Tag Archives: dios baco

Small Drinks

Past experience has shown that in the beginning of the year, after all the gifts have been given/received and the parties have been thrown/attended, what is most desired is a small glass of something delicious to drink after the sun goes down at around 4:30 in the afternoon.  Once the holiday indulgence has been dispensed with, many of us move into a “small is beautiful” state of mind when it comes to our taste in wines. A little snifter of aged Tawny Port or maybe  a ‘copita’ of amber tinted Amontillado Sherry are the preferred drinks for a season of dampness and darkness, hopefully enjoyed in the comfort of home. Traditionalists may opt for the wing back chair, hard bound book and crackling fire for the full effect. Modernists get to a similar place with a comfy sofa, iPad and flat screen TV tuned to playoffs. Whatever your personal style, know that at The Spanish Table you will find a fine selection of wines best enjoyed in small quantities. Conveniently these wines also come in small format bottles, making them quite affordable too. Here are just a few among the many options available to you either in our shops or by mail through our web site.

15yr_oloroso_maestro__57835El Maestro Sierra Oloroso Sherry
El Maesto Sierra is a small family owned Sherry producer. They make a range of wines, from dry to sweet. They specialize in Sherry  with more age than is typical for the region. Maestro Sierra Oloroso is a dark, nutty Oloroso that spent 15 years in the winery before bottling. Toasted walnut aroma and gentle brandied raisin fruit character are what you find here. $17.99 (375 ml)

px_diosbaco__18319Dios Baco PX Sherry
The wines of Dios Baco are perennial favorites at The Spanish Table. Their nutty, dry Amontillado is delicious as is this dark and sweet Pedro Ximenez Sherry, sold in small bottles. Figs, dates and raisins are what you taste when sipping a small glass of this dense, aromatic wine. It also makes a fabulous match with chocolate truffles. $15.99 (500 ml)

 

otima_10_year_tawny__23444Warre’s Otima 10 year Tawny Port Warre’s, a long established Port producer with a stellar reputation, makes this Tawny Port that blends wine from numerous vintages with the final blend averaging 10 years in age. Spice cake aromas blend seamlessly with sweet red plum fruit character. This bright, complex, medium fruity Port wine will compliment a wide range of circumstances. Pair it with ripe cheeses, fruit desserts or shortbread cookies. It is also delicious all by itself. $23.99 (500 ml)

 

img_3774__92859Barbeito VB Madeira This is a rare blended Madeira that combines Verdelho and Boal grapes. Varietal names are not permitted on Madeira labels unless the wine contains at least 85% of the varietal in question, thus this wine is labeled ‘VB’ as a sort of coded  allusion to what is in the bottle. Two single casks of wine, one of 2001 Verdelho and another of 2003 Boal were aged separately and blended by Ricardo Freitas in roughly equal proportions (a bit more Verdelho than Boal) to create a medium dry wine with the bright acidity and dry nutty character of the Verdelho balancing the darker, richer, light raisiny character of the Boal. $42.99 (500 ml)

Cooking Classes

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The good folks at Kitchen On Fire cooking school have invited us back for another series of Spanish cooking classes. In the next few months you have several opportunities to get some hands-on experience making (and eating!) traditional Spanish food.
On Monday February 21st 2011, join me, Kevin Hogan (TST Berkeley’s wine buyer), as I share my passion for cooking in Spanish terracotta cookware. We will make several appetizers, a main dish and dessert, all prepared in Spanish clay cazuelas. This fun,informal evening is both a class and a full meal. Details and registration are to be had here: https://www.kitchenonfire.com/classes/view/id/1389/

On Monday April 11th I will once again offer the ever-popular Paella class. This is your chance to get hands-on experience making a big Paella as well as several classic tapas and a light dessert. Come with an empty stomach and an open mind. You will be rewarded with a plateful of paella wisdom. More information and on-line sign up can be found at www.kitchenonfire.com ( not yet up on the calendar as of this moment. Call 510-548-2655 for registration and details).

