|“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.
2009 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.
2009 Gurrutxaga Rosado
Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Rosé
Luis Pato Espumante Rosé
Category Archives: Sparkling Wine
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.
Barros 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 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
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
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
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 Reserva
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
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
Since it is Easter and many of you are likely to have an impending surplus of eggs, please take advantage of the opportunity to try a wonderful food/wine pairing. The combination of sparkling wine and eggs is just about perfect.
Surely the classic Tortilla Española was the egg dish that first awakened my senses to the fabulous possibilities of eggs and Cava. The tart, frothy wine contrasts perfectly with the dense, creamy richness of eggs and potatoes.
In Spain, the humble scrambled egg is transformed into fancy lunch and dinner fare in the form of ‘revueltos’. Moist, silky, barely cooked eggs combined with any number of additions ranging from shrimp to mushrooms or ham make an elegant simple meal, needing only a tall glass of Cava to complete the composition. Even the beloved deviled egg finds expression in Spain where endless variations are displayed on the counters of local tapas bars.
Here are a few choices of sparkling wine, among many others, for your consideration:
Barcino Brut Cava This wine, made on the outskirts of Barcelona (back in the day Barcelona was called Barcino) is fashioned in the traditional style from the local grapes. This blend of 55% Xarel-lo, 25% Macabeo and 20% Parellada is fermented in the bottle like a French Champagne. Frothy bubbles, yeasty bread dough aroma and tart green apple fruit character combine to create a fun, informal sparkler for everyday enjoyment.$14.99
2007 Raventos de Nit Rosado Brut Cava Raventos i Blanc is a true pioneer of Cava production (this family winery was making sparkling wine before the name Cava existed). They recently released their newest wine, this vintage rosado cava, and it is phenomenal. Adding 15% Monastrell to the traditional cava blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo (all estate grown in this particular instance, unusual for the region) tints the wine with the palest pink hue. Fine bubbles lift the yeasty brioche aroma from the glass. The barest whiff of strawberry aroma adds context to the dry, crisp, pinpoint precise style that Raventos i Blanc is known for. $21.99
2004 Gramona Imperial Gran Reserva Cava Gramona is a small, family owned winery in Penedes that makes some of Spain’s top Cava’s. Almost every top restaurant in Spain has a Cava from Gramona on the list. The Imperial Gran Reserva is aged 3 to 4 years in the bottle before being released. Flavors of baked apples, pie crust, lemon curd, white flowers and spice make this a muy tasty mouthful. $31.99
2006 Augusti Torello Mata Reserva Brut Cava This bodega is celebrated for high end wines that rival the best French Champagne. This is a vintage cava that spent several years ageing in the cellar to get the ‘reserva’ label. The blend here is 48% Macabeo, 27% Parellada and 25% Xarel-lo. Small, persistent bubbles and the aroma of freshly baked bread create a first impression that leads on to restrained green apple fruit character and a crisp toasty finish. This is a top shelf, traditionally styled Cava for serving at any festive moment that may arise. $24.99
2003 Kripta Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava This is the flagship wine from Agusti Torello Mata. This wine receieved 94 points from The Wine Advocate. They said: “The tete de cuvee is the 2003 Kripta Gran Reserva Brut Nature. It is packaged in a bottle with a rounded bottom designed so that it cannot be placed on the table. It receives extended bottle aging and is sourced from the estate’s oldest vineyards. It offers up a refined, complex, delicate bouquet, persistent small bubbles, mouth-filling flavors, and exceptional length. Impeccably balanced and with a seductive finish, it can compete with the best of Champagne.” $82.00
Have you seen our Facebook page yet? Yes, even The Spanish Table has a Facebook page and it is filled with all the late breaking news about new products and cultural events that don’t always make it into our newsletters. Hector Farias (Assistant Manager in Berkeley) has just posted some nice suggestions for adding some Spanish style to your next batch of deviled eggs.
Here is what Hector suggests, but check out the rest of the site for more interesting food for thought (and food for eating too, of course):
“Aren’t these ceramics pretty? Now imagine how cute those deviled eggs that you are going to prepare this Easter Sunday are going to look decorated with Piparras, Stuffed olives, Capers, Piquillo peppers or just powdered with sweet sun dried Paprika.
MUCHO TASTY and MUY MAJOS… OLE!!!”
