Tag Archives: cabernet

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

Last Chance Wine Sale

Good wines, like fresh fruits and vegetables, come and go with the seasons.

In this age of identical commodity products made in vast quantities we often forget that many wines, especially those from the small artisan wineries we love at The Spanish Table, are made in quantities determined by the amount of fresh fruit available to the winemakers and the amount of space they have to make wine from the fruit at harvest time. When these wines are gone, they are gone for good.

It is always a sad moment when one of my favorite wines runs out. Fortunately we always have new wines on hand just waiting for shelf space to open up and give these new products a chance in the marketplace.

This week I am making room for new wines by marking down some products that we are no longer able to re-order. These wines are the last of their vintage or are from distributors who no longer carry these brands. I have marked these wines down in price to give you more than ample reason to pick up a few while they are still available. The mutual benefit here is that you get some tasty bottles for not much money and I get shelf space to bring in yet more new products for you to try.

So come take a look at our new ‘get them while they last’ section and pick out a few of these beauties before they are all gone.

Speaking of almost gone, the last few spots in next week’s Paella & Wine class are getting claimed as I write. If you have some free time on Monday evening (6:30 pm – 9:30 pm)  click over to Kitchen On Fire  and sign up for this tasty hands-on event.

Here is an example of the type of seasonal dish we will be preparing in class while waiting for the paella to cook:

 

Blood Orange and Fennel salad with Black Olives

(serves 4 as a tapa)

 

4                             Medium sized Blood oranges

1                              large fennel bulb

1                              small white onion

12                           Oil cured black olives

2 tblspn                .                Spanish extra virgin olive oil

1 tblspn.                Spanish Sherry vinegar

1 tspn.                  Flor de Sal

 

Peal the oranges with a kitchen knife and either fillet them (cut into skinless sections) or thinly cross cut them into rounds. Slice the fennel and onion into thin rounds (a mandolin slicer works well here, but watch those fingers!). Rinse the onion slices in cold water and pat dry with a towel.  Pit the olives and tear them in half. Mix everything together in a shallow dish. Add the oil and vinegar and any leftover blood orange juice and toss the salad. Sprinkle on the sea salt and let the salad rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Viña Alarba Old Vines Grenache 2005 $6.99 Our newest ‘house wine’ comes from the Calatayud region in Northern Spain. This bright, refreshing Garnacha is full of cherry fruit character with a touch of cranberry tartness. We got a great deal on this wine (normally $9.99) which we are sharing with you. It won’t last long so act now if you want some.

 

Sombrero Rojo Tempranillo 2006 $8.99 This is not a close out. It is a new arrival. Yes, it has a silly name but, hey, it just proves that I don’t judge a wine by its cover. This young Tempranillo is fresh and lively. Half regular fermentation and half carbonic maceration keep the youthful berry-like fruit in the foreground. A tasty wine for simple weeknight meals.

 

Casabayo Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $8.99 Those dynamic young winemakers at  Mas que Vinos, makers of the ever popular and always delicious Ercavio Tinto and Ercavio Blanco, made this wine from a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. The hot 2003 vintage has given this wine with enough stuffing (ripe fruit, dark color, bright acidity) to last several vintages. We have just a few bottles left.

 

Gárgola 2003 $8.99 Extremadura is known for two things: Jamón Iberico and Vino Tinto.  We are still waiting for the Jamón Iberico to arrive, but meanwhile we can enjoy this red wine while we wait. I like this blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah for its restrained fruit and lean structure. It will turn any jamón deprived gargoyle into a perfect little cherub. 

 

Calina Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $9.99 The Rapel Valley is the source of some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Chile. Rich aromas and dark berry fruit character. Calina ages this wine in oak barrels to create firm tannins which add structure to the wine.

 

Finca Antigua Syrah 2004 $9.99 In the heart of Spain, vineyards stretch to the horizons in every direction. Finca Antigua is a Castilla region winery producing several single varietal wines including this Syrah. This wine shows dark color and tart, savory fruit character and firm, smoky tannins. A fine bargain in Spanish Syrah.

 

Baranc dels Closos 2002 $13.99 Mas Igneus makes many well crafted wines in Priorat, including this lightly oaked blend of Garnacha and Cariñena. The rocky Priorat soil is evident in this firmly mineral wine. Dark garnet color.  Notes of pie cherry and Kirsch (cherry brandy). More rocks on the finish.

 

Pissares 2003 $14.99 A fabulous bargain from Priorat is a rare find indeed. Most of the wines from this region are on the high side price-wise. Stylistically, this one tips its hand right away with a photo on the label of the slate and schist soil that is typical in Priorat. Mineral aromas and flavors of wet slate are a distinct element in this rich red wine. Other elements include dark, almost opaque color, rich cassis (black currant liqueur) aroma and fruit character reminiscent of blackberries and blueberries.

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Filed under Chile, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain

Football Wine

Are you planning on watching football on Sunday?  If so, what will you be drinking?

You know where I’m going with this, right? I’m about to suggest some new and interesting wines to pair with a traditional Superbowl Sunday menu, but if football is not your thing (hey, that’s OK) keep reading anyway because these new arrivals are worth knowing about and trying even without any official justification.

