Tag Archives: crianza

Thansgiving Favorites

Thanksgiving Day, fast approaching, is, for all its historic significance, really all about the food. This is a time when traditional recipes, true family heirlooms, take center stage. Every family, it seems, has at least a few time tested recipes that, were they left unmade, would diminish if not ruin the occasion. Forgetting, or purposely omitting, the creamed onions, candied yams, chestnut stuffing, ambrosia, or whatever family favorite is firmly entrenched in memory risks making everyone around the Thanksgiving table just a little less thankful.
Here at The Spanish Table, as we celebrate our ninth Thanksgiving in Berkeley, we feel particularly thankful that many of you, our loyal customers, have come to rely on us year after year for wines that compliment a traditional Thanksgiving meal. This week we present a few of the wines that have become traditional favorites on Thanksgiving Day (plus one new idea that we know you are going to love). We will be closed on Thanksgiving Day but we are open the rest of the week to help you get ready for the start of the holiday season.

10y_tawny_barros__06775Barros 10 Year Tawny Port

This barrel aged tawny Port is a blend of  mature stocks with an average age of ten years (some older, some younger). This wine displays a golden amber hue tinged with salmon pink reflections. Aromas of almonds and toffee caramel are matched by gentle fruity flavors of apricot and peach. This lightly sweet wine is warm and nutty on the finish. Serve after a nice meal to assist with the contemplation of life’s big questions. $28.99


musva_moscatel__36839Musva Sparkling Moscatel

This is a non-vintage sparkling Moscatel that works its magic best at the end of a meal. It is medium sweet, low in alcohol, aggressively bubbly and aromatic. Notes of baking spices (cloves, nutmeg, allspice) make this an excellent wine to serve with an autumn pear tart (or, even better, good ol’ American pumpkin pie). $11.99


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2007 Goliardo Loureiro Tinto
This rare red wine,  from the Atlantic coastal Rias Baixas region best known for white Albarino wines, is made by Raul Perez, a Galician winemaker known for his high level of skill and eccentric style. This lavender hued wine offers up cool climate floral mulberry fruit character with spicy white pepper in the background along with finely tuned minerality. If you appreciate American PInot Noir, French Burgundy or cru Beaujolais, this may well become your new favorite wine. Originally this was a $58 bottle. We have the last of the 2007 vintage at a very attractive price. $29.99

Rioja Bordon

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Just in time for the Holiday season, a new supply of Rioja Bordon has arrived at The Spanish Table. The 12 month aged Bordon Crianza is now available in the 2006 vintage. The fabulously elegant 2001 Gran Reserva makes a repeat appearance after selling out earlier in the year. Put tradition on the table this year with either of these Turkey friendly reds.

2006 Rioja Bordon Crianza 2005_rioja_bordon_crianza_franco_espanolas__84510
This is a classic Rioja Crianza at an outstanding price. Bright cherry fruit character balances mature oak barrel aroma and firm tannins. The flavors of tart berries and Spanish earth intermingle on the palate. This is a perfect wine for serving with cured meats and hot tapas. $13.99
2001 Rioja Bordon Gran Reservaimg_3894__14099
In Rioja, Gran Reserva wines are only produced in the best years. 2001 was one of the best vintages in recent memory. Perfect growing conditions (hot days, cold nights, rain in the spring, dry at harvest time) produced the kind of fruit that make wines worth ageing for a decade before sale. Faded brick red color, fully resolved barrel character and delicate fruit flavors. This is a classic Gran Reserva for one knock out price. $23.99

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Filed under Fortified Wine, Portugal, Red Wine, Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

Workers Of The World, Imbibe!

Labor Day weekend, the traditional end of summer, is upon us. School is back in session, Cal football starts up again this Saturday and Berkeley is shifting into busy season as the academic year gets under way. Of course, for those of us ‘townies’ that live here all year long (nobody really calls us ‘townies’, that’s just my east coast heritage showing) it feels like summer just got started now that several months of  ever present coastal fog (the source of much envy from my sweltering friends back east) have abated and hot, sunny days have finally arrived. Now is our opportunity to go out and catch up on the warm weather pursuits that have eluded us all summer long.
At The Spanish Table we will be open every day to satisfy your need for unique and delicious refreshment in all its guises. We have Spanish and Portuguese beers, several versions of hard apple cider, fun and fruity pink rosado wines, numerous spritzy Txakoli wines from Basque Country and a boat load of Vinho Verde from Portugal (in both white and pink versions). We have light red wines to serve cool and bone dry Sherries to serve ice cold. Appropriate snacks (olives, chorizos, cheeses) are also available so come stock up on your favorite flavors from the Iberian peninsula.

