|“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
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.
El 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)
Dios 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)
Warre’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)
Barbeito 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)
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).
The hard apple cider from Spain’s northern coastal regions goes by several names. The Asturians call it Sidra. In Basque country they call it Sagardo.
If you have never tried Spanish cider you owe it to yourself to taste this traditional beverage. It pairs well with cured ham and pork sausages, dry aged cheeses and nuts. If you are already familiar with Sidra, you know how hard it is to find here in this part of the world. Now you have a source for several traditional styles from several regions.
The tradition of fermented apple juice goes way back to the time before refrigerated storage when the seasonal apple harvest came in all at once in early November and families would press the apples to extract the juice in order to preserve as much of the harvest as possible. A few months of barrel fermentation created a lightly alcoholic drink that would last the rest of the year, served straight from the barrel throughout the Spring and Summer.
In modern times commercial cider mills are still mostly small family businesses. These Sidrerias often open their doors to the public and serve cider straight from the barrel alongside a traditional cider house meal of salt cod omelettes and thick bone-in rib eye steaks. The meal is eaten while standing up in order to facilitate frequent trips to the barrel room.
Serving apple cider during the holiday season is a tradition firmly rooted in Spain as well as in many Latin American cultures. At The Spanish Table we carry a selection of traditional apple cider that includes sparkling apple cider in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions. We also carry the cloudy farmhouse cider that is the traditional drink found in countless small establishments across northern Spain.
For more background on cider check out this nicely done article written recently by Eric Asimov for The new York Times.
El Gaitero This sparkling apple cider from Asturias is our best seller. Here you will find abundant effervescence, sweet apple flavor and a fairly low level of alcohol (less than 7%). This is a fun addition to any Spanish holiday fiesta. $8.99
2009 Isastegi Sagardo Naturala This hard apple cider from Basque country is refreshingly dry and tart. Yeasty aroma and flavor more reminiscent of apple barrel than apple juice evokes the small Sidrerias (cider houses) of Northern Spain. Pour this cloudy farmhouse cider from high above a wide glass to give it a bit of fizz as they do at in Spain. $9.99
2009 Trabanco Sidra Natural This Asturias region cider is made from estate grown native apple varieties that have been approved by the Asturian Association of Cider Apple Growers. The juice is fermented with indigenous yeasts, in accordance to the guidelines for “Naturally Fermented Quality Cider”. It is an unfiltered, low alcohol cider (6%) that is dry and yeasty with green apple tartness. $9.99
2007 Poma Aurea This is a rare bottle fermented hard apple cider from Sidra Trabanco located in the Asturian town of Gijon. This Sidra is made with a selection of indigenous apple varieties from the best local orchards. These apples were meticulously hand sorted and pressed using traditional old wooden presses. The must was then transferred to select old barrels where it underwent fermentation using indigenous
yeast. Once fermentation was complete the sidra was put into bottle with apple must to initiate secondary fermentation. It fermented for six months before being disgorged. This product is named Poma Aurea for the special golden color of this unique cider. $16.99
Sidra sin alcohol
In addition to our collection of hard cider, we have a few sparkling apple ciders that contain no alcohol. They are made in the Asturian town of Villavisciosa by the same producer as the El Gaitero hard cider. These fun, festive drinks come in champagne style bottles and are perfect for holiday gatherings and family meals.
La GaitaThis sparkling apple cider is very similar to the regular El Gaitero in flavor, but without the alcohol. La Gaita, named after the Asturian version of bag pipes, sports a pretty champagne style bottle with an old fashioned label on the outside and lots of bubbles and sweet apple flavor on the inside. This is a wonderful alternative to alcoholic beverages for the younger crowd or for those who choose not to drink alcohol. $4.49
El Gaitero “Green Label” La GaitaLa GaitaMade in Asturias, this sparkling apple cider that is sweet, bubbly and free of alcohol. Pretty champagne style bottles with wire wrapped cork goes POP when you open it and out pours sweet apple flavor with lots of bubbles. This is a wonderful alternative to alcoholic beverages for a large festive gathering or holiday celebration. $4.99
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
Halloween is coming up next Sunday, followed closely by the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos. A fall tradition popular in Catlunya but less familiar here is “La Castañada”. On November 1st All Saints Day (Dia de Todos los Santos) is marked with a traditional meal of roasted Chestnuts and sweet Moscatel wine. Panellets (little round cookies made from Marzipan and pine nuts) and Boniato (roasted Sweet Potato) are also traditionally served during this autumn day dedicated to remembering loved ones who have passed away.
In support of this tradition The Spanish Table is stocking up on Moscatel wine in a broad range of styles. We have the traditional sweet Moscatel made in Alicante that is lightly fortified and abundantly sweet as well as others that range from lightly sweet wines from Catalunya, aromatic yet dry Moscatel from the Malaga region further south and even a fabulous sparkling desert wine from Valencia that is lightly sweet and abundantly bubbly. All of these wines will fit perfectly into a menu featuring the flavors of autumn and may well inspire a new tradition in your home. Here are just a few suggestions (among numerous others) to get you going:
2008 Viña Esmeralda This medium sweet blend of Moscatel and Gewürtztraminer is floral and aromatic with notes of rose petal and lavender. Honeyed melon fruit character is held in check by bright acidity. This is one of the most traditional wines to serve for ‘La Castañada’ accompanied by roasted chestnuts, almond cookies and sweet potatoes. $15.99
2009 Botani Botani is a dry Moscatel from the Sierras de Malaga region. The floral, concentrated aroma is classic Moscatel, redolent of honeysuckle and orange blossom, but the palate is crisp and dry with citrus and mineral notes. This pale straw colored wine possesses a finely tuned balance of flavors that express a fresh and unique side of this ancient region. $19.99
Musva 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
Salvador Poveda Moscatel Here is a sweet dessert wine from a well known and long established company located in the town of Monovar near Valencia. The wine is dark amber in color with abundant floral perfume and flavors of ripe figs, dates and golden raisins. Serve this wine with full flavored cheeses, nut desserts or in a small glass all by itself after a big meal. $10.99
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).
Let me introduce you to Gual and Baboso. No, they are neither law partners nor ice dancers. Gual and Baboso are autochthonous grape varieties that grow on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. These are two of the varieties that are championed at Bodegas Viñátigo, one of several Canary Islands wineries that are just becoming available in the US market thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Bay Area based importer José Pastor.
Founded in 1990, Bodegas Viñátigo makes several unique wines from vineyards in the Ycoden Daute Isora wine region on the western side of Tenerife. Juan Mendez, born and raised on the island, started Viñátigo with the aim of recuperating indigenous grape varieties. His vineyards are all planted on original rootstock in rocky black volcanic soil. Each vine grows in a small depression in the earth to protect it from the ever present trade winds. Indigenous yeasts are used for fermentation. The wines are all produced as single varietals.
The small Viñátigo winery, built from rough hewn local stones, takes advantage of many elements of modern winery design. Wines are moved by gravity rather than pumping from one stage of elaboration to the next. Fresh fruit is delivered to the top level of the winery where sorting and crushing takes place. The wines are fermented in temperature controlled tanks one level down, and bottling and packaging are done on the lowest level.
2008 Viñátigo Gual is made from the Gual grape. Cold maceration and fermentation preserve the maximum of aroma and flavor in this richly textured white wine. Green almond and sesame seed aroma blend with tropical citrus flavors. The textural weight comes from extended skin contact. A foundation of volcanic minerality creates a lean, almost austere, first impression. Only with a bit of air does the complex tropical side of the wine come forward. This off beat varietal wine will pair well with elegant seafood preparations featuring scallops and lobster or even the silky monk fish liver preparation known in Japan as ‘ankimo’. $22.99
2008 Viñátigo Baboso is made from the red Baboso grape. This dark skinned juicy grape creates bold, expressive wines. In this particular example the ripe fruit character adds contrast to a wine that at its core is deeply mineral and rocky. 10 months in French oak gives this wine tannic structure. Barnyardy aromas of hayloft and meat locker add a note of funky intrigue to this unique expression of local soil and climate. A slow cooked braise of beef and mushrooms would be a nice match here. $42.99
Top Shelf Vinho Verde
Adega de Monção is a cooperative winery in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. Deu la Deu is the top wine from this well known and well respected winery. It is made of 100% Alvarinho (rare in Vinho Verde) from the highest quality fruit of each vintage. This wine combines the traditional spritzy effervescence and grapefruit aroma of Vinho Verde with a deeper, more expressive balance of aromas and flavors. Notes of white peach and orange blossom combine with finely tuned minerality and leesy textural weight. This well made wine can be enjoyed right away or held back for a few years as they do in Portugal. $19.99