Tag Archives: aforado

Elegant Spanish Whites

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 2007
This 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

New Cava

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:

L’Hereu de Nit Rosado Brut Cava 2006 Raventos i Blanc is a true pioneer of Cava production (this family winery was making sparkling wine before the name Cava existed). They just 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. Pour this in any context that calls for sparkling wine and you (along with your guests) will be happy indeed. $21.99
Augustí Torelló Mata Reserva Brut Cava 2006 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
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

Holiday Wine Bargains

The evidence is clear:

  • Spanish sweets (turrones, mantecados, polvorones, roscos de vino, etc.) are piled high in the center of the store.
  • White icicle lights are strung up over the shelves.
  • Hector is dressing up the front window with tiny evergreen trees and spray-on snow.
  • Augie Rios is singing “Mamacita Donde Esta Santa Claus?” over and over on the iTunes.

The Holiday season has most definitely arrived at The Spanish Table.

Are you ready?

I am.

I’ve been shopping, shopping, shopping for wines that will enliven your holiday season without emptying your wallet. The news in this regard is very good. Wholesalers are eager to move more inventory during this slower than normal season and have offered us many great deals on numerous excellent wines from Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Chile. I am buying bunches of these wines and stacking them to the ceiling to ensure that you all get a chance to partake in the bargains that we normally do not see at this time of year.

Check out the following new items (plus a few repeats for those of you who have been occupied elsewhere lately) that are guaranteed to get your wine cellar in shape for the Holiday Season.

Aforado 2005 Albariño grapes (along with small percentages of Caino and Loureira) go into this crisp, dry white wine from Galicia on Spain’s Atlantic coast. Abundant citrus fruit character with a foundation of fine minerality. A few years of bottle age have softened the acidity and mellowed the fruit character, creating a gentle version of what was once a tart, tangy wine. When first released this was a $15 wine, but is now ‘house wine’ priced at $6.99 (with a special discounted ‘house wine’ price of $5.99 when purchased by the case).

Peñafiel Joven 2004 Young, lightly oaked Ribera del Duero wines have been growing in popularity lately. Peñafiel Joven spends a few brief months in oak, adding the merest whiff of barrel character to this darkly colored, richly flavored red wine fashioned from the thick skinned Tinto Fino grape. $6.99 ($5.99/each, by the case)

Luis Alegre Joven 2006 This light, youthful, unoaked Tempranillo, made in the small Rioja region hill town of Laguardia is a traditional style of red wine made using the maceración carbonica method of whole cluster fermentation that produces fresh, fruity wines in a matter of weeks. This style is favored by the local winemakers in Spain but is not seen very often in the export market where mature, aged wines predominate. This bright, floral red can be served alone, with assorted tapas or at the beginning of a meal as a starter wine. $7.99 (was $12.99)

Servilio Roble 2006 We featured this lightly oaked Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero earlier in the year as one of our Wine Club wines. This dark, full bodied wine is produced from estate grown Tinto Fino and displays ripe fruit character, earthy aromas and moderate complexity. Originally priced at $15.99, we have the remainder of the 2006 vintage priced at $10.99.

Hidalgo Clásica Amontillado This well priced Amontillado Sherry from the famous Bodegas Hidalgo–La Gitana exhibits light raisin fruit character as well as abundant toasted almond aroma and flavor. This medium dry Sherry makes an excellent accompaniment to full flavored cheeses, cured meats and other salty snacks. $11.99

Nectar PX This sweet sherry, made by Gonzalez Byass (the makers of Tio Pepe Fino) is golden amber colored, richly sweet and aromatic. Dried fig and raisin flavors combine with a hint of nutty background flavor. An excellent way to finish a big holiday meal. $17.99

Cyan Crianza 2002 This textbook Toro displays dark garnet color, dense texture and heady aromas of black coffee, cherry brandy and tannic oak. The flavor is ripe and bold, with black cherry fruit character and notes of cocoa powder and coffee bean on the finish. Made from the fruit of 20-30 year old Tinto de Toro vines, this wine normally sells for $21.99 but is now available for $14.99.

