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Barbeito Signature Madeiras

A few weeks back I was invited to a Madeira tasting put on by Manny Berk, the owner of The Rare Wine Company. He had brought Ricardo Freitas over from Madeira to introduce the new collection of Signature Madeiras from Barbeito. Ricardo is the grandson of Mario Barbeito de Vasconcelos who founded Vinhos Barbeito in 1946. In the early days, it was possible to travel around the island buying up large quantities of privately owned wine, some of it dating back to the 18th century. The company earned a reputation as the source of mature, aged Madeira as well as younger wines bought from small local wine makers.Today Ricardo Freitas carries on the family tradition while simultaneously marketing the new collection of single harvest and single cask Madeiras that are distinctly different in style from the older wines. These new wines are not blends of many different wines over numerous vintages as has been the tradition in Madeira. They are instead an expression of unique characteristics of the climate, geography and geology of Madeira. This unique “terroir” driven style is new to the island and the resulting wines are prized for their balance and precision.
We are proud to be among the first retailers to carry these distinctive and delicious wines. Here are some details on these new arrivals:

2001 Boal The 2001 Boal Madeira is a blend of two exceptional casks of vintage wine from the same year. This is a bright amber gold colored wine with aromas of toffee and woody essence. Flavors of toasted almond and light raisin sweetness support bright acidity and feather light texture. $39.99 (500 ml)

2000 Malvasia Single cask ’44a’
The 2000 Malvasia is a rare single cask Madeira. Just 1026 bottles were produced from this exemplary batch of mature Malvasia that was selected by Ricardo Freitas fot its concentrated and aromatic qualities. Light amber in color the wine possesses aromas of brandied raisin and toffee. Flavors of walnuts and dried fruits precede a rich,warm finish laced with dusty minerality. Drier than a typical Malvasia, this wine exhibits a complex elegance that reflects the care with which it was created.$54.00 (500 ml)

1994 Sercial Single Cask ’70b’ The 1994 Barbeito Sercial is a rare single cask Madeira. Just 252 bottles were produced from this exemplary batch of mature Sercial that was selected by Ricardo Freitas from a small batch of fruit grown on the north side of the island in Arco de São Jorge. The fermented wine was aged in a single old 450 liter French oak cask called a “Canteiro”. Light amber in color the wine possesses aromas and flavors of almonds and toasted walnuts. The texture is feather light and precise. The alcohol is warming yet not obvious or intrusive. This is a fabulous choice for pairing with rich cream soups and cured meats.$49.99 (500 ml)

VB Reserva This is the second lot of 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 (“cask 12d”) of 2001 Verdelho and another (“cask 46a”) 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)

Pão Português

An exciting new  non-wine shopping opportunity has started this week and I thought you should know about it. The Spanish Table in Berkeley  will now have Portuguese bread deliveries every Thursday from Silva Bakery in Hayward. Available this weekend in limited quantities: massa sovada (Portuguese sweet bread), pão de mihlo (Portuguese corn bread), papo secos (dinner rolls), biscoitos (crunchy cinnamon twists) and pasteis de nata (custard tarts). This is a new venture for us, so we’re starting slowly. If you know you want bread or pasteis next weekend, let us know so we can special-order them for you for delivery next Thursday.

We tested out the new bread with another newly arrived Portuguese product (also available only in the Berkeley store at present) called Bifanas de Porco. The good folks over at Barcelos Linguica just started making these traditional  thin cut pork cutlets that they marinate in lemon juice, piri-piri pepper and garlic.  Quickly grilled and served on a Silva’s roll this tasty and traditional Portuguese snack needed only a few grilled onions, some fried potatoes and a cold Sagres beer (or a glass of Vinho Verde) to complete the picture. Muito tasty!

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Filed under events, Fortified Wine, Portugal

Strike

It happens every time I travel in Western Europe. Soon after arriving (sometimes even during the flight over) I discover that whatever plans I have made for a certain day will require significant alteration because of one of several varieties of huelga de trabajo (labor strike). Sometimes it’s the bus drivers or garbage collectors and other times it’s the museum ticket takers or other less than crucial service providers, but still it always comes as a surprise to me the visiting foreigner and has a way of messing up my plans. Of course it could also be a Saint’s birthday, bank holiday or other state mandated day off that brings everything to a full stop, leaving us hapless tourists to wander aimlessly in search of amusement, which helps explain why the local residents never seem too put out by the break from routine. They are used to it.

At present, truck drivers in several EU countries are staging protests over the cost of fuel. Unlike the ‘vacation surprises’ that don’t make much news over here, these current strikes are being felt far and wide. The effects are particularly noticeable in the world of imported wine. Suppliers here are running out of certain products and have no estimate on when they will receive new shipments.

So what are wine drinkers to do in this moment of uncertainty? Fear not, I say, for we have plenty of options and choices still available. While the flood of new products is experiencing a temporary lull, we still have hundreds of wines in stock from all across Spain and Portugal (Argentina and Chile too). If your favorite brand is momentarily missing from the shelf, take this opportunity to try a neighboring wine with similar characteristics. It is just like being on a trip to Spain and realizing that you have to change you plans because the trains are not running or your favorite restaurant has abruptly closed for a month long vacation (a month? what must that be like?) leading you to try some alternate place that can often turn into a wonderful new experience.

Speaking of new experiences, this Sunday, June 29th, Berkeley will host the 3rd annual International Food Festival. The Spanish Table will be cooking up a big paella and handing out samples right here in the store starting at 1 pm. This has been one of the big hits of the festival in previous years and will be a tasty introduction to any of you that have yet to experience the fun and excitement of paella first hand.

I will be demonstrating a simple and delicious tapa recipe at 3:30 pm on the Kitchen On Fire cooking stage in the bank parking lot down the street from The Spanish Table. Here is the recipe I will be doing. Come see me on Sunday and get a taste of this quick and easy appetizer, and then take this recipe home and make this for yourself.

I’ll see you at the fiesta!

 

Olivada and Piquillo Montadito (makes about 35-40)

 

1 lb. pitted olives (green or black)

1 sml can of anchovies (55gr./2 oz. net weight)

1 clove garlic

1 sml. Jar piquillo peppers (185 gr./6.5 oz. net weight)

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 ‘baguette’ style French bread

 

Pit olives if necessary. Slice peppers into thin strips. Slice bread into 1/2 inch rounds. Finely mince garlic and combine with olives, anchovies and olive oil in a food processor. Process until mostly smooth. Add a bit more oil if it seems too chunky (it should be spreadable). Spread one teaspoon of olivada on each slice of bread, edge to edge. Garnish with one strip of pepper. Serve.

 

While we await new products, here are some ‘greatest hits’ from recent newsletters:

 

Luis Pato Espumante Bruto This is the first Portuguese sparkling wine to arrive here at The Spanish Table. Luis Pato, the celebrated and somewhat controversial wine maker works in the Beiras region of Portugal. This sparkling wine is made mostly from the Maria Gomes grape and (starting with this bottling) also includes 5% Arinto in the blend. Lean toasty aroma and tart, leesy fruit character combine with frothy effervescence to create a uniquely refreshing wine. $15.99

 

Bereziartua Apple Cider At last, it has arrived! Many of us have been waiting for years to get our hands on some genuine Basque sidra. This hard cider is unfiltered, cloudy, lightly effervescent and only barely sweet. Yeasty aroma and tart fermented apple flavor are what you want from this most ancient of drinks. In the Basque Country they drink it straight from the barrel from harvest time through the winter and then in spring and summer they drink the rest from bottles like those we have just received. When this stuff becomes wildly popular, remember, you heard it here first. $8.99

 

Raventos Perfum de Vi Blanc 2005 This wine comes from Raventos i Blanc, the makers of one of our best Cavas. This blend of 60% Macabeo and 40% Muscat from the Penedès region in Catalunya has exchanged its youthful boldness for mature spiciness. Aromas of wintergreen, allspice and green herbs add unusual complexity to this unoaked white wine, underscoring what I perceive as a bit of ginger ale-like flavor (store manager Caty says she tastes “afri-cola”) on the palate. Intriguing! $8.99

 

Nuevomundo Cabernet/Carmenere Reserve 2005 This Chilean blend of organically grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere from the Maipo Valley is dark and spicy with underlying complexity from 14 months of oak barrel ageing. The more firmly structured Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 60% of the blend and finds counterpoint in the spicy Carmenere which accounts for the other 40%. $11.99

 

Viña Catajarros Élite Rosado 2007 The Cigales region in northern Spain is, along with Navarra, the traditional home of many excellent rosado wines. This particular wine (the first 2007 rosado to arrive from Spain) is produced mostly from Tempranillo with, interestingly, 10% white Verdejo added to the blend. Vivid rose pink color and strawberry aroma blends well with watermelon fruit character and a racy jolt of acidity (from the Verdejo) that maintains the bright, refreshing quality of this wine. $12.99

 

Tio Pepe The best known Fino on the planet is back with a new distributor after a brief hiatus. Gonzalez-Byass makes Tio Pepe from the Palomino Fino grape in the Jerez region of Southern Spain. This dry, nutty wine is ubiquitous in Andalucia and is a perfect accompaniment to toasted almond, olives, cured meats, cheeses and other salty foods. The price has gone down too (how often do you hear that these days), so try some for yourself and see what the fuss is all about. $16.99

 

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Filed under Argentina, Chile, Fortified Wine, Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, rosado, sidra (cider), Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine