Tag Archives: cabernet sauvignon

New Discoveries

At The Spanish Table we are always on the hunt for new wines to bring in and share with you. Sometimes we try something in a restaurant or bar that makes us start writing tasting notes on the back of napkins. Other times an eager salesperson will arrive at our door with something exciting and new. Only rarely will a trip to a large wine tasting event turn up anything of particular interest. With hundreds of wines to taste, those particularly unique or special bottles often get lost in the crowd.
Over the last few weeks I have found several wines that are the happy exceptions to this general rule.
At Viniportugal, a tasting of new Portuguese wines, I tried many distinctive (and well priced) wines that are already starting to appear here on our shelves. The Vinho Verde rosé (yep, pink Green Wine) that arrives this week is a perfect example.
A dry Moscatel from Malaga was the revelation of the recent portfolio tasting of the wines from importer Jorge Ordoñez.
Finding uniquely tasty wines is one of the things that makes my job fun, just as finding these same wines on the shelf at The Spanish Table is one of the reasons that shopping here is so much fun. I like finding unique wines. You like buying unique wines. What can I say? It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Casal Garcia Rosé NV
You love crisp, spritzy Portuguese Vinho Verde, right? Have you ever tried a Vinho Verde rosé? I bet not. Aveleda just came out with this pink version of their most popular brand, Casal Garcia. This will, I predict, become one of our most popular wines for summertime sipping. Low alcohol and light effervescence remind me of the traditional white Vinho Verde Branco. The pale pink hue and lightly fruity berry aroma and flavor are a nice change of pace from the regular version. $8.99

Botani 2008
Among the many interesting wines at the recent Jorge Ordoñez trade tasting, this one stood out as particularly intriguing. Botani is a dry Moscatel from the same Malaga region winery that produces several exemplary sweet wines from the same grape variety. The floral, concentrated aroma is classic Moscatel but the palate is crisp and only lightly fruity. This pale greenish colored wine possesses a finely tuned balance of flavors that express a fresh and unique side of this ancient region.  $21.99

Ameztoi Txakoli 2008
With the arrival of the 2008 vintage of Ameztoi, the Txakoli season has officially begun. We will see several more of these Basque wines from the new vintage over the next few weeks but this wine does just about everything I need a Txakoli to do which is to refresh but never overwhelm. Crisp, lean Hondarribi Zuri grapes barely have a chance to ripen before harvest time along the cool, green Cantabrian coast. The resulting wine is light, flinty, slightly effervescent and grapefruit tart. Add some oiled cured cantabrian anchovies, a few pickled Guindilla peppers and a wedge of Basque sheep’s milk cheese and I am pretty much set. $19.99

Altozano Tinto 2006
The good folks at Bodegas Gonzalez Byass who bring you Tio Pepe Fino Sherry are in charge of the Castilla region winery that produce this wine as well as the Altozano Blanco that many of you have been enjoying lately. This wine is a blend of 65% Tempranillo and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, part of which ages in oak for a short 4 months before bottling. Bright Tempranillo fruit gets a bit of structure and weight from the Cabernet Sauvignon. Light barrel tannins add a bit of toasty nuance without obscuring the rest of the picture. $10.99

Monjardín Crianza 2002
Castillo de Monjardín lies in the northwest corner of Navarra, in the foothills of the Pyrenées, not far from the French border. Historic ties and geographic proximity make traditional French grapes more prevalent here. Monjardín Crianza is composed of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Tempranillo. Dark color and cherry/berry fruit character receive added tannic structure form 15 months of barrel age at the winery before bottling. After 4+ years in the bottle the oak is well integrated and the wine is fully mature and ready to drink. This excellent value will only be around for a short time before the last of it is gone. $9.99

Pardevalles Gamonal 2006
The new vintage of Gamonal is in, which is good news, especially if you have been enjoying the recent arrival of several other wines made from the same Prieto Picudo grape. Once thought of as only fit for simple summertime rosado wines, Prieto Picudo is now getting more serious attention. The newly demarcated Tierra de León region is home to numerous parcels of Prieto Picudo, including some older vines. The small, pointy, olive shaped fruit produce tart wines with distinctive minerality. Gamonal 2006 uses 100% Prieto Picudo, aged for 9 monthes in oak to add depth and structure. The final result is dark, expressive and just a bit wild. $21.99

Dia de Las Madres

On Sunday, surprise Mom by  not making her breakfast.
Let her sleep in for goodness sake! But, once she is up and has had her coffee (or whatever morning ritual she normally enjoys) make her lunch. Not just any lunch, mind you. Make her this:

Kevin’s “Te Quiero, Mamá” Best Ham and Cheese Sandwich Ever

1- Acme Twinkle
(for those not residing near Berkeley’s Acme Bakery, substitute a 6″ section of the best baguette you can find)

2-ounces (about 3 slices) of Jamón de Bellota
(the ham alone will run you about $25, but feel free to substitute Jamón Serrano if you love your mother a little less)

2-ounces (about 3-4 thin slices) Idiazabal Sheep’s milk cheese from Basque Country

1-tablespoon Cadi Mantequilla (Catalan butter from the Pyrenées)

Split the bread lengthwise
Spread the butter on both cut halves and fill with the ham and cheese.
Close the sandwich and grill lightly, just enough to warm the bread, on your electric panino toaster (don’t have a panino toaster? Use your “George Foreman” grill instead, turned to low).
Serve with a small green salad and a glass of rosado.