Leave a comment

Filed under Argentina, Portugal, Red Wine, Spain, Uncategorized, White Wine

American Holiday

Thanksgiving Day kicks off what we Americans call ‘The Holiday Season’. Unlike European countries where the calendar is studded with holidays both secular and religious, in the USA we can go months without any official time off. Between the 4th of July and Halloween just one day, Labor Day, is a widely observed holiday, so now that the season is upon us, we have some catching up to do.

As I have said many times before, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. What’s not to love about a national celebration devoted to food (and football)? Freed from any religious associations, Thanksgiving is an equal opportunity holiday, open to all who wish to partake in the joys of a big family meal.

The menu itself is open to broad interpretation, from Norman Rockwell traditionalism to post-modern tofurkey-ism. All tastes, culinary perspectives and even dietary restrictions can be woven into the fabric of a Thanksgiving feast. The only limitations to a successful Thanksgiving are a lack of time and/or imagination. My recommendation for those of you who have neither inclination nor inspiration to whip up a favorite family recipe is to contribute an excellent bottle of wine to the celebration.

For the first time, The Spanish Table now has genuine American wines (made from Iberian grape varieties, of course) that will perfectly match this most American of meals. I have several suggestions for you this week for domestic wines to go with Turkey and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce and the rest of a traditional Thanksgiving menu. Additionally, I have been finding great bargains wines from Spain and Portugal that combine high quality with low price. I have several new ‘house wines’ for you this week as well as some other very reasonably priced wines that will also compliment a festive holiday meal (or any meal for that matter).

Keep reading to learn more about this week’s new wine, but first here is something I read in The New York Times that I cannot resist passing along. This recipe uses the leftovers from my favorite American holiday to add a twist to one of my all time favorite Spanish tapas, the fried croqueta.

Croquetas de Jamón y Piquillo, Estilo New York Times

(Makes approx. 3 dozen)

Ingredients:

3 cups mashed potatoes, chilled

2 1/4 cups plain bread crumbs

2 ounces serrano ham (about a half-cup), diced small

1/2 cup piquillo or roasted red pepper, diced small

5 large eggs

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

1 cup all-purpose flour

Olive oil, for frying.

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, 3/4 cup bread crumbs, ham, pepper, 1 egg, the yolk, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, paprika and salt. Mix well.

Place remaining 4 eggs in a wide, shallow bowl and beat lightly. Place remaining 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs in a second bowl and flour in a third. Season bread crumbs with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Taking about 2 tablespoons of croquetas mixture at a time, form into 3-inch fingers. Dip each finger first in flour, tapping off excess. Dip in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then bread crumbs. Transfer each finger to a large baking sheet. When you have finished forming all croquetas, cover tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

When ready to fry, heat 1/4-inch oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry croquetas in batches, turning once, until dark golden all over, 2 to 3 minutes a side. Transfer to paper towel-lined plates and sprinkle with additional salt, if desired. Serve hot.

Aforado 2005 Albariño grapes (along with small percentages of Caino and Loureira) go into this crisp, dry white wine from Galicia on Spain’s Atlantic coast. Abundant citrus fruit character with a foundation of fine minerality. A few years of bottle age have softened the acidity and mellowed the fruit character, creating a gentle version of what was once a tart, tangy wine. When first released this was a $15 wine, but is now ‘house wine’ priced at $6.99 (with a special discounted ‘house wine’ price of $5.99 when purchased by the case).

Brigantia 2001 This lightly oaked red wine is made from Prieto Picudo, an autochthonous grape variety of the Castilla Y León region. Dark garnet color and gamey aroma combine with rich black cherry fruit character and notes of saddle leather and coffee bean. This style of bold, earthy wine is rarely seen at this price. $6.99 ($5.99/each, by the case)

Peñafiel Joven 2004 Young, lightly oaked Ribera del Duero wines have been growing in popularity lately. Peñafiel Joven spends a few brief months in oak, adding the merest whiff of barrel character to this darkly colored, richly flavored red wine fashioned from the thick skinned Tinto Fino grape. $6.99 ($5.99/each, by the case)

