Monthly Archives: April 2008

Even More New Stuff

I have been keeping this newsletter brief in recent weeks due to the new wines arriving here all the time. I know that many of you enjoy the recipes that often come with the wine news and I want to reassure you that I will be sharing more of these in the weeks ahead. At present I am taking time to attend the many trade tastings that give wine buyers such as me the opportunity to see what lies ahead for the coming year. This week alone I will taste over one hundred Portuguese wines at Viniportugal and dozens of Spanish wines at the Spanish Cellar & Pantry event. Last week I got to work my way through hundreds of selections at the portfolio tasting for celebrated importer Eric Solomon (more on this below). Aside from purple teeth and stained shirts (white is a bad color to wear to a wine tasting) I come away from these events with a clearer sense of what to share with you, our customers, in the weeks and months ahead. For only by tasting many, many wines do we come up with the select few products that you will find at The Spanish Table. So for now, check out the new arrivals from Eric Solomon and José Pastor. These two importers of excellent Spanish wines are (each in their own distinct way) bringing in some truly special and exciting wines that deserve your attention.

German Gilabert Cava $14.99 No, this is not a wine from Germany. Importer José Pastor has re-purposed the less used parts of his name (José German Pastor Gilabert – honest, he showed me his drivers license) to christen the first Cava to be included in his privately labeled Vinos de Terruños brand. This blend of traditional Cava grapes (Xarel-lo, Macabeo, Parellada) is as crisp and clean as freshly ironed linen. Organically grown fruit from the village of Santa Fe del Penedès is aged on its lees for 16 months with zero dosage, producing a dry, toasty assertively bubbly wine for drinking as a cocktail or with food.

Siete 2007 $12.99 This blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo from the Navarra region of northern Spain made its first appearance last year in the inaugural vintage of the Vinos de Terruños brand from Jose Pastor. The fruit is organically farmed and the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks, not oak barrels, to render the maximum of fruit character unobscured by oaky tannins. This sophomore edition of Siete is true to the style established last vintage and is one of the most popular of the Vinos de Terruños wines.

Tajinaste Blanco 2006 $14.99 This interesting white wine, our first from the Canary Islands, is back in stock. Made from the local Listán Blanco grape grown in volcanic soils at high elevation on the island of Tenerife, pale straw color and mineral foundation frame aromas of white peach and lemon zest. This gentle yet lean white will compliment subtly flavored vegetable dishes and cold seafood appetizers.

Mas Alta Artigas 2005 $38.99 Bodegas Mas Alta is a joint project of an American, importer Eric Solomon and two Frenchmen, negociant Michel Tardieu and enologist Philippe Cambie. The small production wines from these three well known names were some of my favorites at the recent Eric Solomon Selections portfolio tasting. Artigas is composed of 65% Garnacha and 35% Cariñena grown in the rocky slate/schist of the Priorat region of Catalunya. This opaque amethyst colored wine displays the best elements of Priorat, including abundantly ripe dark berry fruit character interwoven with notes of wild herbs and minerals. Decant for immediate enjoyment or cellar for several years before drinking.

Mas Alta La Basseta 2005 $84.00 My favorite of the Mas Alta wines is this blend of old vine Garnacha, Cariñena and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged in a combination of new and used oak for 16 months prior to bottling. Blackberry liqueur, wild herbs and rocky minerality benefit from the added structure and tannins coming from the Cabernet Sauvignon and the oak barrel ageing. Bold and ripe at present, this wine has a long life ahead of it. Keep this wine in the cellar for a few years and then enjoy it at any time over the following decade.

Artadi El Pisón 2005 $184.00 Bodegas Artadi, one of the best wineries in Rioja Alavesa is known for producing 100% Tempranillo wines of stellar quality. El Pisón, the flagship wine of this bodega, is deeply nuanced and complex yet light as a feather on the palate. Somewhat muted at present, this wine will reveal itself in all its silky glory to those with the patience to wait three or four years before enjoying it. This famous wine (98 points Wine Advocate, 95 points International Wine Cellar) is produced in very small quantities. We have just a few bottles in stock so do act fast to secure a bottle for your cellar.

 

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

More New Stuff

Oh boy, I sure love springtime in the wine business. New wines arrive daily and opening all the boxes full of pretty, colorful bottles is like a birthday party or Christmas morning. This week marks the return of some tried and trusted favorites as well as more new wines to taste for the first time. The cavalcade of crisp whites and berry scented rosado wines continues unabated. A few reds (new and returning) are also arriving this week. Check out the options below and come see us in Berkeley to experience this bounty of vinous delights first hand.

 

Hermanos Lurton Rueda 2005 $6.99 This year America has fully embraced the white wines of Rueda with gusto and prices are climbing (supply and demand in action). Happily, we found a great deal on a small amount of very well priced Rueda from a well known wine family just in time for warmer weather. This blend of Verdejo and Viura is pale yellow colored with green reflections. White peach and melon fruit character adds depth to this citrusy wine.

Melipel Rosado 2007 $10.99 last week we mentioned another different Argentine rosé and it was gone before the weekend was over. This week we feature another wine made from the Malbec grape. Melipel is full of strawberry aroma and flavor. It is fruity yes, but not sweet. The bright acidity keeps the wine fresh and never cloying. If you tried last weeks pink wine, this week is more of the same style.

Viña Catajarros Élite Rosado 2007 $12.99 The Cigales region in northern Spain is, along with Navarra, the traditional home of many excellent rosado wines. This particular wine (the first 2007 rosado to arrive from Spain) is produced mostly from Tempranillo with, interestingly, 10% white Verdejo added to the blend. Vivid rose pink color and strawberry aroma blends well with watermelon fruit character and a racy jolt of acidity (from the Verdejo) that maintains the bright, refreshing quality of this wine.

Monopole 2007 $17.99 The latest vintage of white Rioja from CUNE has just arrived. This fresh, herbaceous, citrusy wine is made from 100% Viura, hand harvested, cold macerated and fermented in stainless steel to preserve the maximum of fresh fruit character. The aromas of green apple and fresh herbs are carried along by flavors of grapefruit and lemon. Reach for this distinctive tall bottle when you want a top notch unoaked white wine to serve with fresh spring vegetables, delicately flavored cheeses or raw seafood.

La Vendimia 2006 $14.99 This youthful, fresh red wine comes from the Palacios Remondo winery in Rioja. An even 50/50 blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, the wine spends just 4 months in oak before bottling. Garnet colored, this wine is feather light texture-wise with bright fresh cherry fruit supported by a gentle touch of tannic oak. A whole roast chicken rubbed with garlic and smoked paprika would be a perfect match here.

Condado de Sequeiras 2006 $18.99 If you follow my ramblings here with regularity you have probably noticed my sincere affection for red wines made from the Mencía grape. Mostly found in the Bierzo region of northwestern Spain, we are starting to see more Mencía coming from the neighboring region of Ribeira Sacra. Condado de Sequeiras is produced from the fruit of a 20 acre parcel of 80 year old Mencía located on the terraced banks of the Minho River in Ribeira Sacra. Steel tank fermentation allows the varietal character to shine without interference from oaky aromas or flavors. This dark garnet colored wine displays rich black currant fruit character and distinctive wet slate minerality. If you have enjoyed some of our other Mencía wines (we carry many of them) then you owe it to yourself

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Filed under Argentina, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, White Wine

New Stuff

One of the exciting parts about working in this little shop devoted to the food and wines of Spain, Portugal and Latin America is the opportunity to try new things on a daily basis. With the wines, not only do we get to try new styles, producers, grape varieties and growing regions but we also get to re-try the wines all over again with each new vintage.

New, and yet familiar. That’s how I describe what has arrived here in the past week. We have new wines that have never been featured before at The Spanish Table in Berkeley. We also have new vintages of some wines that were well loved in the previous year and are now out in the latest version. Many of you will recognize some favorites in the list that follows. I highly encourage you to come and try a bottle of the latest vintage to see if it is everything you remember and love from previous years. Some of the wineries may not be familiar but you will recognize the grape varieties and the growing regions. This is an opportunity to broaden your perspective on a favorite wine by trying some of what similar winemakers are doing.

The first 2007 white and rosado wines are starting to appear in the market as well as new vintages of red wines from years in the recent past. In the weeks ahead we will feature many more of the latest arrivals with you in this newsletter.

Here, after a brief recipe, are the latest arrivals:

Salmon Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

(Serves 4 as a tapa)

½ lb. Fresh salmon fillet

1 tspn. Kosher salt

½ cup water

½ cup Arte Oliva brand Alioli (garlic mayonnaise)

1tblspn. Toro Albalá 1980 Reserve PX vinegar

1 tspn. Sweet Pimentón de la Vera

8 Whole Piquillo Peppers

¼ cup Nunez de Prado Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Briefly poach the salmon fillet in 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and ½ cup of water until it is just barely cooked through (about 10 minutes). Remove the fillet from the water and cool to room temperature. Combine Alioli, vinegar and pimentón in a bowl. Gently fold in cooked salmon and mix everything without breaking up the fish too much. Divide the filling into eighths and fill each of the jarred piquillo peppers with the mixture. Drizzle the olive oil over the filled peppers and serve.

Amestoi Txakoli 2007 $18.99 I know that I am not alone in my anticipation of the new season of Txakoli wine. Many of you have already been asking for this dry, spritzy, supremely refreshing white wine from the Basque country. Well, wait no longer. Amestoi has landed, winning the prize for first 2007 Txakoli to arrive here. The residual effervescence is at its peak now as is the bright citrusy fruit character.

Crios “Rosé of Malbec” 2007 $10.99 A perennial favorite in our Seattle store makes its first appearance here in Berkeley. Famed Argentine winemaker Susanna Balbo makes this fresh, berry scented pink wine. It is full of strawberry and watermelon flavors. I love to serve this with salmon stuffed piquillo peppers for an all pink and red meal.

Obra Roble 2006 $10.99 The big hit of last summer is back in the latest vintage. This lightly oaked Tempranillo from the celebrated Bodegas J.C. Conde in Ribera del Duero is dark and rich, with velvety texture and just a hint of oak tannin. This wine was a spectacular bargain last year. I am happy to report that even as the Dollar continues to drop in value relative to the Euro, this wine is still the exact same price as last year. Rejoice!

Padre Pedro 2006 $9.99 This red wine from Casa Cadaval in the Ribatejo region of Portugal was reviewed very favorably by The New York Times last year. Many of you tried it based on that bit of positive press and the wine sold out quickly. The new 2006 vintage has just arrived. I find it to be just as tasty as last year, garnet colored with soft tannins and dark plum fruit character. A bit of earthy nuance on the finish.

Ventura Carmenere 2006 $9.99 When pairing spicy Carne Asada tacos (from Casa Latina across the street) with a red wine, I usually reach for a Carmenere from Chile. This typical Chilean varietal produces rich full bodied red wines that also posses a bit of spicy jalapeño-like complexity that works really well with a wide range of dishes on the picante end of the flavor spectrum. Ventura Carmenere is from the Lontué Valley in Chile, where some of the best Carmenere grows. This wine is made with organically grown fruit, something I am seeing more and more of in Chile.

Nuevomundo Cabernet/Carmenere Reserve 2005 $11.99 This Chilean blend of organically grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere from the Maipo Valley is dark and spicy with underlying complexity from 14 months of oak barrel ageing. The more firmly structured Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 60% of the blend and finds counterpoint in the spicy Carmenere which accounts for the other 40%.

La Posta Bonarda 2006 $17.99 In Argentina the Malbec grape gets all the attention but for those who have already explored this varietal I highly recommend trying some of the excellent Bonarda wines that are also available. La Posta Bonarda is dark garnet colored like a Malbec but shows more spicy black pepper and a leaner expression of fruit character. As grilling season begins I suggest trying this wine alongside some thinly sliced grilled skirt steak with a pimentón dry rub.

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Filed under Chile, Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, Uncategorized, White Wine