Tag Archives: Con Class

New Cookbook

Steve Winston, the peripatetic owner of The Spanish Table has just published a compilation of his travel tales in cookbook form.  The Spanish Table Cookbook has been available in self published galley form for several years but now the good folks at Gibbs Smith have put together a full color, properly indexed version that showcases Steve’s passion for all things Iberian. The book will arrive here next week, is priced at $30 and will inform and inspire your Spanish culinary adventure. Steve will be coming down for a book signing in the near future. Here is what the publisher says about this new book:

In response to the requests of his patrons, Steve Winston has created a cookbook full of tasty recipes for those specialty cooking utensils unique to Spain and Portugal-paella pans, cazuelas, cataplanas, and ollas. In a cheery and informative way, he provides the history and culture of the pans and how to use them. He also offers an excellent section on Iberian wines and ideas for hosting fun tasting parties.
So, when in the mood for something a bit exotic, this book makes it easy for home cooks to try their hand at a traditional seafood paella, or Clams Madeira, or Black Olive-Fig Tapenade served with a fine Pedro Ximenez sherry. It’s a trip to the Old Country without leaving the kitchen.

Meanwhile, in the wine department we are receiving numerous new vintages of some of our favorite wines. I have just one new white this week but several new reds including some much sought after and fast disappearing wines that deserve your attention. Read on:

Con Class 2008 The latest vintage of this Rueda region white wine has just arrived. Con Class routinely gets high marks from many of our customers as well as from wine marketers/bloggers/critics (it is increasingly hard to tell who does what in the wine world these days). This bright, refreshing blend of 60% Verdejo, 25% Viura and 15% Sauvignon Blanc is packed with the aromas and flavors of tropical fruits (guava, pineapple), balanced by a leaner grapefruit citrus note. $13.99

Termes 2006 The new vintage of Termes is in and available for a brief period. This ripe, opulent Toro region wine has a substantial following and each year the wine sells out rapidly. Composed of 100% old vine Tinto de Toro, this wine spends 16 months in small oak barrels before bottling. Inky dark color, abundant savory barrel tannins and ripe blackberry fruit character are joined together in this expressive wine. $29.99

Numanthia 2006 The new vintage of Numanthia is the elder sibling to Termes. Sourced from carefully  selected bunches of old vine Tinto de Toro, this wine spends 16 months in oak, creating a dense barrel aged character that demands several years of additional bottle age before the tannins soften a bit and allow the dark berry fruit to emerge. A scant few bottle are available while they last. $65.00

Valduero La Uve 2006 Bodega Valduero in Ribera del Duero recently started a new wine project in the Toro region down river from Ribera del Duero near the Portuguese border. 250 acres of red rocky soil on the river plateau have been carefully selected and planted to the Tinta de Toro varietal known elsewhere as Tempranillo. La Uve is produced from 100% Tinta de Toro. The wine is a “joven” or young style wine made without any oak barrel ageing to allow the fruit to fully express itself. This ripe, bold wine will accompany a broad range of meals and is especially well suited to all things pork related, from bacon to grilled pork chops. $11.99

Aresan Librato 2005 Bodegas Aresan is located in the Castilla-La Mancha village of Villarrobledo near Albacete.  This 400 acre estate is one of a handful of Spanish wineries currently converting to a new designation called ‘Vino de Pago‘. This new label will be used only for wines that are produced from estate grown fruit in a winery located on the same property as the vineyards. A new winery was built on the estate and first began operation in 2004. As this winery moves toward ‘Vino de Pago‘ status, the wines continue to be labeled as ‘Vino de la Tierra de Castilla’ but do not be fooled by this modest appellation. Aresan wines are distinctly higher in quality than many other wines from this large region. Aresan Librato is composed of 60% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Franc. The younger vines (approx. 10 years old) are used here. The wine is aged in oak (half French, half American) for a brief two month period before bottling. Librato displays bright garnet color in the glass. The extracted fruity aroma leads on to rich dark berry fruit character and a background earthiness that gives the wine a firm foundation. Spicy tannins never overwhelm the balance of flavors and aromas. $14.99

Ercavio Roble 2006 The new vintage of Ercavio is now in stock. This young Tempranillo from central Spain spends a brief period fermenting in the traditional clay vessels known as ‘tinajas’ that have been in use in this region for centuries. An additional 5 months in oak barrels adds tannic structure to the wine but does not obscure the fresh berry fruit character or the light to medium weight texture. Ercavio is an excellent wine for serving with chicken (or squab as is typical in La Mancha). $13.99

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Filed under Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

Drink In The Season

 

So, I’m walking to work this morning and I’m thinking about the priorities of the business day. I have wines to buy, people to call, events to plan (typical daily minutiae) and as I plod along I look up and, in a moment of sudden realization, say to myself “Holy smokes, the trees are turning yellow”.

Yep, summer is drawing to a close and, as usual, the gingko trees on my block are the first sign that the days are getting shorter and the nights are growing cooler as the season changes. Soon (hopefully) rain will return to this part of the world and the Bay Area hills will once again turn from brown to green.

This in-between season calls for foods that take advantage of the bounty of the harvest. We still have tomatoes and corn and eggplant, but now we also find shell beans, acorn squash and (soon) wild mushrooms.

This season calls for (begs for, pleads for, kicks and screams and rolls around on the floor for) tart, yeasty hard apple cider. In the Basque country this is a traditional springtime drink, but the flavors of this unique beverage evoke all the best elements of autumn in America.

Our latest batch of new wines also compliments the flavors of the season. This week we have several unique and delicious wines from some little known producers as well as from some well established bodegas.

Now is the moment to break out your olla, the traditional earthenware bean pot of Spain, and cook up a batch of pardina lentils, garbanzos, or big creamy Judión beans (my favorites). Once cooked, these legumes will serve as the beginning of any number of traditional recipes but they are also delicious all by themselves.

The following recipe takes full advantage of the unique products from The Spanish Table. Judión beans from Astorga (the bean capital of Spain), Serrano ham bones (a Spanish Table exclusive) and the lidded clay bean pots from Spain that cook slowly and evenly, insuring soft, fully cooked, unbroken beans.

Judión beans with Serrano Ham bone

(Serves 6-8 as a side dish)

Ingredients:

1 lb – Spanish dried Judión beans

1 – Serrano ham bone (joint end)

1 – earthenware olla (bean pot)

1 – teaspoon, sweet smoked paprika

2 – tablespoons, sea salt

Directions:

Rinse the dried beans under running water to remove any dust or debris. Soak the beans over night in the olla filled with water. The next day, drain the water and refill with fresh cold water to cover the soaked beans by two inches. Heat the olla over a medium flame on the stove. When the water comes to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer the beans for one hour before adding the ham bone and paprika. Continue simmering the beans for another hour or two until the beans are fully cooked but not falling apart. Add more water as needed to keep the beans submerged at all times. Add the salt only after the beans are fully cooked.

Serve along side grilled meats or fish. Alternately, add a few whole chorizos, morcillas and chunks of slab bacon to the bean pot and cook for another hour to create a version of Fabada Asturiana.

Isastegi Sagardo Kit Basque apple cider (cloudy gold colored with yeasty fermented aroma and tart apple flavor) is proving to be quite popular since its recent introduction here. Anyone who has tried this hard cider in Spain will tell you that you need the traditional cider glass to experience the drink at its best. We now have these thin glass tumblers, imprinted with the Isastegi logo (a limited edition) for sale. In our new Basque cider gift set you get a bottle of Isastegi Sagardo Naturala and two glasses for $19.99 ($11.99 for the cider alone). You can buy extra glasses for $4.99 each.

Con Class 2007 The new vintage of Con Class is here. This Rueda region white wine is an unoaked blend of Verdejo, Viura and Sauvignon Blanc. Floral aroma blends well with citrus and tropical fruit flavors. This tart and refreshing wine is versatile and very food friendly. $12.99

El Chaparral 2007 The new vintage of El Chaparral is, as always, crafted from old vine Garnacha fruit from the Navarra region in Northern Spain. This medium bodied red wine combine fresh berry fruit character with a bit of black pepper spice and minerality that ad a ‘Rhone-like’ character to the wine. $15.99

Viña do Burato 2007 The new vintage of this wine from Ribeira Sacra in Northwestern Spain is bright and youthful, medium bodied and relatively low in alcohol (12.5%). Firm minerality and delicate floral combine with gentle fruit character. This small production wine (400 cases) is a rare treat from a region that deserves much more attention. $19.99

Azamor 2004 The Alentejo region of Portugal continues to be a source of new, interesting, nicely priced wines. This blend of numerous grapes (Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Franca, Trincadeira, Syrah, Merlot) displays dark color and smooth, elegant fruit character. A bit of gamey/earthy background adds complexity and depth this well made but not yet well known wine. $19.99

Beronia Gran Reserva 1996 If you have wanted to experience the distinct pleasure of a mature Gran Reserva Rioja but have been put off by the high prices that these wines command now is your chance to taste this style at a price that won’t make you hesitate. This wine spent two years in oak and has been ageing gracefully in the bottle for the past decade. Brownish brick red in color with gentle aromas of oak and coffee bean, this wine possesses elegant fruit character that evokes brandied cherries and cranberries. A wine for contemplation at a no-brainer price. $24.99

 

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Filed under Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, sidra (cider), Spain, White Wine

Pink and Gold

Summertime makes certain demands on wine lovers. Those who favor dark, concentrated reds are often disappointed right now when their favorite wines taste different, overpowering a meal and failing to refresh the palate. If you are just such a wine drinker, let me reassure you that your wine has not spoiled in the summer heat. It will taste just fine once we move back into cooler weather. Meanwhile, now is the time to cultivate a taste for white and rosado wines that will cool you down, awaken your appetite and pair well with the full bounty of summer foods.

This is also the perfect time of year to mix up pitchers full of delicious wine cocktails that, in addition to being mighty tasty, are also very friendly on the pocketbook. In place of the usual food recipe, this week I offer you a drink recipe that is quick and easy to make, is infinitely variable, and will give you and your guests a new way to enjoy some of Iberia’s more obscure wines. As with many of my recipes, this is not a fixed set of ingredients and proportions but rather it is a basic concept that you can play around with to get the final product to taste just as you wish. 

 

The ‘Portonic’ cocktail originated in Portugal, up in the Douro Valley where the Port grapes grow, during the blindingly hot summer days. Similar drinks also come from Spain where ‘Vino de Verano’ is a long standing summer tradition. Try the following recipe in its basic form and then let your imagination take you where it will.

 

Portonic- 3 variations on a theme

Serves 8 (ish)

 

Ingredients:

1 bottle                White Port, Rainwater Madeira or Amontillado Sherry

1 bottle                Tonic water, sparkling mineral water, ‘Casera’ or other lemon/lime soda

2                             lemons cut in wedges

1                             bag of ice

 

Directions:

Fill a glass pitcher or carafe with ice. Add the contents of one bottle of White Port/Rainwater Madeira/Amontillado Sherry. Add an equal amount of sparkling water/tonic water/lemon soda. Stir to mix and pour into wide highball glass along with a few of the ice cubes. Garnish with a wedge of lemon and serve.

 

Cune Rosado 2007 When I walk into a little bar in Rioja I always expect to find wines from the popular bodega called Companía Vinicola del Norte D’España displayed prominently and proudly (everybody shortens the name to ‘CUNE’, changing the V to a U, and pronouncing  it ‘coo-nay’). We just received the new vintage of Cune Rosado and it is just what the season demands. Starting in 2006 Cune switched from using Garnacha, as is the general rule, to Tempranillo, and this is still true for the 2007. The swap in grape varieties has lightened up the wine flavor-wise (the color is still watermelon pink), creating a less fruity, more balanced wine with smooth red berry fruit and bright acidity. $10.99

 

Masia de Bielsa Rosado 2007 This newly arrived Campo de Borja region rosado, composed of 100% Garnacha, displays fresh berry and watermelon fruit character, gentle acidity and a quick, quiet finish that invites continued sipping. This is a classic back porch rosado for hot weather. Pair it with simple meals like grilled chicken, coleslaw, potato salad and the full range of American picnic food. Regular price $11.99

 

Floresta Rosado 2007 This local favorite, from the Empordá-Costa Brava region in Northeastern Spain, just arrived in the new vintage. This blend of Garnacha, Merlot and Tempranillo can be found at numerous Bay Area bars and restaurants. Pale pink color, tangy citrus and strawberry fruit character along with refreshing acidity all combine to make a tasty and well priced wine suitable for a wide range of foods and occasions. $11.99

 

Dom Martinho Rosado 2007 I bought this wine knowing fully well that many of you have a negative perception of Portuguese rosado based on generations of crummy pink wine from a few producers I won’t name here. Please set these preconceptions aside and try this new product from Quinta do Carmo, a winery in Alentejo that is partly owned by the Rothschild-Lafite group in France.  Composed of Aragonez, Touriga Nacional and Syrah, this berry scented pink wine has ripe fruit character balancing tart acidity. Fuller than some of the other wines on this week’s list, Dom Martinho will pair well with spicy food (try it with Thai food…a great pairing!) as well as traditional Portuguese favorites such as grilled sardines. $12.99

 

Con Class Rueda 2006 Back in March The New York Times waxed poetic about this young white wine, awarding it 3 stars and describing it as “vivacious with enticing lemon, floral and mineral flavors and a touch of honey”. At just that moment our local distributor changed warehouses and this wine got lost in the shuffle for a while. Happily, the wine has resurfaced and is now in good supply. This is indeed a tasty Rueda region blend of 80% Verdejo, 10% Viura and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. At a recent trade tasting I compared this wine with the higher priced single varietal Con Class Verdejo. The blended wine showed more balance and a fuller range of fresh citrusy flavors and is indeed a great value. $11.99

 

Luis Alegre Tinto Joven 2006 This young Rioja region Tempranillo is made using the maceración carbonica method. Whole bunches of grapes are loaded in tanks and allowed to start fermenting before the grapes are crushed. This ancient method of producing wine has the advantage of retaining color and fruit character while also producing finished wine in a relatively short period of time.  The end result is a dark garnet colored wine with lively fresh berry fruit character, racy acidity and mild grape skin tannins. Typically this is a summertime wine. Serve it lightly chilled as they do in Spain and accompany it with sliced cheese, jamón serrano and dry cured chorizo. $12.99

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