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Filed under Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, White Wine

Grape Love

As Valentine’s Day is this Saturday it is my duty (and a pleasurable one at that) to remind you of the many excellent ways you can express your love with a well chosen bottle of wine.  From the traditional to the unusual, a unique and delicious wine can set the right tone for a romantic evening, add the perfect accent to a cozy dinner for two or even express sentiments that words fail to convey.

Am I attributing too much power to a bottle of fermented grape juice? I think not.  From my (admittedly subjective) perspective drinking wine is about an experience of aroma and flavor that is much more fulfilling and fun when shared with another person.  I see Valentine’s Day as a perfect opportunity to experience a special bottle of wine with someone you care about.

For me, I like a rosado Cava on Valentine’s Day. The rosy hue fits in with the traditional color of the day and the bubbly wine always puts me in a celebratory mood. A white wine with a bit of extra weight and fruit character also fits the season quite well. To this end I suggest an Argentine Torrontes or an Albariño from Galicia that skews more toward the ripe style and away from the dry, flinty side of the Albariño flavor profile. For reds I think something complex and spicy but not overpowering would be a good choice for a celebration of romantic love. I have a few suggestions from South America that fit this category quite nicely, though in very different ways.

Paella Class: The first paella and wine class of the year is coming up at Kitchen on Fire cooking school here in Berkeley and a few tickets are still available. The date is Monday February 23rd at 6:30 pm. The cost is $65 per person and includes hands-on instruction to create several tapas and a large paella mixta, all of which will be consumed during the class. Several paella-friendly Spanish wines will also be sampled. Kitchen on Fire is handling the signup for this fun and popular class. Go to their website for more details. 

Cavas Hill Artesanía Brut Rosado Cava Just arrived for Valentine’s Day; this bright, rose tinted wine 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

Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado Cava I talk about this wine a lot, but now is the perfect moment to serve this sparkling rosado. It’s dark pink and bubbly, which may be all you need for the occasion, but this is also a deliciously berry scented yet still dry and refreshing cava that not only looks great in the glass but also offers up classic cava aroma and flavor at a reasonable price. $14.99

Reymos Espumoso de Moscatel Sweet sparkling wine from D.O. Valencia. Rich Muscat grape scent, bosc pear and honeydew melon fruit character with light but persistent bubbles. A mere 7.5% alcohol makes this the perfect end-of-meal wine. $11.99

Arte Mayor Brut Nature Cava Dominio de la Vega is a boutique Cava producer in Valencia. They make several wines with increasing levels of age and dryness. This wine is the driest and most mature of the bunch. Zero dosage creates a crisp, lean wine with fine minerality and toasted bread aroma. We got this at a big discount and are selling it the same way. Normally a $50 bottle, we have a few on hand for $28.99

Dominio de La Vega Brut Reserva Cava The same folks who make Arte Mayor Cava also create this Brut Reserva version with a mere hint of residual sugar from a light dosage. The blend here is 80% Macabeo and 20% Chardonnay.   Crisp, toasty character is supplemented by a bit of textural heft and a slight note of baked spiced apple. Also at a significant discount this wine which originally sold for $39.99 is now available for much less while supplies last. $24.99

Do Ferreiro Albariño 2007 The new vintage of this plush, abundant Albariño has just arrived. Gerardo Mendez blends the fruit from various parcels of his small 15 acre estate to create this finely tuned wine. Slatey mineral aroma leads on to rich melon and white peach fruit character with a grapefruit-like citrus note adding counterpoint to this top shelf Galician wine.  $25.99

Cicchitti Torrontes 2007 This new Torrontes offers a different take on Argentina’s indigenous white grape. Normally grown in the northern province of Salta, Torrontes wines are rich and honeyed with a snappy tang of acidity in the background. Cicchitti uses all estate fruit from their property in Mendoza to produce a more mineral wine that retains a bit of typical Torrontes density. This unoaked wine is rich and detailed with notes of ripe apple, green herbs and a bit of tangerine peel all combined in the glass. $14.99

Cicchitti Blend 2007  This Argentine red combines ripe fruity Malbec with the more structured Cabernet Sauvignon and then tops it off with a dash of Merlot (interestingly they only print the word ‘Merlot’ in small type, perhaps as a South American version of the ‘Sideways’ backlash against the ‘M-word’ grape). The ‘blend’ alluded to in the name is 60% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot sourced from vineyards in the Valle de Uco and Lujan de Cuyo sections of Mendoza. Bold and assertive, this wine is powerful yet restrained, a positive trait that I find in well made Argentine Cabs and Cab blends. $14.99

