|“It is the nature of desire not to be satisfied”.
That famous line from Aristotle is never more true than in the wine world where opinions and perceptions are in constant flux. The popularity of certain wines and various styles of winemaking change with the times, always in response to the desires of the wine drinking public.
Not so long ago rosado wines were considered by many to be sweet, simple, silly wines for summertime picnics. In just the last few years this perception has shifted dramatically. At The Spanish Table we now stock rosado all year long, in a variety of styles from numerous regions in Spain and Portugal. They range in hue from pale coral to ripe watermelon and express a spectrum of aromas and flavors. They can be dry or fruity, floral or mineral, ripe or lean.
Here are a few suggestions to dovetail with the arrival of Valentine’s Day. These are all fabulous representations of the broad range of exceptional pink wines available today at The Spanish Table. Try one of these with a special someone for a memorable Valentine’s Day experience.
2009 Gran Feudo Rosado
Bodegas Julian Chivite’s Gran Feudo Rosado is a classic Navarra region rosado.. It is a popular favorite in Spain as well as here in the USA. Made from all Garnacha grapes, this traditionally styled wine displays strawberry and watermelon aromas with bright acidity and a touch of minerality to tie everything together. This lightly fruity rosado wine makes for some classic Spanish refreshment.
2009 Gurrutxaga Rosado
Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Rosé
Luis Pato Espumante Rosé
Tag Archives: cava
Since it is Easter and many of you are likely to have an impending surplus of eggs, please take advantage of the opportunity to try a wonderful food/wine pairing. The combination of sparkling wine and eggs is just about perfect.
Surely the classic Tortilla Española was the egg dish that first awakened my senses to the fabulous possibilities of eggs and Cava. The tart, frothy wine contrasts perfectly with the dense, creamy richness of eggs and potatoes.
In Spain, the humble scrambled egg is transformed into fancy lunch and dinner fare in the form of ‘revueltos’. Moist, silky, barely cooked eggs combined with any number of additions ranging from shrimp to mushrooms or ham make an elegant simple meal, needing only a tall glass of Cava to complete the composition. Even the beloved deviled egg finds expression in Spain where endless variations are displayed on the counters of local tapas bars.
Here are a few choices of sparkling wine, among many others, for your consideration:
Barcino Brut Cava This wine, made on the outskirts of Barcelona (back in the day Barcelona was called Barcino) is fashioned in the traditional style from the local grapes. This blend of 55% Xarel-lo, 25% Macabeo and 20% Parellada is fermented in the bottle like a French Champagne. Frothy bubbles, yeasty bread dough aroma and tart green apple fruit character combine to create a fun, informal sparkler for everyday enjoyment.$14.99
2007 Raventos de Nit Rosado Brut Cava Raventos i Blanc is a true pioneer of Cava production (this family winery was making sparkling wine before the name Cava existed). They recently 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. $21.99
2004 Gramona Imperial Gran Reserva Cava Gramona is a small, family owned winery in Penedes that makes some of Spain’s top Cava’s. Almost every top restaurant in Spain has a Cava from Gramona on the list. The Imperial Gran Reserva is aged 3 to 4 years in the bottle before being released. Flavors of baked apples, pie crust, lemon curd, white flowers and spice make this a muy tasty mouthful. $31.99
2006 Augusti Torello Mata Reserva Brut Cava 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
2003 Kripta Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava This is the flagship wine from Agusti Torello Mata. This wine receieved 94 points from The Wine Advocate. They said: “The tete de cuvee is the 2003 Kripta Gran Reserva Brut Nature. It is packaged in a bottle with a rounded bottom designed so that it cannot be placed on the table. It receives extended bottle aging and is sourced from the estate’s oldest vineyards. It offers up a refined, complex, delicate bouquet, persistent small bubbles, mouth-filling flavors, and exceptional length. Impeccably balanced and with a seductive finish, it can compete with the best of Champagne.” $82.00
Have you seen our Facebook page yet? Yes, even The Spanish Table has a Facebook page and it is filled with all the late breaking news about new products and cultural events that don’t always make it into our newsletters. Hector Farias (Assistant Manager in Berkeley) has just posted some nice suggestions for adding some Spanish style to your next batch of deviled eggs.