Luis Alegre Joven 2006 This light, youthful, unoaked Tempranillo, made in the small Rioja region hill town of Laguardia is a traditional style of red wine made using the maceración carbonica method of whole cluster fermentation that produces fresh, fruity wines in a matter of weeks. This style is favored by the local winemakers in Spain but is not seen very often in the export market where mature, aged wines predominate. This bright, floral red can be served alone, with assorted tapas or at the beginning of a meal as a starter wine. $7.99

Odisea Two Rows Garnacha 2006 Adam Webb and Mike Kuenz founded Odisea a few years ago to make wines in the style of Southern France and Northern Spain. Using fruit from Lodi and the Sierra Foothills, these winemakers have crafted several different wines that, tasted blind, could easily pass as Spanish. Two Rows Garnacha, produced in miniscule amounts (90 cases in all) is a blend of 76% Garnacha, 12% Tempranillo and 12% Petite Sirah. A brief period of barrel ageing, as is typical with Spanish roble wines, adds a hint of oaky complexity to the wine. The crystalline ruby color, tangy, bright fruit character and background earthy/mineral notes are reminiscent of a Calatayud Garnacha or a young wine from Rioja Baja and will pair well with turkey and gravy. $19.99

Tejada 2005 Back in 1999 Spanish natives Celia Tejada and her brother Ivo started this small family winery in Lake County. The Tejada siblings planted part of their new 80 acre property with 3.5 acres of Tempranillo and Garnacha (the grapes they remembered from home). This small estate vineyard is the source for the fruit that goes into two Tejada wines (this one and a more mature reserva). The blend here is 58% Tempranillo and 42% Garnacha. Local winemaker Byron Kosuge is involved in the winemaking process which includes a certain amount of time in oak followed by a period of bottle ageing as is done in Spain. The end result is a dark garnet colored wine with fresh red berry fruit character, mid-weight barrel tannins and a lean, savory element that helps retain the Spanish style of the wine. $21.99

Candy Core Late Harvest Grenache 2004 Looking for a wine to pair with cranberry sauce? This little bottle of sweet dessert wine from Dave and Becky Corey at Core Wine Company is made from 100% Grenache (Garnacha to us) from the Santa Barbara Highlands. The grapes are left on the vine until super ripe and then aged for 18 months in barrel (with 8 more months of bottle age) after fermentation. This opaque ruby colored wine retains bright acidity that balances the dense, perfumed sweetness and gives the wine an unexpected lively quality. $19.99 (375ml)

St. Amant Tawny St. Amant is a small California winery that was founded in 1979 by Tim and Barbara Spencer to produce Port style wines (they have since become even better known for their Zinfandel). The non-vintage ‘Tawny’ is made from the Bastardo grape (a traditional Porto variety) sourced from the family estate vineyard in Amador County. According to Stuart Spencer (Tim Spencer died in 2006 and his son Stuart has been running the winery since that time) this wine started was an experiment in single varietal barrel aged Tawny Port style wine gone wrong. After primary fermentation and fortification (as is done in Porto) the wine was sampled and rejected as too rough and astringent. The experimental barrels full of wine were left in the tool shed and basically forgotten for several years. The wine was not racked or disturbed in any way. Down the line curiosity prevailed and the wine was re-tasted. Time and neglect had proved beneficial to the experimental Bastardo Tawny. The years of barrel age softened the acidity. The rough tannins had subsided and sweet, somewhat maderized notes of butterscotch and caramel had infused the dramatically improved wine. Serve this wine with pecan or pumpkin pie for a seasonal treat. $33.99 (500ml)

Leave a comment

Filed under California, Fortified Wine, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

What’s New?

I’m so glad you asked. Even though we are now in August, a month when many of us will head to the beach/mountains/countryside for a last bit of rest and relaxation before the end of summer, here at The Spanish Table we are continuing to search out new and delicious wines from Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina.

We have a new Txakoli from the Basque lands, and new Albariño from Galicia. The latest vintage of one of our favorite Rioja wines is now available as are several celebrated Malbec wines from Argentina, a great Carmenère from Chile and the most prestigious of Portuguese red wines.  