Cicchitti Malbec 2006 (375ml) The 100% Malbec wine from Bodegas Cicchitti is dark and earthy, displaying dried leaf aroma, restrained dark berry fruit character and dusty minerality. The balance on this wine is quite fine and elegant rather than the big boozy style that some Malbec wines express. This one is currently available here in the small 375ml size, just perfect for solo diners as well as gift givers. $9.99 

Azul Profundo Pinot Noir 2006 The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Bio Bio Valley, Chile’s southernmost grape growing region. This temperate region is quickly becoming one of the most highly regarded areas in Chile for wine production. This climate is well suited to growing the fickle Pinot Noir grape. Azul Profundo is a bright and fresh wine that is reminiscent of a Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast of California or the Willamette valley in Oregon. Crystalline ruby color and fresh berry aroma create an intriguing first perception. Tart, pie cherry fruit character balances but never overwhelms subtle grapeskin tannins. This unoaked red is made in miniscule quantities (only 600 cases were produced) and each bottle is hand numbered. $19.99

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Filed under Argentina, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

Summertime Thirst Quenchers

As we head into the month of August I feel the need to offer up some suggestions for warm weather beverages that will satisfy your thirst, awaken your appetite and remind you of good times had (or yet to come) in sunny Spain.

This is the first week in recent months that we don’t have a new rosado wine to offer, but we do have loads of these perfect summer wines on the shelf.

On the other hand, after much whining on my part about the lack of Spanish beer in the American market, I am happy to report that this week we received not one but two excellent cervezas from Spain. 

The new 2007 versions of a few of my all time favorite white wines are now available, as are some unique and interesting red wines from Chile and Portugal.

Check out the latest arrivals below, and while you are at it, take a moment to consider the following recipe that I prepared last weekend for a large birthday party.

Grilled sardines are hugely popular in Portugal and Galicia. These small fish are inexpensive to buy, are sustainably harvested and are really good for you. This version, wrapped in grape leaves, makes an interesting and tasty presentation.

 

Sardinas Asadas En Hojas de Parras (Grilled Sardines in Grape Leaves)

(Serves 8 as an appetizer)

 

Ingredients:

8             whole fresh sardines

8             jarred grape leaves

4             bay leaves (fresh or dried)

¼ cup   sea salt

2             lemons, cut in wedges

 

Directions:

Prepare your grill (gas or charcoal) as you normally would. Clean the sardines (scales off, innards and gills out, head and tail stay on). Sprinkle the salt over the cleaned sardines, making sure to get some salt inside the fish as well as outside.  Place one half of a bay leaf inside the belly cavity of each sardine. Roll up each fish in a grape leaf (use 2 leaves if they are small or if the sardines are big) leaving the head and tail partly exposed. Grill the wrapped fish over a hot fire for approximately 5 minutes on each side. The grape leaves will ‘shrink wrap’ around the fish and prevent them from drying out or burning.  Unwrap the cooked sardines, squeeze a little lemon over the top and eat the fish, discarding the bones and the grape leaf wrapper.

 

Alhambra Lager This beer, from Granada in the south of Spain, takes its name from the famous Moorish palace in that ancient town. This crisp and refreshing lager is well known in Spain and finally available here for the first time. $14.99/6 pack

 

Estrella Damm This popular Beer from Barcelona is now available here for the first time. Enjoy this light, refreshing beer just like they do in Barcelona where countless nights on the Ramblas (the wide pedestrian boulevard that is Barcelona’s epicenter of eating, drinking and people watching) have included at least one (sometimes many) small glasses of this famous lager.  $14.99/6 pack

 

Santiago Ruiz 2007 Bodegas LAN, located in Rioja, is known for their red wines, but this winery also produces a white wine in the Rías Baixas region in Galicia. Santiago Ruiz is a blend of Albariño, Loureiro and Treixadura fermented in tank (no oak). This relatively full bodied (for the region) wine pairs bright acidity with abundant melon and citrus fruit character. The fresh 2007 vintage has just been released and is drinking at its best right now. $19.99

 

Montebaco Blanco 2007 Like the previous bodega, Montebaco makes red wine in one region (Ribera del Duero) and white wine in another (Rueda). The new vintage of Montebaco blanco is made from the Verdejo grape and displays aromas and flavors of tropical fruits such as guava and pineapple along with a mineral back note. $17.99

 

Calcu 2006 In the Chilean Mapuche Indian dialect ‘Calcu’ means magician (or witch doctor, depending on the translation). This years’ blend (it changes with each vintage) is composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Carmenere and 15% Cabernet Franc from the Valle de Colchagua region of central Chile. This wine displays dark garnet color and rich, berry-like aroma. Spicy, peppery Carmenère adds contrast to the deeply structured Cabernet Sauvignon. The rich fruit character, reminiscent of fresh mulberries lingers on the palate. Grilled spicy sausages, fresh corn on the cob and the full compliment of American summer foods will compliment this wine quite well.  $10.99   

 

Azul Profundo Pinot Noir 2006 The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Bio Bio Valley, Chile’s southernmost grape growing region. This temperate region is quickly becoming one of the most highly regarded areas in Chile for wine production. This climate is well suited to growing the fickle Pinot Noir grape. Azul Profundo is a bright and fresh wine that is reminiscent of a Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast of California or the Willamette valley in Oregon. Crystalline ruby color and fresh berry aroma create an intriguing first perception. Tart, pie cherry fruit character balances but never overwhelms subtle grapeskin tannins. This unoaked red is made in miniscule quantities (only 600 cases were produced) and each bottle is hand numbered. Regular price $19.99

 

Twisted Tinto 2006 The immense, steeply terraced Douro Valley in Portugal has, for centuries, been the source of Port wines. Forward thinking wineries have, in recent years, been re-purposing the fruit of the Douro to produce red, white and rosé wines of excellent quality. Dirk Niepoort is one of the leading proponents of unfortified Douro wines. ‘Twisted’ is one of several names given to Niepoort’s most affordable red wine, depending on where you buy it. In Portugal the wine is called ‘Diálogo’, in Germany it goes by ‘Fabelhaft’, in Estonia they call it ‘Öö Ja Päevand in Finland it is ‘Sarvet’. The wine itself is composed of a wide range of typical Douro grapes including Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão among others. Twisted Tinto is dark garnet in color with aromas and flavors of fresh berries and a touch of tannic oak (20% of the wine is aged in barrel for one year). $15.99

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

Spain in California

Every school kid in California learns about the Spanish heritage of this part of the world, going back to the days of ‘Alta California’ and ‘El Camino Reál’, but the names of Spanish explorers of the American west coast, names like De Anza, Cabrillo and Portola are no longer associated with historic figures. In modern times these Spanish family names are given to streets, shopping centers and housing sub-divisions. California’s Spanish history is, it seems, hiding in plain sight.

I’m currently reacquainting myself with the vestiges of colonial Spain here in the Bay Area and have noticed that (unlike the Spanish explorers from previous centuries) Spanish food and wine heritage is very much in evidence at present. In particular, this week I want to draw your attention to a few upcoming local events that highlight our shared Spanish history.

First up is a taste of ‘Alta California’ thanks to an enterprising group that goes by the name of ‘TAPAS’, which stands for Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society (hey, it’s a stretch, but it works). According to their website this local organization “is dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of wines made from all native Iberian grape varietals.”

If you want to experience what the Spanish explorers left behind (other than place names) you can try various wines made from grapes such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, Verdejo and Albariño grown right here in California (and elsewhere in the USA) at an event hosted by TAPAS on Saturday August 9th at Copia (the wine/food museum) in Napa. Billed as “the most extensive tasting of American produced Iberian grape varietals ever offered”, this promises to be a detailed look at how domestic winemakers are responding to the current interest in all things Iberian.

Next in line for a little bit of the  California/Spain mashup treatment is a TV show (the cultural net gets widely cast around here) featuring our favorite dish, Paella, as prepared by local paellero to the stars, Gerard Nebesky. 

On Wednesday July 30th (9 pm PST) The Food Network will air an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay wherein the famous New York chef, restaurateur and TV personality will compete against Gerard Nebesky in a round of dueling Paellas.

The show was shot a few months ago in San Francisco and the final dishes created by Señores Flay y Nebesky were judged by Daniel Olivella, Executive Chef of B44 Restaurant in San Francisco as well as by our very own Andy Booth, co-owner of The Spanish Table (these guys know more than a thing or two about paella). Everyone involved in the show was sworn to secrecy about the final result (backed up by signed non-disclosure agreements) so we don’t yet know who actually prevailed in the competition. All will be revealed next Wednesday evening when the show airs for the first time.

For a first hand experience with Gerard’s Paella you can attend a big screen viewing of ‘Throwdown’ during the Wednesday June 30th broadcast, accompanied by the real thing. Gerard will be making his signature paella at Bistro de Copains in Occidental (Sonoma County) for a select group of Paella aficionados. For $30 you get paella, salad and the show, as well as the chance to rub elbows with a genuine TV star (Gerard, not Bobby). Reservations are required for this event. You can contact them by phone at (707)-874-2436.

Here in Berkeley we are excited to announce the arrival of new vintages from some favorite wineries as well as a few totally new items that we are very happy to share with you. What follows are my recommendations from the latest arrivals at The Spanish table in Berkeley.