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Filed under events, Fortified Wine, Misc.Wine, Portugal

Popularity Contest

This weekend many of us will devote ourselves to a trade association’s annual awards ceremony that, over the years, has grown into the enormous spectacle known as ‘The Oscars’.

I love movies as much as anyone (heck, I was a film student in college), but I am always surprised at our collective desire to participate in the Academy Awards. To my jaded eye, the whole thing is a big budget version of ‘salesman of the year’.

You see, back in my corporate days (after I realized that the filmmaker thing was not working out, but before I decided to chuck it all in and sell wine for a living) I was the guy behind the curtain pressing buttons and flipping switches for innumerable awards ceremonies. It didn’t matter who was getting awarded. Realtors, software developers and athletic footwear marketers all got the same thrill out of a bit of recognition and popularity backed up by fog machines, wiggly lights and big screen video images of themselves all choreographed to (almost invariably) Tina Turner’s ‘Simply The Best‘ blasting from an oversized sound system.

Now we find ourselves in the era of the ‘social network’ where popularity and celebrity have moved into a whole new sphere.

On the internet these days everyone has the same questions:

“Will you ‘follow’ me?”

“Will you ‘friend’ me?”

“Will you ‘link’ to me?”

The personal is now public and the ability to attract a crowd, an audience, a fan base has become a goal for many of us as we go about our daily lives.  Internet sites like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Myspace have created opportunities for sophisticated self promotion that were previously only available to bona fide celebrities (movie stars, musicians, politicians and so forth) who accept, grudgingly at times,  that public exposure is a part of their job. Thanks to the internet we can now all look forward to not just 15 minutes of fame but a whole lifetime in the spotlight, if we wish.

All this seeking of approval got me thinking about the relative popularity of wines from The Spanish Table (yes, I can turn anything into a wine question). Looking back over the last year or so I can definitely point to numerous wines that have met with great popular success. Few of these wines were supported by high scores or glowing reviews in the wine press but nonetheless, with a little encouragement on our part, these wines have found their way into your shopping basket and onto your table over and over again. So today I offer you a ‘greatest hits’ selection (by no means complete) of some customer favorites here in Berkeley.

Obra Roble 2006 This lightly oaked Tempranillo from DO Ribera del Duero sells out regularly here.  Darkly tinted and abundant with earthy aroma and ripe berry fruit character, this wine from Bodegas J.C. Conde, known for their much more expensive ‘Neo’, is a well priced expression of typical Spanish style from this well loved region. $10.99

Peñafiel Joven 2004 This really is a wine that people buy by the box. Our most popular ‘house wine’ is an unoaked Tempranillo from DO Ribera del Duero. The years have been kind to this wine. The juicy, assertive flavor has softened with age, creating a smooth wine with gentle fruit character (more mulberry than blackberry) and dusty minerality. $6.99

D’Abbatis Blanc de Blanc 2005 This bone dry vintage sparkler, made from 100% Parellada (one of the traditional Cava grapes) is toasty and crisp with fine bubbles and yeasty aroma. A hint of grapefruit and green apple add complexity and balance to this sparkling wine that always sells out quickly. $17.99

Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado I would be remiss if I did not mention this well loved and darkly tinted bubbly wine even though I just put it in the newsletter (again) last week. This berry scented yet still dry and refreshing Cava not only looks great in the glass but also offers up classic Cava aroma and flavor at a very reasonable price. $14.99

Fefiñanes Albariño 2007 America has recently realized that Spain makes excellent white wines. The grape responsible for this awakening is Albariño and in DO Rías Baixas few Albariños are as well made as Fefiñanes. This is to be expected as they have been making wine in this region longer than just about everyone else. This is a finely balanced wine that blends lean minerality with tart citrus fruit character. Crisp and refreshing, this top shelf Albariño has been a great success vintage after vintage. $24.99

Dios Baco Amontillado In the Jerez region of southern Spain, a small glass of dry Sherry is  the cocktail of choice. Here in the USA Jerez wines have suffered from years of misperception (no, Sherry is not all treacle sweet), but thanks to wines like Dios Baco Amontillado that stereotype is starting to fade from view. This amber/gold colored wine is nutty and dry, with just a hint of raisiny fruit character in the background. Customers at The Spanish Table have chosen this wine year after year as a favorite choice when just a little glass of something delicious is in order. $22.99

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

Embrace Tradition

Part of the fun of shopping at The Spanish Table is discovering new wines from little known regions and remote corners of Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Chile. As much as we all love trying new things, sometimes a return to the traditional styles/regions/products that first excited our interest in all things Iberian is a good way to recalibrate our palates and remind ourselves of the origins of all this newness.

This week we are featuring some of the most traditional wines of Spain.

Bodegas Lopez de Heredia is widely acknowledged as the most traditional, the ultra-orthodox, the oldest of old-school wineries in all of Rioja. They make wines as they have done for over 100 years. Only traditional Rioja varietals are used and these grapes are blended in proportions that remain unchanged over time. Modern, temperature controlled stainless steel fermentation tanks are nowhere to be seen in the Lopez de Heredia winery. Instead, they make all their wines in large oak casks that are built and maintained by a staff of expert coopers (not too many of those around any more). The wines are built for long term storage and, as you will see from the vintage dates, are released only after many years of barrel and bottle ageing. The ‘new’ vintages we received this week are from 1996, 1997 and 1998.

This week we are also featuring an Oloroso Sherry that got written up in the San Francisco Chronicle last week, inspiring a reawakening of interest for this most traditional of Spanish wines. Additionally, we just received some new vintages of wines that build on a foundation of historic traditional while expressing a breadth of aroma and flavor that are rejuvenating wine regions which for years have lain dormant and neglected.

So take a step back from your interest in all things new (don’t worry, there’s plenty of new stuff on the way soon) and reacquaint yourself with the classic flavors of Spanish wine, and while you are at it, try (or retry) this version of one of Spain’s most iconic recipes.

Tortilla Española

(serves 6-8 as a first course)

1 lb. Potatoes ( I like Yukon gold or russet, but use what you have as long as they aren’t red or white skinned ‘jacket’ potatoes)

8 large eggs (if you can get ‘pastured’ eggs, they work best and are distinctly more flavorful. Look for them from Kaki Farms at the Berkeley farmer’s market)

2 tablespoons cold water

2 cups extra virgin Olive Oil (sounds like a lot, but you don’t consume it all)

1 tablespoon sea salt

Peel and slice the potatoes in 1/8 inch rounds. (a mandolin slicer works well for this, just be careful with this very sharp tool). Place potato slices in a bowl of water for 5 minutes to rinse off the starch and then dry them on a kitchen towel.

Heat olive oil in an 8” nonstick sauté pan or clay cazuela. Add potatoes as the oil is heating and simmerover low heat for around 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and starting to fall apart (try not to brown them). Remove cooked potatoes from the oil and drain in a colander.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk with the water and salt until smooth and uniform.

When the potatoes are barely warm to the touch, add them to the eggs and let the mixture rest for ten minutes.

Pour off all but ½ cup of olive oil from the sauté pan (you can save the leftover oil for another tortilla). Heat the pan until the oil shimmers but does not smoke. Add the potato/egg mixture to the hot oil and stir the contents of the pan with a spatula until the eggs are about half way set. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking without stirring until the eggs are mostly set and firm. The goal here is to cook the eggs without browning them. If the finished product is pale yellow with just a hint of browning and cooked through but still moist, then you are an official tortilla expert.

Find a plate that fits snuggly over your pan or cazuela (a flat pan lid works well too). Invert the plate on top of the pan and with one hand on the pan and the other hand on the plate (here comes the tricky part) flip the pan over in one smooth motion. Hopefully, the entire tortilla is now resting on the plate. Put the pan back on the heat and add a few tablespoons of the leftover oil before sliding the inverted tortilla back into the pan, cooked side up. Turn the heat to low and let the tortilla finish cooking on the second side. Once it is firm to the touch, slide it out onto a serving plate, slice into wedges (or little squares for a traditional look) and serve with some dressed salad greens and a crisp white wine.

Vino Rosado:

Viña Tondonia Rosado 1997 $26.99 The latest vintage of this truly unique rosado is created (as it always has been) from a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and white Viura. Unlike almost all other rosado wines, this one is aged for 4 years in oak before bottling and aged for several more years in the bottle before release. Oxidized sherry-like aromas of toasted almonds and fresh hay. Distinct yet well integrated barrel tannins add complexity to the surprisingly fresh berry-like fruit character.

Vino Blanco:

Viña Gravonia 1996 $26.99 Composed of 100% Viura, aged for 2 years in oak and 8 years in the bottle. I love the sesame seed aroma and flavor that I get from this wine. It mixes well with the assertive acidity and complex yet mellow fruit character. Josh Raynolds reviewed this wine for Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. He rated this wine at 90 Points, saying: “Yellow-gold. Musky, mineral-accented peach, yellow plum and honey aromas, with a suave vanillin nuance adding complexity. Plush and deep in pit fruit and ripe melon flavors, with a gentle acid lift adding focus. Slow-mounting citrus notes provide refreshment on the finish but this has serious heft and needs to be served with food. There’s a lot going on here.”

Nosis Verdejo 2006 $18.99 It was not so long ago that Verdejo wines from D.O. Rueda were astringent, over oxidized and musty. Changes in production methods have helped create wines of great character that exhibit fresh fruit aromas and flavors along with bright and food-friendly acidity. Nosis is one of the best of these modern Rueda region wines. The new 2006 vintage is exemplary.

Vino Tinto:

Viña Tondonia Reserva 1998 $40.99 This deeply structured red wine is made from a traditional blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, aged for 5 years in oak before bottling without filtration. With a few more years of bottle age (or after decanting for a few hours) this wine will reveal a core of dark cherry-like fruit that compliments the firmly tannic barrel character. Josh Raynolds also reviewed this wine for Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. In October of 2006 he rated this wine at 93 Points, saying: “Dark red. Penetrating, complex bouquet of red berries, cherry skin, minerals, dried rose, tobacco , cured meat and baking spices. Youthfully taut, but opens slowly to show de ep cherry and plum flavors with suggestions of succulent herbs and graphite. This medium-bodied wine broadens on the back, the intensely flavored fruit softening and sweetening. A remarkably elegant, balanced and complex wine that’s still very young : I’d give it at least another five years of bottle aging.”

Embruix 2004 $37.99 In the ancient but recently rejuvenated Priorat region, the musician Luis Llach is commonly referred to as the ‘Catalan Bob Dylan’. He is also a well known and respected winemaker. Embruix is his younger wine (the flagship wine is called Vall Llach) made from a blend of old vine Garnacha and Cariñena with additions of younger Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Nearly opaque garnet in color with rich brandied cherry aroma and fruit character. This smooth, elegant wine is an excellent example of the local style at a very reasonable price relative to some of its neighbors.

Vino de Solera:

Dios Baco Oloroso 18.99 Few wines from Spain are more traditional than the Jerez wines from Andalucía. Lately, our best selling Oloroso Sherry (Sherry = Jerez) has been getting some good press. Last week, Jon Bonné from the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about this wine for the In Our Glasses section saying: “Whoever said that sherry was wine for grandmothers should be gagged. Oloroso sherries get more air contact and fortification than finos, and this dazzling example from one of Jerez’s smaller producers mixes deep caramel with baked apple and mineral notes. A sweet hint from added Moscatel wine offsets the trademark tang. Its balance and versatility match it to everything from Chinese takeout to fruit tarts.

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