We just got a stack of seasonally appropriate wines from one of our favorite bodegas in Rioja. Cune (the initials C.V.N.E. are short for Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana, but in common practice everyone says “coo-nay”) is a well known winery in the Rioja region that works in a very traditional style. Founded in 1879 in the town of Haro, C.V.N.E was a major force in creating the style of Rioja that has since been emulated by many other bodegas in the region. Over a century later the winery is still in the same location and and continues to make a range of traditionally styled wines.

img_3769__676452008 Cune Monopole

Cune Monopole is a dry, crisp white wine made from the local Viura grape. It is pale green/gold in color with aromas and flavors of grapefruit and wild herbs. This unoaked white Rioja is lean and lightly mineral in character. It is very refreshing and pairs well with marinated vegetables and fresh seafood. $12.99

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2009 Cune Rosado

Cune Rosado, made of 100% Tempranillo, was macerated on the skins for a few brief hours to produce a bright, dry, lightly fruity wine with beautiful light watermelon color. This is an unusual rosado from a region that mostly uses the Garnacha grapes for pink wines. The use of Tempranillo creates a lighter balance, relying on fresh berry aroma rather than sweet fruit character to create a food friendly wine that awakens and refreshes the palate on a hot day. $10.99

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2006 Cune Crianza

Cune Crianza is well loved in the Rioja region. Ask for a glass of red wine in a little bar in Logrono, Haro, Laguardia or any number of Rioja towns and this is most likely what you will be served. Made from 90% Tempranillo with small additions of Mazuelo and Garnacha, the wine spent 12 months in oak before bottling with additional cellar time in the bottle prior to release. Well balanced barrel tannins give a cedary aroma to the wine while bright cherry-like fruit supports earthy foundational structure. Serve Cune Crianza with hot tapas such as sauteed mushrooms or slices of crispy fried morcilla sausage.  $13.99

Spanish Vermouth

Perucchi Vermouth

Walk around Barcelona’s Barri Gotic neighborhood and you will notice numerous bars serving Vermouth. Unlike dry French Vermouth these herb infused wines are gently sweet and spicy. Visitors to Spain have returned with the desire  to replicate the drinks they tried over there but we have been unable to satisfy the demand until now. We just received not one but two different versions of Spanish vermouth from the venerable Montana-Perucchi winery, founded in 1886 and located on the outskirts of Barcelona. We have both the young white Vermouth and the aged red Gran Reserva Vermouth. Both are perfect for pouring over ice as they do in Spain but they are also well suited to cocktail usage in Martinis or Manhattans. These fabulous new drinks come in full sized 750 ml bottles and are both $19.99
(for a great review of Perucchi Vermouth and the most awesomest Dog & Vermouth Bottle photo ever, check out the Umamimart blog )


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Filed under Misc.Wine, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, Uncategorized, White Wine

Father’s Day

Talk about trend spotting; everybody is coming into The Spanish Table for supplies to make paella for Father’s Day. Nothing could make us happier. Around here we live to inspire you to make paella or any other Spanish or Portuguese dish. Helping you pair your special meal with a delicious bottle of wine is my personal priority.  So on a day reserved for celebrating Dads and all they do for us, here are some gift ideas that will be every bit as welcome as a power tool or a neck tie.


2001 Rioja Bordon Gran Reserva In Rioja, Gran reserva wines are only produced in the best years. 2001 was one of the best vintages in recent memory. Perfect growing conditions (hot days, cold nights, rain in the spring, dry at harvest time) produced the kind of fruit that make wines worth ageing for a decade before sale. Faded brick red color, fully resolved barrel character and delicate fruit flavors. This is a classic Gran Reserva for one knock out price. $23.99

2003 Raspay In a world of wines that are modern and rich, it is a special treat to find a winery still making a wine like they have for centuries. . .and being successful with it. The Primitivo Quiles Raspay is Monastrell from Alicante that is aged and totally different from any other Monastrell that can be found here in the US. Imagine this if you will a red fruit salad tossed with baking spice, roses and lavender. Velvety on the pallet with a lingering note of sweet red berries. Very impressive. $20.99

