Tag Archives: Cune

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

Pink Wines for Memorial Day

It has been a cold and damp month of May but warmer weather is just around the corner so we are stocking up on a bunch of Spanish rosado and Portuguese rose. These pale pink wines are the perfect choice for outdoor dining and entertaining, especially during daylight hours.
When a red wine might be too heavy and a white wine might be too lean, a crisp dry rosado, the Goldilocks of wines, is ‘just right’. These wines are as delicious with quick and easy tapas or light appetizers as they are with a big paella cooked on the grill.
The new 2009 pinks are arriving now. Some of these wines are only available in limited quantities so now is the time to stock up on your favorites while the supply lasts. Pick up a mixed case of pink wines and you will have them on hand for whenever the need arises as well as saving 10% on your entire purchase. I suggest keeping a bottle (or two) of rosado in the fridge at all times in case of unexpected guests or unanticipated thirst.

Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Rose Casal Garcia, the best known Vinho Verde on the planet now comes in a pink version. The refreshingly spritzy effervescence, low alcohol and bright character of Vinho Verde find expression here in a bright pink version that adds a bit of tart strawberry fruit character to the mix. This is a fun, informal, non-vintage Portuguese rose that grows in popularity with each passing week. $8.99

2009 Cune Rosado
This dry rosado, made from 100% Tempranillo, is a gently expressive pink wine from CUNE in Rioja. Fresh strawberry aroma and tangy fruit character make for a fresh, thirst quenching wine that works its magic best at sunset on the patio, shared amongst friends. $10.99

2009 Muga Rosado The limited edition rosado from Bodegas Muga is now in stock and selling quickly. This Rioja region wine is a unique blend of 60% Garnacha, 30% Viura and 10% Tempranillo. The use of white Viura in rosado is an old tradition in Rioja where Clarete wines (blends of white and red grapes) were once common. This pale salmon colored wine sells out long before the summer draws to a close so pick some up soon if you want to experience one of Spain’s best rosados. $12.99

2009 Muralhas de Moncao Vinho Verde Rose Adega de Moncao makes top notch Vino Verde wines that are very popular in Portugal. They make vintage dated wines (unlike the mass market versions that are non-vintage) from high quality fruit. The new Muralhas de Moncao Rose is made from a blend of indigenous varieties including Alvarelhao, Pedral and Vinhao. This refreshing low alcohol (11.5%) rose displays fresh berry aroma and citrusy fruit character carried along by the same slight effervescence of the traditional white Vinho Verde. Serve this with a few grilled sardines for a prefect Portuguese moment. $13.99

2009 Ameztoi Rubentis Txakoli Rosado We have been a champion of this distinctive pink Txakoli since its introduction a few years ago. This Basque wine, made in the town of Getaria along the coast near San Sebastian is lean and mineral with just a whiff of unripe strawberry aroma. This tart, spritzy rosado is much in demand and hard to find in retail shops. Our supply is very limited, making this a short lived opportunity, so act now or be disappointed. $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 fresh berry fruit character. Low (10%) alcohol makes this a perfect starter wine for summertime entertaining. $19.99

Cerveja Portuguesa

sagres can

Beer in cans used to get no respect. The current wisdom now holds that canned beer, especially imported beer, retains its flavor and freshness better than bottled beer. The can protects the beer from sunlight (a major contributor to spoilage) and seals better than bottle caps.
We just started carrying our favorite Portuguese beer, Sagres, in cans. We now have the big 500 ml (16 oz.) single cans for $1.99 each. They are perfect for a hot afternoon, accompanied by our new Barcelo’s Bifanas de Porco, quickly grilled and served on our (also new) Silva Bakery Paposeco roll. That’s some serious Portuguese snacking, right there!

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Filed under beer, Portugal, rosado, Spain

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

Back to School?

It’s that time again.

Hey, wait a minute.  Is it really “that time again” already? I keep flipping the pages of my wall calendar back and forth between August and September trying fruitlessly to shake loose a few more weeks of summer and wondering where the days went.