We are having a hard time figuring out what to call this growing collection of wines that encompass such a wide range of styles and nationalities. So far we’ve come up with ‘Iberian influenced’ as a catch all phrase to describe our wine selection, but we are still looking for something that rolls off the tongue a bit easier. How about ‘iberesco’?

Well, clearly I’m just making stuff up now, but I welcome suggestions from any of you that can think up something appropriate.

Meanwhile, before you decamp for somewhere other than home, please come see all our new wines and pick up a few for your trip. Chances are there won’t be a Spanish Table where you are going.

Also, make sure to pack something to eat because you never know what you’ll find for food on the road, in the air or over the water. Here is a recipe for one of my favorite travel snacks:

 

Kevin’s “Don’t make Me Stop This Car” Tuna Sandwich

(Serves 2 adults or four kids)

 

1 large can Spanish Bonito del Norte Tuna

6 Piparra peppers, destemmed and roughly chopped

4 Piquillo peppers, sliced in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

1 stalk of celery, diced

½ teaspoon Toro Albala Vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

2 soft sandwich rolls (‘twinkles’ from Acme Bakery are a personal favorite sandwich roll)

 

Drain the tuna only half way. Put the tuna and the remaining juice in a bowl and flake with a fork. Mix in mustard, celery, chopped Piparra peppers, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Slice rolls in half lengthwise. Divide tuna mixture evenly and spread on the two rolls.

Layer sliced eggs and piquillo peppers on top of tuna mixture.

Close up sandwiches and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. As the sandwiches sit, the bread absorbs the moisture from the tuna and makes the whole thing taste better. Serve after a few hours of travel time.

 

 

Vino Blanco:

Uriondo Txakoli 2006 $14.99 The Txakoli continues to flow unabated a The Spanish Table. This new arrival is from D.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina, near Bilbao. Unlike the coastal D.O. Getariako Txakolina wines that are made from the Hondaribbi Zuri grape, Uriondo is composed of a blend of 70% Mune Mahatsa and  30% Txori Mahatsa (say that five times fast). Less spritzy than most Txakoli wines, with riper fruit character and less assertive minerality.

 

Aforado 2005 $11.99 In D.O. Rías Baixas, the Albariño grape is King, but in the O Rosal sub-zone (where Aforado comes from) other grapes such as Treixadura and Loureira also share center stage. The end result of all this blending is a white wine with more peach and pear aromas and flavors than the typical flinty, citrusy Albariño wines. At this price, Aforado makes an excellent choice for buying by the case.

 

Mesache Blanco 2006 $11.99 We just received the new vintage of this unique white wine from D.O. Somontano. The blend here is 35% late-harvested Macabeo, 35% Gewurztraminer, and 30% Chardonnay. This rich, floral wine displays abundant melon and pear notes. The bold, fruity, multi-layered style will appeal to Riesling lovers, and would pair well with scallops or other rich seafood.

 

Vino Tinto:

Cune Crianza 2004 $17.99 If you go to Rioja and walk into any small bar and request a glass of vino tinto, chances are you will be served this wine. This blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo is aged for two years (12 months in American oak barrels and 12 months in the bottle) before sale. The new 2004 vintage shows dark garnet color with black cherry fruit character and balanced oaky tannins that, combined together, create a picture perfect example of crianza Rioja.

 

Clos de los Siete 2005 $16.99 This is a high profile project in Argentina that combines the talents of seven celebrated French winemakers, with Michel Rolland (yes, that Michel Rolland) at the helm to create a blend from all these neighboring wineries. The individual winemakers will eventually bottle their own wines, but as the vines are still quite young, the Clos de los Siete blend is the one currently available product from this very substantial group. The blend here is 50% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah. The wine is poised between a big, ripe, typically Argentine style and a leaner, more terroir driven French style, which is exactly what you would expect from these winemakers working in this region.

 

Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec 2003 $21.99  From one of the oldest wineries in Argentina we recently received this 100% Malbec wine sourced from estate vineyards located in the prestigious Lujan de Cuyo district of Mendoza.  This finely balanced wine displays the dark color and ripe aroma of a typical Malbec, but the mid-weight tannins and the multi-layered aromas and flavors here are sophisticated and well tuned. This is one of the best Malbec wines I have tasted so far.