An interesting shift is taking place amongst Spanish wine drinkers in the USA. White wines are growing in popularity relative to the more traditionally recognized Spanish reds. Not long ago we had trouble convincing people to try white wines from Spain. Now, the choices are numerous, the quality is high and the prices are quite reasonable. The Albariños from Galicia were the first Spanish whites to really take off in the American market, followed by Rueda region Verdejo wines. Then a few years ago it was as if the grape cart tipped over and out spilled Godello from Valdeorras, Viura from Rioja, Garnacha Blanca from Priorat, Treixadura from Ribeiro and Hondarribi Zuri from the Basque country. With so many distinct, vibrant, interesting styles to choose from, Spanish whites have become an adventure in novelty grounded in traditions that are only now starting to find an audience outside their native regions.
This week I would like to share with you a few of the best Spanish white wines I have tasted lately. These are special occasion wines that showcase Spain’s unique grapes and winemaking styles. They tend to veer away from the barrel aged style in favor of a crisper tank fermented technique. Extended time on the lees (sometimes very extended) is the preferred way to achieve richness and depth while protecting the varietal/regional character of these wines. The complexity and textural weight of these wines makes them perfect companions to winter fare. Please consider the following selections for your holiday table:
Odysseus Pedro Ximénez Blanco 2007This is a unique dry white wine in that Pedro Ximénez is usually reserved for use in sweet Sherry, while this, on the other hand, is totally dry and has notes of apricot, tangerine, a bit of lemon and white flowers. Bright acidity and foundational minerality find balance in the rich, leesy texture and floral aroma. We paired this with first-of-season Dungeness crab (simply steamed) the other night. It worked perfectly. Regular retail $35.99. Now $19.99-Limited.
Zárate Tras da Viña 2005 This is an Albariño with a decided difference that comes from 30 months (two and a half years!) spent ageing on the lees. On one hand you have a lean, flinty wine that expresses the edgy, almost saline side of the Rías Baixas regional style. On the other hand, after the extended time in tank, this wine takes on a denser, richer tone but not so much as to obscure its original character. If you have ever wondered whether Albariño has the ability to age, here is your affirmative answer. $31.99
Aforado Sobre Lías 2008 Aforado is a small family winery in the coastal O Rosal sub-zone of DO Rías Baixas just over the border from Portugal, The tradition here is to blend Albariño with small amounts of other local varieties. The 20 acre Aforado estate vineyard is planted mostly to Albariño with small quantites of Caiño Blanco & Loureiro. The estate fruit is used exclusively for the regular Aforado as well as this small production (250 cases in total) sobre lias version that ages on the lees for 12 months after fermentation. Floral aroma and tart citrus fruit character find expression here in a bolder, denser frame than the regular bottling. It will continue to age well for at least another 3-5 years. $38.99
Emilio Rojo 2008 While Spanish white wines are a recent discovery here in the USA, regions such as DO Ribeiro have been making wines for centuries. The tradition in Ribeiro is to drink the local wines from shallow ceramic cups. Emilio Rojo, named after its maker, is one of this region’s most sought after wines. Made in minuscule quantities (only 50 cases imported to the USA) this finely tuned white is a blend of several grapes including 55% Treixadura, 15% Loureiro, 10% Lado, 10% Albariño and 10% Torrontés. Poise and balance are the words that best describe Emilio Rojo. Firmly mineral at first, this wine reveals itself in layers over time. Aromas of orange blossom and grapefruit zest soften the minerality and add context to the melon and pear fruit character. This wine is rarely found at retail and we have just a few bottles to offer. $58.00
We just got in a few new Cavas that are sure to find favor at your table this holiday season. You may also check out the rest of our extensive collection of sparkling wines, Cava and otherwise, here:
This week we are happy to announce the arrival of the private label portfolio of Spanish wines from Luis Moya.
Luis is Cuban by birth but he honed his wine skills selling wine in New York before moving west to start his own company. As an importer and distributor Luis tastes many (many!) wines on a daily basis. He is well versed in what Spain and Portugal have to offer. He knows the grapes, the regions and many of the people involved in the trade so it was only a matter of time before he decided to try his hand at creating his own brand.
‘Luis Moya Selections‘ is the name of this collection of five wines from various regions throughout Spain. At present the collection includes three reds, one white and a sparkling Cava. The labels will not be familiar but the wines inside the bottles are all solid examples of Spanish regional style. The Cava is fresh and frothy, the white is crisp and refreshing and the reds tend toward the bright and youthful end of the wine spectrum.
These wines all just arrived last week and are priced to make them easy to love (in fact this first batch is priced even lower as an introductory offer).
