‘Fresh’ and ‘young’ are desirable qualities in food and fashion. Everyone wants the latest new thing. But what happens when the hot new trend is celebrated for its age and maturity?
Try this little experiment. Say to your favorite person, “Wow, honey. That’s a fantastic outfit. You look ten years older.” Not such a good idea, right?
Now try this: “Darling, would you like another glass of 1964 Gran Reserva Rioja to go with your slow cured Jamón Iberico?”
Ah, much better!
You see, the food world rewards those who appreciate the complexity that comes with age (what else in life works like this?).
Several perfect examples of age equaling beauty have just arrived in our little store. I speak of course of the long awaited Jamón Iberico. This Spanish cured ham from the rare breed of pig known as Pata Negra (Black Foot) has finally landed in California, along with even rarer Paleta de Bellota made from the front leg of the same breed of swine, wild grazed on acorns to fatten them up before, um, processing.
A perfect accompaniment to these very exclusive cured meats is mature, aged Gran Reserva Rioja from an excellent but long past vintage. We are happy to report that a batch of some of the best Rioja from the past 60 years is arriving at The Spanish Table.
Another option: Cava, that delicious Spanish sparkling wine, ages for several years in the bottle before release. This too makes for a memorable combination when paired with some Jamón Iberico.
Doubt me? You can test this out for yourself on Thursday March 6th when we will be offering a Cava and Jamón tasting in our Mill valley store from 6pm-7:30pm. The cost for this exclusive tasting is just $12. Call the Mill Valley store (415-388-5043) to reserve you spot.
Speaking of our Mill Valley store, here is what Andy Booth, one of the owners who can often be found working in the Marin County branch of The Spanish Table, has to say about the impending arrival of some spectacular older vintages of Rioja from his good friends at Lopez de Heredia.
“The family owned Lopez de Heredia winery has been making beautifully aged Rioja since it’s founding in 1877. They pride themselves on continuing the tradition that Rafael Lopez de Heredia y Landeta started. We have ordered a handful of these wines direct from the winery and they are scheduled to arrive at the beginning of March. We are offering a presell on the wines before they arrive. They are all extremely limited in availability. If interested, please give us a call or email. The presell price is available only until the wines arrive.
1942 Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva: $840, presell price $750 (only 1 available)
1947 Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva: $785, presell price $705 (only 1 available)
(The 1942 & 1947 Vina Bosconia are considered by many who have tried the wines extensively two of their best wines produced.)
1970 Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva: $206, presell price $184 (12 available)
1970 Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva: $206, presell price $184 (2 available)
1976 Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva: $125, presell price $112 (12 available)
1981 Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva: $89, presell price $78 (4 available)
1981 Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva: $104, presell price $93 (4 available)
1976 Vina Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva: $120, presell price $107 (2 available)
This pairs perfectly with the chanterelle & gremolata pizza from Chez Panisse (as we did last weekend)
1981 Vina Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva: $89, presell price $78 (8 available)”
Meanwhile, here in Berkeley we have some tasty new arrivals at all price ranges to share with you. The big news is the arrival of The 2005 Pago de Carraovejas Crianza and Reserva. These hard to find wines from Ribera del Duero make an appearance each year, but supplies are limited so they sell out quickly. When we did our staff tasting of the Jamón Iberico this was the wine we paired it with. The combination is sublime.
Also, for those looking for a bargain, we have some new ‘house wine’ as well as a new Monastrell from Almansa and the new vintage of a popular and, yes, youthful blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo from Navarra.
Infinitus Chardonnay/Viura 2006 $6.99 This white ‘house wine’ makes a repeat appearance here after a popular run in the last vintage. Infinitus, made by the same folks who bring you Finca Antigua and Conde de Valdemar, is a fresh and floral blend of Viura and the more well known Chardonnay. Crisp citrus flavors from the Viura encounter fuller melon flavors from the Chardonnay.
Valcanto Monastrell 2005 $10.99 This new Monastrell comes from Bodegas Piquera in Almansa. A bit fresher than the ripe, concentratedMonastrell wines from neighboring Jumilla and Yecla to the south, with lighter balance and leaner fruit character.
Ochoa Garnacha/Tempranillo 2006 $12.99 This is always a great wine for weeknight suppers and informal gatherings. The new vintage of this bright, berry scented blend from Navarra is refreshing and fruity but not cloying or sweet. A fine example of the ‘tinto joven’ style found in countless little bars all across Spain.
Pago de Carraovejas Crianza 2005 $39.99
Pago de Carraovejas Reserva 2005 $64.00
They are back again! Pago de Carraovejas is the name of a single vineyard on the outskirts of Peñafiel in the Ribera del Duero region of Northern Spain. Nestled in the shadow of the famous medieval fortified Castillo de Peñafiel, the 60 hectare estate grows mostly Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) along with small parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The Crianza uses all three estate grown grapes in the blend (85% Tinto Fino, 10% Cabernet, 5% Merlot). The wine ages for 12 months in mixed French/American oak barrels before bottling. The rich, dark berry fruit is backed by muscular grape skin tannins and balanced oak. With air (the more the better right now) the wine comes alive with loamy aroma and layer upon layer of ripe fruit character.
The 2005 Reserva omits the Merlot from the previous blend in favor of a 90/10 split between Tinto Fino and Cabernet Sauvignon. Using hand selected bunches of very ripe fruit, this wine spends its first twelve months of life ageing in French oak. Currently less expressive than the Crianza, the Reserva is intended for long term storage. With time, it will reveal a core of sweet dark berry fruit which at present is cloaked in assertive tannins. For immediate gratification, decant this wine a full day ahead of when you want to drink it.