2005 Capellanes Crianza This bold, earthy red wine is a personal favorite, but I’m not the only one to love this dark,expressive Crianza from Ribera del Duero. The 2005 vintage scored 91 points in The Wine Advocate. They said: “The 2005 Crianza is 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 12 months in seasoned French oak. Slightly deeper in color, it has a fragrant nose of smoke, pencil lead, vanilla, espresso, and blackberry jam. Medium bodied, dense, and structured, the wine has layers of spicy black fruit and enough structure to evolve for 2-3 years. Long and pure in the finish, it will drink well through 2015.” $33.99

Niepoort 10 year Tawny Porto 10 year Tawny Porto is a blend of several vintages with an average age of around 10 years. The base wines are kept in small oak casks until blending, then bottled just prior to sale. Proper blending is a difficult skill to master, and the winemakers at Niepoort are acknowledged experts in this area. Once bottled, the tawny Ports do not continue to develop in the bottle as the vintage Ports do. They also last longer than Vintage port once opened, and can be enjoyed for 6-8 weeks before noticeable oxidation occurs. This amber gold colored wine shows complex aromas of nuts and citrus peel. The oak adds a touch of tannic dryness to the wine. Brandy-like warmth and bright acidity balance the honeyed sweetness of the wine. Serve Niepoort 10 year Tawny Porto with dessert (chocolate desserts pair extremely well with this wine) or after a meal accompanied by good company and lively conversation. $39.99

New Orleans Reserve Madeira The RWC historic Series Madeiras are a collaboration between The Rare Wine Company and Vinhos Barbeito. The goal here is to produce wines that evoke the mature vintage Madeiras of days long past. The New Orleans Special Reserve is a blend of Tinta Negra Mole, Verdelho, Bual, Malvasia and Terrantez. Produced from old family stock in small 70 case batches by Ricardo Freitas, grandson of the founder Mario Barbeito, this rose gold colored wine is lightly sweet with spicy aroma, brandied raisin fruit character, abundant nutty complexity and delicate, ethereal texture. $65.00

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2009 Txakolí is here

The new vintage of Basque Txakolí (cha-koh-LEE) has just arrived in all its multifaceted glory. You will now find all three Txakolí regions (Getariako,Bizkaiko, Arabako) represented here. We have the traditional white versions as well as the rare and briefly available rosados. These wines all share a few common elements. Bright acidity and spritzy effervescence pair up with lean minerality and tart fruit character. They are all perfect warm weather refreshment by the glass and will particularly compliment anything to eat from the sea.

2009 Ameztoi Txakolí This wine is a perfect expression of the Basque white wine style common in San Sebastian and all across the Basque Country. 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. $19.99

2009 Gurrutxaga Txakolí This wine from the Txakolina Bizkaiko region near Bilbao comes from a small family winery in Mendexa producing minuscule quantities of crisp, lean white wine composed of a tongue twisting blend of 60% Hondarribi Zuri, 20% Mune Mahatsa and 20% Txori Mahatsa. Bright acidity and slatey minerality characterize this refreshing wine. $19.99

2009 Gurrutxaga Txakolí Rosado An alternative to traditional white Txakolí, Gurrutxaga also comes in this rosado version that uses the red Hondarribi Beltza grape to produce a very dry pink wine that expresses the barest hint of strawberry fruit character. Low (10%) alcohol makes this a perfect starter wine for summertime entertaining. $19.99

2009 Xarmant Txakolí This wine comes from vineyards in the inland hills of Alava province where the grapes get a better chance of fully ripening than those along the coast, thus creating a fuller, rounder wine with less of the austere minerality of the coastal Txakolí. An excellent introduction to Txakolií for those who have yet to experience this wonderfully refreshing wine. $14.99

Rioja Bordon is back: In 1890, a Frenchman from Bordeaux and several Spanish winemakers founded a Rioja region winery which they named Bodegas Franco-Españolas in honor of their international partnership. Over the years this bodega has built a reputation for traditional wines made from the Tempranillo grape, slowly aged in oak barrels for many years before release. In modern times they are stalwart traditionalists, upholding a style that is less and less prevalent in the Rioja region.
These wines were hard to find in California until we contacted the importer on the east coast and arranged to have the wine shipped exclusively to us here at The Spanish Table. We moved through the first batch quickly last autumn and have just brought in another stack of the Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva at the same great prices as last time. The only change is in the Gran Reserva which has moved into the (superlative) 2001 vintage.

Diamante 2008 This white Rioja is one of Spain’s best selling white wines. Made from Viura & Malvasia, there is a bit of residual sugar which gives this wine it’s touch of sweetness. Pour Diamante as a before dinner cocktail paired with a few cold tapas $12.99

Rioja Bordon Crianza 2005 This is a classic Rioja Crianza at an oustanding price. Tart cherry fruit character balances mature oak barrel aroma  and firm tannins. This is a perfect wine for serving with cured meats and hot tapas. $13.99

Rioja Bordon Reserva 2004 This Reserva Rioja from an outstanding vintage is rich and elegant. Dark color, silky texture, dark berry fruit and supple tannins combine to create this mature expression of classic Rioja style. $17.99

Rioja Bordon Gran Reserva 2001 In Rioja, Gran Reserva wines are only produced in the best years. 2001 was one of the best vintages in recent memory. Perfect growing conditions (hot days, cold nights, rain in the spring, dry at harvest time) produced the kind of fruit that make wines worth ageing for a decade before sale. Faded brick red color, fully resolved barrel character and delicate fruit flavors. Soft and round this is a classic Gran Reserva for one knock out price.  $23.99

Baron d’Anglade Reserva 2001 Named after the founder of the Bodega, this is a denser, bolder wine than the regular Reserva. This wine is from the stellar 2001 vintage  Notes of dark cherry, allspice and clove, tobacco smoke and vanilla on a round, velvety frame.  Regular retail would be over $60, but we have it for sale at $49.99

Follow the various links above to find these wines at: spanishtablewines.com

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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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Red Is Back

It has been a summer full of tasty and interesting white and rosado wines.

We have seen both Basque Txakoli and Catalan Vi D’Agulla in white and pink versions.

Listan Blanco from the Canary Islands made a first appearance here as did white Maria Gomes from Portugal in two versions, sparkling and still.

Bubbly Cava (white as well as rosado) has been particularly popular all summer long.

As we shift into the fall season, I am starting to see new red wines, many of which are coming in at very reasonable prices.

This week we feature red wines that have just arrived in Berkeley. Some of these are familiar labels that have changed to a new vintage, while other familiar brands are now more attractively priced. This week too, we have several red wines that are altogether new at The Spanish Table.

To taste these wines at their best, try this simple and fast recipe that I cobbled together last week from some of the uniquely delicious products from The Spanish Table. This dish relies on the tasty new Barcelos Linguiça (a Portuguese style sausage made nearby in Tracy, California) for flavoring and needs no seasoning other than salt and pepper.

FYI: Joe Barcelos himself will be here in the Berkeley store sampling his products this Sunday, September 7th from 12 noon – 4 pm. Come meet the Linguiça man, taste his wares and then takes some home (along with a few new red wines, of course) and try this recipe.

 

Linguiça and White Beans

Ingredients:

¼ cup – Portuguese extra virgin olive oil

1 cup – thinly sliced onion

3 – sliced piquillo peppers (we have the fresh ones for sale right now)

1 lb. – Barcelos Linguiça (I like the ‘hot’ style)

1jar (23 oz.) – Gutarra brand white beans in brine (I like the young ‘Pochas’ beans)

1 cup – boiling water

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a 10” clay cazuela or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and a small pinch of salt. Sauté the onions until they are soft and starting to brown (about 5 minutes). Slice the Linguiça into bite sized pieces and add to the onions and oil. Sauté the Linguiça until lightly browned (about 10 minutes). Add the sliced piquillo peppers (sauté for 5 minutes if using fresh). Rinse the white beans under running water and add them to the cazuela. Add the boiling water (cold water can crack a hot cazuela) and simmer the whole mixture briefly (two minutes). Adjust the salt and pepper to taste, ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread and red wine.

