Tag Archives: ardanza

Vintages Past & Present

Special deal on Rioja Alta

The wines of Rioja Alta (not to be confused with the region of the same name) have a long history dating back to 1890. The winery was founded to meet the needs of wine drinkers in France when the French vineyards had  been devastated by the phylloxera mite. A bodega was built in Haro near the train station where wines could be shipped to the coast by rail and from there by boat to thirsty customers in France and all across Europe.
Today this winery still produces barrel aged wines in the same Bodega in Haro. The wines of Rioja Alta SA are slowly aged for years in the cellar before sale as is the local tradition. We just received a batch of two wines from the last decade which are mature and ready to drink right now. Of course, if you are not in a hurry these wines may be put down for some point in the not too distant future (like the next 10 years or so).
For now we have these two wines well off of normal pricing. These prices will stay the same until the wine is gone so now is a perfect opportunity to pick up these excellent wines at a nice discount. All of these wines may be purchased in our store or on line at spanishtablewines.com

2002 Vina Alberdi Reserva
The entry level Reserva from Rioja Alta is this 100% Tempranillo wine that displays garnet color, aromas of dark berries and earth with well integrated barrel notes and bright fruit character. This was $21.99 the last time we carried it. Now it is $15.99.
2000 Vina Ardanza Reserva The wine that made Rioja Alta famous is this oh-so-traditional Reserva. This blend of 75% Tempranillo and 25% Garnacha is a earthy and smoky at first with a supple undercurrent of dark fruit character. The classic Rioja notes of cigar box, saddle leather and dusty earth are all present as background notes. This complex, elegant wine was going for $38.99 but while the current supply lasts we have this one for $29.99.

New Vintages of D. Ventura from Ribeira Sacra
In the Ribeira Sacra region of Northwestern Spain, Ramon Losada makes 3 distinctly different wines from the local Mencia grape. The old vine vineyards are located in the steeply terraced river valley that cuts through the heart of this ancient region. These terraced vineyards, originally built by the Romans, had long ago fallen into ruin and are only now being rebuilt and reused.
These are all excellent expressions of an ancient region that is just beginning to renew its true potential. They are also some of my current favorite wines in the shop.

2008 Vina Caneiro
The boldest of the D. Ventura wines, this exclusive bottling sourced from small plots of old vine Mencia grown on the steep slopes of the Sil River Valley is opulent and silky while still retaining a fresh, lively balance of flavors. Notes of cranberry and pomegranate mingle with flinty minerality. This dark and abundant wine never veers into the overly extracted or the syrupy. $24.99
2008 Pena do Lobo This wine, from one of the two the Sil River vineyards is 100% Mencia from vines that are over 80 years old. This dark ruby colored wine displays great purity with  subtle mulberry fruit character balancing flinty background minerality. $19.99
2008 Vina do Burato Composed of 100% old vine Mencia from D. Ventura’s Minho River property, this light red is fresh and youthful with the dried leaf aroma that is typical of Mencia. This is the leanest of the D. Ventura wines. It maintains a fine balance of flavors with moderate alcohol content (12%) and will compliment fresh vegetables, poultry, rice and pasta. $17.99

Upcoming Events:

We are hosting an exciting Lopez de Heredia wine tasting next month.  Join us in the Mill Valley store onThursday, April 15th as Maria Jose Lopez de Heredia takes us through her family’s rich history, traditional wine-making process, and of course, many of their world-class wines from La Rioja Alta.

We’ll start at 6:30 pm and will spend two hours enjoying their current releases, a handful of older bottlings and even their 1970 Vina Bosconia.  We will also pair these great food wines with a few of our favorite Rioja-inspired Tapas – lamb anyone?
To read up on the winery before the event, here’s a link to the Lopez de Heredia website and another link to a New York Times article that ran last year.  Eric Asimov makes the point that this classic winery has in a way become cutting-edge, as many winemakers are now following classic, natural and artisanal practices in their vineyards and winemaking.
We are taking reservations for the event now, so come in or give us a call to confirm your attendance (415 388 5043).  The tasting is $45 per person.  We are really looking forward to this event – see you there.