Yes, it really is “that time again”, arriving a bit early this year, but the changes in Berkeley (a college town at heart) are already evident.  University professors and staff are gearing up for the fall semester. Campus residence halls are abuzz with activity as new students arrive laden with personal possessions. In the morning, grade school and high school students trudge past my window on their way from home to class and back again in the afternoon, dragging rolling luggage filled with books and homework behind them. In the early evening my local park swells with crowds of young boys at football practice, sprinting back and forth in unison to the short repeated bursts from the coach’s whistle. No question about it, school is back in session.

Wine, of course, knows no season, and while some wines are better with summer meals and others are more suited to winter fare, new and delicious wines (and beer) continue to arrive at The Spanish Table year round.  

In case you have been elsewhere lately and may have missed out on some of the recent new products at The Spanish Table we are playing catch up this week with some highlights from our recent acquisitions.

Here too is an easy plan, not even a recipe, for a simple meal that needs no cooking and tastes best served on an overturned packing box or on the tailgate of your truck.

Welcome back everybody!

 

Kevin’s Moving Day Spanish Picnic

(Serves 4)

 

1 Palacios Spanish dry cured chorizo

¼ lb. sliced Redondo Iglesias Serrano ham

½ lb. Don Alonso Aged Manchego Cheese

1 jar The Spanish Table Lemon Olives

1 jar Matiz Piparras pickled green peppers

1 jar Ferrer Gazpacho

1 sml.  Arte Oliva Ali Oli

1 large bottle Vichy Catalan sparkling mineral water

1 bottle Muga Rosado wine

 

Slice the chorizo thinly on the bias. Tear the pre-sliced ham into rustic bite sized bits. Slice the cheese into thin triangles. Splash the olives and peppers out into a bowl, mixed together.  The gazpacho is ready to go, just serve it chilled with bread and Ali Oli on the side. Crisp, cold rosado and salty, sparkling mineral water satisfy your thirst. ¡Salud!

 

Cerveza:

Jerome Cerveza Roja $4.99

Jerome Cerveza Negra $4.99

Named after the family German shepherd (who’s profile is featured prominently on the label) Jerome Brewing Company is a pioneer in the production of small batch (and I mean really small, as in 5 barrels a day) Argentine ales. Using pure Andean water and top quality ingredients, this small company shows that Argentina’s wine renaissance is spreading to the beer market too. We currently carry the Roja, a bold, hoppy ale that reminds me of some of our local bay Area brews, as well as the Negra, a dark and creamy version of a British stout.

 

Vino Rosado:

Muga Rosado 2006 $12.99 From one of our favorite D.O.C. Rioja wineries, Bodegas Muga, comes one of the best rosado wines of the summer. This pale, salmon colored blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo and Viura makes a wonderful companion to lighter food as well as being supremely refreshing on a hot afternoon.

 

Artazuri Rosado 2006 $12.99 This dry rosado is made from 100% Garnacha grapes grown in the high altitude vineyards of D.O. Navarra, the traditional home of Spanish rosado. This perennial customer favorite displays gentle fresh berry scent along with a bright citrus fruit character. The finely detailed aromas and flavors blend effortlessly in this excellent summertime wine.

 

Vino Blanco:

Avinyó Vi D’Agulla 2006 $12.99 This lightly effervescent white wine made from Petit Grain Muscat is floral and aromatic like a Moscatel, but the flavor is dry and grapefruity. The assertive bubbles lift the scent and give the wine a lively, fresh character. The prickly effervescence is what gives the wine its name. Serve Vi D’Agulla as a welcoming cocktail to your dinner guests and watch the smiles spread with each sip.

 

Oreka 2006 $19.99 Our newest Txakoli wine from the Basque lands in Northern Spain is a stunner. Oreka (a Basque word that roughly translates as ‘balance’) is made from the indigenous Hondaribbi Zuri grape.  Richer and more abundantly fruity than the rather lean and mineral wines that are typical of this windswept coastal region, Oreka displays slight spritzy effervescence and a firm mineral foundation overlaid with flavors of grapefruit and quince.

 

Uriondo Txakoli 2006 $14.99 This wine is from D.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina, near Bilbao. Unlike the coastal D.O. Getariako Txakolina wines that are made from the Hondaribbi Zuri grape, Uriondo is composed of a blend of 70% Mune Mahatsa and  30% Txori Mahatsa (say that five times fast). Less spritzy than most Txakoli wines, with riper fruit character and less assertive minerality.

