Category Archives: Portugal

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

Cerveza / Cerveja – Beer from Spain and Portugal

The start of summer grilling season is here and cooking over a fire is thirsty work so make sure you have plenty of refreshing Spanish and Portuguese beer on hand. Beer makes a wonderful accompaniment to cooking, even if you have plans to drink wine with the meal (when visiting the Bodegas in Spain the winemakers always say “Before we try the wines, would you like a beer?”). We have a new reach-in refrigerator in Berkeley so now we are keeping all the beer cold and ready to drink. Here are a few suggestions to get you going:

Sagres is the most popular beer in Portugal. This lager style beer is refreshing and crisp. It features predominantly at the various Portuguese festas that take place all across California in the summer and is almost mandatory if you are grilling up some fresh sardines in the Portuguese style. Available in 6 packs of glass bottles or single half liter cans.

Catalunya’s largest brewery, Damm, recently released a new beer designed by Chef Ferran Adria and his team of sommeliers from El Bulli restaurant. The end result of two years of experimentation is Estrella Damm Inedit. Made in a style resembling Belgian wit beers or one of our domestic hefeweizen wheat beers, Inedit is a cloudy amber color with creamy texture and yeasty flavor adding context to lightly spicy notes of citrus peel, coriander and clove. Craft brew lovers will appreciate this unique style of Spanish beer sold in  full sized 750 ml bottles.

Daura is the gluten free version of Estrella Damm. This golden lager style beer, made with barley instead of wheat,  is crisp and refreshing. It currently holds the title of “best gluten free beer in the world”. Try it with your favorite tapas for a refreshing taste of Catalunya. 4 packs of 11.2 oz bottles.

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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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What The Heart Wants

“It is the nature of desire not to be satisfied”.
That famous line from Aristotle is never more true than in the wine world where opinions and perceptions are in constant flux. The popularity of certain wines and various styles of winemaking change with the times, always in response to the desires of the wine drinking public.
Not so long ago rosado wines were considered by many to be sweet, simple, silly wines for summertime picnics. In just the last few years this perception has shifted dramatically. At The Spanish Table we now stock rosado all year long, in a variety of styles from numerous regions in Spain and Portugal. They range in hue from pale coral to ripe watermelon and express a spectrum of aromas and flavors. They can be dry or fruity, floral or mineral, ripe or lean.
Here are a few suggestions to dovetail with the arrival of Valentine’s Day. These are all fabulous representations of the broad range of exceptional pink wines available today at The Spanish Table. Try one of these with a special someone for a memorable Valentine’s Day experience.

img_4081__882672009 Gran Feudo Rosado

Bodegas Julian Chivite’s Gran Feudo Rosado is a classic Navarra region rosado.. It is a popular favorite in Spain as well as here in the USA. Made from all Garnacha grapes, this traditionally styled wine displays strawberry and watermelon aromas with bright acidity and a touch of minerality to tie everything together. This lightly fruity rosado wine makes for some classic Spanish refreshment.

 

 

2008_rosado_gurrutxaga__238642009 Gurrutxaga Rosado
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. Chill this and serve as you would a traditional Txakoli. You will be surprised how quickly this low alcohol wine disappears.


img_3694__64451Raventos de Nit Rosado Cava

Raventos i Blanc is a true pioneer of Cava production (this family winery was making sparkling wine before the name Cava existed). Their new vintage rosado cava is phenomenal. Adding 15% Monastrell to the traditional cava blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo tints the wine with the palest pink hue. Fine bubbles lift the yeasty brioche aroma from the glass. The barest hint of strawberry flavor adds context to the dry, crisp, pinpoint precise style that Raventos i Blanc is known for.


rosebrut_montferrant__65586Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado Cava

This rosado cava is a deliciously berry scented yet still dry and refreshing cava that not only looks great in the glass but also offers up classic cava aroma and flavor at a reasonable price. Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado is blend of Garnacha & Monastrell. Darker than many this has a huge following in both stores. Bright strawberry and blackberry flavors, with notes of toast, tangerine and a creamy mousse on the palate.

