“Don’t call it Sherry. Call it Jerez.” That is what Javier Hidalgo said several years ago at a talk he gave here in California. The president of Hidalgo-La Gitana, one of the worlds most recognized Jerez experts, knows what he is talking about. The word ‘Sherry’ has long held associations of crystal decanters full of sweet amber colored wine served from sideboards in stuffy parlors. On the other hand, Jerez is the drink of choice in Southern Spain and is the original wine for pairing with tapas.
Jerez is earning the attention of a whole new generation of wine drinkers as they discover just how wonderful these wines are, especially when served with salty foods like Jamon Serrano, olives, aged cheeses and white anchovies.
The Contra Costa Times recently published an informative article by Jessica Yadegaran (in which we are quoted and listed as a source) about the recent upsurge of interest in Jerez. Increased demand for these unique wines has led to more selections in the market.
We just got in some excellent new Jerez wines from Valdespino, a bodega that has been missing from local shops since the last member of the Valdespino family sold off the remaining stocks of wine in 1999. These are excellent, top shelf examples of what Jerez has to offer. The Spanish Table carries the largest variety of Jerez in the Bay Area so remember that these new wines are just the latest arrivals in our extensive collection.
Valdespino Deliciosa Manzanilla Almost as clear as water, this flinty dry wine displays toasted almond and sea breeze aroma backing up a yeasty flavor of freshly baked bread. Lean and mineral by itself, this wine really works its magic when paired with a broad range of classic tapas. $15.99 (375ml)
Valdespino Ynocente Fino This rare single vineyard Fino, made from Palomino Fino grapes sourced from the famous Macharnudo estate, is the only Fino still fermented in oak (these days most Finos are fermented in tank then aged in cask). Pale straw in color, this wine possesses aromatic notes of almonds and walnuts, yeast cake, toasty oak and minerals. It is denser and more concentrated than a typical Fino. $19.99 (375ml)
Valdespino Amontillado Contrabandista This dark amber colored wine is richly scented with aromas of toasted nuts and burnt toffee. A hint of raisin fruit character comes from the addition of a small amount of sweet Pedro Ximenez wine. Bright acidity maintains the balance of flavors. As an added bonus, the label is fabulous and would make a great gift (I don’t usually mention label art but this one is gorgeous!). $34.99
New Beronia Offerings:
Beronia has been our top selling Rioja since we introduced it to everyone a couple of years ago. Many of you are familiar with the current releases of Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva as being terrific values and great for many occasions.
To add to this selection, we recently brought in a limited quantity of their old and rare Gran Reservas (including the hard to find large format bottles) as well as an extremely rare Palo Cortado Sherry and their special Millenium bottling of Oloroso:
1975 Beronia Gran Reserva – $82
1978 Beronia Gran Reserva – $73
1981 Beronia Gran Reserva – $53
1982 Beronia Gran Reserva – $72
1982 Beronia Gran Reserva 1.5 ltr (Magnum) – $109
1982 Beronia Gran Reserva 3 ltr (Double Magnum ) – $170
1982 Beronia Gran Reserva 5 ltr (Jeroboam) – $249
1982 Beronia Gran Reserva 6 ltr (Imperial) – $290
1987 Beronia Gran Reserva – $49.99
1994 Beronia Gran Reserva – $53
1979 Gonzalez Byass Palo Cortado de Anada (Sherry) – $142
NV Gonzalez Byass Millenium Oloroso – $172
The next Paella & Wine class at Kitchen On Fire is coming up on Monday, April 5th at 6:30 pm.
If you have always wanted to learn how to make the iconic rice dish from Spain (or are interested in perfecting your technique) this is your opportunity to get some hands-on experience with a big pan and a bunch of fresh ingredients.
We will make a few tapas while the paella cooks and try a few paella-friendly wines too. Registration is exclusively through Kitchen On Fire on their web site or by phone (510-548-2665).
After a very successful first season, TapasWalk is back again with a summer schedule of dates running twice a month from April through September. For those who missed it last year,
TapasWalk is a Spanish wine & food walking tour of downtown San Francisco that I do as a personal project outside of my wine buying duties here at The Spanish Table.
You can find all the details at www.salondelvino.wordpress.com
Established in 1847, Niepoort Vinhos is best known as a producer of excellent Porto. This family owned company, currently led by fifth generation winemaker Dirk Niepoort, has pioneered the red and white table wine industry in the Douro Valley for the last twenty years. Once only known to locals who consumed most of the regular wines while selling off the fortified Porto to export markets, the world has recently started to take more notice of Douro wines as quality and selection have increased. In the last ten years Dirk Niepoort has become the public face of Douro wines, tirelessly promoting his wines, his neighbors’ wines and the Douro region as a whole.
Redoma was the first red wine made at Niepoort. Starting with the 1991 vintage, Redoma has gone on to become one of the standards of reference for Douro reds. The grape composition for redoma 2004, sourced from the same estate vineyards that supply fruit for the Port wines, is a field blend of Tinta Amarela, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca along with numerous others in small percentages. The wines spent 18 months in French oak casks before bottling. It is dark mulberry colored with restrained berry aroma that becomes more predominant over time. Well tempered barrel character and tannins that start out soft, get more assertive with air then resolve nicely after a few hours, combine with abundant flinty minerality, brambly herbal notes and black pepper spice. A nice roast and some boiled potatoes or slow cooked white beans would be a good match for this very Portuguese tasting wine. Regular price: $47.99
Let us focus on a specific wine region; DO Monterrei, located in Northwestern Spain just across the border from Portugal. Granted D.O. status only in 1994, Monterrei is home to hot weather and deep red clay soil. Small family wineries, not big industrial producers, are the norm in this diminutive region. Just 20 wineries operate here, making wine from 1700 acres of vineyard land. This little known area is usually thought of (when it is thought of at all) as a source of fresh white wines made from Godello and Treixadura grapes. The red wines are less well known, but share much in common with reds from neighboring DO Bierzo and DO Ribeira Sacra. The Mencía grape is the predominant red variety here and most of the wines are fermented in tank, forgoing the barrel ageing regimens so common in other parts of Spain.
We are focused on red wines from Monterrei because they offer a different perspective on Spanish wine. Lighter in tone than the wines from the rocky, arid heartland, the wines from Northwestern Spain have a lean purity and (often, though not always) a moderate level of alcohol that is refreshing in these days of big, bold reds. I find similarities here to the reds of the Loire valley in France (another region known mostly for its white wines), with firm minerality, tart fruit character and quirky individuality.
Castro de Lobarzán is a small family winery located in the home of José Fernández Feijóo (3rd generation winemaker) near the small town of Vilaza. He and his family personally work 11 acres of vineyard land to grow the fruit for their wines. The small winery, located in what amounts to a large garage adjacent to the family home, produces both a white Godello/Treixadura blend as well as a red that combines Mencía with the local clone of Tempranillo called Arauxa (ar-ow-sha). Lobarzán Tinto 2006 is a fifty-fifty blend of Mencía and Arauxa, aged briefly in tank before bottling (no room for oak barrels in the family garage/winery). A few years of bottle age has mellowed this wine a bit from its original firmly flinty incarnation. The twiggy/leafy character of Mencía adds contrast to the cherry/berry fruit of the Arauxa, while a bit of loamy funk can be found lurking in the background here. When first released last year this was a $20 +/- wine, but the world is not yet clamoring for DO Monterrei reds so the importer José Pastor made us a deal on the remaining stock. We are selling the rest of the vintage (not much of it left) at $11.99.
Adegas Ladairo (‘Bodega’ becomes ‘Adega’ in Galicia) was founded in 1984 by Jose Luiz Vaz Vilela in O Rosal (not to be confused with the coastal town of the same name) near Oimbra in DO Monterrei. Ladairo Mencía 2007 is a monovarietal wine that is fermented in tank (they do a barrel aged version as well). This light bodied red displays tart cranberry fruit character and earthy minerality. A bit closed at first, the wine expresses its full nature with a quick decantation. This simple, young wine will find a good match with lighter meals such as rice or pasta where meat is not at the center of the plate. Originally priced around $17, this too comes from Jose Pastor at a special reduced price of $9.99
Let’s look at the most unique Spanish wine to have passed this way in a while.
I should start by saying that Asturias, along Spain’s Northern coast, is much better known for cheese and apple cider than for wine. The weather is too cool and wet for most grapes, so when we start talking about wines from the Cangas region in Asturias we are not talking about wines of abundant production or wide distribution. Monasterio de Corias is, in fact, the only Cangas region winery that is currently available here in California.
This bodega is, as the name suggests, housed in an ancient Benedictine monastery that had fallen in to semi ruin until it was restored for use as a winery in 2001. Historic records indicate that the monks were growing grapes here in the 9th century AD but in modern times the acreage devoted to grape cultivation has dwindled to approximately 250 acres. Just six producers are making wines in the region today.
Coria Guilfa 2006 is an intriguing blend of indigenous grapes. Verdejo Negro (no relation to the white Verdejo from further south), Mencía and Carrasquín are the grapes of choice in Cangas. The wine, perhaps as a result of the Mencía in the blend, has some similarities with wines from nearby Bierzo or Ribeira Sacra where Mencía predominates. Corias Guilfa is lighter in color and texture than the wines from neighboring regions. The alcohol in Corias Guilfa is also a moderate 12.5%. 6 months of barrel age has left no overtly woody notes in the finished wine. An almost Burgundian balance lifts the aromas and flavors, creating a bright, harmonious wine. Subtle hints of loamy aroma and dusty minerality never intrude on the pure expression of red berry fruit character. A simple roast chicken or grilled fish would work well with this light yet elegant red wine.
Filed under Red Wine, Spain