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Holiday Wines, Version 1.4, The Big Gift

Sooner or later around this time of year you are probably going to want to buy something nice for someone deserving.  Some people are easier to shop for than others.  The easy-to-shop-for people will be happy with the same thing year after year, but if you have run out of unique and thoughtful gift ideas for that difficult-to-shop-for person on your list, read on.

During the holiday season The Spanish Table always puts together some special gift box assortments of Spanish wines.  We have several multi-bottle gift packs to choose from this year as well as some very exclusive single bottles in magnums and splits presented in attractive wooden cases.  Mature vintage Riojas, rare 30 year old VORS Sherry, both red and white late harvest sweet wines as well as older Vintage and Tawny Ports all make excellent gifts and can be combined in an endless range of variety and flavor. Some of these hard-to-find wines only make an appearance during the Holiday Season so even if your gift list is complete you will want to check out the current selections to see if anything appeals to your personal taste.

For those of you with extra time on your hands (Ha! Who am I kidding?)…For those of you with thirsty guests to satisfy, here is a seasonal version of Sangria for your next holiday get-together.


Blood Orange and Cranberry Sangria

(adapted from The Spanish Table Cookbook by Steve “El Jefe” Winston)

Serves 4


1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 lb. whole fresh cranberries

3 Moro Blood oranges, sliced into rounds

1 bottle (750ml) Raventos Perfum de Vi Blanc (or other aromatic Spanish white wine)

1 12 oz. can Limon Kas (or other lemon-lime soda)

1 0z.  Spanish brandy


Put water, sugar and cranberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove cranberries from heat and cool to room temperature.

Combine cranberry mixture with sliced blood oranges and brandy in a 1-1/2 liter open topped pitcher and let the mixed fruit macerate for an hour or two.

Right before serving, add the wine and the Limon Kas to the pitcher, stir to mix and pour into tumblers filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of the orange and a few extra cranberries.




Lan Gift Pack $42.99 Bodegas Lan, located in the Rioja wine town of Fuenmayor, craft some of our most popular red wines. This sampler includes one of each of their primary brands. The Lan Crianza 2004 is bright and lively. It is one of my favorite wines to serve with Paella. The Lan Reserva 2001, from a superlative vintage is silky and smooth. Serve it with wintery soups and stews. The Lan Gran Reserva 1998 is mature and elegant. Serve this wine with cured meats and aged cheeses. The Lan Gift Pack is priced a little bit more than 10% off of regular retail for these items.


Rioja Alta Gift Pack $97.00 La Rioja Alta was established in 1890 in the little town of Labastida and maintains traditional Rioja winemaking practices while also embracing many of the latest technological advances. La Rioja Alta own 750 acres of vineyards from which they can source top quality grapes, resulting in excellent fruit and richness throughout their wines. The Vina Alberdi Reserva 2000 is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Mazuelo. Medium ruby in color, it exhibits a nicely developed and expressive nose of cedar, spice, and red currants. This wine is aged in new oak for one year followed by several more years in second use barrels before bottling; creating a wine that is light to medium-bodied, seamless, elegant, and ripe. Viña Ardanza Reserva 1999 is traditionally the richest and most expressively fruity of La Rioja Alta’s wines, with 20% Garnacha in the blend. The wine is aged in American oak for three years and then for a further two before release. With a brilliant deep cherry color and a terracotta rim, the wine has notes of ripe berry fruit, with hints of cinnamon, spice and vanilla.  The rare  1995 Gran Reserva 904, composed of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano, displays ruby color with a brick red tint. Earthy mineral aromas intermixed with smoky tobacco, scorched earth, red currants, sweet cherries, and spice box jump from the glass of this complex, nuanced red. The Rioja Alta Gift Pack is priced a little bit more than 10% off of regular retail for these items.