 

Abad Dom Bueno Godello 2006 $16.99 D.O. Bierzo is known primarily as a red wine region, but this Bierzo region white wine is made from the local Godello grape that is more common in neighboring D.O. Valdeorras.  This yellow gold colored wine is fermented in temperature controlled tanks that preserve all the fresh citrus and melon aromas that are typical of the Godello grape. Bright acidity adds to the refreshing quality that makes this such a perfect accompaniment to composed salads, pasta or poultry as well as a full range of seafood.

 

Soalheiro Vinho Verde 2006 $21.99 Typically, Vinho Verde is light, spritzy and simple non-vintage white Portuguese wine. These days, as people discover the joys of Vinho Verde we are seeing more and more higher priced wines from this region. Soalheiro is a vintage wine produced from the Alvarinho (Albariño in Spain = Alvarinho in Portugal) grape. Well known in Portugal as a top shelf Vinho Verde, this wine is just starting to find a market here in the USA. Flinty mineral background lays a foundation for light floral aroma and bright citrus fruit character. This finely detailed and multi-layered wine cries out for choriço and clams, salt cod and potatoes or other such traditional Portuguese fare.

 

Vino Tinto:

Carro Tinto 2006 $10.99 The new vintage of this popular red wine from D.O. Yecla has just arrived. Composed of a blend of a blend of 50% Monastrell, 20% Syrah, 20% Tempranillo and 10% Merlot, this easy drinking red will add spice and contrast to your next backyard cookout. Dark, bold and fruity with intriguing flinty background flavor.

 

Arbanta 2005 $10.99 An excellent young Rioja produced from Organic fruit.  Recently rated 89 Points by The Wine Advocate, Jay Miller reviewed the wine, saying “The 2005 Biurko Gorri Arbanta offers superb value, among the best in my Spanish tastings. It is 100% Tempranillo, tank fermented and aged. Medium ruby in color, it exhibits remarkable aromatic complexity for its price point with cherries, red currants, and spice in evidence. The wine is elegant, balanced, and fruity right through the lengthy finish. Drink it over the next 1-3 years.

 

Cune Crianza 2004 $17.99 If you go to Rioja and walk into any small bar and request a glass of vino tinto, chances are you will be served this wine. This blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo is aged for two years (12 months in American oak barrels and 12 months in the bottle) before sale. The 2004 vintage shows dark garnet color with black cherry fruit character and balanced oaky tannins that combine to create a picture perfect example of crianza Rioja.

 

Can Blau 2005 $17.99 This D.O. Montsant wine has been getting lots of positive feedback from customers.  Josh Raynolds reviewed this blend of 50% Cariñena, 35% Syrah and 15% Garnacha wine for Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar and rated it 90 Points. His description matches mine, but his wording is better. He said: “Bright ruby. Focused, fresh and brisk on the nose, with energetic cherry and candied licorice aromas. Intense mineral notes add complexity and depth to the explosive blackberry and cherry fruit, with notes of candied violet and rose coming up on the back. Finishes with superb intensity and length. An excellent value, and built for cellaring.

 

Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec 2003 $21.99  From one of the oldest wineries in Argentina we recently received this 100% Malbec wine sourced from estate vineyards located in the prestigious Lujan de Cuyo district of Mendoza.  This finely balanced wine displays the dark color and ripe aroma of a typical Malbec, but the mid-weight tannins and the multi-layered aromas and flavors here are sophisticated and well tuned. This is one of the best Malbec wines I have tasted so far.

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Filed under Argentina, beer, Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, White Wine

What’s New?

I’m so glad you asked. Even though we are now in August, a month when many of us will head to the beach/mountains/countryside for a last bit of rest and relaxation before the end of summer, here at The Spanish Table we are continuing to search out new and delicious wines from Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina.

We have a new Txakoli from the Basque lands, and new Albariño from Galicia. The latest vintage of one of our favorite Rioja wines is now available as are several celebrated Malbec wines from Argentina, a great Carmenère from Chile and the most prestigious of Portuguese red wines.  

We are having a hard time figuring out what to call this growing collection of wines that encompass such a wide range of styles and nationalities. So far we’ve come up with ‘Iberian influenced’ as a catch all phrase to describe our wine selection, but we are still looking for something that rolls off the tongue a bit easier. How about ‘iberesco’?

Well, clearly I’m just making stuff up now, but I welcome suggestions from any of you that can think up something appropriate.

Meanwhile, before you decamp for somewhere other than home, please come see all our new wines and pick up a few for your trip. Chances are there won’t be a Spanish Table where you are going.

Also, make sure to pack something to eat because you never know what you’ll find for food on the road, in the air or over the water. Here is a recipe for one of my favorite travel snacks:

 

Kevin’s “Don’t make Me Stop This Car” Tuna Sandwich

(Serves 2 adults or four kids)

 

1 large can Spanish Bonito del Norte Tuna

6 Piparra peppers, destemmed and roughly chopped

4 Piquillo peppers, sliced in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

1 stalk of celery, diced

½ teaspoon Toro Albala Vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

2 soft sandwich rolls (‘twinkles’ from Acme Bakery are a personal favorite sandwich roll)

 

Drain the tuna only half way. Put the tuna and the remaining juice in a bowl and flake with a fork. Mix in mustard, celery, chopped Piparra peppers, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Slice rolls in half lengthwise. Divide tuna mixture evenly and spread on the two rolls.

Layer sliced eggs and piquillo peppers on top of tuna mixture.

Close up sandwiches and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. As the sandwiches sit, the bread absorbs the moisture from the tuna and makes the whole thing taste better. Serve after a few hours of travel time.

 

 

Vino Blanco:

Uriondo Txakoli 2006 $14.99 The Txakoli continues to flow unabated a The Spanish Table. This new arrival is from D.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina, near Bilbao. Unlike the coastal D.O. Getariako Txakolina wines that are made from the Hondaribbi Zuri grape, Uriondo is composed of a blend of 70% Mune Mahatsa and  30% Txori Mahatsa (say that five times fast). Less spritzy than most Txakoli wines, with riper fruit character and less assertive minerality.

 

Aforado 2005 $11.99 In D.O. Rías Baixas, the Albariño grape is King, but in the O Rosal sub-zone (where Aforado comes from) other grapes such as Treixadura and Loureira also share center stage. The end result of all this blending is a white wine with more peach and pear aromas and flavors than the typical flinty, citrusy Albariño wines. At this price, Aforado makes an excellent choice for buying by the case.

 

Mesache Blanco 2006 $11.99 We just received the new vintage of this unique white wine from D.O. Somontano. The blend here is 35% late-harvested Macabeo, 35% Gewurztraminer, and 30% Chardonnay. This rich, floral wine displays abundant melon and pear notes. The bold, fruity, multi-layered style will appeal to Riesling lovers, and would pair well with scallops or other rich seafood.

 

Vino Tinto:

Cune Crianza 2004 $17.99 If you go to Rioja and walk into any small bar and request a glass of vino tinto, chances are you will be served this wine. This blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo is aged for two years (12 months in American oak barrels and 12 months in the bottle) before sale. The new 2004 vintage shows dark garnet color with black cherry fruit character and balanced oaky tannins that, combined together, create a picture perfect example of crianza Rioja.

 

Clos de los Siete 2005 $16.99 This is a high profile project in Argentina that combines the talents of seven celebrated French winemakers, with Michel Rolland (yes, that Michel Rolland) at the helm to create a blend from all these neighboring wineries. The individual winemakers will eventually bottle their own wines, but as the vines are still quite young, the Clos de los Siete blend is the one currently available product from this very substantial group. The blend here is 50% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah. The wine is poised between a big, ripe, typically Argentine style and a leaner, more terroir driven French style, which is exactly what you would expect from these winemakers working in this region.

 

Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec 2003 $21.99  From one of the oldest wineries in Argentina we recently received this 100% Malbec wine sourced from estate vineyards located in the prestigious Lujan de Cuyo district of Mendoza.  This finely balanced wine displays the dark color and ripe aroma of a typical Malbec, but the mid-weight tannins and the multi-layered aromas and flavors here are sophisticated and well tuned. This is one of the best Malbec wines I have tasted so far.

 

Secreto Carmenere 2006 $9.99 The Secreto wines are mid-tier products from the Viu Manent winery in Chile and are intended to express varietal character. The Secreto Carmenere is dark colored, ripe and fruity. A bit of spicy jalapeño pepper flavor is typical of Carmenere grapes and shows up here as a back note. Serve with boldly flavored food. Mexican tortillas and salsa with grilled skirt steak would be just about perfect.

 

Casa Ferreirinha Barca Velha 1999 $160.00 (extremely limited, only 6 bottles in stock) We have been looking for this wine for a long time now, and are very proud to offer it to you. Catherine in our Seattle store just wrote about Barca Velha and she did such a good job that I am shamelessly cutting and pasting her notes into my newsletter (thanks Catherine). She said “Barca Velha is the [Vega Sicilia] Unico of Portugal, only at half the price. While I knew that the winery was extremely selective about their releases, I was shocked to find out that there have only been 15 bottlings since the winery’s inception in 1952!!! Barca Velha is traditionally a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Barroca from three of Ferreira’s vineyards in the Douro Superior. Ferreira’s winemaker was sent to Bordeaux in the early 1950s to decide on a table wine style and he chose the long aging style of Chateau Lafite Rothschild so this is made on that model.  This wine is only made in vintages with the potential of greatness.  It is aged for 7 years in barrel and bottle and then tasted to decide if the vintage is great enough to “declare” a Barca Velha.  Ferreira’s Board of Directors has to be unanimous in their decision before a vintage can be declared. Declarations average 2 to 3 per decade and this has traditionally been considered the greatest wine form Portugal.

Additionally, Mark Squires of Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate recently tasted this vintage of Barca Velha and rated the wine at 94 Points. He said “The 1999 Barca Velha (Casa Ferreirinha) is Portugal’s equivalent of Grange, the seminal cult wine for a nation. The winery (Ferreira; hence, the labeling “Casa Ferreirinha,” hearkening back to a famous owner from days gone by) that first made it has long since been sold to Sogrape, Portugal’s biggest wine corporation. Some younger winemakers openly questioned whether Barca Velha was a bit of a dinosaur. Nonetheless, in this vintage at least, it seemed superlative to me, a blend of a more modern styling than seen in Casa Ferreirinha wines like the 1996 Reserva, together with a slightly old-fashioned air lingering in the background. No one will confuse this wine with some of Portugal’s well-known, high-end, modern reds like the Symington’s Chryseia or Quinta do Crasto’s Maria Teresa. It is powerful, with significant tannins and fine structure. With decanting (which it had here), it can be approached. Deep and intense, it has a focused attack of fruit on the palate, some darker fruit notes like a touch of plum, some earthiness, and grip on the finish from that fine structure. It also manages to have a little brightness and a certain refreshing note, cutting through the muscular presentation. The texture has some velvet and it was a pleasure, too. It also shows some gracefulness and complexity, and it should drink well for a couple of decades, improving steadily in the cellar over the next several years. There were 2,500 cases produced. Drink from 2008-2022.

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

Volunteer Tomatoes

One of the great joys of summer is a perfectly ripe tomato, served fresh from the garden, still warm from the sun.

In Berkeley gardeners are routinely disappointed by our inability to grow really good tomatoes. Our location due east of the mouth of San Francisco Bay allows a slender tongue of summer fog to snake through this gap in the coastal hills, blow across the Bay waters and blanket a swath of the East Bay in cool gray mist while the rest of the Bay to the north and south remains hot and sunny.

Typically gardeners in my neighborhood forego peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and other summer crops and console ourselves with fava beans and salad greens.

This year however, things are different. The unusually warm, dry weather has brought unanticipated change to my little garden. After re-grading a section of my back yard to improve drainage we temporarily piled the extra dirt in the front yard. Almost immediately, tomato sprouts appeared which by itself was not surprising as the spot we had dug up was where we used to keep the compost bin. The surprise came when, as the season progressed, the tomato seedlings actually thrived.

Having struggled and failed to grow tomatoes in the past I was initially skeptical, but once I saw that these volunteers were vigorously extending green leafy vines I was impressed. When they actually started flowering I rushed to the garden store and bought wire tomato cages to support this unanticipated growth.

At present the little pile of dirt is almost obscured by an unruly tangle of vines and furry green leaves. Rows of little green orbs are replacing the yellow flowers, and a few of these unripe fruits are starting to turn various shades of yellow, orange and red.

Amazing!

After years of disappointment it looks like this may be the summer that I actually harvest tomatoes from my garden.

So what do I do with this unexpected bounty? I’ll make a traditional snack from Catalunya called Pa Am Tomàquet, of course.

Coleman Andrews includes a version of this traditional preparation in his book Catalan Cuisine: Vivid Flavors From Spain’s Mediterranean Coast ($17.95).

Pa Am Tomàquet (Catalan Tomato Bread)

1-2 thick slices of country style French or Italian bread or sourdough bread (the better the bread, the better the final result).

1 small-medium sized fresh tomato at peak ripeness.

Mild extra virgin Olive Oil.

Salt.

2-4 anchovy fillets and/or 1-2 slices of Jamón Serrano.

Grill bread lightly. Slice tomato in half and rub cut side on bread to coat with tomato pulp and juice (discard tomato skin). Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Top with anchovy or Jamón and serve.

Pair this classic appetizer with a green salad and a glass of wine for a very satisfying lunch. What wine to serve here, you ask? Read on.

Vinos Rosados:

Muga Rosado 2006 $12.99 We’ve been waiting anxiously for this new vintage to arrive, and while we are happy to finally get a chance to enjoy one of the best rosado wines of the summer we know that it won’t last long due to its stellar reputation and high customer demand.

This pale salmon colored blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo and Viura makes a wonderful companion to lighter food as well as being supremely refreshing on a hot afternoon.

Vega Sindoa Rosado 2006 $9.99 The new vintage of this rosado from D.O. Navarra (the traditional home of Spanish rosado) is a blend of half Garnacha and half Cabernet Sauvignon. Ripe berry aromas and flavors give this wine a bit of extra depth and boldness, making it a perfect wine for paella or other summer meals

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Vinos Blancos:

Abad Dom Bueno Godello 2006 $16.99 D.O. Bierzo is known primarily as a red wine region, but this Bierzo region white wine is made from the local Godello grape that is more common in neighboring D.O. Valdeorras. This yellow gold colored wine is fermented in temperature controlled tanks that preserve all the fresh citrus and melon aromas that are typical of the Godello grape. Bright acidity adds to the refreshing quality that makes this such a perfect accompaniment to composed salads, pasta or poultry as well as a full range of seafood.

Broadbent Vinho Verde $10.99 An excellent example of top quality Vinho Verde. Composed of 50% Loureiro, 40% Trajadura and 10% Padernã it is light in color with lemon and grapefruit aromas. On the palate it offers more citrus as well as a bit of flinty minerality carried along by slight effervescence that makes the wine refreshing and easy to drink.

Soalheiro Vinho Verde 2006 $21.99 Typically, Vinho Verde is light, spritzy and simple non-vintage wine. These days, as people discover the joys of Vinho Verde we are seeing more and more higher priced wines from this region. Soalheiro is a vintage wine produced from the Alvarinho (Albariño in Spain = Alvarinho in Portugal) grape. Well known in Portugal as a top shelf Vinho Verde, this wine is just starting to find a market here in the USA. Flinty mineral background lays a foundation for light floral aroma and bright citrus fruit character. This finely detailed and multi-layered wine cries out for choriço and clams, salt cod and potatoes or other such traditional Portuguese fare.

Vinos Tintos:

Primi 2005 $9.99 One of our favorite wines to serve with paella has just arrived in the new 2005 vintage. This young un-aged Tempranillo from D.O.C. Rioja is juicy and bright. Ruby red color and fresh berry aroma form the basic picture with added complexity coming from the light grape skin tannins.

Cune Crianza 2004 $17.99 If you go to Rioja and walk into any small bar and request a glass of vino tinto, chances are you will be served this wine. This blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo is aged for two years (12 months in American oak barrels and 12 months in the bottle) before sale. The new 2004 vintage shows dark garnet color with black cherry fruit character and balanced oaky tannins that combine to create a picture perfect example of crianza Rioja.

Sergio Traverso Malbec/Syrah 2004 $10.99 A new Argentine wine from Sergio Traverso is now available in the 2004 vintage. Dark color is the first clue that this is a big wine, and the rich aroma and flavor backs up the initial perception, but with a bit of exposure to oxygen the more subtle characteristics of this wine emerge. The final impression is of a robust, well made red for serving with grilled meat and vegetables.

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Filed under Argentina, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, Uncategorized, White Wine