Category Archives: events

Madeira tasting at The Spanish Table in Mill Valley

Join us in Mill Valley Thursday, August 4th as we taste through the full spectrum of Madeira styles – from dry to sweet. Madeira is probably thebookleast-known category of wine here at the store, which is a shame, as they’re fabulous both at the start of a meal and with desserts. Manny Berk, truly an expert on Madeira, will be on-hand to educate us on these varied and unique wines.  He has re-published Noel Cossart’s, “Madeira – An Island Vineyard”, which details the fascinating history of Madeira with notes on vintages, special tastings, etc. (Tasting fee includes a copy of the book.) We’ll set out a variety of cheeses and other snacks that will pair nicely with the wines. There is a lot of interest in this tasting, and space is limited. For more information or to reserve a spot, please call the Mill Valley store: (415) 388-5043)

Joe’s Wine News:

cono%2042008 Primitivo Quiles Cono 4
This is one of the oldest wineries in Alicante and is famous for their amazing 1948 Fondillon and Raspay.  The Cono 4 is a new, younger monastrell that is very tasty.  Floral blackberry, rose, cracked pepper, and a touch of chocolate on the finish.  Great balance and acidity, to boot. A tremendous value wine at  $11.99.

yunquera2010 Valduero Yunquera Albillo
Best known as a producer of excellent red wines, Bodegas Valduero also makes one white wine from a little known grape called Albillo. Just 2 % of the estate vineyards at Bodegas Valduero are planted to Albillo.

Yunquera is made from 100% Albillo fermented in stainless steel and allowed to rest on its lees to give the wine weight and textural richness. It displays citrus blossom aroma with additional notes of fresh green herbs, petrol and bees wax on a firm mineral foundation. The golden color makes me think of this as a perfect white wine for cooler weather and richer meals. $16.99

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Vinho Verde: White, Pink, Red (but not green)

We have several distinctive  and fabulous Portuguese wines from the Vinho Verde region located along Portugal’s northern border with Spain. Traditionaly thought of as the home of fun, fizzy,non-vintage picnic wines, Vinho Verde can also make elegant varietal wines in a range of styles including rosé and red wines. Here are a few of our favorites:

2010 Muralhas Rosé Vinho Verde
Adegas de Moncao makes top notch Vino Verde wines that are very popular in Portugal. They make vintage dated wines (unlike the mass market versions that are non-vintage)from high quality fruit. The 2010 Muralhas de Moncao Rose is made from a blend of indigenous varieties including Alvarelhao, Pedral and Vinhao. This refreshing low alcohol (11.5%) rosé displays fresh berry aroma and citrusy fruit character carried along by the same slight effervescence of the traditional white Vinho Verde. $12.99

2009 Afros Vinhao
Here is a fine example of the rare and elusive red Vinho Verde. Afros is made from the Vinhao grape, distinctive for having red flesh as well as red skin. Afros Vinhao is very dark, inky dark, and, true to style, is slightly effervescent. Youthful, cranberry fruit character and assertive grape skin tannins make for a nervy, taut wine with expressive character. $15.99

2008 Dorado Alvarinho
Marcial Dorado makes this excellent 100% Alvarinho Vinho Verde. After searching in vain for the perfect Albarino vineyard in Spain, he crossed the Minho River and bought a vineyard of 70 year old Alvarinho located just above the little town of Melgaco where he also built a small gravity fed (no pumping of wine from tank to tank) winery called Quinta do Feital. The unoaked ‘Dorado’, the flagship of the winery, is rich with melon and pear aromas and flavors. Bright acidity punctuates the ripe fruit character, creating a long, lingering finish. $24.99

Rioja Tasting:

Don’t forget about our tasting in Mill Valley with Cune on May 26th from 6-8 pm!  There are only a few spots left and they’re filling up fast.  Aside from the lineup of their current releases we’ll be tasting through a number of their Gran Reservas from the ’70s and even one from 1928(!!!).

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Old Riojas

We just received a small batch of some of Rioja’s most delicious Gran Reservas.  Four outstanding vintages of Montecillo’s Gran Reserva are now available as a set for $130. The owners of the Spanish Table have called this collection “One of the best values we’ve come across since we opened The Spanish Table”. The full set makes a remarkable gift (say, for a 50th birthday…).  We are also offering them individually.
These traditional, clasically styled wines may be enjoyed right away or cellared for years to come but they will sell out before we can get them on the web site so to order, call us at 510-548-1383.

1981 – Reg $95, Now $50:  Impressive liveliness in this 30 year old wine.  Notes of balsamic, dried cherry and cigar box – elegant with silky tannins.
1982 – Reg $100, Now $60:  Exhibits nuance and impressive complexity.  Vibrant and savory, with notes of smoke, mushroom, leather.
1985 – Reg $80, Now $45:  Seemed to be the lightest wine of the four, but it gradually opened up with decanting and was even better the following day.  Make sure to decant this an hour before enjoying.
1991 – Reg $75, Now $40 – Still very young with expressive bright fruit and beautiful taut balance.  Plenty of life ahead for this wine.

Portuguese lunch & wine tasting

Sunday March 20th, 2011 2 pm

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Come spend a Sunday afternoon in the country at La Salette Portuguese restaurant in Sonoma where chef Manuel Azevedo will prepare a traditional meal of Sopas (braised beef in a minted broth with cabbage, bread and sweet potato), a traditional food of local Portuguese festas. An appetizer precedes the Sopas followed by  a traditional Portuguese dessert.
The meal is accompanied by a tasting of four Portuguese wines. Notes on all the wines and the food will be available during the lunch as well as the opportunity to buy the wines through The Spanish Table after the event at discounted prices.
Registration and details can be found here:
http://sopas-sunday-in-sonoma.eventbrite.com/

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Small Drinks

Past experience has shown that in the beginning of the year, after all the gifts have been given/received and the parties have been thrown/attended, what is most desired is a small glass of something delicious to drink after the sun goes down at around 4:30 in the afternoon.  Once the holiday indulgence has been dispensed with, many of us move into a “small is beautiful” state of mind when it comes to our taste in wines. A little snifter of aged Tawny Port or maybe  a ‘copita’ of amber tinted Amontillado Sherry are the preferred drinks for a season of dampness and darkness, hopefully enjoyed in the comfort of home. Traditionalists may opt for the wing back chair, hard bound book and crackling fire for the full effect. Modernists get to a similar place with a comfy sofa, iPad and flat screen TV tuned to playoffs. Whatever your personal style, know that at The Spanish Table you will find a fine selection of wines best enjoyed in small quantities. Conveniently these wines also come in small format bottles, making them quite affordable too. Here are just a few among the many options available to you either in our shops or by mail through our web site.

15yr_oloroso_maestro__57835El Maestro Sierra Oloroso Sherry
El Maesto Sierra is a small family owned Sherry producer. They make a range of wines, from dry to sweet. They specialize in Sherry  with more age than is typical for the region. Maestro Sierra Oloroso is a dark, nutty Oloroso that spent 15 years in the winery before bottling. Toasted walnut aroma and gentle brandied raisin fruit character are what you find here. $17.99 (375 ml)

px_diosbaco__18319Dios Baco PX Sherry
The wines of Dios Baco are perennial favorites at The Spanish Table. Their nutty, dry Amontillado is delicious as is this dark and sweet Pedro Ximenez Sherry, sold in small bottles. Figs, dates and raisins are what you taste when sipping a small glass of this dense, aromatic wine. It also makes a fabulous match with chocolate truffles. $15.99 (500 ml)

 

otima_10_year_tawny__23444Warre’s Otima 10 year Tawny Port Warre’s, a long established Port producer with a stellar reputation, makes this Tawny Port that blends wine from numerous vintages with the final blend averaging 10 years in age. Spice cake aromas blend seamlessly with sweet red plum fruit character. This bright, complex, medium fruity Port wine will compliment a wide range of circumstances. Pair it with ripe cheeses, fruit desserts or shortbread cookies. It is also delicious all by itself. $23.99 (500 ml)

 

img_3774__92859Barbeito VB Madeira This is a rare blended Madeira that combines Verdelho and Boal grapes. Varietal names are not permitted on Madeira labels unless the wine contains at least 85% of the varietal in question, thus this wine is labeled ‘VB’ as a sort of coded  allusion to what is in the bottle. Two single casks of wine, one of 2001 Verdelho and another of 2003 Boal were aged separately and blended by Ricardo Freitas in roughly equal proportions (a bit more Verdelho than Boal) to create a medium dry wine with the bright acidity and dry nutty character of the Verdelho balancing the darker, richer, light raisiny character of the Boal. $42.99 (500 ml)

Cooking Classes

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The good folks at Kitchen On Fire cooking school have invited us back for another series of Spanish cooking classes. In the next few months you have several opportunities to get some hands-on experience making (and eating!) traditional Spanish food.
On Monday February 21st 2011, join me, Kevin Hogan (TST Berkeley’s wine buyer), as I share my passion for cooking in Spanish terracotta cookware. We will make several appetizers, a main dish and dessert, all prepared in Spanish clay cazuelas. This fun,informal evening is both a class and a full meal. Details and registration are to be had here: https://www.kitchenonfire.com/classes/view/id/1389/

On Monday April 11th I will once again offer the ever-popular Paella class. This is your chance to get hands-on experience making a big Paella as well as several classic tapas and a light dessert. Come with an empty stomach and an open mind. You will be rewarded with a plateful of paella wisdom. More information and on-line sign up can be found at www.kitchenonfire.com ( not yet up on the calendar as of this moment. Call 510-548-2655 for registration and details).

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Special Event – Barros Port Tasting


1975_colheita_barros__03657 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).

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The Path Less Traveled

Sometimes the most interesting wines are the ones you don’t expect. A little known grape variety or a region that is off the beaten path can provide the most unexpected pleasure.
This week we offer you two examples of unusual wines that will delight your sense of taste as well as your sense of adventure.

2008 Soalheiro Primeiras Vinhas
It used to be that Portuguese Vinho Verde was simple, spritzy, fun in a bottle. While those wines still exist (and we stock them enthusiastically), a new breed of Vinho Verde can be found that features estate grown grapes with distinct pedigree, vintage specific bottlings and finely tuned wine making skills. Soalheiro Alvarinho Primeiras Vinhas is a standard setter for top shelf Vinho Verde. This 100% Alvarinho wine from Soalheiro’s oldest vineyards is crisp and elegant. Greenish tint (from whence the region gets its name) and spritzy effervescence are in keeping with regional style. The use of 100% Alvarinho as well as the detailed level of winemaking skill sets this wine apart from all other wines in the area. Grapefruit aroma and a palate of fresh citrus blossom and flinty minerality give this wine a distinctiveness that is truly unique. This ain’t no back porch Vinho Verde. This is some serious juice! $33.99

2009 Bermejo Tinto ‘Maceracion Carbonica’
Wines from the Canary Islands have been few and far between in the USA but thanks to the intrepid folks at Jose Pastor Selections numerous intriguing bottles from this string of Spanish islands off the coast of Africa are about to become much more prevalent around here. Bermejo Tinto from Lanzarote, made from the local Listan Negro grape, comes in several styles. This one is made in the “Maceracion Carbonica” style (whole cluster fermentation, a technique used to make fresh,youthful wines quickly) and tastes like a French Beaujolais grown in rocky, volcanic soil. Pure, bright fruit character combines with quartz crystal minerality. This light bodied red will work its magic equally with seafood, poultry and meatless meals. $19.99

Paella Class

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Our friends at Kitchen On Fire Cooking School are hosting us once again for our semi-regular Paella class. The date is Monday September 20th at 6:30 PM.

This is a hands-on class that teaches all the skills needed to make fabulous paella in all sizes and flavors. We will work together to make a large  paella that will include meat, chicken, seafood and vegetables. We will also make several quick tapas to nibble on while we wait for the paella to cook as well as a light dessert. Several paella friendly wines will be sampled along the way. Details and registration are all to be found on the Kitchen On Fire web site at:

www.kitchenonfire.com/classes/view/id/1220/

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Luis Pato

Luis Pato is one of Portugal’s best known winemakers.

Working from his family’s Quinta do Ribeirinho estate in the Beiras region of central Portugal he has almost single handedly rejuvenated the reputation for the Baga grape, a local variety that had long fallen from favor. His Baga wines are distinctively spicy and a bit wild. He also works with other Portuguese red grapes such as Touriga Nacional but has earned some notoriety over the years for his refusal to cultivate traditional French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. His white wines are also created from traditional Portuguese varieties such as Maria Gomes, Bical and Sercialinho.

His daughter Filipa is a trained winemaker too and participates in the making of Luis Pato wines as well as wines made under her own label.

The name Pato means ‘duck’ in Portuguese so duck imagery appears regularly on the wine labels.

Here are a few Luis Pato wines in a range of styles, red, white, young, mature, still and sparkling. I recommend all of them highly. These wines are all available at spanishtablewines.com


2009 Luis Pato Maria Gomes The entry level white wine from Luis Pato is this varietal Maria Gomes (known elsewhere in Portugal as Fernao Pires) made in a young,fresh, unoaked style. Pale lemon hue with gentle aromas of wild herbs and citrus blossom. White peach and green melon fruit character is held in check by a subtle note of flinty minerality. Fabulous warm weather refreshment. $10.99
2008 Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco This blend of traditional Portuguese grape varieties from the Beiras region is made up of 50% Bical, 30% Cerceal and 20 % Sercialinho, all sourced from old vine vineyards. The yellow gold tint and dense texture create an expectation of age and weight but the wine is quite fresh and lively. A short few months in cask give a bit of gentle oak aroma to the wine but not so much as to obscure the apricot/white peach fruit character. At present this wine is reticent and somewhat muted but with age (or a few hours in a decanter) it will reveal its proper complexity. A whole baked fish stuffed with fresh green herbs would be a perfect match here. $17.99
2008 Luis Pato Espumante The sparkling wine from Luis Pato is made up from 95% Maria Gomes(known elsewhere in Portugal as Fernao Pires) combined with 5% Arinto to create an assertively bubbly wine with floral aroma, tart citrus peel flavor and flinty minerality. Serve this on a hot day alongside some grilled fish (sardines are traditional). $13.99
2007 Luis Pato Baga Tinto In the Beiras region of central Portugal the Baga grape is a traditional variety that is enjoying a bit of a renaissance thanks in large part to the work of Luis Pato, a relentless champion of this little known variety. In this young, unoaked version the Baga grape expresses a bright, lean character that evokes scents and flavors of cranberry and  tea leaf. Delicate berry-like fruit character is present but not obvious or intrusive. A lightly bitter/twiggy note at the end is reminiscent of Cabernet Franc from Chinon or Mencia from Bierzo. This wine makes a fabulous accompaniment to chicken grilled  in the Portuguese style with piri-piri pepper sauce. $13.99
2005 Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Tinto Vinhas Velhas (translates as ‘Old Vines’) is a bold red wine made from 100% Baga sourced from vines that are at least 40 years old. After fermentation the wines spend fifteen months in large used oak barrels. It displays dark garnet color and aromas of ripe berries with a bit of Amarone-ish raisin. The flavor is spicy and earthy at the same time with  dark berry fruit character and background minerality. Roast pork in all its forms will work well here. $29.99
2003 Luis Pato Primeira Escolha Luis Pato blends equal proportions of old vine Baga and Touriga Nacional from his best estate vines (primeira escolha translates as ‘first choice’) then ages them briefly (4-5 months) in oak after fermentation with several additional years of bottle age prior to release. The dark mulberry color and lightly funky/gamey aroma give way to pure elegant dark berry fruit character supported by gentle tannins. This wine presents an intriguing contrast between the precise and the rustic. It will pair well with grilled pork chops and white beans. $32.99
1990 Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Tinto This mature version of Vinhas Velhas is 100% Baga like the current release but with decades of age the wine has fully come unto its own. The high acidity of the tart Baga grape has evolved and softened. The initially firm  tannins are now supple. This wine is brick red in color with notes of dried fruit, tea leaves and dusty minerality. Only 10 cases were imported to the USA and we have just a few bottles to offer. $47.99

Clay Cazuela Cooking Class

In this class, we will learn all about cooking in the traditional Spanish cazuelas (terracotta cookware) as together we prepare several classic Spanish recipes. All of the fantastic foods for this class, from quick cooked appetizers to slow braised stews and even dessert, will be prepared using Spanish cazuelas. Cooking in clay is an ancient way to transform simple ingredients into delicious meals. In Spain, the earthenware cazuela is the required vessel necessary to prepare any number of  recipes both ancient and modern.
The class is on Monday August 9th at 6:30 pm. The location is Kitchen On Fire cooking school, located in Berkeley at 1509 Shattuck Ave. the cost is $65 per person which includes hands-on instruction, printed recipes and dinner. Details and registration can be found on the Kitchen On Fire web site at: https://www.kitchenonfire.com/classes/view/id/1174

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