Faustino Gift Pack $399.00 The most prestigious of our boxed sets is this vertical of Faustino’s amazing Gran Reserva Riojas. Bodegas Faustino is the largest exporter of Gran Reserva wines from Rioja, accounting for more than one third of Gran Reserva wine exports from the region. Bodegas Faustino is a proud custodian of the Rioja region’s traditional winemaking style and has earned a well deserved reputation as a source of truly world-class fine wines. Included in this sampler are 4 bottles of Faustino Gran Reserva (1964, 1970, 1982, and 1994) as well as a lovely crystal decanter embossed with the Faustino logo. A truly unique gift.


Les Terrasses 2004 Magnum $80.00 (1.5 Liter) Alvaro Palacios is one of the most celebrated of Spanish winemakers. He was instrumental in the rejuvenation and subsequent popularity of wines from the Priorat region. Les Terrasses is a Priorat wine that is made from 60% Cariñena, 30% Garnacha, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for one year in a combination of used French and American oak. This dark, opulent wine would make a perfect match with a hearty, slow cooked winter stew. The big bottle makes a wonderful gift (packaged in its own wooden case) for someone who loves to entertain and has a big crowd to feed.


Maestro Sierra VORS Oloroso 1/14 $81.00 (375ml) The Maestro Sierra story is fascinating. Maestro Sierra was founded in 1832 by Jose Antonio Sierra, who, as a master carpenter, was responsible for building barrels for all the major Sherry bodegas. Recognized as one of the top coopers in the area, he longed to become involved in the Sherry trade itself. As this business was dominated by the nobility, a start-up such as his was not very welcome. After many hardships he was able to establish and grow his business becoming one of the top Almacenistas (stockholders) of high quality Jerez wines. Poking fun at his struggle, the label depicts an allegorical fox hunt with the “Nobles” hunting the fox (Maestro Sierra).

Pilar Pla Pechovierto currently owns Maestro Sierra. Doña Pilar is a widow whose husband was a direct descendent of the Sierra family. She respected her husband’s wish that the winery remain in operation after his death and over the last thirty years she has kept the winery open, selling very limited stocks of wine to a few of the large bodegas. Because the wines have virtually remained unmoved due to the almost non existent business, the stocks at Maestro Sierra are some of the oldest in Jerez. The soleras at the winery are easily over 60 years old and some maybe close to 100 years old. The Oloroso 1/14 is so named because it is drawn from the final barrel of a 14 barrel solera (a solera is the group of barrels traditionally used to age Jerez wines). This wine is categorized as a VORS wine indicating at least 30 years of age. The actual age of this solera here is very hard to determine as the wines have been here for as long as anyone can remember. The 14 butts of this wine have spent at least 50 years in the solera system. Each year a new vintage is added to the solera and a portion of the solera is drawn off for bottling.

Oloroso 1/14 is medium amber colored, with slight raisin-like sweetness, complex flavors of burnt sugar and butterscotch and outstanding length.


Domecq 51-1a VORS Amontillado $88.00

Domecq Sibarita VORS Oloroso $88.00

Domecq Venerable VORS PX $88.00

The House of Domecq has spent almost three centuries pleasing sherry-drinkers of every stripe, including the royalty of Spain and England. In the bodega Domecq has an incredible advantage: an ancient lineage of soleras. Their oldest solera, used in making the Sibarita Palo Cortado, was founded in 1792, and other Sherries are aged in soleras dating from 1830, 1902, and 1919. Great age gives their Sherries depth and power, and Domecq has been careful to insure that the añada (the new wine being added at the top of the solera) is high quality, since compromising such a legacy would be a great waste. To do so they have invested in state-of-the-art facilities in the winery. The 51-1a Amontillado is named after its solera. A complex combination of fruits (raisins and figs, primarily) and savory components such as chestnuts, dark bread, and baking spices are accented with a delicate briny note. This sherry unwinds into a long, warm finish. The Sibarita Oloroso is medium-bodied, with aromas of fruitcake, prunes, and dates.  This Oloroso maintains the Domecq family traits of power and intensity framed with cleansing acidity. From a solera founded in 1792, only 370 cases are withdrawn and released each year. The Venerable PX offers a rich blend of dark chocolate, molasses, and figs. This dark, sweet wine is round, big, and elegant in the mouth, demonstrating just how spectacular these mature wines can be.

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