Here is what Hector suggests, but check out the rest of the site for more interesting food for thought (and food for eating too, of course):
“Aren’t these ceramics pretty? Now imagine how cute those deviled eggs that you are going to prepare this Easter Sunday are going to look decorated with Piparras, Stuffed olives, Capers, Piquillo peppers or just powdered with sweet sun dried Paprika.
MUCHO TASTY and MUY MAJOS… OLE!!!”
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 2007This 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
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:
The Wine Academy of Spain, an educational organization run by Pancho Campo (Spain’s first Master of Wine) stopped in San Francisco last week as part of a US tour currently wrapping up in Washington DC.
I joined a group of Spanish wine enthusiasts for the three day seminar that covered all of Spain’s regions, grapes and winemaking styles. I got to brush up on my Spanish wine knowledge and tried many new wines as well as some familiar favorites.
Esteban Cabezas and his crew did a fabulous job of squeezing a ton of information into a short space of time. I gleaned all sorts of tidbits of information that I will be sharing with you in the days and weeks to come.
My thanks and appreciation go out to The Wine Academy of Spain and to Catavino for sponsoring my attendance to the seminar (I won the scholarship for my why-I-love-Spanish-wine blog entry). Hopefully I passed the exam and in a few weeks will have a handsome Spanish Wine Educator certificate to hang on the wall.
I retried a few wines at the Wine Academy of Spain course that are making a repeat appearance here as a result of a good showing at the seminar. Check out this week’s wine notes for the Aria Brut Cava, Gramona Imperial Cava and the red Fra Guerau Monsant. They are now back in stock and drinking beautifully.
Espelt Vailet 2007 After my recent trip to the Empordá region of Spain (up along the French border on the Mediterranean side) I have been eagerly buying all the wine from this little known, rocky, sparsely populated corner of the globe. A few weeks back we featured the red from Espelt as well as the rosado. The white wine from Espelt has just come back in stock and I recommend it this week as a new option for those seeking bright, fresh white wines with distinctive character. The blend is 60% Garnacha Blanca and 40% Macabeo (Viura for you white Rioja fans). Crisp minerality is supplemented here with a bit of green herb and citrus character. $12.99
Aria Brut This Cava has been a well loved favorite and is finally back in stock here in Berkeley. This frothy blend of the three traditional Cava grapes (Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada)presents a fresh, balanced side of Cava with a bit of green apple fruit adding counterpoint to the mineral foundation. $10.99
Gramona Imperial 2004 For those who appreciate the complexity of long aged Cava, this vintage sparkler is always a welcome sight. 3-4 year of cellar age gives this wine a very Champagne-like character. Adding 10% Chardonnay to the blend of 50% Xarel-lo and 40% Macabeo adds to the similarity with French bubbly. Yeasty brioche aroma, an elegant mineral backnote and a bit of brandied fruit on the finish. $31.99
Fra Guerau 2003 This was one of the first wines that caught my attention back when I started with The Spanish Table. I recently retasted Fra Guerau and was reminded of the pure pleasure that comes from this blend of numerous grapes (Syrah, Garnacha, Cariñena, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Monastrell) from the Montsant region. Dark garnet color, sweet berry fruit character and well integrated barrel character (thanks to several years of bottle age) make this an easy wine to pair with all kinds of food. $13.99
Zaumau Priorat 2008 Carlos Escolar make miniscule quantities of wine in DOC Priorat. Old vine Garnacha and Samsó (the local name for Cariñena) are blended here in an unoaked red that expresses the rocky terruño of the region in a pure, darkly colored, ripely fruited style. Foregoing the barrel ageing regimen brings the price down significantly for this wine from a region not known for bargains. $17.99
Viña Lanciano Reserva 2001 Nothing says ‘Spain’ quite like a slowly matured Tempranillo from Rioja. This wine,from the superlative 2001 vintage, is composed of the best estate grown fruit from Bodegas LAN. Two years in the barrel followed by 5 years resting in the bottle in the cellar have created an elegant, traditional wine that blends tannic oak with tart cherry fruit character. Aromas of fresh earth, cured meat and wood smoke add depth and nuance to this excellent example of old school Rioja. $28.99
Last Sunday the San Francisco Chronicle ran a feature on the Spanish wine & food walking tour that I do called TapasWalk. Using my tour as an example, Janet Fletcher wrote a detailed piece on the burgeoning tapas scene now happening in downtown San Francisco. “In this new little world straddling North Beach, the Financial District and Russian Hill,” Fletcher wrote, “a Bay Area tapas enthusiast with good walking shoes can do the sort of bar hopping that many Spaniards enjoy nightly.” She included a lexicon of useful terminology for those less familar with Spanish cuisine as well as a few recipes for traditional tapas that you can make at home (with a few ingredients from The Spanish Table, of course). If you missed it in the paper last week you can still read the article online here.