Portuguese Pink

Our selection of pink wines include several crowd pleasing options from Portugal. These uniquely delicious wines will add a distinctive note to festive meals and get togethers.

img_3683__65991Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Rosé
Aveleda recently released this pink version of their most popular brand, Casal Garcia. Low alcohol and light effervescence are reminiscent of traditional white Vinho Verde. The pale pink hue and light berry aroma are a nice change of pace from the regular version. This spritzy, lightly fruity wine makes a wonderful start to a festive brunch or dinner party.

Luis Pato Espumante Rosé
Luis Pato, famous in Portugal for his bold red wines made from the indigenous Baga grape, has turned his attention to this unusual sparkling img_0205__51706Baga rosé. To produce this wine the grapes are harvested about six weeks early, which means that they have high acidity and low sugars, perfect for a refreshing sparkling wine. It shows pale watermelon color and flavors of tart cherries, pink grapefruit and the trademark earthiness and spice of Portuguese red wines.  All of these flavors are balanced out by bright acidity and foundational minerality.

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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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Thansgiving Favorites

Thanksgiving Day, fast approaching, is, for all its historic significance, really all about the food. This is a time when traditional recipes, true family heirlooms, take center stage. Every family, it seems, has at least a few time tested recipes that, were they left unmade, would diminish if not ruin the occasion. Forgetting, or purposely omitting, the creamed onions, candied yams, chestnut stuffing, ambrosia, or whatever family favorite is firmly entrenched in memory risks making everyone around the Thanksgiving table just a little less thankful.
Here at The Spanish Table, as we celebrate our ninth Thanksgiving in Berkeley, we feel particularly thankful that many of you, our loyal customers, have come to rely on us year after year for wines that compliment a traditional Thanksgiving meal. This week we present a few of the wines that have become traditional favorites on Thanksgiving Day (plus one new idea that we know you are going to love). We will be closed on Thanksgiving Day but we are open the rest of the week to help you get ready for the start of the holiday season.

10y_tawny_barros__06775Barros 10 Year Tawny Port

This barrel aged tawny Port is a blend of  mature stocks with an average age of ten years (some older, some younger). This wine displays a golden amber hue tinged with salmon pink reflections. Aromas of almonds and toffee caramel are matched by gentle fruity flavors of apricot and peach. This lightly sweet wine is warm and nutty on the finish. Serve after a nice meal to assist with the contemplation of life’s big questions. $28.99


musva_moscatel__36839Musva Sparkling Moscatel

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


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2007 Goliardo Loureiro Tinto
This rare red wine,  from the Atlantic coastal Rias Baixas region best known for white Albarino wines, is made by Raul Perez, a Galician winemaker known for his high level of skill and eccentric style. This lavender hued wine offers up cool climate floral mulberry fruit character with spicy white pepper in the background along with finely tuned minerality. If you appreciate American PInot Noir, French Burgundy or cru Beaujolais, this may well become your new favorite wine. Originally this was a $58 bottle. We have the last of the 2007 vintage at a very attractive price. $29.99

Rioja Bordon

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Just in time for the Holiday season, a new supply of Rioja Bordon has arrived at The Spanish Table. The 12 month aged Bordon Crianza is now available in the 2006 vintage. The fabulously elegant 2001 Gran Reserva makes a repeat appearance after selling out earlier in the year. Put tradition on the table this year with either of these Turkey friendly reds.

2006 Rioja Bordon Crianza 2005_rioja_bordon_crianza_franco_espanolas__84510
This is a classic Rioja Crianza at an outstanding price. Bright cherry fruit character balances mature oak barrel aroma and firm tannins. The flavors of tart berries and Spanish earth intermingle on the palate. This is a perfect wine for serving with cured meats and hot tapas. $13.99
2001 Rioja Bordon Gran Reservaimg_3894__14099
In Rioja, Gran Reserva wines are only produced in the best years. 2001 was one of the best vintages in recent memory. Perfect growing conditions (hot days, cold nights, rain in the spring, dry at harvest time) produced the kind of fruit that make wines worth ageing for a decade before sale. Faded brick red color, fully resolved barrel character and delicate fruit flavors. This is a classic Gran Reserva for one knock out price. $23.99

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