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 a bunch of it. This is a fine candidate for buying by the box. $8.99

Barbadillo Tinto 2005 The same folks who make Barbadillo Sherries and the ever popular Barbadillo Palomina Fina white wine also make this young red wine from a blend of estate grown Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a local grape called Tintilla. Classified as a Vino de la Tierra de Cadiz, this versatile red wine is tart and youthful with primary grape fruit character and some underlying tannins. $9.99

 

Paso a Paso 2006 Bodegas Volver in D.O. La Mancha makes this lightly oaked (6 months in barrel) Tempranillo that used to be called Mano a Mano in previous vintages. Ripe cherry/blackberry fruit character overlaps with the medium weight oak tannins, creating a unified wine that will bring a bit of Spanish style to a wide range of foods. $10.99

 

Masia de Bielsa Tinto 2007 Earlier this season we featured the Masia de Bielsa rosado. We just received the tinto version of this Garnacha wine from D.O. Campo de Borja that was featured last week in the San Francisco Chronicle (read about it here). This juicy, bright, youthful red, fashioned from old vine fruit sees no time in oak. The ripe berry aroma and tart acidity that one expects from Campo de Borja Garnacha are all to be found in this well composed wine. $10.99

 

Viña Cobos Felino 2007 The Californian winemaker Paul Hobbs crafts this Malbec at his Viña Cobos winery in Argentina. The newest release of Felino is a bold, dark, unfiltered wine that ages for eight months in oak before bottling. Abundant (but not overwhelming) dark berry fruit character blends with flavors of spicy black pepper and foundational minerality. $19.99

 

Primitivo Quiles Raspay Tinto “Brut”2002 We just received the latest vintage of this oh-so-traditional Monastrell from Alicante. Less ripe than most of the Monastrell currently coming from neighboring Jumilla, Raspay is leaner, earthier and lighter in color than Jumilla Monastrell too. Dried cherry and raisin fruit along with savory, earthy flavors characterize this wine. $21.99

 

 

 

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Arrivals / Departures

In the wine world (and in the rest of life, I suppose) nothing lasts forever. Wines come and wines go. Some diminish in quantity slowly and others disappear in a heart beat, but one way or another they all grow scarce before becoming extinct.

Fortunately for wine drinkers, the joy of a new discovery is matched by the familiar pleasure of a well loved favorite. Exploring new regions and grape varieties is always exciting, but so is revisiting familiar territory to see how a particular wine or producer has evolved over time.

This week we have some fine examples of new wines that are just starting on their journey in the marketplace as well as mature wines that are the last examples of their particular vintage. Check out the following selections from our ever changing collection and act fast if you want to pick up some of the end-of-vintage wines before they are gone.

Here too is a quick recipe using the best of late summer seasonal produce. This recipe comes from the famous Catalan chef Ferran Adrià by way of the increasingly (thanks to his new show on PBS) well known Asturian chef José Andrés. I’ve adapted the recipe a bit to simplify things, but you can find the original version of this recipe along with dozens more in the boxed set of recipe cards called ‘Tapas Deck’ ($14.95 at The Spanish Table) by José Andrés and Richard Wolffe.

 

Tomato and Watermelon Skewers

(Serves 6 as a tapa)

Ingredients:

6cherry tomatoes cut in half

121 inch cubes of freshly cut watermelon

1-tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

1teaspoon lemon zest

¼ cup-sherry vinegar

¼ cup-Spanish extra virgin olive oil

1-tablespoon sea salt

1-tablespoon minced parsley

12toothpicks

Directions:

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and parsley in a bowl and mix briefly.

Skewer each tomato half (cut side up) with a toothpick, followed by a watermelon cube on the bottom. Stand the skewers up on a plate. Pour the dressing over the skewered fruit and serve.

 

Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde The non-vintage version of Aveleda Vinho Verde has just come in with a new look and name. Now called ‘Fonte’, this is in fact the same fresh, spritzy white wine you know and love. Light mineral foundation and abundant citrus aroma and flavor combine to create this uniquely delicious white wine that is low in alcohol and big on refreshment. $7.99

 

Dorado Alvarinho 2006 Marcial Dorado, from Galicia in Spain, makes this excellent 100% Alvarinho wine in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. After searching in vain for the perfect Albariño vineyard in Spain, he crossed the Minho River and bought a vineyard of 70 year old Alvarinho located just above the little town of Melgaço where he also built a small gravity fed (no pumping of wine from tank to tank) winery called Quinta do Feital. The unoaked ‘Dorado’, the flagship of the winery, is rich with melon and pear aromas and flavors. Bright acidity punctuates the ripe fruit character, creating a long, lingering finish. A quantum leap in quality compared to just about any other Vinho Verde. $28.99

 

Auratus 2007 This blend of two local grapes sourced from the northern end of Portugal is a declassified Vinho Verde (officially it is a ‘Vinho Regional do Minho’) made by Marcial Dorado at Quinta do Feital from a blend of Alvarinho and Trajadura grapes, vinified without any use of oak. The lean, flinty mineral notes from the Trajadura blend effortlessly with the riper melon and citrus scented Alvarinho. This crisp, dry wine will find favor with both Spanish Albarino appreciators as well as Portuguese Vinho Verde drinkers. $17.99

 

Quinta do Infantado Reserva 2003 One of our favorite small Porto producers, Quinta do Infantado, has made their first Reserva level red wine. This dark, rich, elegant blend of traditional Douro region grapes was made from the same field blend as used in the Porto. The fruit was crushed by foot in stone lagares, fermented in tank and then aged for 18 months in oak. This small production wine (just over 500 cases, total production) is expressive and full bodied while retaining a fine balance of aromas and flavors. Dark berry fruit character rounds out brambly herb and mineral back notes. $35.99 (very limited)

 

Rioja Bordon Crianza 2001 The last five cases of this excellent, very well priced, traditionally styled Rioja wine are going fast. A few months ago Jon Bonné from The San Francisco Chronicle described the wine well. He said: “Traditionally made Rioja, in well-worn American oak casks, wears its age remarkably well. More basic Crianza wines are meant to drink young. But this one from Bodegas Franco-Espanolas (founded when 19th-century Frenchmen journeyed south to find a solution to phylloxera that devastated Bordeaux) radiates with all the beauties of aged Rioja. Hints of wood and coriander merge with dried cherries and an almost translucent softness.” $11.99

 

Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2001 We are down to the last few cases of this superlative Rioja from the picture perfect 2001 vintage. This rare single vineyard wine, fashioned from 90% Tempranillo with the balance made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Mazuelo and Graciano is dark garnet colored with smooth, well integrated oak aroma and tannins adding contrast to the silky, ripe fruit character. In the upcoming 2004 vintage (the wine is only made in the best years) the wine will get the new “vinos de pagos” designation (indicating a wine made from only estate grown fruit and made on the same property as the vineyard) and will go up significantly in price. $23.99

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

Personal Favorites

Spanish wine can be a hard thing to define in general terms. Just about every region in Spain makes at least a little bit of wine and the regional variation, numerous grape varieties and the personal styles of individual winemakers can cover an almost infinite range of possibilities.

At The Spanish Table we take pride in offering a wide variety of wines from all across the Iberian Peninsula, and reading this newsletter is one of the best ways to learn about these exciting, enticingly new wines.

My normal habit is to put aside my own personal preferences and to promote new and interesting wines regardless of whether or not I plan to add the wine to my personal collection, but for you, the reader of this newsletter, it might be helpful to calibrate my perspective (for all wine writing is, after all, a matter of personal perspective) by sharing some of my personal favorites with you. 

I tend to take home younger wines, though you will find a few more mature bottles in the list below. I, like you, love a wine that delivers excellent quality at a great price, so you won’t see any expensive icon wine on this week’s list (not that I don’t love these wines as well, but a shopkeeper’s budget has certain limitations). What follows are some new items as well as some well loved favorites, all of which have found a place at my dinner table in recent weeks.   

Also, since I’m going ‘first-person’ on you this week, here is a recipe from my past that has caught up to me in the best of ways.

I grew up in the south where traditional recipes and regional specialties are more respected than in many other parts of the country.  One of the traditional foods I grew up with, and hated, was the dreaded Pimento Cheese Spread. Usually made with ‘American’ cheese, mayonnaise and tasteless pimentos from a jar, this was not a dish that I looked back on with great fondness. Recently, I found myself longing for the flavors of my formative years in Georgia and since nostalgia and food memory are sentiments only barely tethered to logic and reality, I decided to re-try some recipes from my younger days. Not satisfied with simple replication, I wanted to use my more recently acquired Spanish cooking habits to update these traditional southern standbys. I upgraded the ingredients, added a bit of Spanish flair and, well, all I can say is y’all are going to love the results.

 

Kevin’s Pimentón Cheese Spread (serves 6 as an appetizer)

½ lb.                Manchego Tierno Cheese (the youngest Manchego)

½ lb.                 Idiazabal Cheese

5             whole Piquillo peppers

6             pitted green Manzanilla olives

¼ cup   Ybarra mayonesa (made with 100% olive oil)

½ tsp.                 Pimentón de la Vera Dulce (smoked sweet paprika)

1 tsp.     Salt

 

Cut rind off cheeses and grate finely. Dice piquillo peppers and olives. Combine grated cheese, diced peppers and olives in a bowl with mayonesa, pimentón and salt. Mix completely and refrigerate for an hour before serving on bread. Melt the cheese spread on toast under the broiler for a hot version of this updated classic.

 

Aviny0 Vi D’Agulla 2006 $12.99 Without a doubt, the white wine I take home most often is this spritzy, dry Muscat from the Penedès region in Catalunya. This refreshing grapefruity white wine is low in alcohol but big on taste. It makes a welcoming aperitif for guests and a perfect Sunday afternoon cocktail after yard work or washing the dogs.

 

Puerta Novas Crianza 2001 $12.99 My wife and I were recently surprised by this wine. When first released, Puertas Novas was quite firm and oaky, but time has been kind to this Toro region red.  With dinner the other night this proved to be a supple, rich, balanced wine (made from the local version of Tempranillo, appropriately named Tinto de Toro). No longer strictly a ‘steak wine’, Puertas Novas now has an elegance that reflects both the wine’s pedigree (2001 was an excellent vintage) and the skill of the winemakers (for those who still want the bigger, more structured version, Valpiculata Reserva 2001 is also still available for $23.99).

 

Viña Valoria 2005 $14.99 Many of you have come in looking for the perfect red wine to serve with paella and I very often recommend this young Rioja. A few scant months of barrel age lend the slightest touch of barrel character to this blend of Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graciano. The pure, plum-like fruit character is juicy and refreshing, never overwhelming lighter foods such as rice or pasta dishes (paella specifically!).

 

Servilio Roble 2006$15.99 This new arrival from Ribera del Duero is bold and ripe. Dark color and a hint of meat locker aroma hint at what to serve with this young red wine. Grilled lamb chops, carne asada, crispy fried Morcilla or whatever meaty meal you prefer will taste even better when accompanied by this wine.  At home we love to serve this wine with the Berkshire pork chops we get from Café Rouge here in Berkeley.

 

Azabache Graciano Reserva 2001 $19.99 I mentioned this wine a few weeks ago, but it bears repeating. This is the only Reserva Rioja wine made from the rare Graciano grape. Usually Graciano, which accounts for a mere 5% of the annual harvest in Rioja, is used to blend in with the lighter Tempranillo. Graciano lends structure to blended Rioja. On its own, Graciano can be quite firm and tannic, but with 24 months in barrel followed by another two years of bottle ageing, the wine has become quite elegant and mature. Braised beef brisket with pearl onions and potatoes was what I served with this wine.

 

Raspay Tinto “Brut” 2001 $19.99 In the Alicante region along the Mediterranean coast of Spain, Bodegas Primitivo Quiles are best known for a fortified wine called Fondillón, made from the local Monastrell grape in a style similar to Sherry. The same old vine Monastrell also goes into this traditionally styled red wine.  The ruddy, brick red tint and savory tannic aroma give way to dried cherry fruit character. This is no fruit bomb. The old-school Spanish style is very well represented in this bottling that wins my vote for best label art too.  I served this with a selection of embutidos from The Spanish Table such as Lomo Embuchado, Jamón Serrano and dry cured Chorizo.

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Filed under Recipes, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

Busy, busy, busy

It seems like everybody is really busy taking care of professional, family and personal obligations. We too are in the middle of bringing in new and delicious wines and specialty groceries while at the same time putting together wine dinners and food classes.

I am already behind schedule for this week’s newsletter so I will be brief.

We have some excellent new wines to share with you this week. Several spectacular and very traditional Rioja wines have just arrived from a small family winery that is just starting to gain attention from Spanish wine lovers. Some new white wines have come in that express a richer more floral element that I find especially desirable as we move away from summer. We are also receiving new vintages of some of our favorite late harvest dessert wines that are so appropriate to this early autumn season.  

Meanwhile, for those of you who have been requesting more wine oriented events, we are excited to announce that we will be hosting a winemaker’s dinner with some special guests from Spain. The date is November 13th at 7 pm. The venue is Zarzuela Restaurant located at 2000 Hyde Street in San Francisco.  Andy and Tanya Booth from our Mill Valley store will be leading up this food and wine extravaganza.  Here is what they wrote about this upcoming event:

This will feature a stellar lineup of wines from famed winemaker Eduardo Garcia, whose father is even the more famous Mariano Garcia.  We’ll try a couple of higher end offerings from Ribera del Duero, Toro and Bierzo, which is home to the grape Mencia.  Importer Aurelio Cabestrero will also be on hand to share several other wines that he has selected from Spain.  The cost for this dinner will be $80 a person.