Barcino Brut Cava This wine, made on the outskirts of Barcelona (back in the day Barcelona was called Barcino) is fashioned in the traditional style from the local grapes. This blend of 55% Xarel-lo, 25% Macabeo and 20% Parellada is fermented in the bottle like a French Champagne. Frothy bubbles, yeasty bread dough aroma and tart green apple fruit character combine to create a fun, informal sparkler for everyday enjoyment.$14.99 (introductory price $11.99)
Cantos Rodados Verdejo 2008 This is a fresh, bright, youthful wine. Tart grapefruit and lean mineral notes balance tropical fruit aroma. This is a perfect unoaked white for sipping by the glass as well as for pairing with meatless meals and seafood. $12.99 (introductory price $10.99)
Riotajo 2008 Vinos de Madrid is the name of the wine region that provides many of the typical red wines served in the Spanish capital. This young, fresh example is a blend of 75% Tempranillo and 25% Garnacha. Fresh berry aroma and tart cherry fruit character predominate in this straight forward red. This makes a fine match with traditional tapas and other Spanish snacks. $11.99 (introductory price $9.99)
La Nevera 2007 Here is a spectacular example of a Navarra region red wine made from old vine Garnacha (60-80 years on average) from a single vineyard. The classic Garnacha character is expressed here with tart cherry fruit character laid over a mineral foundation. Slow cooked white beans and chorizo are a traditional accompaniment to this wine. $12.99 (introductory price $10.99)
La Terrera 2006 Any good Spanish portfolio needs to include a Rioja. This blend of 75% Tempranillo and 25% Garnacha sees 12 months of barrel age before bottling, Lightly oaky aroma and medium weight tannins contrast nicely with cherry fruit character and feather-light texture. $17.99 (introductory price $14.99)
at The Spanish Table
in Mill Valley
Friday, October 23, 6PM-8PM.
Meet famed Portuguese winemaker Cristiano Van Zeller, enjoy some traditional Portuguese appetizers, and participate in a guided tasting of 9 Portuguese wines and ports from Van Zeller’s Quinta do Vale de Maria, including his top tier red, the 2007 CV, and the 2007 vintage port. This is a unique opportunity to taste some wonderful wines and to speak with someone who has spent a lifetime around the port trade. The tasting is in the Mill Valley store. Cost is $45 per person, all inclusive. Reservations are required as the event is limited to 30 people. Please call the Mill Valley store (415)-388-5043
to make your reservations.
The Wine Academy of Spain, an educational organization run by Pancho Campo (Spain’s first Master of Wine) stopped in San Francisco last week as part of a US tour currently wrapping up in Washington DC.
I joined a group of Spanish wine enthusiasts for the three day seminar that covered all of Spain’s regions, grapes and winemaking styles. I got to brush up on my Spanish wine knowledge and tried many new wines as well as some familiar favorites.
Esteban Cabezas and his crew did a fabulous job of squeezing a ton of information into a short space of time. I gleaned all sorts of tidbits of information that I will be sharing with you in the days and weeks to come.
My thanks and appreciation go out to The Wine Academy of Spain and to Catavino for sponsoring my attendance to the seminar (I won the scholarship for my why-I-love-Spanish-wine blog entry). Hopefully I passed the exam and in a few weeks will have a handsome Spanish Wine Educator certificate to hang on the wall.
I retried a few wines at the Wine Academy of Spain course that are making a repeat appearance here as a result of a good showing at the seminar. Check out this week’s wine notes for the Aria Brut Cava, Gramona Imperial Cava and the red Fra Guerau Monsant. They are now back in stock and drinking beautifully.
Espelt Vailet 2007 After my recent trip to the Empordá region of Spain (up along the French border on the Mediterranean side) I have been eagerly buying all the wine from this little known, rocky, sparsely populated corner of the globe. A few weeks back we featured the red from Espelt as well as the rosado. The white wine from Espelt has just come back in stock and I recommend it this week as a new option for those seeking bright, fresh white wines with distinctive character. The blend is 60% Garnacha Blanca and 40% Macabeo (Viura for you white Rioja fans). Crisp minerality is supplemented here with a bit of green herb and citrus character. $12.99
Aria Brut This Cava has been a well loved favorite and is finally back in stock here in Berkeley. This frothy blend of the three traditional Cava grapes (Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada)presents a fresh, balanced side of Cava with a bit of green apple fruit adding counterpoint to the mineral foundation. $10.99
Gramona Imperial 2004 For those who appreciate the complexity of long aged Cava, this vintage sparkler is always a welcome sight. 3-4 year of cellar age gives this wine a very Champagne-like character. Adding 10% Chardonnay to the blend of 50% Xarel-lo and 40% Macabeo adds to the similarity with French bubbly. Yeasty brioche aroma, an elegant mineral backnote and a bit of brandied fruit on the finish. $31.99
Fra Guerau 2003 This was one of the first wines that caught my attention back when I started with The Spanish Table. I recently retasted Fra Guerau and was reminded of the pure pleasure that comes from this blend of numerous grapes (Syrah, Garnacha, Cariñena, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Monastrell) from the Montsant region. Dark garnet color, sweet berry fruit character and well integrated barrel character (thanks to several years of bottle age) make this an easy wine to pair with all kinds of food. $13.99
Zaumau Priorat 2008 Carlos Escolar make miniscule 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
Last Sunday the San Francisco Chronicle ran a feature on the Spanish wine & food walking tour that I do called TapasWalk. Using my tour as an example, Janet Fletcher wrote a detailed piece on the burgeoning tapas scene now happening in downtown San Francisco. “In this new little world straddling North Beach, the Financial District and Russian Hill,” Fletcher wrote, “a Bay Area tapas enthusiast with good walking shoes can do the sort of bar hopping that many Spaniards enjoy nightly.” She included a lexicon of useful terminology for those less familar with Spanish cuisine as well as a few recipes for traditional tapas that you can make at home (with a few ingredients from The Spanish Table, of course). If you missed it in the paper last week you can still read the article online here.