In tandem with last week’s San Francisco Chronicle article by Janet Fletcher about the downtown tapas scene, Jon Bonné put together a detailed and up-to-date summary of the current state of Basque Txakolí wine. If you have yet to experience the distinct joy of Txakolí, this article tells you all you need to know to get started. We carry all the Txakolí wines and (just between you and me) we even have some of the elusive Txakolí rosado still in stock.
If you have visited San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque Country you probably noticed how the local bartenders pour the Txakolí wine with an outstretched arm from high overhead. Now our good friends from Vinos Unico have made an instructional video that shows just how to pour Txakolí like a pro. Check them out here:
Since opening in Berkeley seven years ago The Spanish Table’s reputation has grown steadily, mostly by word of mouth, as one of the few specialty stores featuring the food traditions of Spain, Portugal and Latin America. Now, with Christmas a week away, we are stocking many of the traditional holiday items that are difficult to find elsewhere. The deliveries of wines, cookies, chocolates and other seasonal treats continue to arrive daily here and the staff is busily stacking everything in tall piles to satisfy demand for these unique items.
In the wine department we make sure to carry a wide variety of sweet Moscatel, Porto, Madeira and Sherry at this time of year in addition to numerous sparkling wines and rich, wintery reds. This week I call your attention to a few of these traditional Christmas wines.
Also, we have an upcoming event (don’t worry, it’s after the Holidays) organized by Andy and Tanya Booth, the c0-owners of The Spanish Table. Here is what Andy had to say about the Wine Dinner at César in Oakland:
“The giant Tio Pepe weathervane that sits on top of the Gonzalez Byass Bodega is one of the first things that you see as you drive into Jerez from the town just south, Puerto de Santa Maria. Many of my memories of the five years I lived in Spain while I was seven have the ubiquitous logo of Tio Pepe Fino somewhere in the background.
We are extremely fortunate to have Felipe Gonzalez -Terry Gordon of Gonzalez-Byass visiting San Francisco in January and we’ll be hosting a wine dinner on Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 at 7:00 at Cesar’s in Oakland for a fabulous night featuring Spanish foods and wines. Maggie Pond, the Chef at Cesar’s, has put together a tasty menu featuring tapas, paella and dessert that is paired specifically with the sherries and wines we’ll be tasting.
Felipe will join us to speak about his family’s long tradition of making superb sherries (including Tio Pepe, Alfonso Oloroso and Noe Pedro Ximenez) and amazing wines such as Beronia Gran Reserva. The cost is $65 per person and includes dinner, wine pairings, tax and gratuity. This could even be the perfect gift for your foodie friends and/or family members. Stop by our Mill Valley or Berkeley stores to sign up or give us a ring at 415-388-5043.
See you there!”
