Category Archives: Argentina

Wine Recap

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


Paella Class

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.”



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Filed under Argentina, events, Portugal, Red Wine, sidra (cider), Spain, Uncategorized, White Wine

Cerveza y Sidra

The weather is warm, the Labor Day weekend is upon us, Cal is back in session, everybody but you and me has run off to the dessert for Burning Man and the Bay Bridge is closing for three days. Pick the reason that best suits your purpose but it all boils down to this: it’s Beer O’Clock in Berkeley.
After years of my constant whining about the lack of beer from Spain and Portugal, the local distributors have conspired to shut me up by supplying some really great beers that I now offer to you.
This week we have brought in all the beer we could find from Spain and Portugal (and one from Argentina too!). They are conveniently stacked up tall in the middle of the store and will surely add a new and unique level of refreshment to your weekend plans.
We have a few well known major brands that will be familiar to many of you. We also now carry a  few more esoteric brews including a new version of  Barcelona’s best selling beer designed by none less than Chef Ferrán Adriá from elBulli. We also just received a unique and delicious barrel aged red ale from Argentina.  Additionally, we have re-stocked our Basque hard apple cider, now available in the oh-so-cute half bottle size as well as the traditional 750ml bottles.
Of course we continue to bring in new, interesting  wines including numerous red, white and rosado wines that will refresh your palate and awaken your appetite on a warm evening, but, as they always say to me when I visit the bodegas in Spain, “before we try the wines, would you like a beer?”

Estrella Galicia While Spain has many excellent beers, this well known (in Spain) lager from Galicia was, for many years, the only Spanish beer available here in California. Blond color, yeasty aroma and crisp flavor are just what you want after a hot day. $10.99 (6 pack)
Estrella Damm For those who have visited Barcelona, this beer will be very familiar to you and will rekindle fond memories of that Catalan metropolis. This crisp, lager style beer is now in good supply here in the USA and makes a perfect addition to a Spanish themed party or meal. $10.99 (6 pack)
Estrella Damm Inedit Celebrated chef Ferrán Adriá from elBulli 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 microbrews. $10.99 (750 ml bottle)
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 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)
Sagres In Portugal, this is a major brand. Sagres is served everywhere. This classic lager style brew is crisp, light, slightly fruity and perfect on a hot evening.  $7.99 (6 pack)
Sagres Bohemia This dark beer from Sagres starts off crisp and hoppy. The toasted, malty richness comes on quickly and adds a bit of black coffee-ish flavor to the beer. $7.99 (6 pack)
Super Bock Not actually a ‘bock’ beer, this popular Portuguese lager (technically a malt liquor due to the 5.6% alcohol by volume) is light blond color with clean corn flavor and light hoppy finish. Serve this cold on a hot day and taste it at its best. $7.99 (6 pack)

In northern Spain, where the cool moist climate is not always conducive to grape growing, the local drink of choice is hard apple cider. In the bars of San Sebastian they pour sidra from the bottle held high overhead in an outstretched arm into wide glass tumblers. At the local sidrerias the Sagardo (cider in Basque) streams straight from large wooden kegs and accompanies a meal of fried salt cod with peppers and onions, huge bone-in ribeye steaks and walnuts and cheese for dessert. The meal is consumed standing up to facilitate frequent trips back and forth from the barrel room. From time to time a staffer will yell “Txotx!” and everyone lines up to get another glass of cider.
Experience the Basque hard cider tradition at home with 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)

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Filed under Argentina, beer, Portugal, sidra (cider), Spain

Bold Reds From Spain And Beyond

We have been featuring plenty of bright, refreshing white and rosado wines lately, so this week we will catch you up on some of the dark, expressive red wines that have arrived here recently.

Flor de Pingus 2006 Dominio de Pingus produces some of Spain’s most sought after wines. The newly released Flor de Pingus is produced in small quantities (I have just 6 bottles here). Produced from the low yield fruit of old vine Tempranillo grown in the clay and gravel soil of Ribera del Duero, Flor de Pingus is an elegant example of regional style. Dusty tannins play off pure, dark berry fruit. This wine combines poise with power in a finely tuned wine. Flor de Pingus is never thought of as a bargain until you consider that the flag ship Pingus retails for around 10 times the price of  Flor de Pingus. $80.00
Viña Soledad Crianza 2001 For those who remember last years’ Rioja Bordón Crianza from Bodegas Franco-Española, I have some good news. I just located a small quantity of another 2001 Crianza from the same bodega. Viña Soledad displays much of the same patina of age that gave Rioja Bordón that Gran Reserva character at a Tinto Joven price. The same brickish tint is found here along with some, but not all, of the resinous barrel character that made Rioja Bordón so evocative of Rioja wines from days long past. The tart cherry fruit character is still extant and the alcohol is an old fashioned 12.5%. The price, well, the price can’t be beat. $9.99
Carmelo Patti Malbec 2004 Carmelo Patti is a winemaking legend in the Mendoza region of Argentina. In business for over thirty years, he makes all his wines himself, by hand, in a small unmarked warehouse. Sicilian by birth, Carmelo Patti is just one of numerous Italian immigrants who have made a name for themselves in the Argentine wine business. Carmelo Patti Malbec 2004 is sourced from 30 year old vines grown at high elevation in Lujan de Cuyo. 12 months of barrel age after fermentation, followed by two years of bottle age before the wine is shipped to market ensures that the wine is fully elaborated and ready to drink upon release. Dark ruby in color, this wine expresses initial aromas of wood smoke and earth. The dark berry fruit character that Argentine Malbec is known for gets a more subtle treatment here. The fruit never overpowers the fine balance of flavors including mushrooms and tannic oak in addition to the berry and pomegranate fruit character. The mineral element comes out mostly in the long, smooth finish. $28.99
Navarro Lopez Old Vines Tempranillo Gran Reserva 2001 We featured this DO Valdepeñas wine from Bodegas Navarro Lopez in a previous release earlier in the year, to much acclaim. We are glad to now have the superlative 2001 vintage in stock. This wine is made from Tempranillo sourced from vineyards over 30 years old. After fermentation the wine ages in oak barrels of 24 months, followed by a long, slow (three years) period of bottle maturation.  The wine is showing a mature, brickish tint, with fully integrated aromas of sappy oak and tart red fruits. Delicate fruit character is lightly oxidized and ethereal. Gentle tannins adds depth and complexity to the experience.  $18.99
Casa de Casal de Loivos 2006 Cristiano Van Zeller has been instrumental in promoting the table wines from Portugal’s Douro Valley in addition to the traditional Porto from this same region. The new 2006 vintage of his wine, the sibling of the more expensive Quinta do Vale D. Maria Tinto, combines dozens of field blended traditional Douro grapes to produce a dark, assertive wine that expresses abundant brambly fruit character, firm tannins and foundational minerality. This robust red will keep well for a decade or more and should be decanted for immediate enjoyment. $48.99
Pago de Carraovejas Crianza 2005 Hey, look what just walked in the door. A stray case of this well loved and hard to find Ribera del Duero red has appeared here (this happened once before with this wine) and is going fast.  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.  All three estate grown grapes are used 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. $39.99

Recipe: Father’s Day Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

Show Dad that you are, in fact, not oblivious to all he has done (and continues to do) for you and the rest of the family. Make him this recipe that takes very little time, can be served hot, cold or whenever he is ready to eat and goes great with a nice glass of hearty red wine.
I liberally adapted this recipe from the new Joyce Goldstein cookbook simply called “Tapas”(2009, Chronicle books, $22.95). I have simplified a few steps by using some of the traditional Spanish products available here at The Spanish Table and added a few additional celebratory ingredients.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 pound ground beef
1/4 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped green olives
2 tablespoons small currants
2 tablespoons whole pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
12 whole Piquillo peppers (8 oz. jar)
1 12 oz. jar of Tomate Frito (or tomato puree)

Directions:
In a 10 inch clay cazuela, heat the olive oil on the stove. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent. Add the ground beef and pork to the cazuela and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, flour and paprika and cook for one more minute. Turn off the heat and stir in the olives, currants and pine nuts. Allow the meat mixture to cool to room temperature, then spoon everything out of the cazuela and set aside. Pour the Tomate Frito into the same cazuela and bring to a simmer on the stove over low heat. While the sauce is warming up, fill each Piquillo pepper with a spoonful of the meat mixture. Nestle the filled peppers in the sauce, in a circle, points facing the middle. Simmer the peppers until heated through and serve, accompanied by some good bread and any of the wines from this week’s selection.

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Filed under Argentina, Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain

Summer Wines & Padrón Peppers

Pimientos de Padrón Alert

We interrupt regularly scheduled wine news to announce the arrival of the new crop of Pimientos de Padrón. These small, seasonal  green peppers are traditional bar snacks in the north of Spain and  are one of the few fresh vegetables that we carry here. Simply fry a batch up in some good olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.  We should have these throughout the summer and into the fall. They are still the same price as last year:
$6.99 1/4 lb.

Summer Wines

As we move into the summer season, my attention is drawn to bright, refreshing white and rosado wines that cool me down from the heat of the day and awaken my appetite. I also like to pour robust reds that pair well with grilled food. Here are a few of this weeks’ new selections.

Ochoa Rosado 2008 Our newest pink wine is a classically styled offering from Navarra, the traditional home of Spanish rosado wines. This one is made from the local Garnacha grape and is a lively, bright wine with an orange/pink hue. The light berry-like fruit character is tart and refreshing. $12.99
Ostatu Blanco 2008 The new vintage of this dry, herbaceous white Rioja has just arrived. Made from the local Viura grape (known elsewhere as Macabeo) this wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, never overwhelming the delicate fruit character with the aromas and flavors from oak barrels. This young wine displays grassy aroma and notes of kiwi fruit and green grapes. $12.99
Mas Torrontes 2008 For those who have loved the Mas Malbec from Argentina, here is a white Torrontes from the same bodega. This new arrival is floral scented (jasmine, honeysuckle)and richly fruity (apricot, crane melon). Racy acidity cuts through the perfume and maintains a fine balance. This is an excellent white to serve cold on a hot afternoon. $10.99
Siesta Brut Ernesto Catena, son of the famous Nicolás Catena (and brother of Laura, another well known winemaker) makes this sparkling wine from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Palest pink color, yeasty bread dough aroma and bright, tart fruit character are held together by fine bead bubbles. This is excellent bubbly and is one of the best examples I have yet tasted from Argentina. $17.99
Tahuan Malbec 2005 Ernesto Catena’s Malbec is a fine example of an Argentine wine that is bold and expressive without loosing the complexity that makes this region so interesting. The addition of 10% Cabernet Sauvignon adds structure to the juicy, ripe Malbec. The wine spends 12 months in oak, lending tannic depth to the final product. $18.99
Meia Encosta 2007 Portugal continues to produce some really good wines at rock bottom prices. This young wine from the Dão region is fresh and bright. Clear ruby color, cherry aroma and Gamay-like fruit character (the blend here is actually Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz) all work in harmony to express the tart,refreshing style that makes this such a perfect mid-week red. $8.99

Upcoming Spanish Wine & Food Events

On June 14th TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society) will hold their 2nd annual tasting of domestic wines made from Spanish & Portuguese grape varieties. Ft. Mason in San Francisco is the venue for this interesting event. Details can be found (and tickets purchased) on the TAPAS website. The Spanish Table will be in attendance showing off our new cookbook as well as sampling some olives and other imported Spanish snacks to go with all the local vino.

On June 22nd, I will be teaching my Paella And Wine class at the Berkeley cooking school Kitchen On Fire. Participants will get hands-on experience making (and eating) a large Paella Mixta (includes meat, seafood & vegetables) as well as a few simple tapas and a light dessert. We will sample a few appropriate Spanish wines as we go. Class starts at 6:30 pm and we should be done by around 9 pm. This popular event is limited to 30 people with a price of $65.00 per person. Sign up is through Kitchen On Fire, either on the web, or by phone 510-548-2665,(510-265-COOK).

The next TapasWalk Spanish wine & food walking tour is coming up on Wednesday June 24th. I will be leading this tour through downtown San Francisco, stopping in at five different restaurants to sample some of Spain’s unique wines accompanied by a few traditional tapas at each location. Details as well as future tour dates can be found on my blog.

On June 28th The Berkeley International Food Festival will enliven our little neighborhood with the aromas and flavors of many lands. Kabobs, tamales, samosas and other street foods will be available. Here at The Spanish Table we will be making our traditional huge paella which we hand out samples of (free of charge) to the hungry masses. In addition to the food  expect music, dancing, art and sunshine. It will be fun.

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Filed under Argentina, events, Portugal, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

Affordable Varietals & Substantial Reds

As Spain continues to forge ahead as a major exporter of wines, regional styles that were once found only in Spain are finding their way to our shores.
As vineyard land grows more expensive in the recognised Denominación de Origen regions, those who wish to produce wine at everyday prices must look elsewhere for quality fruit. The once humble Vino de la Tierra designation now includes many excellent wines, usually at the value end of the price bracket (though more high end exceptions to this general rule appear with each passing vintage).
This week we feature a handful of wines that come from Spain’s lesser known regions where familiar grape varieties can be made into wine at a fraction of the expense incurred in the more established and demarcated areas.
Additionally this week, just because I think they are so tasty, I offer up a couple of reds, one from Portugal and one from Argentina that will compliment whatever is for dinner without breaking the bank.

Las Colinas del Ebro Garnacha Blanca 2008 When we see Catalan wines made from 100 year old Garnacha Blanca they usually come from  Priorat and are accompanied by a pretty hefty price tag. Colinas del Ebro is located in Terra Alta on Catlunya’s western edge and this lesser known region is the source for this tank fermented white wine that displays aromas of wildflowers and green herbs along with flavors that evoke white peach and green apple. $11.99
Maximo Blanco 2007 Bodegas Maximo, founded in 2002 by the Barón de Ley Group (best known for El Coto in Rioja)is dedicated to producing monovarietal wines in central Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha region. Their white Viura (a grape more common to the Rioja region as well as in Catalunya where it is called Macabeo) is tank fermented (no oak) and displays gentle aromas of wet slate and chamomile tea to match flavors of green apple and grapefruit. $10.99
Maximo Tinto 2007 The red wine from Bodegas Maximo is made from Tempranillo and spends a period of six months in oak prior to bottling. The goal at Bodegas Maximo is to produce monovarietal wines at affordable prices. This red wine expresses the bright pie cherry fruit character of Tempranillo bolstered by a moderate level of oak barrel tannin. $10.99
Tres Ojos Tinto 2007 Tres Ojos Tinto, a favorite young red made from old vine Garnacha in DO Calatayud is back in the new 2007 vintage and sports a newly designed label and, more importantly, has traded the plasti-cork for the oh-so-user friendly screw top (please, do not fear the Stelvin closure for it is your friend ). $9.99
Maipe Malbec 2008 The new vintage of this popular Argentine red is composed of 100% hand harvested Malbec from 35 year old vines. 10% of the fermented wine spends 3 months in American oak before blending and bottling. Maipe Malbec is dark purple in color with expressive aromas of ripe berries and a bit of oak scent. Ripe dark berry flavors combine with notes of cocoa powder and earthy minerality on the finish. Fire up the grill and serve this wine alongside some steaks or kabobs and a bit of spicy chimichurri sauce. $9.99
Veedha Tinto 2007 Here is another great red from Portugal’s Douro Valley, source of numerous excellent wines these days. This one is young and expressive, blending traditional Douro varieties (mostly Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz) in a dark, bold style that will compliment spicy, grilled foods. $12.99

Substantial Reds

We love our light, summery white and rosado wines but sometimes a big, chewy, mature red wine is just what the moment requires. If you are in the mood for a formidable wine that will grab your attention and intrigue both your palate and your intellect, here are a couple of unique suggestions:

Carmelo Rodero Reserva 2004 Carmelo Rodero is a fourth generation grape grower and wine maker. His grandfather was one of the founding members of the local wine cooperative in Pedrosa back when the region was better known for producing sugar beets rather than grapes. Using the fruit from the family vineyards, including many parcels of rare old vines, Bodegas Rodero started making their own wine in 1991. Carmelo Rodero Reserva 2004 is a blend of 90% Tinto Fino (the local version of Tempranillo) and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  After fermentation the wine spent 21 months in barrel (a mix of new and second use French and American oak) followed by an equivalent maturation period in the bottle before release. The final result is a powerful darkly colored wine that expresses rich fruit character intermingled with sweet oaky tannins and expressive minerality. $42.99

Flor de Grealó 2004 Vinya l’Hereu de Seró is a small family owned company with a long tradition of grape growing and wine making. The wines from Vinya l’Hereu are elaborated in the small village of Seró, located in D.O. Costers del Segre. The estate vineyards, all certified organic, are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot varieties. Flor de Grealó is a dark garnet colored wine with aromas of fresh earth, meat locker and rusty iron.  Dark berry fruit character is supplemented with black olive and moderate oak barrel flavors.  Underlying minerality adds weight and structure to the wine, balancing the ripe berry fruit. $34.99

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

Memorial Day

Got big plans for the holiday weekend? Of course you do. Chances are you’ll be firing up the grill and (hopefully) pouring a little vino. To facilitate the choosing of appropriate beverages for Memorial Day, here are a few new options for your consideration.
Don Simon Sangria You want the real Spain? Put aside visions of bullfights and flamenco dancers and visit a Spanish supermarket or gas station where regular folks take care of everyday business. And what will you find there? You will find wines from Don Simon, usually packaged in juice box style cartons. So imagine my excitement to find Don Simon Sangria on offer from a local distributor. This big 1.5 Liter jug of pre-made Sangria needs only a garnish of seasonal fruit and some ice to turn your back yard into a little slice of Spain. $10.99
Estrella Damm For those who have visited Barcelona, this beer will be very familiar to you and will rekindle fond memories of that Catalan metropolis. This crisp, lager style beer is now in good supply here in the USA and makes a perfect addition to a Spanish themed party or meal. $10.99 per 6 pack.
Van Zellers Douro Branco 2007 The table wine renaissance in Portugal’s Douro Valley has produced numreous red wines of distinction and quality. Now more white wines are starting to make an appearance. Cristiano van Zeller at Quinta do Vale D. Maria makes this crisp white wine that exhibits fresh herbaceous aroma, bright acidity and gentle melon-like fruit character. $17.99
Gurrutxaga 2008 The Basque white wine called Txakoli has become a favorite of many wine drinkers who have grown tired of heavily oaked, densely fruity white wines. Bodegas Gurrutxaga is a small family winery in Mendexa producing minuscule quantities of this crisp, lean white wine composed of a tongue twisting blend of 60% Hondarribi Zuri, 20% Mune Mahatsa and 20% Txori Mahatsa. Bright acidity and slatey minerality characterize this refreshing summertime wine. $19.99
Gurrutxaga Rosado 2008 An alternative to traditional white Txakoli, Gurrutxaga also comes in this rosado version that uses the red Hondarribi Beltza grape to produce a very dry pink wine that expresses the barest hint of strawberry fruit character. Low (10.5%) alcohol makes this a perfect starter wine for summertime entertaining. $19.99
Rento 2001 Bodegas Renacimiento de Olivares makes traditionally styled red wines from old vine Tinta del País (Tempranillo)in the Ribera del Duero region of Northern Spain. Originally in the $40+ range, we just secured a small quantity of the 2001crianza at a very nice price. Darkly tinted, this rich, earthy red expresses classic regional style. $19.99
Preludio Tempranillo 2007 Yes, Argentina offers much more than just Malbec for red wine enthusiasts. The newly arrived 2007 vintage of this Tempranillo from Tempus Alba displays bright berry-like fruit along with a modest note of barrel character. $13.99

Vega Sicilia Pre-Arrival Offer

In DO Ribera del Duero Vega Sicilia produces Spain’s most famous wines. The rare and expensive Unico is produced only in excellent vintages and is intended for long term storage. The second label, Valbuena is sourced from younger vines and is ready to drink at a younger age. A second brand called Alion, created in 1992 and produced at a separate facility comes in at a more affordable price (relatively speaking). More recently a new bodega in DO Toro produces a wine called Pintia that has garnered much praise and attention from the press and public.
We are offering these wines on a pre-arrival basis for those of you who wish to partake in the enjoyment of an icon. This will be your one chance to pick these wines up at slightly better than usual prices and the only opportunity to pick up Unico and Valbuena which won’t be available in the store. Give a call if these are of interest to you.
1999 Vega Sicilia Unico $380.00
2004 Vega Sicilia Valbuena $150.00
2005 Alion $76.00
2006 Pintia $62.00
(Magnums are available too. Contact us for pricing)

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

Many Are Tasted, But Few Are Chosen

It is that time of year again.

I speak of the spring tasting season when all the wine importers and distributors conduct tastings for the trade. New wines are featured along with new vintages of familiar favorites. At these events buyers like me get a chance to sniff, sip, compare and contrast dozens (no, hundreds) of wines before choosing what to carry in the store. It all sounds like a fun time and sort of a booze cruise but it is, in fact, a bit of work (yes, I know, poor me).

I used to make a habit of trying all the white wines before moving on to reds but I found that the high acidity of white wines tended to burn out my taste buds early, leaving me with a palate too compromised to accurately taste the red wines. My routine these days is to taste first all the things I am most interested in, switching back and forth between reds and whites. Then I go back and try other wines that I might have missed the first time through. Of course I am not consuming all this wine yet even so after a few hours I have to call it quits because palate fatigue sets in and everything starts tasting the same. Afterwards, with purple teeth, smudgy notes and, most likely, a wine stained shirt I head back home to review my notes and choose what to bring in and sell.

This week I offer you a selection of new arrivals that made the cut. Some of these wines are making a first appearance at The Spanish Table while others have just changed to the latest vintage, warranting repeat investigation.

Laxas 2008 The first 2008 Albariño of the season has arrived. Laxas is a ripe pear and citrus scented wine that displays a greenish tint and a light minerality. This bright, floral white wine is a perfect choice for springtime foods such as fresh cheeses, tender salad greens and fresh vegetables. The price has thankfully not gone up in the new vintage. $17.99

Solar de Serrade Alvarinho 2007 The wine world has ‘discovered’ Portugal (a case of hiding in plain sight, if you ask me) leading to the importation of numerous new and interesting wines that previously never made it out of the country. The Vinho Verde wines of northern Portugal have for many years been associated with cheap, spritzy, non-vintage white wines that are fun, refreshing and simple.  Now we are seeing more elaborate, intriguing wines from this region including this single varietal Alvarinho (Albariño in Spain become Alvarinho in Portugal). The light spritzy effervescence of a typical Vinho Verde is found here with a much drier, more mineral foundation underlying tart citrus fruit character. This crisp, refreshing, low alcohol white wine makes an excellent aperitivo wine as well as a nice accompaniment to lighter meals. $17.99

Muralhas De Monçao Vinho Verde 2007 Another example of the many wonderful wines coming out of Portugal right now, this white wine from the Vinho Verde region is a traditional blend of Alvarinho and Trajadura, bottled with a touch of residual effervescence. Aromas and flavors of white peach and meyer lemon give this wine a bit of roundness to balance the crisp acidity and light minerality. This wine is very popular in Portugal and has happily been showing up around the Bay Area on some by-the-glass lists of numerous restaurants. Try it at home with a big salad and some grilled sardines. $15.99

Mas Malbec 2007 The new 2007 vintage of Mas Malbec serves as a reminder that this has been a consistently solid wine and a customer favorite for several vintages running.  This wine from bodegas Sur de los Andes in Argentina is a private label for the importer Luis Moya who works with the producer to create a young 100% Malbec wine in a well balanced style. Ripe fruit never overwhelms the palate, leaving room for light barrel tannins and rocky minerality. This too is the same price as last vintage. $11.99

Novecento Malbec 2007 As the season changes and the weather warms, I start to bring in more wines intended to accompany outdoor cooking.  This young Malbec from Argentina is expressive and ripe with dark berry fruit fruit character. Dust off the grill, open a bottle of Novocento and start enjoying the sunshine. $10.99

La Planta 2007 Many of you have been waiting for the new vintage of La Planta to arrive. Wait no longer. This lightly oaked red from Bodegas Arzuaga in Ribera del Duero is dark and expressive with earthy nuance and ripe fruit character. Fashioned from the local Tinto Fino grape (Tempranillo by another name) and aged for just a few months in small oak barrels, this wine has a bold character that pairs well with full flavored meaty meals. A mixed grill of chuletas de cordero (lamb chops) and morcilla (blood sausage) would be a perfect pairing here. $15.99

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