In the time that I have worked here at The Spanish Table, certain trends have become apparent as we move through the calendar. In the post-holiday period our desire for excellent wines at very reasonable prices grows exponentially in comparison to the rest of the year. Holiday extravagance is done with and a more austere, restrained (I hesitate to use the word sober) style of cooking and eating is in order. Extravagant multi-day preparations with rich, cream based sauces are out. Quick soups and simple stews featuring winter vegetables and lighter flavors are in.
So, to accompany the current desire for economy, I want to point out some really tasty wines at prices that will put a happy post-holiday smile on the face of even the most frugal of shoppers. We have a few new items to share with you as well as some trusted favorites that will compliment your table without busting your budget.
Perfectly in tune with the current mood, I (and many of you if the amount of smoked paprika we have sold today is any indication) noticed that in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle, Amanda Berne offers up a recipe for just the kind of hearty but simple food that I crave at this time of year. Here is the link to the article on the SFgate web site that includes this recipe which I am reprinting here:
Smoky Chickpea Soup (Serves 4-6)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
5 cups vegetable broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, drained
— Kosher salt, to taste
— High-quality olive oil
Instructions: Heat oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft.
Add garlic, saffron, cumin and smoked paprika, and cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly. Add broth and chickpeas, and season to taste. Simmer for 25 minutes, turn off heat and cool for about 5 minutes.
Puree in batches in a blender until very, very smooth. Season to taste. To serve, swirl a little drizzle of very good olive oil on top.
Dibon Brut Reserva Cava $8.99 I brought a first few cases of this wine in during the holidays and it sold well without any promotion at all on my part. The new shipment is arriving this week and we hope to keep this one in stock as long as possible. This traditionally styled sparkler is made from a blend of Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo grapes. Aromas of grapefruit and toasted brioche encounter assertive bubbles and bright citrusy flavor in the glass. An excellent example of a well priced Cava that can turn any simple meal into a special event.
Arribeño Roble 2003 $6.99 ($5.99 by the case) Arribeño Roble is a young Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero 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.
Barbadillo Palomino Fina 2006 $6.99 ($5.99 by the case)This is one of Spain’s most popular whites as well as one of our favorite ‘house wines’ here in Berkeley. Palomina Fina is a grape that mostly gets used for Sherry production, which makes sense as Barbadillo is a well known winemaker in the Jerez region. This white table wine is medium bodied and floral scented with a fresh, clean finish.
Mano a Mano 2003 $6.99 ($5.99 by the case)This Tempranillo from La Mancha in central Spain is typical of this hot, arid region where grape vine and olive trees stretch to the horizon, interspersed with the occasional windmill. This wine displays dried cherry fruit with background oak tannins, making it a perfect ‘house wine’ to have on hand for a wide variety of needs. It will taste fine with a pizza, but will really shine with traditional Spanish foods such as Jamón Serrano and sheep’s milk cheeses.
Justino Henriques Full Rich Madeira $9.99 Sometimes a little glass of something rich and delicious can be just as rewarding as a big glass full of an ordinary wine. If you are in this kind of mood, I suggest this wine as a perfect way to end a cold winter’s day. This dark, sweet dessert wine from the island of Madeira in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is redolent of raisins and butterscotch. A hint of smoky complexity is present in the background.
Porto Pocas LBV 2000 $18.99 Another excellent sweet wine to serve at this time of year is the ever-popular Late Bottled Vintage Port (LBV for short). Akin to the (much) more expensive Vintage Port, LBV ages in barrel for four years (twice as long as Vintage port) before bottling. The final result is a wine with dark ruby color, assertive pomegranate and cranberry fruit character, lively acidity and underlying minerality. Unlike Vintage Port that ages and develops over many years, LBV is intended for near term consumption. Sip this in front of the fire (or television set) and experience contentment.