In addition to a stellar line up of wines, the Zarzuela chefs will prepare a full meal of assorted tapas.  To reserve you places for this rare food and wine experience, contact us here in Berkeley at (510)-548-1383 or you can also reserve places at The Spanish Table in Mill Valley (415)-388-5043.

My upcoming Cooking in Clay Cazuelas class on October 22nd still has a few spots open. If you want to participate in this event, go to 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. 

Now, on to this week’s wines:

 

Vinos Blancos:

Valdelainos Verdejo 2006 $12.99 An excellent Rueda region white fashioned from the local Verdejo grape. Crisp citrus aroma, mineral foundation and just enough fruit character (guava, pineapple) to maintain the balance of flavors. An excellent cocktail wine.

 

Jose Pariente Verdejo 2006 $19.99 From Bodegas Dos Victorias (named after the two owners, both named Victoria) comes this aromatic Verdejo wine that showcases the fuller side of Rueda region whites. Aromas and flavors of quince and guava are full and ripe. Crisp acidity is edgy and refreshing. A perfect seafood wine, especially with scallops and crustaceans.

 

Casta Diva Cosecha Miel 2006 $28.99 It’s the time of year when a little late harvest sweet wine is particularly appealing. The new vintage of the celebrated Casta Diva is a lush Moscatel from the Alicante region on the Mediterranean coast. This bright gold colored wine is redolent of honey and tangerines. The rich Sauterne-like complexity of Casta Diva works with everything from fois gras to lemon tart.

 

Ochoa Moscatel 2006 $23.99 In the Navarra region of Northern Spain (home to a wide range of grape varieties), Moscatel grapes are left on the vine to fully ripen before they are harvested for this gently sweet dessert wine. We just received the new vintage and it is one of my current favorite autumn wines. Serve it with a pear tart on a crisp fall afternoon. Ethereal.

 

Vinos Tintos:

We are very excited about our latest new arrivals from Rioja. Bodegas Hermanos Peciña is a relatively young winery. Founded in 1992, this family owned winery initially made only young wines from their own estate grown fruit but over time expanded to include increasingly mature wines as well. Located in the Rioja Alta village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, they have quickly earned a reputation for high quality wines that preserve the traditional style of barrel aged red wines that the region is known for.

Senorio de P.Peciña Cosecha 2006 $11.99 This joven (young) wine is produced from estate grown Tempranillo grapes with small additions of Garnacha and Graciano as well. This bright, youthful red is refreshingly uncomplicated.  Moderate alcohol content (12.5%) is traditional for this style of wine and makes this a perfect picnic or party wine.

 

Senorio de P.Peciña Crianza 2000 $18.99  Also produced from a blend of mostly Tempranillo with small additions of Garnacha and Graciano, this Crianza level wine spends an extended period (2 years) ageing in French and American oak barrels, with an additional year of bottle ageing before release. The bright cherry-like fruit and resiny tannic barrel character that are typical of traditional Crianza Riojas are present here in a finely tuned frame. Serve this wine with sliced Serrano ham or cured Spanish chorizo for a classic flavor pairing.

 

Senorio de P.Peciña Reserva 1999 $25.99 The blend of  grapes for the Reserva is the same as for the Crianza, but the Reserva sees 3 years of barrel age before bottling and another several years of bottle age before sale. This long maturation period smoothes out all the edgy tannins and produces a silky, elegant wine that is perfect for special meals and cold autumn nights.

 

Torremoron 2006 $11.99 The new vintage of this customer favorite has just arrived. This well priced Ribera del Duero region wine is a fresh and full bodied wine fashioned from the local Tempranillo grape. Ripe fruit character and dark color combine with background earthiness. Serve with lamb burgers and green salad.

 

Primavera Dão 2003 $14.99 The Dao region was once among the most desirable sources of quality red wines in Portugal.  These wines were dry and earthy with rich but oxidized fruit character. Over time this style fell out of favor with the international market (the Portuguese still love the old style). Flash forward to the current day and we see some fresh, fragrant Dão wines that still retain some elements of the old style. This wine is a perfect example of how this region is blending modern style with traditional heritage.  Fashioned from a blend of Touriga Nacional Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca, the garnet color and the dark berry fruit character balance fine tannins and background minerality.

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Filed under Fortified Wine, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine