Category Archives: Misc.Wine

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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Filed under events, Fortified Wine, Misc.Wine, Portugal

Workers Of The World, Imbibe!

Labor Day weekend, the traditional end of summer, is upon us. School is back in session, Cal football starts up again this Saturday and Berkeley is shifting into busy season as the academic year gets under way. Of course, for those of us ‘townies’ that live here all year long (nobody really calls us ‘townies’, that’s just my east coast heritage showing) it feels like summer just got started now that several months of  ever present coastal fog (the source of much envy from my sweltering friends back east) have abated and hot, sunny days have finally arrived. Now is our opportunity to go out and catch up on the warm weather pursuits that have eluded us all summer long.
At The Spanish Table we will be open every day to satisfy your need for unique and delicious refreshment in all its guises. We have Spanish and Portuguese beers, several versions of hard apple cider, fun and fruity pink rosado wines, numerous spritzy Txakoli wines from Basque Country and a boat load of Vinho Verde from Portugal (in both white and pink versions). We have light red wines to serve cool and bone dry Sherries to serve ice cold. Appropriate snacks (olives, chorizos, cheeses) are also available so come stock up on your favorite flavors from the Iberian peninsula.

We just got a stack of seasonally appropriate wines from one of our favorite bodegas in Rioja. Cune (the initials C.V.N.E. are short for Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana, but in common practice everyone says “coo-nay”) is a well known winery in the Rioja region that works in a very traditional style. Founded in 1879 in the town of Haro, C.V.N.E was a major force in creating the style of Rioja that has since been emulated by many other bodegas in the region. Over a century later the winery is still in the same location and and continues to make a range of traditionally styled wines.

img_3769__676452008 Cune Monopole

Cune Monopole is a dry, crisp white wine made from the local Viura grape. It is pale green/gold in color with aromas and flavors of grapefruit and wild herbs. This unoaked white Rioja is lean and lightly mineral in character. It is very refreshing and pairs well with marinated vegetables and fresh seafood. $12.99

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2009 Cune Rosado

Cune Rosado, made of 100% Tempranillo, was macerated on the skins for a few brief hours to produce a bright, dry, lightly fruity wine with beautiful light watermelon color. This is an unusual rosado from a region that mostly uses the Garnacha grapes for pink wines. The use of Tempranillo creates a lighter balance, relying on fresh berry aroma rather than sweet fruit character to create a food friendly wine that awakens and refreshes the palate on a hot day. $10.99

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2006 Cune Crianza

Cune Crianza is well loved in the Rioja region. Ask for a glass of red wine in a little bar in Logrono, Haro, Laguardia or any number of Rioja towns and this is most likely what you will be served. Made from 90% Tempranillo with small additions of Mazuelo and Garnacha, the wine spent 12 months in oak before bottling with additional cellar time in the bottle prior to release. Well balanced barrel tannins give a cedary aroma to the wine while bright cherry-like fruit supports earthy foundational structure. Serve Cune Crianza with hot tapas such as sauteed mushrooms or slices of crispy fried morcilla sausage.  $13.99

Spanish Vermouth

Perucchi Vermouth

Walk around Barcelona’s Barri Gotic neighborhood and you will notice numerous bars serving Vermouth. Unlike dry French Vermouth these herb infused wines are gently sweet and spicy. Visitors to Spain have returned with the desire  to replicate the drinks they tried over there but we have been unable to satisfy the demand until now. We just received not one but two different versions of Spanish vermouth from the venerable Montana-Perucchi winery, founded in 1886 and located on the outskirts of Barcelona. We have both the young white Vermouth and the aged red Gran Reserva Vermouth. Both are perfect for pouring over ice as they do in Spain but they are also well suited to cocktail usage in Martinis or Manhattans. These fabulous new drinks come in full sized 750 ml bottles and are both $19.99
(for a great review of Perucchi Vermouth and the most awesomest Dog & Vermouth Bottle photo ever, check out the Umamimart blog )


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Filed under Misc.Wine, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, Uncategorized, White Wine

The Big Store and The Big Scores

Oh dear, I am falling behind in my updates to you about all that is going on here at The Spanish Table. I missed last week, for which I sincerely apologize, but the pace of business has quickened considerably on several fronts and I should update you on these developments before any more time passes.

First off, we have all been working long hours to install a temporary outpost of The Spanish Table on the ground floor of Macy’s in Union Square. For the next two weeks you can find the familiar faces you know from our Berkeley and Mill Valley stores (mine included) at Macy’s in San Francisco as we help them celebrate all things Spanish during their annual spring flower show. The theme this year is ‘A Mosaic of Spain’. For our part, we have set up a mini-Spanish Table on the ground floor of the main building, right by the escalators, in between the watches and cosmetics. While we will not be spritzing you with perfume or offering makeovers, we will be sampling chorizo, olives, turron and other favorites from The Spanish Table.

Want more? There will be Flamenco dancers in the menswear department. In housewares, Bay Area chefs such as Gerald Hirigoyen (Piperade, Bocadillos), Maggie Pond (Cesar), Daniel Olivella (B-44) and Tyler Florence (he’s Spanish, right?) will be demonstrating a broad range of Spanish recipes with wine pairings hosted by our own Andy Booth. Bedding and furniture on the 7th floor will feature a showing of black and white photographs of Spain. Abundantly colorful floral displays will be found throughout the store. What more can I say other than “would you like to put that on your Macy’s card?”

Meanwhile, The Wine Advocate has just released their latest reviews of several hundred Spanish wines including many of our tried and trusted favorites. This influential publication always brings in new customers interested in trying some of the wines they have just read about. For those of you who have already been trying and buying, I thought it might be fun to compare what I said (and when I said it) about some of the wines that are just now getting their justly deserved bit of attention from The Wine Advocate.

Here we go:

7/12/07- I said:

Peique Mencía 2006 $13.99 One of my favorite young Mencía grape wines from D.O. Bierzo has just arrived in the new 2006 vintage. Vibrant fresh cherry fruit character encounters dry autumn leaf aroma and flinty background minerality. Perfect for summer cookouts in the back yard or wherever you may be.

3/4/08 Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate wrote:

“90 Points-The 2006 Joven saw no oak. Dark ruby-colored, it offers an expressive bouquet of mineral, blue fruits, and black cherry. Smooth, seamless, and elegant, this is a superb introduction to the Mencia grape as well as an exceptional value.”

12/6/07- I said:

Can Blau 2006 $17.99 The new vintage of this well loved red from the Montsant region has just arrived. This dark, opulent blend of Cariñena, Syrah and Garnacha is ripe and bold yet balanced too. Previous vintages have all scored highly in the press and the new vintage is right up there quality-wise. For a soul warming winter meal, pour this with a traditional Cocido (the Spanish version of Italian ‘Bolito Misto’, or for you New Englanders, ‘Boiled Dinner’).

3/4/08 Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate wrote:
92 points -The 2006 Can Blau is one of the finest values in the marketplace. Composed of 40% Carinena, 40% Syrah, and 20% Garnacha, this purple-colored wine has great aromatics for the price point. It offers up smoke, pain grille, pencil lead, scorched earth, blueberry, black cherry, and blackberry. Balanced, round, and ripe on the palate, the wine already reveals some complexity and enough structure to blossom for another 2-3 years.”

10/19/07- I said:

Senorio de P.Peciña Crianza 2000 $18.99 Produced from a blend of mostly Tempranillo with small additions of Garnacha and Graciano, this Crianza level wine spends an extended period (2 years) ageing in French and American oak barrels, with an additional year of bottle ageing before release. The bright cherry-like fruit and resiny tannic barrel character that are typical of traditional Crianza Riojas are present here in a finely tuned frame. Serve this wine with sliced Serrano ham or cured Spanish chorizo for a classic flavor pairing.

3/4/08 Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate wrote:

“90 Points –The 2000 Pecina Crianza is 95% Tempranillo with the balance Graciano and Garnacha from organically farmed estate fruit. It was aged for 24 months in seasoned American oak before being bottled unfiltered (as are all of these wines). Dark ruby-colored with a brick rim, it exhibits a nose of cedar, earth, mushroom, tobacco, and blackberry. This leads to a stylish, elegant wine with good concentration and depth that should drink well for another 6 years. It is an excellent value in traditional Rioja.”

9/6/07- I said:

Pétalos 2006 $23.99 The 2001 vintage of Pétalos was a profound experience for me. I’d never previously tried any Mencía grape wines from D.O. Bierzo but this wine won me over instantly with its combination of poise and power. Loamy dried leaf aroma and berry-like fruit with deep, dark garnet color. Subsequent vintages have reaffirmed my appreciation of this grape/region/producer. The 2005 was opulent and assertive. The new 2006 shows more elegance and precision.

3/4/08 Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate wrote:
91 points -The 2006 Petalos del Bierzo is purple-colored with a fragrant nose of violets, lavender, mulberry, and blueberry. Ripe, supple, and sweetly fruited, it will evolve for 2-3 years and drink well through 2015. This estate was started in 1998 by Alvaro Palacios. It has steep hillside vineyards and 60- to 100-year-old vines planted in 100% Mencia, a varietal indigenous to Bierzo, a cool-climate D.O.”

11/8/07 – I said:

Alto Moncayo 2005 $43.00 Garnacha is the most widely planted red grape in Spain but you won’t find many as good as what Alto Moncayo makes in D.O. Campo de Borja just south of Rioja. Deep ruby color, extracted aromas of ripe berries and a bright, spicy character that is a perfect match for red meat.

3/4/08 Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate wrote:

95 points -The 2005 Alto Moncayo is a selection of older Garnacha vineyards. Purple colored, it is more expressive aromatically with enticing aromas of pain grille, spice box, floral notes, black cherry and black raspberry. Richer, more layered, and intense, this superb effort has a 60+ second finish.”

10/19/07- I said:

Casta Diva Cosecha Miel 2006 $28.99 It’s the time of year when a little late harvest sweet wine is particularly appealing. The new vintage of the celebrated Casta Diva is a lush Moscatel from the Alicante region on the Mediterranean coast. This bright gold colored wine is redolent of honey and tangerines. The rich Sauterne-like complexity of Casta Diva works with everything from fois gras to lemon tart.

3/4/08 Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate wrote:
90 points -The 2006 Casta Diva “Cosecha Miel” Moscatel undergoes barrel-fermentation in new oak which is gradually arrested for bottling in the following spring. The nose offers up floral notes and honey along with peach, apricot, ginger, and marmalade. Medium-sweet, intense, and long, this tasty elixir will pair well with fruit desserts.”

2/14/08-I said:

Primitivo Quiles Fondillón Reserva 1948 $63.00 Historically, Fondillón was called Vino Noble de Alicante not only because it was enjoyed by royalty (Louis XIV is said to have enjoyed the wine) but also as an indication of a winemaking style that achieves 16% alcohol by volume without resorting to fortification of the wine with spirits as is done in Jerez.

Late harvest Monastrell is picked at ultimate ripeness and the sugars in the grape convert to alcohol at a higher rate than normally. After many years in the solera the wine looses its red color and turns a ruddy shade of amber. Nutty sherry-like aroma and flavor balance gentle but not cloying sweetness. Serve this wine with afternoon cookies and tea. A small glass after dinner is also nice.

3/4/08 Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate wrote:

93 Points –The 1948 Fondillon Gran Reserva is drawn from a solera begun in 1948 but the wine is not fortified. Dark amber/brown in color, it has aromas reminiscent of an Amontillado sherry including almonds, ginger, dates, and assorted dried dark fruits. It finishes sherry-like but without the alcohol and the bite. There is nothing else quite like this uniquely styled dry wine.”

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Filed under Fortified Wine, Misc.Wine, Red Wine, Spain

Monastrell, Mi Amor

Yes, it’s true. I’m in love with a grape.

The object of my affection is the big, juicy, dark, thick skinned Monastrell grape grown throughout Mediterranean Spain (already well known in France where it is called Mourvèdre, this grape is seen in the wines of Bandol and Châteauneuf-du-Pape). In Alicante, Jumilla and Yecla the popularity of this varietal is increasing with each vintage.  Once used as a bulk wine shipped out to various parts of Spain to add depth to a thin vintage, many Spanish winemakers now bottle this varietal on its own or in blends where it plays a substantial, not a supporting role.

Monastrell has become extremely sought after here in the USA thanks to some high profile bottlings as well as some reliable young wines that have proved to be excellent values from vintage to vintage.

This week I remind you about the 2005 Clio, a Monastrell blend that has seriously impressed the wine world in recent vintages. We have also just received a second shipment of the 2005 Juan Gil, a 100% Monastrell that showcases the varietal all by itself. The 2005 Casa Castillo, one of the first Monastrell wines to be bottled as a single varietal wine is back at a better price.  I also have late harvest Monastrell from Alella (just outside of Barcelona) and fortified sherry-like Monastrell from Alicante, produced from stocks that date back to 1948. Now is an excellent time to try this very sought after varietal in all its permutations.

Also this week, we have some tasty bargains that offer big flavor at a small price. Check out the Bodegas Fontana wines below to see what I mean.

In other news, Paella Class is filling up fast, but a few spaces still remain for any of you who wish to learn about this most famous of Spanish dishes. We will be making and eating a big paella accompanied by some tapas to nibble on while the paella cooks. We will also taste five Spanish wines to go with all the food. The date is February 25th at 6:30 pm. The location is Kitchen On Fire cooking School here in Berkeley. The cost is $65 per person. Registration and details can be found at the Kitchen On Fire website.

 

Mesta Tempranillo 2006 $6.99 (was $8.99) Our newest ‘house wine’ comes from Bodegas Fontana in central Spain near Cuenca.

In Spanish shepherd-speak a ‘mesta’ is a meeting of shepherds to sort out intermingled flocks. This young Tempranillo from central Spain is a perfect red wine for all sorts of informal gatherings. Fresh berry fruit character and light tannins make this a well priced option for lighter meals as well as back porch sipping.

 

Fontal Tempranillo Roble 2004 $9.99 (was $11.99) This wine from Bodegas Fontana (like the previous wine) shows what a bit of barrel age does to Tempranillo. The fresh berry fruit character is now nuanced with gentle tannins and spicy aromatic complexity.

 

Casa Castillo 2005 $10.99 (was $12.99) This is a dark ruby colored wine with bright aromas of fresh red berries, and a medium to full-bodied cherry-like fruit character.  A brief period of oak barrel ageing (6- 8 months) lends a bit of tannic dryness to the wine, adding balance to the rich fruit and a bit of spice to the finish.

 

Juan Gil 2005 $16.99 We just got in a second shipment of this popular Monastrell from Jumilla, made by Miguel Gil, one of the pioneers of this grape and this region. Dark color and concentrated blackberry aroma create the first impression, leading on to sweet dark berry fruit character and a touch of grape skin tannin. A fine example of a pure Monastrell wine.

 

Raspay Tinto “Brut” 2001 $19.99 In the Alicante region along the Mediterranean coast of Spain, Bodegas Primitivo Quiles are best known for a fortified wine called Fondillón, made from the local Monastrell grape in a style similar to Sherry. The same old vine Monastrell also goes into this traditionally styled red wine.  The ruddy, brick red tint and savory tannic aroma give way to dried cherry fruit character. This is no fruit bomb. The old-school Spanish style is very well represented in this bottling that wins my vote for best label art too.  Serve this with a selection of embutidos from The Spanish Table such as Lomo Embuchado, Jamón Serrano and dry cured Chorizo.

 

Clio 2005 $46.00 Old vine Monastrell from Jumilla is what Clio is mostly made from (along with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon). These thick skinned grapes are picked at full ripeness and treated with great care at every step in this wine’s elaboration. The end result is a dark, full bodied red that will best accompany a full-flavored meaty meal. Josh Raynolds recently reviewed the new vintage of Clio for The International Wine Cellar. He rated the wine 93 points saying: “Inky purple. Vibrant red and dark berries on the nose, with sexy vanillin oak, Asian spices, fresh flowers and bright minerality. A silky, graceful midweight, displaying vivid raspberry and blackberry flavors and slow-building tannic grip. More tangy than the 2004, and at least as elegant, finishing with outstanding clarity and persistence.”

 

El Nido 2005 $140.00 The flagship wine from this celebrated Jumilla region winery is made from the same fruit as the Clio but the proportions are switched around. El Nido is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with 30% old vine Monastrell. Josh Raynolds also reviewed this wine for Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. He rated it 94 points, saying “Opaque violet. Seductively perfumed bouquet of red and dark berry liqueur, graphite, Asian spices and incense. This saturates every nook and cranny of the palate with flavors of sweet raspberry, boysenberry, candied licorice, cinnamon and vanilla. Impressively fresh for such flavor impact, thanks to gentle tannins and vibrant finishing minerality. A lingering, subtle strawberry quality underscores this wine’s impression of elegance over brute force.

 

Dolç Mataró $33.99 (500ml) The long forgotten Mataró grape, a relative of the better known Monastrell is used to produce tiny quantities of this sweet dessert wine. Super-ripe late harvest Mataró is hand selected, crushed and macerated in its own juice to extract the maximum of color and flavor from the skins. After fermentation the wine ages for a scant few months in barrel before bottling with minimal filtration in stylish 500ml bottles.  The final result is a sweet wine with opaque purple color, the aroma of fresh violets and a sweet fruit character that for all its intensity still possesses a certain delicacy.

 

Primitivo Quiles Fondillón Reserva 1948 $63.00 Historically, Fondillón was called Vino Noble de Alicante not only because it was enjoyed by royalty (Louis XIV is said to have enjoyed the wine) but also as an indication of a winemaking style that achieves 16% alcohol by volume without resorting to fortification of the wine with spirits as is done in Jerez.

Late harvest Monastrell is picked at ultimate ripeness and the sugars in the grape convert to alcohol at a higher rate than normally. After many years in the solera the wine looses its red color and turns a ruddy amber. Nutty sherry-like aroma and flavor balance gentle but not cloying sweetness. Serve this wine with afternoon cookies and tea. A small glass after dinner is also nice.

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Filed under Misc.Wine, Red Wine, Spain