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Daylight Savings Time

How does that little mnemonic device go; “Spring forward, fall back”?

This Sunday we all ‘spring forward’ as we reset our clocks for Daylight Savings Time (and lose an hour in the process). Yes, it will be dark and cold in the early morning hours until the Sun catches up with the clock, but the evening sunlight will extend well past work hours and open up all sorts of possibilities for recreation and entertaining. Get out and walk the dog, go for a run, cook dinner on the patio or just relax in the extra evening sunshine.

Whatever you choose to do with your newfound daylight we have a tasty bottle of wine to go with it.

The big flood of new 2008 wine is still about a month away but we have some fresh new arrivals as well as a few familiar favorites that now sport nicely trimmed price tags to share with you this week. We have some gentle spring-like reds, a few bright, fresh whites and, like the first Robin of Spring, Rosado wines are once again growing in number in the wine department here at The Spanish table in Berkeley.

Here are a few choices for celebrating the return of evening sunshine.

Quinta de Bons Ventos 2007 The new vintage of this light and friendly Portuguese red has just arrived. This blend of Castelão, Camarate, Tinta Miúda and a bit of Touriga Nacional from Casa Santos Lima is made in a typical style for the Estremadura in Central Portugal. Juicy, youthful fruit character combines with low alcohol (12.5%) to create a fresh, lively springtime wine. $10.99

Horzales Crianza 2001 This barrel aged Crianza from Rioja is made in the little wine village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, home to numerous top quality bodegas. Dark garnet color is just starting to show a brickish tint. Barrel tannins, once substantial, have now softened and integrated with the dark berry fruit character. Long bottle maturation has given a silky texture and an elegant balance to the wine. . This is an example of wines from superlative vintages having the ability to age gracefully. The last few cases are on hand now and for the next few weeks. This wine is on sale and moving fast. $9.99

Sete Cepas Albariño 2007 This well priced Albariño is the newest offering from Bodegas Carballal.  Pale yellow color tinged with green, grapefruit aroma, lean minerality and light, refreshing texture are all to be found in this young white wine from Galicia. It is reassuring to find this well made wine at a price point we have not seen recently from this increasingly popular region. $12.99

Martin Fierro Blanco 2007 In the San Juan region of Argentina, Bodegas Bórbore makes this white wine from a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Torrontes. This unoaked wine blends the crispness of Chardonnay with the more floral Torrontes (the indigenous white grape of Argentina). The result is a refreshing wine with enough body to stand on its own as a cocktail wine. It would also pair well with poultry or rich seafood meals. $8.99

Cillar de Silos Rosado 2007 We are starting to bring in a few more rosado wines in anticipation of warmer weather. This wine, made from the Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) grape comes from Ribera del Duero where red wines predominate. This darkly colored pink wine displays ripe berry aroma with tart citrus fruit character combined with additional fresh berry notes on the palate.  $14.99

Cavas Hill Artesanía Brut Rosado Cava What could be better for a relaxed evening in the sunshine than a bottle of crisp pink Cava? This sparkling rosado 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

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

Tempranillo: Here and There

In recent weeks I have been excitedly promoting California wines made from Iberian grape varieties. Imagine my surprise when, earlier this week, while grocery shopping at my local produce store (Monterey Market for you locals) I came upon a bin full of freshly picked Tempranillo grapes.

These large clusters of small, dark grapes were irresistible, especially for someone in my line of work. The fruit was sweet and ripe with thick skins and big seeds. I was pleasantly surprised that these were delicious grapes to eat out of hand, something I had not expected from a wine grape.

The availability of fresh Tempranillo reinforces my opinion that this Spanish grape is becoming more popular here with each passing harvest.

This week we have a new California Tempranillo from Paso Robles. This latest addition brings the number of domestic wines at The Spanish Table to a whopping total of eight. This small collection will continue to grow as we find more wines that come from Iberian varieties and express something of the traditional Spanish or Portuguese style.