 

Muga Blanco 2007 The newest vintage of Bodegas Muga’s popular white wine has arrived.  Made from 90% Viura and 10% Malvasia, briefly aged for 4 months in French oak, this wine is poised between the rich, fleshy style of barrel aged white wine and the crisp, herbal style of the same wine aged in tank. The oak never dominates but only adds a touch of complexity to this excellent and well priced wine. $18.99

 

Muga Rosado 2007 Another perennial customer favorite from Muga is this rosado wine made from Tempranillo, Garnacha and, interestingly, a bit of white Viura too. This pale pink wine is crisp and lean, not cloying and fruity. The bright acidity and gentle berry-like fruit character maintain a fine balance of berry/citrus aromas and flavors. $14.99

 

Parés Baltà Ros de Pacs 2007 If you are looking for a tasty organic rosado for serving at your dinner table or sipping on your back porch, then consider this dark and fruity wine from the Penedès region of Catalunya. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is full of strawberry aroma and flavor, with sufficient acidity to keep the wine bright and refreshing. $11.99

 

Sur Bonarda 2006 We just got a great deal on a stack of this Argentine red wine from a high quality producer in the Mendoza region. The indigenous Bonarda grape produces dark, full bodied wines.  This wine is 100% Bonarda. It is garnet colored and expressive, with blackberry fruit character balancing the amargo back note that Bonarda is known for. $10.99

 

Capote Velho What A bargain! This non-vintage red wine from who knows where in Portugal has absolutely no pedigree but really delivers on freshness and versatility. This is a full liter of wine that possesses gentle berry-like fruit character and moderate tannins coupled with a moderate level of alcohol (11.5%). Like a no name house wine in a little Portuguese bar or restaurant, this red tastes great by itself and will also accompany, but not overshadow, a broad range of foods. $11.99 (1 Liter)

 

Grilos 2005 This red wine from the Dão region in Portugal is an excellent example of the improvements taking place in the region. No longer home to just funky/earthy/rustic reds, winemakers in the Dão region now make many bright and intriguing wines such as this blend of Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro grapes that age for a mere 6 months in oak before bottling. Tart red berry fruit character and lightly oaked tannic core combine with aromas of pomegranate and wet stones. Was $15.99, now $12.99

 

Vina Alberdi Reserva 2001 The wines of La Rioja Alta are among the most traditionally styled of Rioja reds. The new Viña Alberdi, from the superlative 2001 vintage, has just arrived. Odd label change (blue skinned matrons in red sun dresses sipping wine) notwithstanding, this old school Rioja is brick red in  color with toasty barrel aromas along with notes of cigar box, cedar and minerals. Pie cherry and dark plum fruit character are in balance with the other elements. This is an excellent choice for long term cellaring but is drinking very well right now if given some air before service. $24.99

 

 

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

Luna Nueva

Today is the new moon which, if you follow these things, indicates a new beginning, a new cycle of change, a fresh start.

Take, for example, our latest wine selections at The Spanish Table. Right now we have new wines that have never before been seen outside their respective regions of origin. We also have the most recent vintages from celebrated and well known bodegas. You can thrill your palate with untried new flavors and textures or you can affirm your sense of taste memory by re-trying a favorite wine in the latest vintage (the try-it-again-for-the-first-time concept).

However you construct your newness (perhaps you wear your new with a difference) now is the perfect time to experiment with wines that are familiar yet novel.

This week we have some excellent values from Spain and Portugal as well as some stunning collector’s wines that those of you with wine cellars will be wise to pick up while they last (down the road, these will offer that most rare sense of aged newness).

 

Cooking Class Update:

The upcoming Cooking in Cazuelas class (also a new opportunity) on October 22nd is mostly full (10 tickets left), but I want to be sure to encourage those who haven’t heard about it yet to go check out www.kitchenonfire.com where the details and the signup form can be found. I am very much looking forward to this new event that features some of my favorite recipes as well as some really tasty and well matched wines. 

 

Here is a quick idea for using up the end- of-season summer vegetables from the market.

 

Grilled Vegetable Escalivada

(adapted from Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America by José Andrés)

Serves 4 as an appetizer

 

1 medium Japanese style (long not fat) eggplant (about ½ lb)

1 large Yellow Onion

1 large red or yellow bell pepper

3 large tomatoes

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Spanish olive oil

2 teaspoons Sherry Vinegar

1//4 teaspoon Pebrella (dried wild Spanish Thyme)

Salt and pepper

 

Coat the vegetables with a bit of the olive oil and grill them whole over medium hot charcoal (or roast in a 400’ oven) until the vegetables are soft and the skin is charred. Remove the blackened skins, de-seed the pepper and tomatoes and roughly slice everything up in long strips. Marinate the cooked/sliced vegetables for a few hours in a shallow dish with the pebrella, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with some bread and wine.

 

Vino Blanco:

Raventos Parfum de Vi Blanc 2005 $9.99 From the same winery that produces the excellent Raventos i Blanc Cava comes this blend of 60% Macabeo and 40% Muscat that is perfect for the season. Crisp acidity meets floral aroma in a ripe but restrained style that would pair well with butternut squash or end-of-season tomatoes.

 

Ostatu Blanco 2006 $12.99 White Rioja is another seasonal favorite and this fresh, unoaked 100% Viura wine is lean, bright and pin point precise. A hint of sesame seed is typical with Viura and is found in the background of this wine. A superb autumn white.

 

Lícia Albariño 2006 $15.99 From the same winemakers who brought us the exclusive single vineyard Albariño called Finca Arantei comes this well priced second label that is now available in the new 2006 vintage. Lícia is crisp and lemony, with a hint of floral richness held in check by the dry mineral component found in all the best wines from the region.

 

Nessa Albariño 2006 $14. From Adegas Gran Vinum in D.O. Rías Baixas on the Atlantic coast of Spain. Those of you who are familiar with the Albariño varietal will be happy to find such a well priced offering and those who have yet to try this refreshing Spanish white wine will be excited by the crisply bright flavors. Josh Raynolds recently reviewed this wine for Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. He summed the wine up nicely.

Light yellow. Spicy citrus and pear aromas are brightened by white flowers and ginger. Racy, precise and pleasingly bitter, with strong lemon zest and pear skin flavors. This tightly wound albarino shows a lively, persistent finish. 88 points.

 

Vino Tinto:

Padre Pedro 2005 $8.99 Did you see the September 19th 2007 article in The New York Times titled “Happiness for $10 or Less”? The wine writer Eric Asimov was excited about his latest discovery, a little Portuguese wine called Padre Pedro. He said “Our No. 1 wine, the 2002 Padre Pedro from Casa Cadaval in the Ribatejo region of Portugal… had personality, with cherry fruit, spice and smoke flavors and enough tannin to give it structure… Portugal is an excellent source for good, inexpensive wines, especially those from the Douro and those, like the Padre Pedro, from the Ribatejo region…This wine is labeled Ribatejano, which is a wine that comes from Ribatejo but doesn’t follow the appellation’s rules. It’s made from an unlikely mixture of grapes, including cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, alicante bouschet and castelão, a Portuguese grape known in other parts of the country as periquita.”

 

Altos de Luzon 2005 $18.99 At last, the new vintage of one of our most popular D.O. Jumilla wines has arrived. This blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon is lush and full while retaining balance and structure. A perfect autumn red, just in time for the season.

 

Pardevalles Gamonal  2005 $21.99 Have you tried any wines made from the Prieto Picudo grape yet? Now is your chance to check out this interesting varietal in a wine that has been the favorite of many local restaurants since its recent introduction. Sourced from the newly demarcated  Tierras de León region and aged for 6 months in oak after fermentation, this ripe herbaceous red will add spice and interest to autumn meals such as  slow cooked white beans and chorizo.

 

Pintia 2004 $60.00 The new vintage of Pintia is now in stock (in very limited quantities). This is the Toro region project of Vega Sicilia. The quality level here is, as you would expect, extremely high. The old vine Tinta de Toro used for Pintia is ponderously dark and earthy, with abundant fruit character that will last for years to come. A 95 Point rating in The Wine Advocate will add to the demand for this robust autumn red.

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

Back at Work

Were you were wondering what happened to this newsletter last week? I was on a belated summer vacation in the Sierras, but I’m back now, rested and ready to dive back into the exciting and ever changing world of wines at The Spanish Table.

While I was up in the mountains I couldn’t resist doing a Paella demonstration at a wonderful little restaurant in the Gold Country town of Twain Harte. The Prospector is a tiny place that specializes in wood oven cuisine including homemade breads and authentic Neapolitan style pizzas (the certificate from the Naples Pizza Authority hangs on the wall). The wine list is extensive and features many of the great Spanish wines you have come to know and love from shopping at The Spanish Table.  I had a great time cooking up a big paella out on the restaurant’s terrace under the pine trees and serving it to a sophisticated and knowledgeable group of food and wine appreciators. While you won’t find paella on the menu all the time, this hidden gem is well worth seeking out if you are in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, back in Berkeley we continue to receive new wines that are perfect for the in-between-summer-and-fall season that we currently find ourselves in. As I’m still getting back up to speed here, I’ll forego the recipe this week and cut to the chase. Here are our newest wines for your consideration:

 

Vale Da Torre 2005 $11.99 One of Portugal’s better known winemakers, Paulo Laureano, works with producers from all across Portugal. One of his recent goals is the recognition in the international wine market of indigenous Portuguese grape varieties. He has created a seal for wines featuring only Portuguese grape varieties, emphasizing the pride he feels for working with 100% national raw materials. The seal on Vale da Torre wines has a bunch of grapes with the Portuguese national shield pointing out the return to production methods that use the very best of local grapes. According to Paulo, defending indigenous grape varieties is the best way of promoting Portuguese wines in foreign markets. “To place our bets on our grape varieties” he says “is to bet on difference, and I believe that this is how our wines will succeed on international markets.”

Vale da Torre is composed of equal parts Aragonês (the Portuguese version of Tempranillo) and Trincadeira. Dark ruby color with initial aroma of black currant and oak followed by dark berry fruit character and firm tannins, that soften as the wine breathes. Serve this wine with Caldo Verde (Portuguese chard and potato soup), braised beef or roasted pork. Regular price: 11.99

 

Quinta de Bons-Ventos 2005 $11.99 Casa Santos Lima, located in the Portuguese town of Alenquer, north of Lisbon, is a family owned winery that has been operating since the end of the 19th century.  The 686 acre property is divided into several.  Wine grapes are the primary crop, covering 392 acres, leaving the rest of the land for the cultivation of apples, pears and plums. Currently over 50 grape varieties are grown, many of them experimentally. The winery building dates from the 1940s but has recently been modernized with stainless steel tanks and a new computerized bottling line.

Quinta de Bons-Ventos is a young wine composed of Castelão (also known as Periquita), Camarate, Tinta Miúda and Touriga Nacional. The wine is bottled after a brief 3-4 month period of barrel ageing. The end result is a gentle, young wine that displays youthful aroma of fresh berries, gentle fruit character and a soft velvety finish. This is a low alcohol wine (12.5 %) that works particularly well with pasta and rice dishes, composed salads and poultry. 

 

Obra Roble 2005 $10.99  Bodegas J.C. Conde makes the superlative ‘Neo’ in Aranda del Duero at the northern end of D.O. Ribera del Duero. Recently, this same winery created a line of well priced wines that display the traditional Ribera del Duero style. They call these new wines ‘Obra’.

Composed of 100% Tinto del País (Tempranillo by another name) harvested from 60 year old vines and aged in oak barrels for 4 months after fermentation, Obra Roble is a dark garnet colored wine with aromas of ripe berry and oak. Cherry and plum fruit character along with mellow tannins round out the picture. This young wine would pair well with grilled lamb chops and roasted potatoes wedges with rosemary and olive oil.

 

Mantonegro 2005 $18.99 We get a slim few wines from the island of Mallorca. This one is composed of 70% of the eponymous (and indigenous) Mantonegro along with another local grape called Callet as well as small additions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. This big, dark red is spicy, robust and more than a little bit wild. Josh Raynolds recently reviewed this wine for Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. He rated the wine at 90 Points. He said: “Medium red. Vibrant, mineral-accented strawberry and raspberry aromas display wonderful purity and depth. Refreshing red berry flavors are surprisingly concentrated, but emphasize juiciness. I like the combination of sweetness and clarity a lot. Finishes with excellent thrust and precision, leaving clean red berry and baking spice flavors behind.

 

Niepoort Redoma 2004 $47.99 The new vintage of this celebrated Portuguese red wine is now in stock. Famous winemaker Dirk Niepoort crafts this wine from the same top quality fruit that goes into his spectacular Vintage Port. Still in its infancy, this earthy D.O.C. Douro wine will benefit from a few years in the cellar.  Mark Squires at The Wine Advocate recently reviewed this wine. He scored it at 92 Points and said: “This wine is made from a mixed varietal blend (principally Tinta Amarela, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca) from a 60-year-old vineyard, although some older vines were used as well. It was raised for eighteen months in French oak. Cool, refreshing, and beautifully balanced, this is friendly and charming. The sweet mid-palate is young and primary. It is mid-weight, with notes of herbs around the edges. With air, the wine, which seemed rather flat, becomes brighter and livelier as the acidity and ripe tannins appear, and the finish finally shows a little grip, along with some bursts of acidity that were not always as friendly as the rest of the wine’s demeanor. Still, this is very young and in need of settling down. Rather debonair, this is also nicely textured. It became more interesting and intense with air, showing more tannins, acid and earth.

 

Niepoort Vertente 2004 $27.99 The younger sibling of Redoma is composed of a typical field blend of traditional Douro grapes. More approachable and youthful than the Redoma, this is a fine example of a modern Douro red. The Wine Spectator rated this vintage at 92 Points, saying:  Dark ruby in color, Vertente is composed of 40% Touriga Nacional–from 12-60 years old vineyards–along with Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and 15 other varieties. The aroma is port-like revealing notes of black cherries and dark plums, underscored by minerality and dark chocolate. On the palate, the ripeness of the fruit really explodes and the wine shows a refreshing acidity.”

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Filed under Portugal, Red Wine, Spain

Cooking in Clay

I am excited about a new class that I’m doing in October at Kitchen On Fire. The class is called Clay Pot Cookery and, as the name implies, is all about using the wonderful terracotta cookware from The Spanish Table to create hearty and rustic traditional Spanish meals at home.

Here are the details from the Kitchen On Fire website:

In this class, Kevin Hogan from The Spanish Table will share his passion for terracotta cookware as he prepares his version of several classic Spanish recipes for the class to enjoy.

All of the food for this class, from quick cooked appetizers to slow braised stews and even dessert, will be prepared using Spanish clay cookware. 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 traditional recipes. Recipes for this class will include:

Gambas al Ajillo (sautéed shrimp in olive oil with garlic and chilies)

Setas Al Fino (sautéed mushrooms with Fino Sherry)

Carcamusa Toledana (Toledo style braised pork and potato stew in tomato sauce)

Arroz con cosas (baked rice with assorted vegetables)

Buttermilk flan (Kevin’s own recipe)

Now that I have decided on the menu, I’m busy deciding which wines to serve with the meal. I plan to serve 5 different selections that are appropriate to the dishes we will be eating.

If you are interested in attending this demonstration dinner (due to the slow cooked nature of some of the dishes this is not going to be a hands-on class), please sign up on the Kitchen on Fire website. Their address is:

https://www.kitchenonfire.com//course_class.php?class=348

The class is limited to 30 guests so sign up soon to reserve your spot.

Meanwhile, back in the wine department, we have some excellent new selections in our ‘house wine’ department. For those of you who are not yet familiar with our ‘house wine’ selections, here’s how it works: We carry a selection of traditionally styled wines (red, white, rosé) that taste like what you would be served in a little Spanish or Portuguese bar. We sell all of these wines at a special price of $6.99 per bottle and we give even deeper discounts ($5.99 per bottle) on mix-and-match 12 bottle purchases. This allows you to buy a case of wines for $71.88 (+ tax) that you can have around the house for whenever the need arises. Our newest arrivals in the ‘house wine’ department are:

Alandra Tinto $6.99 From the makers of Esporão in the Alentejo region of Portugal comes this youthful, rich, fruit-filled red wine made from Moreto and Periquita grapes. This bright and spicy non-vintage red will compliment a wide variety of meals.

Primavera Bairrada Reserva 2003 $6.99 This earthy blend of 60% Baga, 30% Tinta Roriz and 10% Castelão is perfect for hearty meals. This Portuguese wine displays brick red color and smoky aroma with dried cherry fruit character and tannic foundation. Mature reserva wines don’t make it into the ‘house wine’ section very often so take advantage of this excellent value in red wine while it lasts.

Lavradores de Feitoria Douro Tinto $6.99 The Douro region in Portugal is also the area where Port wine is produced. Forward thinking winemakers have re-purposed the grapes of this region for table wine production. This young red is a blend of wine from 13 different producers across the Douro region. Youthful color and aroma blend with dark berry fruit character and background minerality. Excellent quality from an interesting winery.

We also have some exciting new wines from all over:

Vino Blanco:

Follies Branco 2005 $10.99 This medium bodied, Portuguese blend of Chardonnay and Maria Gomes displays lush melon-like fruit character and gentle acidity. Steel tank fermentation (no oak) maintains a fresh, ripe aspect that is particularly delicious when paired with creamy soft ripened cheeses.

Luis Pato Maria Gomes 2006 $11.99 Luis Pato is one of Portugal’s most celebrated winemakers. This wine, made from the local Maria Gomes grape is bright and refreshing. Aromas of white peach and fresh melon accent a grapefruity foundation. Amazing purity in this unique white wine.

Blanco Nieva Verdejo 2006 $14.99 The new vintage of this perennial crowd pleaser has just arrived. Grapefruit and flint come to mind as descriptors here. Additional quince-like fruit character and a bit of residual effervescence are most noticeable while the wine is very young.

Vino Tinto:

Terra Buena Malbec 2003 $10.99

Terra Buena Tempranillo 2004 $10.99

I wrote about the Terra Buena wines in last week’s newsletter, but foolishly omitted the descriptions of the two red wines. Briefly, these wines are made in Argentina by the good folks up at Laurel Glen winery in Sonoma County. After fermentation the wines are put on ships and transported in bulk to California where they are aged and bottled. The reds both display dark color and ripe berry aromas. The Malbec is the bolder of the two and shows impressive concentration and richness. The Tempranillo is spicy and lively with bright cherry-like fruit character. Both of these wines would be perfectly paired with spicy tomato sauced pasta or harissa marinated lamb kabobs.

Chévere 2004 $10.99 Not only has Paul Campbell at Laurel Glen been making wine in Argentina, he has also crafted a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon which, like the Terra Buena wines, undergo primary fermentation in their native countries with barrel ageing and bottling taking place in Graton, California. The novelty factor is high here with the image of Che Guevara on the label but the wine inside is quite tasty. Youthful dark berry aroma encounters nicely structured tannins in this hearty, full-bodied red wine. The back label states that “A portion of the proceeds from this sale will be donated to the Lambi Fund of Haiti, a community-based NGO that promotes democracy and economic justice in Haiti. Drink up, America!

Les Terrasses 2005 $36.99 We blew through the 2004 vintage in record time, so we’re happy to see the new 2005 Les Terrasses. This wine is consistently one of our best D.O.C. Priorat wines in the under $50 category. Alvaro Palacios, Priorat’s most celebrated winemaker is best known for his rare and very expensive L’Ermita, but thankfully he also makes Les Terrasses for those of us on more modest budgets. 30% Garnacha, 60% Cariñena, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark garnet color, opulent cherry brandy aroma, rich silky dark berry fruit character and seamlessly integrated oak tannins. Delicious now. Even better with a few years of cellar time.

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