 

Secreto Carmenere 2006 $9.99 The Secreto wines are mid-tier products from the Viu Manent winery in Chile and are intended to express varietal character. The Secreto Carmenere is dark colored, ripe and fruity. A bit of spicy jalapeño pepper flavor is typical of Carmenere grapes and shows up here as a back note. Serve with boldly flavored food. Mexican tortillas and salsa with grilled skirt steak would be just about perfect.

 

Casa Ferreirinha Barca Velha 1999 $160.00 (extremely limited, only 6 bottles in stock) We have been looking for this wine for a long time now, and are very proud to offer it to you. Catherine in our Seattle store just wrote about Barca Velha and she did such a good job that I am shamelessly cutting and pasting her notes into my newsletter (thanks Catherine). She said “Barca Velha is the [Vega Sicilia] Unico of Portugal, only at half the price. While I knew that the winery was extremely selective about their releases, I was shocked to find out that there have only been 15 bottlings since the winery’s inception in 1952!!! Barca Velha is traditionally a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Barroca from three of Ferreira’s vineyards in the Douro Superior. Ferreira’s winemaker was sent to Bordeaux in the early 1950s to decide on a table wine style and he chose the long aging style of Chateau Lafite Rothschild so this is made on that model.  This wine is only made in vintages with the potential of greatness.  It is aged for 7 years in barrel and bottle and then tasted to decide if the vintage is great enough to “declare” a Barca Velha.  Ferreira’s Board of Directors has to be unanimous in their decision before a vintage can be declared. Declarations average 2 to 3 per decade and this has traditionally been considered the greatest wine form Portugal.

Additionally, Mark Squires of Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate recently tasted this vintage of Barca Velha and rated the wine at 94 Points. He said “The 1999 Barca Velha (Casa Ferreirinha) is Portugal’s equivalent of Grange, the seminal cult wine for a nation. The winery (Ferreira; hence, the labeling “Casa Ferreirinha,” hearkening back to a famous owner from days gone by) that first made it has long since been sold to Sogrape, Portugal’s biggest wine corporation. Some younger winemakers openly questioned whether Barca Velha was a bit of a dinosaur. Nonetheless, in this vintage at least, it seemed superlative to me, a blend of a more modern styling than seen in Casa Ferreirinha wines like the 1996 Reserva, together with a slightly old-fashioned air lingering in the background. No one will confuse this wine with some of Portugal’s well-known, high-end, modern reds like the Symington’s Chryseia or Quinta do Crasto’s Maria Teresa. It is powerful, with significant tannins and fine structure. With decanting (which it had here), it can be approached. Deep and intense, it has a focused attack of fruit on the palate, some darker fruit notes like a touch of plum, some earthiness, and grip on the finish from that fine structure. It also manages to have a little brightness and a certain refreshing note, cutting through the muscular presentation. The texture has some velvet and it was a pleasure, too. It also shows some gracefulness and complexity, and it should drink well for a couple of decades, improving steadily in the cellar over the next several years. There were 2,500 cases produced. Drink from 2008-2022.

Leave a comment

Filed under Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

New Arrivals From Argentina

A few weeks ago I hosted a wine tasting at the California Shakespeare Festival that featured a few of our latest arrivals from Argentina. I poured a couple of red wines made from the Malbec grape and a white Torrontes. Judging from the pleasantly surprised responses (smiles, happy oohs and aahs, requests for seconds) many of you have yet to try the numerous new wines from Argentina. I only recently started buying Argentine and Chilean wine for our store, but I have been very pleased with the wines in general and am happy to continue my research in order to bring you the very best of the overwhelming array of brands and styles now finding their way to our shores.

At The Spanish Table in Berkeley I’m adding a new display rack and reorganizing a bit to make room for more wines from South America, so if you have not yet had an opportunity to experience these new red, white and rosado wines, now is your chance.

This week, in addition to our latest arrivals from Spain, we are featuring a handful of new arrivals from Argentina’s Finca Carlos Pulenta. The Tomero and Vistalba wines are excellent examples of contemporary Argentine wine making.

Food-wise, the center of a big Argentine meal is usually grilled meat in its many forms, though beef will certainly play a leading role. If a multi course meal comprised of steaks, chops, sausages and organ meats seems a bit too carnivorous for you, perhaps the following recipe adapted from Argentina Cooks! By Shirley Lomax Brooks ($24.95) will add balance to your meal:

Tomates Rellenos – Tuna and Vegetable Stuffed Tomatoes (serves 4)

4 large ripe tomatoes

2 large tins (12 ounces) Spanish Bonito del Norte Tuna

2 cups cooked vegetables, any combination of peas, carrots, green beans, corn kernels and lima beans

½ cup Delouis brand Aioli

Dash of Piri Piri pepper sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 green onions chopped

2 teaspoons fresh parsley, cilantro or dill

Make the tomato shells by cutting the tops off tomatoes and carefully scooping out the pulp and seeds. Drain the tuna and mix with your choice of vegetables and the aioli. Stir in Piri Piri, garlic, onions and green herbs. Fill the tomato halves with the shrimp salad and chill briefly before serving.

Now, on to the wine!

Vinos Blancos:

Tomero Torrontes 2006 $15.99 Produced in the Cafayate Valley in the Northern Argentine province of Salta, this aromatic white wine will charm you with scents of orange blossom, crane melon and white peach. The rich aromas add depth to the dry, mineral background and bright apricot-like fruit character of the wine.

Lagar de Cervera 2006 $20.99 From the producers of La Rioja Alta red wines comes the newest vintage of this always excellent Albariño which is bold and ripe, with fine minerality, medium body, and loads of tropical fruit.

Aforado 2005 $11.99 In D.O. Rías Baixas, the Albariño grape is King, but in the O Rosal sub-zone (where Aforado comes from) other grapes such as Treixadura and Loureira also share center stage. The end result of all this blending is a white wine with more peach and pear aromas and flavors than the typical flinty, citrusy Albariño wines. At this price, Aforado makes an excellent choice for buying by the case.

Vinos Tintos:

Tomero Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 $16.99 In the Mendoza region of Argentina vineyards grow in the dessert climate thanks to a controlled system of irrigation channels. Tomero is the title given to the vineyard worker in charge of water distribution. Tomero Cabernet is a rich red wine produced from estate grown fruit from the Valle de Uco region within Mendoza. Dark Garnet color and black cherry aroma lead to dry tannins and black currant fruit character. The whole ensemble is balanced and well integrated which lends a certain elegance to the wine.

Tomero Malbec 2004 $16.99 The Malbec grapes for this wine are, like the Cabernet, sourced from estate vineyards in the Valle de Uco region. Steel tank fermentation (i.e. no oak) allows the bold fruit character of the wine to predominate. Spicy background notes add complexity. This youthful red is ripe, but not ‘over the top’ as some other Malbec wines can be.

Vistalba Corte-C 2004 $11.99 This blend of estate grown Malbec (85%) and Merlot (15%), grown in the Luján de Cuyo region of Mendoza is aged, in part, in oak barrels for 12 months prior to bottling, then the bottled wine is aged for another 6 months before sale. Dark plum color and spicy oak aroma adds depth to the plum-like fruit character. This ripe, smooth red wine will pair well with cookout fare as well as more elaborate meat-centric preparations.

Can Blau 2005 $17.99 We’re back in Spain now. This D.O. Montsant wine has been getting lots of positive feedback from customers. Josh Raynolds reviewed this blend of 50% Cariñena, 35% Syrah and 15% Garnacha wine for Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar and rated it 90 Points. His description matches mine, but his wording is better. He said: “Bright ruby. Focused, fresh and brisk on the nose, with energetic cherry and candied licorice aromas. Intense mineral notes add complexity and depth to the explosive blackberry and cherry fruit, with notes of candied violet and rose coming up on the back. Finishes with superb intensity and length. An excellent value, and built for cellaring.

Leave a comment

Filed under Argentina, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine