Halloween is coming up next Sunday, followed closely by the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos. A fall tradition popular in Catlunya but less familiar here is “La Castañada”. On November 1st All Saints Day (Dia de Todos los Santos) is marked with a traditional meal of roasted Chestnuts and sweet Moscatel wine. Panellets (little round cookies made from Marzipan and pine nuts) and Boniato (roasted Sweet Potato) are also traditionally served during this autumn day dedicated to remembering loved ones who have passed away.
In support of this tradition The Spanish Table is stocking up on Moscatel wine in a broad range of styles. We have the traditional sweet Moscatel made in Alicante that is lightly fortified and abundantly sweet as well as others that range from lightly sweet wines from Catalunya, aromatic yet dry Moscatel from the Malaga region further south and even a fabulous sparkling desert wine from Valencia that is lightly sweet and abundantly bubbly. All of these wines will fit perfectly into a menu featuring the flavors of autumn and may well inspire a new tradition in your home. Here are just a few suggestions (among numerous others) to get you going:
2008 Viña Esmeralda This medium sweet blend of Moscatel and Gewürtztraminer is floral and aromatic with notes of rose petal and lavender. Honeyed melon fruit character is held in check by bright acidity. This is one of the most traditional wines to serve for ‘La Castañada’ accompanied by roasted chestnuts, almond cookies and sweet potatoes. $15.99
2009 Botani Botani is a dry Moscatel from the Sierras de Malaga region. The floral, concentrated aroma is classic Moscatel, redolent of honeysuckle and orange blossom, but the palate is crisp and dry with citrus and mineral notes. This pale straw colored wine possesses a finely tuned balance of flavors that express a fresh and unique side of this ancient region. $19.99
Musva This is a non-vintage sparkling Moscatel that works its magic best at the end of a meal. It is medium sweet, low in alcohol, aggressively bubbly and aromatic. Notes of baking spices (cloves, nutmeg, allspice) make this an excellent wine to serve with an autumn pear tart (or, even better, good ol’ American pumpkin pie). $11.99
Salvador Poveda Moscatel Here is a sweet dessert wine from a well known and long established company located in the town of Monovar near Valencia. The wine is dark amber in color with abundant floral perfume and flavors of ripe figs, dates and golden raisins. Serve this wine with full flavored cheeses, nut desserts or in a small glass all by itself after a big meal. $10.99
Join us on Friday, October 15th in the Mill Valley store starting at 6:30 pm for a very special tasting with Fernando Oliveira from the Barros Port House. Fernando, a fourth generation master blender, will walk us through an exclusive offering of Barros’ most select ports. Fernando runs the daily blending of new Port vintages and also oversees the care and transfer of cask-aging Colheitas, some of which have been aging in barrels for a century.
We’ll sample Tawny, Ruby and Colheita styles, so there is a little something for everyone’s taste. There will be also some tapas on-hand to accompany these delicious Ports. Give us a call (415-388-5043) or drop by the Mill Valley store to sign-up, as space is limited ($15 per person).
Let me introduce you to Gual and Baboso. No, they are neither law partners nor ice dancers. Gual and Baboso are autochthonous grape varieties that grow on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. These are two of the varieties that are championed at Bodegas Viñátigo, one of several Canary Islands wineries that are just becoming available in the US market thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Bay Area based importer José Pastor.
Founded in 1990, Bodegas Viñátigo makes several unique wines from vineyards in the Ycoden Daute Isora wine region on the western side of Tenerife. Juan Mendez, born and raised on the island, started Viñátigo with the aim of recuperating indigenous grape varieties. His vineyards are all planted on original rootstock in rocky black volcanic soil. Each vine grows in a small depression in the earth to protect it from the ever present trade winds. Indigenous yeasts are used for fermentation. The wines are all produced as single varietals.
The small Viñátigo winery, built from rough hewn local stones, takes advantage of many elements of modern winery design. Wines are moved by gravity rather than pumping from one stage of elaboration to the next. Fresh fruit is delivered to the top level of the winery where sorting and crushing takes place. The wines are fermented in temperature controlled tanks one level down, and bottling and packaging are done on the lowest level.
2008 Viñátigo Gual is made from the Gual grape. Cold maceration and fermentation preserve the maximum of aroma and flavor in this richly textured white wine. Green almond and sesame seed aroma blend with tropical citrus flavors. The textural weight comes from extended skin contact. A foundation of volcanic minerality creates a lean, almost austere, first impression. Only with a bit of air does the complex tropical side of the wine come forward. This off beat varietal wine will pair well with elegant seafood preparations featuring scallops and lobster or even the silky monk fish liver preparation known in Japan as ‘ankimo’. $22.99
2008 Viñátigo Baboso is made from the red Baboso grape. This dark skinned juicy grape creates bold, expressive wines. In this particular example the ripe fruit character adds contrast to a wine that at its core is deeply mineral and rocky. 10 months in French oak gives this wine tannic structure. Barnyardy aromas of hayloft and meat locker add a note of funky intrigue to this unique expression of local soil and climate. A slow cooked braise of beef and mushrooms would be a nice match here. $42.99
Top Shelf Vinho Verde
Adega de Monção is a cooperative winery in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. Deu la Deu is the top wine from this well known and well respected winery. It is made of 100% Alvarinho (rare in Vinho Verde) from the highest quality fruit of each vintage. This wine combines the traditional spritzy effervescence and grapefruit aroma of Vinho Verde with a deeper, more expressive balance of aromas and flavors. Notes of white peach and orange blossom combine with finely tuned minerality and leesy textural weight. This well made wine can be enjoyed right away or held back for a few years as they do in Portugal. $19.99