Reymos Espumoso de Moscatel Sweet sparkling wine from D.O. Valencia. Rich Muscat grape scent, pear and honeydew melon fruit character and light but persistent bubbles. A mere 7.5% alcohol makes this the perfect end-of-meal wine. $11.99
Don PX Gran Reserva 1979 This rare aged wine made from Pedro Ximénez grapes that are partially sun dried before fermentation is celebrating its 30th birthday this year. It is dark and thick as molasses, with concentrated sweetness and flavors of figs, raisins and baking spices. Amazing depth and complexity. The SF Chronicle recently wrote this wine up in their annual gift guide. Read the article here. $29.99 (375ml)
J.P. Moscatel de Setubal 2001This sweet dessert wine from the Setubal Peninsula in Portugal is a perennial favorite at Christmastime. Amber colored and redolent of brandied raisins and honey, this wine is perfect fireside refreshment. $14.99
Infantado Vintage Port 1997 While searching for a really delicious and well priced Vintage Port to offer during the holiday season I was thrilled to find this wine from an outstanding year made by a small family winery in the heart of the Douro Valley. The Infantado style is gentler than most, with a sweet floral quality reminiscent of an older wine. $45.99
Infantado Vintage Port 1995 For those seeking the pleasures of Quinta do Infantado Vintage Port in a stocking stuffer size we have just brought in the 1995 vintage in half bottles. This wine is a bit more evolved than the 1997 (in addition to being an older vintage, the smaller bottles age faster than the big ones) with softer acidity and mellower fruit character. $26.99 (375ml)
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 their wines. 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
Abel Mendoza Seleccion Personal 2003 Abel Mendoza Monge is a third generation grape grower and winemaker producing a handful of excellently crafted wines from his small estate vineyards in Rioja. Each year his Seleccion Personal is made from whichever of his vineyards performs best (thus the name). This small production (approx. 7000 bottles) wine is dark and concentrated. Toasty barrel aroma dominates at first but blows off with some exposure to air. The meaty, impenetrable element gives way to a rich elegance. Mineral back notes soften with time but never disappear. Originally priced at $52.00, we have a small quantity available at $34.99.
The autumn harvest season is currently at its peak. The summer crops (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and such) are slowly dwindling away while fall fruits and vegetables (winter squash, shell beans, persimmons and so forth) are starting to crowd the shelves at local stores.
My favorite harbinger of autumn is the giant pumpkin pile at Monterey Market that reaches almost to their roof and creates an irresistible object-to-climb for local kids.
To celebrate the harvest season we have some new wines as well as some familiar favorites that will compliment fall flavors.
This week we have a new Torrontés from Argentina that combines perfumed florality with crisp acidity to create the perfect autumn white wine.
We also have a new rosado wine that, due to its bright character and plush fruit character may convert a few skeptics that only think of pink wine in the heat of summer.
Our newest sparkling Cava comes in at a very nice price that should tempt you to give this bubbly wine a try.
This week also marks the return of Navarro Lopez Old Vine Crianza, a Valdepeñas region Tempranillo that was such a popular favorite that we brought in another big stack to satisfy the continuing demand for this very well priced red wine.
Another new red wine is the Beronia Reserva from the excellent 2001 vintage. If you have had a chance to try the Beronia Gran Reserva this wine will be similar, but in a more youthful, smooth style.
The Basque hard apple cider we first announced in August continues to grow in popularity. Autumn is the perfect season to enjoy this cloudy farmhouse sidra.
Here is a recipe for a sidra- friendly snack that is found in various versions all across Spain. Meat on a stick is popular world wide, but Pinchos Moruños are specific to Spain. The Moorish origins of this dish are retained in the spice mix, but in Spain the meat is most commonly pork though lamb is still sometimes used. You can make these for a party and serve one per person or put three or four on a plate and serve them as a main course.
Kevin’s quick and easy Grilled Pinchos Morunos
(Makes about 20 skewers)
3 lbs boneless berkshire pork shoulder (Café Rouge Meat Market is my source)
3 tblspns sweet smoked paprika
2 tblspns freshly ground cumin
(or substitute 5 tablespoons Chiquilin brand Pincho Seasoning for the paprika and cumin)
1 tspn salt
2 tblspns sherry vinegar
2 medium sized yellow onions
20 6” bamboo skewers
Cut the pork into 1 inch cubes and combine with paprika, cumin, salt and vinegar. Place seasoned pork in refrigerator and marinate for a few hours. Place skewers in water and soak for one hour before using. Cut onion in eighths and pull apart layers. Cut lemons into wedges.
Prepare the skewers ahead of time using 4 cubes of seasoned pork and two pieces of onion. Thread them on the skewer in the following order: pork, onion, pork, pork, onion, pork.
Grill the skewers over a hot charcoal fire or indoors (if you must) on a grill pan for approximately ten minutes, turning frequently. Serve immediately with lemon wedges as a garnish.
Isastegi Sagardo This traditional Basque apple cider is cloudy green/gold with yeasty fermented aroma and tart apple flavor. This unfiltered artisan cider displays just a hint of sweet apple character (more apple barrel than apple juice) along with apple skin tartness filling in the rest of the flavor profile. At six percent alcohol by volume this makes a perfect autumn aperitivo. $11.99
Gran Feudo Rosado 2007 Rosado in autumn? You bet! This Navarra region pink wine makes a wonderful accompaniment to fall flavors. This 100% Garnacha displays vivid pink color, ripe berry aroma and tart, wild strawberry fruit character. Due to its late arrival, this wine is priced well below normal and should give you ample reason to try it right away. $7.99
Pircas Negras Torrontés 2008 Torrontés is the indigenous white grape of Argentina. Grown at high altitude this grape produces ripe, floral wines that evoke scent memories of autumn grape harvest combined with a bright character that is reminiscent of a crisp fall afternoon. $9.99
Cavas Hill Reserva Oro Our newest sparkling Cava, made from the three traditional Cava grapes (Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo) is abundantly bubbly and redolent of toasted bread and crisp green apples. This nicely priced sparkler compliments both light tapas as well as fuller meals. $11.99
Navarro Lopez Old Vines Crianza 2001 500 years ago, if you were a member of the Spanish royal court, you drank wines from the Valdepeñas region that lies south of Toledo. Today, after centuries of obscurity, the region is making a comeback. This wine, made from Tempranillo, is earthy, tart and savory, as is the style in D.O. Valdepeñas. 12 months of barrel age (not something they did 500 years ago) has rounded the flavors, added a bit of tannic complexity and sweet oak aroma to the wine. This traditional, very ‘Spanish tasting’ wine was a good value at $13.99. Now, the price is much better, so we just bought another bunch of it. This is a fine candidate for buying by the box. $8.99
Beronia Reserva 2001 This Rioja wine from an excellent vintage come from the same bodega that makes the Beronia Gran reserva that has been flying off the shelf here over the past few weeks. The Reserva spent less time ageing in oak barrel than the Gran Reserva and thus retains more color and ripe fruit character than the more mature wine. The perfect 2001 vintage is reflected in the balanced, lively fruit character. The skill of the winemakers finds expression in the finely tuned barrel tannins that add depth and complexity to the wine while never stripping it of elegance and freshness. $19.99
I have been keeping this newsletter brief in recent weeks due to the new wines arriving here all the time. I know that many of you enjoy the recipes that often come with the wine news and I want to reassure you that I will be sharing more of these in the weeks ahead. At present I am taking time to attend the many trade tastings that give wine buyers such as me the opportunity to see what lies ahead for the coming year. This week alone I will taste over one hundred Portuguese wines at Viniportugal and dozens of Spanish wines at the Spanish Cellar & Pantry event. Last week I got to work my way through hundreds of selections at the portfolio tasting for celebrated importer Eric Solomon (more on this below). Aside from purple teeth and stained shirts (white is a bad color to wear to a wine tasting) I come away from these events with a clearer sense of what to share with you, our customers, in the weeks and months ahead. For only by tasting many, many wines do we come up with the select few products that you will find at The Spanish Table. So for now, check out the new arrivals from Eric Solomon and José Pastor. These two importers of excellent Spanish wines are (each in their own distinct way) bringing in some truly special and exciting wines that deserve your attention.
German Gilabert Cava $14.99 No, this is not a wine from Germany. Importer José Pastor has re-purposed the less used parts of his name (José German Pastor Gilabert – honest, he showed me his drivers license) to christen the first Cava to be included in his privately labeled Vinos de Terruños brand. This blend of traditional Cava grapes (Xarel-lo, Macabeo, Parellada) is as crisp and clean as freshly ironed linen. Organically grown fruit from the village of Santa Fe del Penedès is aged on its lees for 16 months with zero dosage, producing a dry, toasty assertively bubbly wine for drinking as a cocktail or with food.
Siete 2007 $12.99 This blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo from the Navarra region of northern Spain made its first appearance last year in the inaugural vintage of the Vinos de Terruños brand from Jose Pastor. The fruit is organically farmed and the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks, not oak barrels, to render the maximum of fruit character unobscured by oaky tannins. This sophomore edition of Siete is true to the style established last vintage and is one of the most popular of the Vinos de Terruños wines.
Tajinaste Blanco 2006 $14.99 This interesting white wine, our first from the Canary Islands, is back in stock. Made from the local Listán Blanco grape grown in volcanic soils at high elevation on the island of Tenerife, pale straw color and mineral foundation frame aromas of white peach and lemon zest. This gentle yet lean white will compliment subtly flavored vegetable dishes and cold seafood appetizers.
Mas Alta Artigas 2005 $38.99 Bodegas Mas Alta is a joint project of an American, importer Eric Solomon and two Frenchmen, negociant Michel Tardieu and enologist Philippe Cambie. The small production wines from these three well known names were some of my favorites at the recent Eric Solomon Selections portfolio tasting. Artigas is composed of 65% Garnacha and 35% Cariñena grown in the rocky slate/schist of the Priorat region of Catalunya. This opaque amethyst colored wine displays the best elements of Priorat, including abundantly ripe dark berry fruit character interwoven with notes of wild herbs and minerals. Decant for immediate enjoyment or cellar for several years before drinking.
Mas Alta La Basseta 2005 $84.00 My favorite of the Mas Alta wines is this blend of old vine Garnacha, Cariñena and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged in a combination of new and used oak for 16 months prior to bottling. Blackberry liqueur, wild herbs and rocky minerality benefit from the added structure and tannins coming from the Cabernet Sauvignon and the oak barrel ageing. Bold and ripe at present, this wine has a long life ahead of it. Keep this wine in the cellar for a few years and then enjoy it at any time over the following decade.
Artadi El Pisón 2005 $184.00 Bodegas Artadi, one of the best wineries in Rioja Alavesa is known for producing 100% Tempranillo wines of stellar quality. El Pisón, the flagship wine of this bodega, is deeply nuanced and complex yet light as a feather on the palate. Somewhat muted at present, this wine will reveal itself in all its silky glory to those with the patience to wait three or four years before enjoying it. This famous wine (98 points Wine Advocate, 95 points International Wine Cellar) is produced in very small quantities. We have just a few bottles in stock so do act fast to secure a bottle for your cellar.
When I was a little kid at Briar Vista Elementary School in Dekalb County Georgia, Valentine’s Day was celebrated by all the school children decorating paper lunch bags with red and pink paper hearts and taping them up in ‘home room’ on the radiator by the window to collect the mostly pre-fab Valentine’s Day cards that would be purchased by the parents at the local drug store for all us children to distribute amongst our classmates.
These days, I like to concentrate my Valentine sentiments closer to home by cooking a special meal for my wife. Some fresh flowers set the scene. A few thoughtfully chosen courses and an excellent wine express my feeling better than words. A nice dessert rounds out my culinary love letter.
If this is your idea of a good way to spend Valentine’s Day, read on. We have a fabulous selection of special wines to woo your sweetheart with, and a simple recipe for a classic Spanish dessert (with a touch of my southern heritage) that will endear you to whomever you make it for.