In tandem with last week’s San Francisco Chronicle article by Janet Fletcher about the downtown tapas scene, Jon Bonné put together a detailed and up-to-date summary of the current state of Basque Txakolí wine. If you have yet to experience the distinct joy of Txakolí, this article tells you all you need to know to get started. We carry all the Txakolí wines and (just between you and me) we even have some of the elusive Txakolí rosado still in stock.
If you have visited San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque Country you probably noticed how the local bartenders pour the Txakolí wine with an outstretched arm from high overhead. Now our good friends from Vinos Unico have made an instructional video that shows just how to pour Txakolí like a pro. Check them out here:
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.
What is it about a small Spanish tapas bar that inspires thirst, hunger and conviviality all at the same time? The atmosphere is informal and friendly, the food is simple and ready to serve, the wines are well chosen and everything is modestly priced. It’s fast food for people who care about what they consume.
So why has ‘tapas’ become a pejorative word that evokes a fad several years past its prime?
My often voiced opinion is that the tapas concept has been turned on its head. The word ‘tapas’ has become restaurant code for ‘tiny appetizer’. A round of tapas with friends is a self contained snack while an appetizer is the first course of a full meal. This distinction has been hard to make due to a lack of proper tapas bars here in our part of the world. That is about to change.
Yesterday Daniel Olivella from B44 in San Francisco opened his new Bar Lata on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland.
In keeping with tradition the space is diminutive and simply decorated. A long and varied list of cold and hot tapas is well paired with a wine selection that covers all of Spain. A unique collection of “canned” (lata = can) items are made in house and, in homage to the many superlative canned foods of Spain, are served in little oval shaped metal tins (the Lata de Pulpo was a traditional mix of octopus and potatoes dressed with extra virgin olive oil and a hearty dusting of smoked paprika).
Last night, seated in the corner with a view of the entire space I contentedly sipped a glass of cold, crisp Manzanilla while all around me the many wines of Spain, objects of my personal and professional passion, were flowing busily from bottle to glass. On one table a red Garnacha blend from Montsant was passed around amongst a cheery group of six. On another table bottle after bottle of Galician Albariño was happily consumed by an increasingly boisterous couple. Up front at the bar glasses of frothy Cava were handed out to a group of newly arrived patrons.
“This” I said to my wife “is my kind of place”.
In honor of my newfound home away from home, this week we feature a few the wines seen at (or inspired by) Bar Lata that are also found here at The Spanish Table. They have a pretty extensive list so if you go and try something you like, let me know and if I don’t have it already, I’ll get it.
Meanwhile across the Bay: I will be leading a wine class next week in San Francisco on Thursday March 19th at 7 pm at 18 Reasons (593 Guerrero St @ 18th St), a gallery in the Mission whose motto is “bringing the community together through food and art”. The theme the evening is “Spanish Bubbles” and will include a tasting of sparkling Cava, lightly effervescent Txakoli from Basque Country and Vi D’Agulla from Catalunya as well as a sweet sparkling Muscat from Valencia. Background notes on the wines will be available during the event along with discounted purchasing opportunities. Appropriate snacks (dare I call them ‘tapas’?) will be prepared by the 18 Reasons crew. All of this can be had for the extremely tasty price of $10 ($5 dollars for 18 Reasons members). Go to their web site, http://18reasons.org/ for details and directions or call them at (415)-252-9816.
San León Manzanilla Clásica This wine, with an average age of 8 years, is palest straw colored and full of yeasty, saline aroma (like a fresh sea breeze) and toasted almond and chamomile flavors. If you are a Manzanilla lover this is an excellent new wine to add to your list. If you have not yet had a chance to try this most distinctive Spanish wine, this is the perfect place to start. $12.99 (375ml)
Gran Barquero Fino In the hills of Andalucia, just south of Cordoba in D.O. Montilla-Moriles they make fortified wines using the Pedro Ximénez grape. These wines share the same production techniques as Sherry from D.O. Jerez further south. Gran Barquero Fino is pale straw colored, bracingly dry, lean and full of toasted almond aroma. $17.99
Sete Cepas Albariño 2007 This well priced Albariño is pale yellow tinged with green. Grapefruit aroma, lean minerality and light, refreshing texture are all to be found in this young white wine from Galicia. $12.99
Avinyó Vi D’Agulla 2007 Made in the Penedès region of Catalunya, this wine from the makers of Avinyó Cava is composed of Petit Grain Muscat, fermented to dryness and bottled with a bit of residual effervescence. The rich Muscat scent is present here but the sweetness usually associated with this grape is only barely perceived. In its place is tart citrusy fruit character and background flintiness. This wine was originally $14.99 but is on sale while it lasts for $11.99
Can Blau 2007 This dark, opulent Montsant region blend of Cariñena, Syrah and Garnacha is ripe and bold yet balanced too. Judging from the number of bottles of Can Blau that I saw being poured at Bar Lata in Oakland the other night, this is a real crowd pleaser. Personal experience affirms this perspective. $16.99
Senorio de P.Peciña Crianza 2000 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. $19.99
How does that little mnemonic device go; “Spring forward, fall back”?
This Sunday we all ‘spring forward’ as we reset our clocks for Daylight Savings Time (and lose an hour in the process). Yes, it will be dark and cold in the early morning hours until the Sun catches up with the clock, but the evening sunlight will extend well past work hours and open up all sorts of possibilities for recreation and entertaining. Get out and walk the dog, go for a run, cook dinner on the patio or just relax in the extra evening sunshine.
Whatever you choose to do with your newfound daylight we have a tasty bottle of wine to go with it.
The big flood of new 2008 wine is still about a month away but we have some fresh new arrivals as well as a few familiar favorites that now sport nicely trimmed price tags to share with you this week. We have some gentle spring-like reds, a few bright, fresh whites and, like the first Robin of Spring, Rosado wines are once again growing in number in the wine department here at The Spanish table in Berkeley.
Here are a few choices for celebrating the return of evening sunshine.
Quinta de Bons Ventos 2007 The new vintage of this light and friendly Portuguese red has just arrived. This blend of Castelão, Camarate, Tinta Miúda and a bit of Touriga Nacional from Casa Santos Lima is made in a typical style for the Estremadura in Central Portugal. Juicy, youthful fruit character combines with low alcohol (12.5%) to create a fresh, lively springtime wine. $10.99
Horzales Crianza 2001 This barrel aged Crianza from Rioja is made in the little wine village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, home to numerous top quality bodegas. Dark garnet color is just starting to show a brickish tint. Barrel tannins, once substantial, have now softened and integrated with the dark berry fruit character. Long bottle maturation has given a silky texture and an elegant balance to the wine. . This is an example of wines from superlative vintages having the ability to age gracefully. The last few cases are on hand now and for the next few weeks. This wine is on sale and moving fast. $9.99
Sete Cepas Albariño 2007 This well priced Albariño is the newest offering from Bodegas Carballal. Pale yellow color tinged with green, grapefruit aroma, lean minerality and light, refreshing texture are all to be found in this young white wine from Galicia. It is reassuring to find this well made wine at a price point we have not seen recently from this increasingly popular region. $12.99
Martin Fierro Blanco 2007 In the San Juan region of Argentina, Bodegas Bórbore makes this white wine from a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Torrontes. This unoaked wine blends the crispness of Chardonnay with the more floral Torrontes (the indigenous white grape of Argentina). The result is a refreshing wine with enough body to stand on its own as a cocktail wine. It would also pair well with poultry or rich seafood meals. $8.99
Cillar de Silos Rosado 2007 We are starting to bring in a few more rosado wines in anticipation of warmer weather. This wine, made from the Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) grape comes from Ribera del Duero where red wines predominate. This darkly colored pink wine displays ripe berry aroma with tart citrus fruit character combined with additional fresh berry notes on the palate. $14.99
Cavas Hill Artesanía Brut Rosado Cava What could be better for a relaxed evening in the sunshine than a bottle of crisp pink Cava? This sparkling rosado offers up aromas of fresh strawberry and toasted bread followed up by tangy citrus and crisp green apple flavor. Big bubbles refresh the palate and entice the appetite. $11.99