Meanwhile, the latest arrivals from Spain are coincidentally all Tempranillo this week. I even have a newly arrived blend of Tempranillo and Malbec from Argentina, further proof that this is a grape to watch in the near term.

Coral Mustang Tempranillo 2004 Sourced from the Vista Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, this 100% Tempranillo wine is produced in small (400 cases) quantities by Penelope Gadd-Coster and her husband Frank Coster at their family winery in Healdsburg. This dark, spicy red wine expresses the rich side of Tempranillo that shows some similarity to the Tempranillo wines of the Toro region in Spain where the grape goes by the name Tinta de Toro. Coral Mustang Tempranillo is aged in second use oak barrels for 13 months which imparts a note of tannic complexity to the final product. The wine is bottled without filtration, adding to the initial impression of richness. Let this wine breath a bit before serving and the more nuanced elements (sweet red berries, black pepper, pomegranate) will come forward. $18.99

Urban Uco 2006 José Manuel Ortega founded Bodegas y Viñedos O. Fournier in 2000.

A banker by trade and Spanish by birth, Ortega followed his passion for wine to Argentina where he started a winery in the Uco Valley region of Mendoza province. He bought land for vineyards (currently he owns over 700 acres of which 230 are planted) and in 2004 completed a winery/hotel/restaurant complex where the wines are made. Urban Uco 2006 is a 50/50 blend of Tempranillo and Malbec from the Uco Valley in the Mendoza province. The high altitude bush vines, many of them over twenty years old, produce a wine that combines the power of Malbec with the finesse of Tempranillo. This lightly (3 months) oaked blend shows gentle barrel tannins and balanced fruit character. $10.99

Urban Roble 2005 Meanwhile, back in Spain, José Manuel Ortega bought a winery in the Ribera del Duero region. The San Juan López winery was renamed Bodegas O. Fournier after the purchase in 2002. In addition to a winery dating from 1979, the purchase included 260 acres of land, 150 acres of which are established vineyards with 80 acres planted to old vine Tinta del País (Tempranillo). Urban Roble 2005 is a young red wine that exhibits abundant regional style. This robust young wine is composed of local Tinta del País grapes sourced from old vines. After fermentation the wine ages in small oak barrels for 4 months before bottling. The dark garnet color mimics aromas and flavors of ripe dark berries. Tannic oak adds contrast without overwhelming the rich fruit character. Background notes include chalky minerality and a bit of spice on the finish. $13.99

Izadi Crianza 2005 The latest vintage of this all Tempranillo wine from the heart of Rioja is made by young (UC Davis educated) Lalo Anton who is slowly taking over winemaking responsibility at Bodegas Villabuena from his father Gonzalo. Izadi is a traditionally styled Rioja where long periods of oak barrel ageing are followed by further maturation in bottle before release. This Crianza wine spent 12 months in barrel followed by an additional 12 months in bottle. Firm barrel tannins dominate the initial impression, followed closely by tart red berry fruit character. This bold, assertive wine is ready to enjoy right away but will age gracefully for years to come. $19.99

Villacreces Reserva 2001 Finca Villacreces was founded in 1994 by Pedro Garcia-Cuadrado in the heart of the Ribera del Duero region of Northern Spain. The property, which was purchased by the Anton family (the owners of Izadi in Rioja) in 2003, has 105 acres of vineyard, much of it older vines but, with new plantings in progress, will soon have 160 acres in production. Villacreces Reserva 2001 is dark, rich and full bodied. A blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot, the wine is opaque purple in color with aromas and flavors of black cherries, cocoa powder and cedar. The substantial barrel tannins are fairly well resolved by now and the wine leaves a final impression of freshness combined with rich elegance. $36.99

Cillar de Silos Crianza 2005 The latest vintage of this full bodied Ribera del Duero is now available. Dark garnet hue and powerful aromas of ripe berries assert the bold character of this wine. A year in oak adds substantial tannins which integrate well with the expressive black cherry fruit character. Earth and mineral notes underlie the rest of the flavors and aromas. $29.99

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Filed under Argentina, California, Red Wine, Spain