wines to serve with Paella. The Lan Reserva 2001, from a superlative vintage is silky and smooth. Serve it with wintery soups and stews. The Lan Gran Reserva 1998 is mature and elegant. Serve this wine with cured meats and aged cheeses. The Lan Gift Pack is priced a little bit more than 10% off of regular retail for these items.

 

Rioja Alta Gift Pack $97.00 La Rioja Alta was established in 1890 in the little town of Labastida and maintains traditional Rioja winemaking practices while also embracing many of the latest technological advances. La Rioja Alta own 750 acres of vineyards from which they can source top quality grapes, resulting in excellent fruit and richness throughout their wines. The Vina Alberdi Reserva 2000 is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Mazuelo. Medium ruby in color, it exhibits a nicely developed and expressive nose of cedar, spice, and red currants. This wine is aged in new oak for one year followed by several more years in second use barrels before bottling; creating a wine that is light to medium-bodied, seamless, elegant, and ripe. Viña Ardanza Reserva 1999 is traditionally the richest and most expressively fruity of La Rioja Alta’s wines, with 20% Garnacha in the blend. The wine is aged in American oak for three years and then for a further two before release. With a brilliant deep cherry color and a terracotta rim, the wine has notes of ripe berry fruit, with hints of cinnamon, spice and vanilla.  The rare  1995 Gran Reserva 904, composed of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano, displays ruby color with a brick red tint. Earthy mineral aromas intermixed with smoky tobacco, scorched earth, red currants, sweet cherries, and spice box jump from the glass of this complex, nuanced red. The Rioja Alta Gift Pack is priced a little bit more than 10% off of regular retail for these items.

 

 

Faustino Gift Pack $399.00 The most prestigious of our boxed sets is this vertical of Faustino’s amazing Gran Reserva Riojas. Bodegas Faustino is the largest exporter of Gran Reserva wines from Rioja, accounting for more than one third of Gran Reserva wine exports from the region. Bodegas Faustino is a proud custodian of the Rioja region’s traditional winemaking style and has earned a well deserved reputation as a source of truly world-class fine wines. Included in this sampler are 4 bottles of Faustino Gran Reserva (1964, 1970, 1982, and 1994) as well as a lovely crystal decanter embossed with the Faustino logo. A truly unique gift.

 

Les Terrasses 2004 Magnum $80.00 (1.5 Liter) Alvaro Palacios is one of the most celebrated of Spanish winemakers. He was instrumental in the rejuvenation and subsequent popularity of wines from the Priorat region. Les Terrasses is a Priorat wine that is made from 60% Cariñena, 30% Garnacha, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for one year in a combination of used French and American oak. This dark, opulent wine would make a perfect match with a hearty, slow cooked winter stew. The big bottle makes a wonderful gift (packaged in its own wooden case) for someone who loves to entertain and has a big crowd to feed.

 

Maestro Sierra VORS Oloroso 1/14 $81.00 (375ml) The Maestro Sierra story is fascinating. Maestro Sierra was founded in 1832 by Jose Antonio Sierra, who, as a master carpenter, was responsible for building barrels for all the major Sherry bodegas. Recognized as one of the top coopers in the area, he longed to become involved in the Sherry trade itself. As this business was dominated by the nobility, a start-up such as his was not very welcome. After many hardships he was able to establish and grow his business becoming one of the top Almacenistas (stockholders) of high quality Jerez wines. Poking fun at his struggle, the label depicts an allegorical fox hunt with the “Nobles” hunting the fox (Maestro Sierra).

Pilar Pla Pechovierto currently owns Maestro Sierra. Doña Pilar is a widow whose husband was a direct descendent of the Sierra family. She respected her husband’s wish that the winery remain in operation after his death and over the last thirty years she has kept the winery open, selling very limited stocks of wine to a few of the large bodegas. Because the wines have virtually remained unmoved due to the almost non existent business, the stocks at Maestro Sierra are some of the oldest in Jerez. The soleras at the winery are easily over 60 years old and some maybe close to 100 years old. The Oloroso 1/14 is so named because it is drawn from the final barrel of a 14 barrel solera (a solera is the group of barrels traditionally used to age Jerez wines). This wine is categorized as a VORS wine indicating at least 30 years of age. The actual age of this solera here is very hard to determine as the wines have been here for as long as anyone can remember. The 14 butts of this wine have spent at least 50 years in the solera system. Each year a new vintage is added to the solera and a portion of the solera is drawn off for bottling.

Oloroso 1/14 is medium amber colored, with slight raisin-like sweetness, complex flavors of burnt sugar and butterscotch and outstanding length.

 

Domecq 51-1a VORS Amontillado $88.00

Domecq Sibarita VORS Oloroso $88.00

Domecq Venerable VORS PX $88.00

The House of Domecq has spent almost three centuries pleasing sherry-drinkers of every stripe, including the royalty of Spain and England. In the bodega Domecq has an incredible advantage: an ancient lineage of soleras. Their oldest solera, used in making the Sibarita Palo Cortado, was founded in 1792, and other Sherries are aged in soleras dating from 1830, 1902, and 1919. Great age gives their Sherries depth and power, and Domecq has been careful to insure that the añada (the new wine being added at the top of the solera) is high quality, since compromising such a legacy would be a great waste. To do so they have invested in state-of-the-art facilities in the winery. The 51-1a Amontillado is named after its solera. A complex combination of fruits (raisins and figs, primarily) and savory components such as chestnuts, dark bread, and baking spices are accented with a delicate briny note. This sherry unwinds into a long, warm finish. The Sibarita Oloroso is medium-bodied, with aromas of fruitcake, prunes, and dates.  This Oloroso maintains the Domecq family traits of power and intensity framed with cleansing acidity. From a solera founded in 1792, only 370 cases are withdrawn and released each year. The Venerable PX offers a rich blend of dark chocolate, molasses, and figs. This dark, sweet wine is round, big, and elegant in the mouth, demonstrating just how spectacular these mature wines can be.

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Holiday Wines, Version 1.3, The Holiday Party Edition

It’s party season. Parties at the office, parties at friends houses, parties at home.  It can get overwhelming if you are not prepared. Long festive luncheons with old colleagues, slow Sunday suppers with relatives from out of town or an impromptu potluck in the break room at work can all be accomplished with ease if you have a well stocked pantry and/or wine cellar.

Foods that require little or no preparation are essential, as are tasty wines in a variety of styles.  A jar of our exclusive lemon stuffed olives, a wedge of 12 month aged Manchego cheese and a frothy bottle of Cava can go a long way toward creating a fun and celebratory atmosphere any time, anywhere. Silky and elegant red wines set the perfect tone at the dinner table and are perfect accompaniments to traditional slow cooked simple meals like Fabada made with genuine Asturian white beans, Chorizo and Morcilla sausage. Little ivory wedges of Almond Turrón and crumbly Mantecado cookies are well matched to aged, dark amber colored Amontillado or Oloroso from Jerez and make a perfect end to any holiday get together.

For a quick and tasty appetizer, try this recipe that I cobbled together after tasting an amazing version of this dish at my favorite local Portuguese restaurant, La Salette in Sonoma. I served this at a Port tasting that I put together a few weeks ago.  Since then I’ve had several requests for the recipe so I am printing it here for those who would like to make it at home.

 

Patê de Sardinha (Sardine Paté)

(serves 4 as an appetizer)

 

1-can Matiz sardines, drained

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup diced onion

2-tablespoons extra virgin cup olive oil

1-tablespoon mayonnaise

1-tablespoon chopped cilantro

1-tablespoon chopped parsley

1-tablespoon Piri Piri hot sauce

1-teaspoon salt

 

Put everything in the food processor and pulse to blend (should end up with a consistency somewhere between chopped liver and hummus). Adjust lemon juice/Piri Piri/salt to taste. Chill for one hour (or over night) and serve with crusty bread.

 

D’Abattis Gran Cava 2004 $17.99 This bone dry vintage sparkler, made from 100% Parellada (one of the traditional Cava grapes) is toasty and green apple crisp with fine bubbles and yeasty aroma. California winemaker, Master Sommelier and Bay Area resident Emmanuel Kemiji is involved in this traditional Catalan winery.  Serve this wine with a mix of fried lemon slices and tiny fried anchovies. Let the festivities ensue.

 

Mont Ferrant  Blanes Nature Cava 2003 $17.99 From one of the oldest Cava producers in Spain, this traditional blend of Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo is bright, lively and very dry. Mont Ferrant also makes the ever-popular Brut Rosado Cava that many of you know and love. This wine is more traditional in style and makes an elegant cocktail as well as a dinner wine. Try it with oysters on the half shell.

 

Can Blau 2006 $17.99 The new vintage of this well loved red from the Montsant region has just arrived. This dark, opulent blend of Cariñena, Syrah and Garnacha is ripe and bold yet balanced too.  Previous vintages have all scored highly in the press and the new vintage is right up there quality-wise. For a soul warming winter meal, pour this with a traditional Cocido (the Spanish version of Italian ‘Bolito Misto’, or for you New Englanders, ‘Boiled Dinner’).

Azabache Graciano Reserva 2001 $19.99 Here’s an odd one for you. This is the only Reserva Rioja wine made from the rare Graciano grape. Usually Graciano, which accounts for a mere 5% of the annual harvest in Rioja, is used to blend in with the lighter Tempranillo. Graciano lends structure to blended Rioja. On its own, Graciano can be quite firm and tannic, but with 24 months in barrel followed by another two years of bottle ageing, the wine has become quite elegant and mature. If Crown Rib Roast is in your holiday plans, this wine will add the perfect Spanish accent to the meal.

 

Maestro Sierra Amontillado $21.99 (375 ml)

Maestro Sierra Oloroso $15.99 (375ml)

Maestro Sierra was founded in 1832 by Jose Antonio Sierra, who, as a master carpenter, was responsible for building barrels for all the major Sherry bodegas. Recognized as one of the top coopers in the area, he longed to become involved in the Sherry trade itself. As this business was dominated by the nobility, a start-up such as his was not very welcome. After many hardships he was able to establish and grow his business becoming one of the top Almacenistas (stockholders) of high quality Jerez wines. Poking fun at his struggle, the label depicts an allegorical fox hunt with the “Nobles” hunting the fox (Maestro Sierra).

Pilar Pla Pechovierto currently owns Maestro Sierra. Doña Pilar is a widow whose husband was a direct descendent of the Sierra family. She respected her husband’s wish that the winery remain in operation after his death and over the last thirty years she has kept the winery open, selling very limited stocks of wine to a few of the large bodegas. Because the wines have virtually remained unmoved due to the almost non existent business, the stocks at Maestro Sierra are some of the oldest in Jerez. The soleras at the winery are easily over 60 years old and some maybe close to 100 years old.

Maestro Sierra Amontillado is amber gold in color with a rich aroma of almonds and fresh hay. A very gentle note of raisin-like fruit character is present here. This wine pairs well with aged cheeses and cured meats. The Maestro Sierra Oloroso is dark amber with flavors of walnuts, butterscotch and figs. Serve this wine in a small glass to your special someone, after a big meal, on the bear skin rug, next to the roaring fire, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

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Filed under Fortified Wine, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine