At The Spanish Table, new wines arrive weekly. The bounty of Spanish and Portuguese products is such that we find new, exciting products all the time. For those of you who have been away for the summer I thought it might be helpful to review some of what has crossed our path in the last few months, paying special attention to a few items that have been particularly popular with you, our loyal customers.
Beer has been a big hit lately. Now that we finally have a nice assortment of beer, we can feature not only some well known brands but also a few more esoteric brews. Hard cider too has been growing in popularity and is an interesting and delicious alternative to beer or wine. Portuguese white wines have been quite popular this summer with their combination of fresh, balanced flavors and excellent value. We have also been finding some unique and exciting red wines including small production wines made from off beat varietals in far flung regions as well as some classically styled reds from Spain’s most iconic traditional wineries.
So, if you have been otherwise occupied of late, here is your chance to to catch up with what is going on here at The Spanish Table. I am reminded of the Matthew Broderick line from John Hughes’ movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to take a look around every once in a while, you might miss it.”
Barbaroja Red Ale In the Argentine town of Escobar, 50 kilometers north of Buenos Aires, Cerveceria Barba Roja makes a wide range of craft brews. They make a special barrel aged “strong” (so named due to it’s 9% ABV) red ale that we just started carrying here. Opaque, reddish brown color, aromas of black coffee and wood smoke, and bold but not balanced flavors of toasted malt and caramel. A champagne style cork seals this 750 ml bottle of oh-so-food friendly red ale. This is really interesting and deserves your attention. $12.99 (750 ml)
Estrella Damm Inedit Celebrated chef Ferrán Adriá from El Bulli teamed up with Estrella Damm to create this distinctive Spanish beer. The attractive 750 ml bottle comes with a little booklet tied to the neck explaining the concept (“The beer specifically created to pair with food.”) and offering serving suggestions(“It is recommended that Inedit is enjoyed in a white wine glass and kept in an ice bucket after serving.”). A hybrid of a traditional lager and a Belgian style Wit beer, this cloudy amber colored brew is fairly crisp on the front end with notes of orange peel and baking spice (cloves, nutmeg and allspice) on the finish. A bit of hoppy density adds interest and will appeal to appreciators of local micro-brews. $10.99 (750 ml bottle)
Isastegi Sidra Natural This is not sweet apple juice. Cloudy green gold in color with yeasty apple barrel aroma and tart, Fino sherry-like flavor are what you will find here. Once opened this cider oxidizes rapidly so the bottle needs to be consumed quickly (not usually a problem). We now carry the half sized bottles which are great for small groups or when cider is served as an apperitivo before moving on to other drinks (for the full-bore Isastegi experience we also carry the traditional glassware, just like they use in Spain). $8.99 (750 ml), $4.99 (375 ml)
Meia Encosta Branco 2008 The red version of Meia Encosta has been a big success so now we bring you the white wine from this Dão region producer known as Vinhos Borges. Meia Encosta Branco is a gentle, refreshing and lightly floral blend of Encruzado, Malvasia and Bical. This unoaked, medium-weight white wine shows some fruity ripeness as well as a foundational layer of green herbs and minerals. $7.99
Grilos Branco 2008 The red Grilos has been a big hit and now we just brought in the white version of this Dáo region wine. The scent is reminiscent of ripe strawberries creating a dramatic contrast to the lean, grassy, mineral notes and that come out on the palate. $10.99
Camino de Navaherreros Garnacha 2008 The ‘Vin Natural’ movement in France is thriving, while in Spain this style of wine is only starting to appear. Bodegas Bernabeleva, located in the unassuming Vinos de Madrid region farms biodynamically and minimizes manipulation in the winery (no temperature control, only indigenous yeasts). Their 80 year old Garnacha vines produce small quantities of darkly expressive fruit that is used exclusively for this cloudy, dark red wine. Minerals, wild herbs and ripe blackberry flavors combine in this unfiltered and untamed wine. $12.99
Alodio 2007 The young wine from Enología Thémera is 100% Mencía, fermented in tank and bottled without ageing in oak. Fresh peachy aroma and red berry fruit character give balance to underlying minerality. $14.99
Zaumau Priorat 2008 Carlos Escolar make minuscule quantities of wine in DOC Priorat. Old vine Garnacha and Samsó(the local name for Cariñena)are blended here in an unoaked red that expresses the rocky terruño of the region in a pure, darkly colored, ripely fruited style. Foregoing the barrel ageing regimen brings the price down significantly for this wine from a region not known for bargains. $17.99
Viña Lanciano Reserva 2001 Nothing says ‘Spain’ quite like a slowly matured Tempranillo from Rioja. This wine,from the superlative 2001 vintage, is composed of the best estate grown fruit from Bodegas LAN. two years in the barrel followed by 5 years resting in the bottle in the cellar have created an elegant, traditional wine that blends tannic oak with tart cherry fruit character. Aromas of fresh earth, cured meat and wood smoke add depth and nuance to this excellent example of old school Rioja. $28.99
The Paella & Wine class that I teach at Kitchen On Fire is coming up in a few weeks. Monday October 5th is the date. 6:30 pm is the time. The cost is $65 per person. This will be the last class for 2009 so checkout the Kitchen On Fire website and sign up for this deliciously fun event. They say this about the class: “Join Kevin Hogan from The Spanish Table to learn first-hand the joys of the Spanish rice dish known as Paella. Kevin will share his knowledge and experience in all things Paella-related. The class will include some hands-on participation to prepare a mixed poultry, meat & seafood Paella that will be consumed at the culmination of the class. Participants will also get a chance to make and sample some simple tapas while waiting for the Paella to cook. Kevin is the wine buyer for The Spanish Table in Berkeley and will be sharing some Paella-friendly wines as well. Come to class with an appetite for adventure and be rewarded with a plateful of Paella wisdom.”