Kevin’s Buttermilk Flan (serves 4 or 2 with leftovers)
6 large eggs
1 & 1/2 cups Buttermilk
½ cup heavy cream
1 tblspn. Mexican Vanilla concentrate
½ cup sugar
1/2 tspn. salt
Divide the sugar in half and add ¼ cup to a 9” clay cazuela. Place the cazuela on the stove and heat over a medium flame without stirring until the sugar has melted and turned a dark caramel color (it will start slow at first but do not walk away lest you burn your sugar). Turn off the heat and let the cazuela cool. You will have a hard caramel coating on the inside of the cazuela when you are done.
Beat 4 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks together in a bowl with the sugar and salt until blended. Add the vanilla, buttermilk and cream. Mix well and strain through a fine sieve.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. The flan needs to cook in a hot water bath, so place the caramel coated cazuela in a larger oven proof container (I use a 10 inch cake pan) and set on the middle rack of the oven. Fill the cazuela with the flan mixture first, then fill the outer cake pan with boiling water to surround the cazuela with gentle moist heat (do this in the oven so you do not have to carry the sloshing flan and hot water bath to the oven). Cook for 30 minutes and check for doneness. The flan should still be jiggly but not liquid when fully cooked. If still undercooked, allow ten minutes more in the oven (take the flan out of the oven before it sets completely or it will be dry and grainy).
Remove the flan filled cazuela from the water bath and allow to cool completely (refrigerated over night is best). To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of the flan to loosen it and invert the cazuela on a serving plate. Serve the finished flan with sliced seasonal fruit and a nice glass of sweet wine.
Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado Cava $14.99 I talk about this wine a lot, but now is the perfect moment to serve this sparkling rosado. It’s 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.
Can Vendrell Brut Reserva Cava $17.99 One of my favorite Cavas is back in stock! This classic blend of traditional Cava grapes (Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo), from organic vineyards, with extended ageing on the lees and low dosage is a dry wine with great depth and nuance. This is rich enough to serve with food, but dry enough to serve as a cocktail.
Reymos Espumoso de Moscatel $11.99 Sweet sparkling wine from D.O. Valencia. Rich Muscat grape scent, honeydew melon fruit character and light but persistent bubbles. A mere 7.5% alcohol makes this the perfect end-of-meal wine. Serve alongside buttermilk flan (recipe above) for a nice change of pace.
Don PX Gran Reserva 1979 $27.99 (375ml) One of Spain’s most distinctive wines. An extremely rare aged wine made from Pedro Ximénez grapes that are partially sun dried before fermentation. The wine is dark and thick as molasses, with concentrated sweetness and flavors of figs, raisins and baking spices. Amazing depth and complexity. This is another perfect match for the flan recipe above.
Dolç Mataró $33.99 (500ml) The long forgotten Mataró grape, a relative of the better known Monastrell is used to produce tiny quantities of this sweet dessert wine. Super-ripe late harvest Mataró is hand selected, crushed and macerated in its own juice to extract the maximum of color and flavor from the skins. After fermentation the wine ages for a scant few months in barrel before bottling with minimal filtration in stylish 500ml bottles. The final result is a sweet wine with opaque purple color, the aroma of fresh violets and a sweet fruit character that for all its intensity still possesses a certain delicacy.
Azua Reserva 2003 $12.99 In the Manchuela region of Castilla, just southeast of Madrid, the big, dark, juicy Bobal grape is traditionally used in many of the hearty red wines from this underappreciated part of Spain. Azua Reserva uses 100% old vine Bobal, aged in oak for 12 months and in bottle for an additional 24 months before release. This dark abundant wine is, amazingly, only 12.5% alcohol by volume, making it perfect for those of us who love abundant flavor but tire of the boozy high proof wines that often fit this profile.
Riolanc Vendimia Seleccionada 2006 $10.99 Our newest Rioja is this young wine from the Rioja Alavesa sub-zone, made from 100% old vine Tempranillo. Whole bunch fermentation is used here to create a wine with great freshness and bright fruit character. This is an excellent choice for weeknight suppers now. When the weather warms up a bit I’ll be pouring this one in the back yard by the paella fire.
In the time that I have worked here at The Spanish Table, certain trends have become apparent as we move through the calendar. In the post-holiday period our desire for excellent wines at very reasonable prices grows exponentially in comparison to the rest of the year. Holiday extravagance is done with and a more austere, restrained (I hesitate to use the word sober) style of cooking and eating is in order. Extravagant multi-day preparations with rich, cream based sauces are out. Quick soups and simple stews featuring winter vegetables and lighter flavors are in.
So, to accompany the current desire for economy, I want to point out some really tasty wines at prices that will put a happy post-holiday smile on the face of even the most frugal of shoppers. We have a few new items to share with you as well as some trusted favorites that will compliment your table without busting your budget.
Perfectly in tune with the current mood, I (and many of you if the amount of smoked paprika we have sold today is any indication) noticed that in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle, Amanda Berne offers up a recipe for just the kind of hearty but simple food that I crave at this time of year. Here is the link to the article on the SFgate web site that includes this recipe which I am reprinting here:
Smoky Chickpea Soup (Serves 4-6)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
5 cups vegetable broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, drained
— Kosher salt, to taste
— High-quality olive oil
Instructions: Heat oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft.
Add garlic, saffron, cumin and smoked paprika, and cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly. Add broth and chickpeas, and season to taste. Simmer for 25 minutes, turn off heat and cool for about 5 minutes.
Puree in batches in a blender until very, very smooth. Season to taste. To serve, swirl a little drizzle of very good olive oil on top.
Dibon Brut Reserva Cava $8.99 I brought a first few cases of this wine in during the holidays and it sold well without any promotion at all on my part. The new shipment is arriving this week and we hope to keep this one in stock as long as possible. This traditionally styled sparkler is made from a blend of Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo grapes. Aromas of grapefruit and toasted brioche encounter assertive bubbles and bright citrusy flavor in the glass. An excellent example of a well priced Cava that can turn any simple meal into a special event.
Arribeño Roble 2003 $6.99 ($5.99 by the case) Arribeño Roble is a young Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero that fully expresses the character of the region. Dark garnet color, loamy forest floor aroma and firm grape skin tannins. Light oak aroma comes from a short 4 months of barrel age. Black cherry fruit character and a smoky finish round out the picture. This wine is one of The Spanish Table’s ‘House Wine’ selections. These great bargains are all $6.99 by the bottle with a special (mix & match) discount of $5.99/each with full case purchase.
Barbadillo Palomino Fina 2006 $6.99 ($5.99 by the case)This is one of Spain’s most popular whites as well as one of our favorite ‘house wines’ here in Berkeley. Palomina Fina is a grape that mostly gets used for Sherry production, which makes sense as Barbadillo is a well known winemaker in the Jerez region. This white table wine is medium bodied and floral scented with a fresh, clean finish.
Mano a Mano 2003 $6.99 ($5.99 by the case)This Tempranillo from La Mancha in central Spain is typical of this hot, arid region where grape vine and olive trees stretch to the horizon, interspersed with the occasional windmill. This wine displays dried cherry fruit with background oak tannins, making it a perfect ‘house wine’ to have on hand for a wide variety of needs. It will taste fine with a pizza, but will really shine with traditional Spanish foods such as Jamón Serrano and sheep’s milk cheeses.
Justino Henriques Full Rich Madeira $9.99 Sometimes a little glass of something rich and delicious can be just as rewarding as a big glass full of an ordinary wine. If you are in this kind of mood, I suggest this wine as a perfect way to end a cold winter’s day. This dark, sweet dessert wine from the island of Madeira in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is redolent of raisins and butterscotch. A hint of smoky complexity is present in the background.
Porto Pocas LBV 2000 $18.99 Another excellent sweet wine to serve at this time of year is the ever-popular Late Bottled Vintage Port (LBV for short). Akin to the (much) more expensive Vintage Port, LBV ages in barrel for four years (twice as long as Vintage port) before bottling. The final result is a wine with dark ruby color, assertive pomegranate and cranberry fruit character, lively acidity and underlying minerality. Unlike Vintage Port that ages and develops over many years, LBV is intended for near term consumption. Sip this in front of the fire (or television set) and experience contentment.