This week we have a trio of new wines from Chile made by Bodegas Montes. The Sauvignon Blanc, the Pinot Noir and the Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenère blend will all compliment a wide variety of party foods, from chips and dip to chicken wings as well as more traditional accompaniments like fresh ceviche or dry cured chorizo. Montes also makes wine in Argentina under the Kaiken brand. We have the new Kaiken Malbec this week for all you Malbec fans out there (which seems to include pretty much all of us).

Speaking of Malbec, we have another new one to try, this time from the well known Achaval Ferrer winery. Their 2006 Malbec is a top shelf selection at a very reasonable price.  If meat is on the menu this weekend then by all means pour this wine with the meal to taste it at its best. 

Meanwhile, back in Spain new vintages are being shipped our way. The latest arrival here is the 2003 vintage of one of my favorite Priorat wines, Odysseus Tinto. The news here is very good indeed. Not only is this an excellent wine but the 2003 is actually a bit lower in price than the previous vintage (how often do you hear that these days?).

Finally, if your Sunday plans mandate beer rather than wine, I understand. Old habits are hard to change and that’s fine because you can still add an Iberian twist to your beer appreciation. We have excellent Spanish, Brazilian and Portuguese Lagars as well Portuguese Bock and Argentine micro brewery Ale, already chilled and ready to enjoy. 

Now, before we move on to the wines, I have a few event notes to share with you.

My Paella And Wine class on Feb. 25 is still open for enrollment. Check out kitchenonfire.com for all the details.

If you would like to venture further a field (a lot further) to learn about the wonders of Iberian wines you can join Steve Winston and his wife Sharon Baden (the founding owners of The Spanish Table) on a spectacular 15 day cruise. Steve and Sharon have been invited to present a series of wine tastings during a Lindblad Expeditions cruise from Morocco to Portugal, Spain, France and England.  Every evening at dinner, complimentary wines will be served focusing on a particular region of Spain, Portugal or France with brief discussions of the wines, the regions and the grape varietals. April 28, 2008 is the departure date. The details are all here: http://www.expeditions.com/Treasures437.asp

 

Now, on to the wines:

 

Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2007 $13.99 This crisp, refreshing white wine from the Leyda valley in Chile is ripe with tropical fruit aroma. Bright, citrusy acidity and a bit of grassy background flavor make this an excellent cocktail wine. Serve this with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing, and okay, a few chicken wings too. Racy, refreshing, remarkable.

 

Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir 2006 $13.99  This Pinot Noir, made in small quantities from fruit grown in the Leyda Valley as well as the Casablanca region of Chile shows bright cherry color and fresh berry fruit character right up front. The light oak note comes from eight months of barrel age and becomes more apparent as the wine opens.  If you think that all Chilean wines are big and bold, this lighter style may surprise you in the best of ways. Chips and salsa will go great with this wine.

 

Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenère 2006 $13.99 This wine is a good example of how, when done right, Chilean Carmenère can be distinctly spicy and rich. The winemakers at Montes blend this traditional grape with a large proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon to achieve a structured complexity that compliments the peppery Carmenère. The fruit comes from the Apalta Valley, one of Chile’s best grape growing regions. Serve this wine with spicy pork ribs or carnitas tacos for a bold and hearty game day treat.

 

Kaiken Malbec 2004 $11.99 Kaiken is a Mapuche word for a particular Snow Goose that migrates across the Andes between Chile and Patagonia, just as Bodegas Montes has crossed the mountains to start making wine in the Mendoza region of Argentina. This dark, rich red wine is 100% Malbec from the prestigious Lujan de Cuyo region of Mendoza. Inky dark purple color and concentrated sweet fruit aroma. Ripe berry and spicy pepper flavors will compliment grilled meats and any food that is at last a little bit picante.

 

Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2006 $22.99 This young winery was founded in 1998 but has achieved great success in a short period of time. This wine, the entry level product for the winery, is 100% Malbec from the high altitude Vistalba region. Obvious care has been taken to produce a rich and opulent wine that still retains a certain level of finesse and detail. The ripe berry fruit character balances foundational minerality which, in turn, compliments a bit of spicy/herby background aroma. This is beef wine, from burgers to porterhouse steak. There is really no other option, but would you want it any other way?

 

Odysseus Tinto 2003 $41.99 Wines from the Priorat region in Catalunya have gotten pretty pricy of late, so I am very happy to offer this new version of one of our favorite small production Priorat reds at a better than usual price. Composed of a blend of 35% Garnacha, 35% Cariñena and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon with the last 10% composed of Touriga Nacional, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Caladoc, this unique and intriguing wine offers abundant pleasure for those know to ask for it. This is a plush wine that exhibits dark color, ripe fruit character and that distinctive mineral element that makes Priorat wines so interesting. If you want a big red for the big game, this is it.

 

Cerveza Estrella Galicia $10.99 (6 pack) Fresh, hoppy lagar from the north of Spain.

Cerveja Sagres $6.99 (6 pack) Another tasty lagar, this time coming from Portugal.

Super Bock $7.99 (6 pack) A strong beer (technically, malt liquor) from Portugal. Hearty!

Cerveja Skol $7.99 (6 pack)  One of Brazil’s most popular beers.  This lagar will remind you of Rio.

Jerome Cerveza Rubia $5.99 (660ml. bottle) The first micro brewery in Argentina makes this Belgian style ale in Mendoza. Hoppy and rich, this proves that Mendoza is good for more than just wine.

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