Tag Archives: garnacha

What The Heart Wants

“It is the nature of desire not to be satisfied”.
That famous line from Aristotle is never more true than in the wine world where opinions and perceptions are in constant flux. The popularity of certain wines and various styles of winemaking change with the times, always in response to the desires of the wine drinking public.
Not so long ago rosado wines were considered by many to be sweet, simple, silly wines for summertime picnics. In just the last few years this perception has shifted dramatically. At The Spanish Table we now stock rosado all year long, in a variety of styles from numerous regions in Spain and Portugal. They range in hue from pale coral to ripe watermelon and express a spectrum of aromas and flavors. They can be dry or fruity, floral or mineral, ripe or lean.
Here are a few suggestions to dovetail with the arrival of Valentine’s Day. These are all fabulous representations of the broad range of exceptional pink wines available today at The Spanish Table. Try one of these with a special someone for a memorable Valentine’s Day experience.

img_4081__882672009 Gran Feudo Rosado

Bodegas Julian Chivite’s Gran Feudo Rosado is a classic Navarra region rosado.. It is a popular favorite in Spain as well as here in the USA. Made from all Garnacha grapes, this traditionally styled wine displays strawberry and watermelon aromas with bright acidity and a touch of minerality to tie everything together. This lightly fruity rosado wine makes for some classic Spanish refreshment.

 

 

2008_rosado_gurrutxaga__238642009 Gurrutxaga Rosado
An alternative to traditional white Txakoli, 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. Chill this and serve as you would a traditional Txakoli. You will be surprised how quickly this low alcohol wine disappears.


img_3694__64451Raventos de Nit Rosado Cava

Raventos i Blanc is a true pioneer of Cava production (this family winery was making sparkling wine before the name Cava existed). Their new vintage rosado cava is phenomenal. Adding 15% Monastrell to the traditional cava blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo tints the wine with the palest pink hue. Fine bubbles lift the yeasty brioche aroma from the glass. The barest hint of strawberry flavor adds context to the dry, crisp, pinpoint precise style that Raventos i Blanc is known for.


rosebrut_montferrant__65586Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado Cava

This rosado cava is a deliciously berry scented yet still dry and refreshing cava that not only looks great in the glass but also offers up classic cava aroma and flavor at a reasonable price. Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado is blend of Garnacha & Monastrell. Darker than many this has a huge following in both stores. Bright strawberry and blackberry flavors, with notes of toast, tangerine and a creamy mousse on the palate.

Portuguese Pink

Our selection of pink wines include several crowd pleasing options from Portugal. These uniquely delicious wines will add a distinctive note to festive meals and get togethers.

img_3683__65991Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Rosé
Aveleda recently released this pink version of their most popular brand, Casal Garcia. Low alcohol and light effervescence are reminiscent of traditional white Vinho Verde. The pale pink hue and light berry aroma are a nice change of pace from the regular version. This spritzy, lightly fruity wine makes a wonderful start to a festive brunch or dinner party.

Luis Pato Espumante Rosé
Luis Pato, famous in Portugal for his bold red wines made from the indigenous Baga grape, has turned his attention to this unusual sparkling img_0205__51706Baga rosé. To produce this wine the grapes are harvested about six weeks early, which means that they have high acidity and low sugars, perfect for a refreshing sparkling wine. It shows pale watermelon color and flavors of tart cherries, pink grapefruit and the trademark earthiness and spice of Portuguese red wines.  All of these flavors are balanced out by bright acidity and foundational minerality.

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Filed under Portugal, rosado, Spain, Sparkling Wine

A Trip To Caliberia

The Spanish Table in Berkeley just received a batch of new Caliberian wines, but before you start planning a visit to the region I should warn you that there is no such a place, or rather, that place is right here, all around us. ‘Caliberian’ is the name we have given to our new collection of red, white and rosado wines composed of Iberian grape varieties grown in local soils. In honor of Independence Day we are offering up a bunch of Spanish/Portuguese styled wines that are made right here in America. We have Albariño from Monterey County and Verdelho from the Central Valley for whites and a red blend of Tempranillo/Garnacha from Lake County as well as a Tinta Roriz/Touriga/Tinto Cão blend from the Santa Cruz Mountains. In all we have over a dozen selections made by local producers working with small (miniscule, really) quantities of fruit from the patchwork of Iberian grape varieties planted all across the state. Caliberian wines are not yet well known, but based on these early results this style will grow significantly in years to come. If you are a domestic wine aficionado this is your chance to celebrate American independence with an Iberian accent. If you love the wines of Spain and Portugal, now is your opportunity to re-Cali-brate your perspective on domestic wines.


2009 Bonny Doon Albariño Sourced from a small parcel of Albariño located in the Salinas Valley that is farmed according to the principals of biodynamic viticulture (Demeter certified), this crisp white wines exhibits classic Albariño minerality and tart citrus fruit character. Bright acidity coupled with a moderate (12.8%) level of alcohol make this a perfect summertime wine to serve with raw vegetables, composed salads and simple seafood preparations. $15.99

2009 Caliberico Verdelho Urbanite Cellars makes this wine in the Central Valley town of Galt, within the Lodi AVA, where the white grape of Azorean origin called Verdelho produces bright, refreshing wines with melon/citrus fruit character, round, mouth filling texture and background notes of ginger snaps and spice cake. Low 12.2 % alcohol makes this a perfect cocktail white served as a welcoming apperitivo or at the beginnning of a meal accompanied by marinated vegetables and fried appetizers such as Croquete de Bacalhau. $15.99

2009 Odisea Dream Albariño Several organically farmed vineyards in the Clement Hills subzone of the Lodi AVA are the source of this 100% Albariño wine. Produced in small quantities (336 cases in total) by the Odisea Wine Company (actually just two guys, Adam Webb and Mike Kuenz) this unoaked varietal Albariño was one of the favorites at a recent tasting with The Spanish Table staff. We all appreciated the low 12.5% alcohol as well as the balance and varietal typicity of this tangy, fresh white wine. Grapefruit aroma? Check. Flinty minerality? Check. Gentle background notes of melon and white peach? Check and check. This has everything you want in a good Albariño along with the surprising element of local provenance. Fish tacos with salsa verde are a mighty tasty pairing with this wine. $14.99

2007 Odisea Two Rows Garnacha One of the first  “Caliberian’ wines that we tried a few vintages back, this blend of 85% Garnacha from the Sierra foothills along with 15% Tempranillo from the same location is a fine example of Spanish style and technique applied to California wine. This small production wine (168 cases in total) eschews the extensive use of new oak in favor of brief periods of time in previously used barrels. The dark berry fruit is never obscured by sawmill aroma, allowing the varietal character to shine through. This expressive red wine exhibits just a hint of cedary barrel character, supporting notes of black cherry and mulberry along with background minerality. This juicy mouthful of a wine will work well with grilled anything, but try it with cider brined double-cut pork chops grilled over fruit wood. That’s the stuff! $18.99

2007 Quinta Cruz Concertina This dark, expressive red wine, made in homage to the Vinho Tinto of Portugal’s Douro Valley, is sourced from a small vineyard in the San Antonio AVA of Monterey County. The wine is a blend of traditional Portuguese varieties including Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinto Cão. Opaque garnet color and earthy aromas lead onward to dark berry fruit character and rocky minerality. Firm tannins give this wine a bit of old-school Portuguese style.  $19.99

2005 Tejada Tinto This Tempranillo and Garnacha blend from Lake County is our best selling domestic red wine. A single six acre vineyard located in a small mountain cove surrounded by manzanita covered hills and watered by a seasonal waterfall at its eastern boundry is the source for the grapes here. The roughly equal blend is weighted towards a bit more Tempranillo than Garnacha. In true Spanish style the wine is first aged in oak (12-16 months) followed by several years in the bottle before release. Savory aromas of earth and fine grained oak support pie cherry fruit character. A pop of tart acidity makes for a very food friendly wine that will best accompany cured meats, grilled chorizo sausage or a big pan of Paella. $21.99

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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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Kosher For Passover – Kosher Le Pesaj

Kosher wines from Capcanes
Celler de Capcanes is a pioneer among Montsant region bodegas. They began as a farm cooperative in 1933, went through a phase as a bulk wine source for Torres and other larger wineries before bottling wine under their own labels starting in the 1990s. They are best known for expressive Garnacha based reds such as Mas Donis, Costers del Gravet and Cabrida. In 1995 they began making Kosher wines in a separate facility supervised by local Rabbis. The two wines are “Lo Mevushal – Kosher Le Pesaj” (non-meshuval-Kosher for Passover). They are the best Spanish Kosher wines that I have tried among the dozen or so that are produced.

2007 Peraj Petita The younger of the Capcanes Kosher wines is a mulberry hued blend of 60% Garnacha, 20% Tempranillo and 20% Samso (Carinena). The varieties are fermented together before a small portion (15% more or less) is drawn off and aged in barrel of 10 months, after which the final blend is briefly aged in tank before bottling. The fresh, tangy (classic Garnacha) fruit character of the wine finds counterpoint in gently persistent tannins and underlying minerality. $26.99
2005 Peraj Ha’abib Flor de Primavera The flagship Kosher wine from Capcanes is this dark, brooding, rich red. Made up of 35% old vine Garnacha, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Samso (Carinena), the varieties are fermented together before the blend is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. The inky dark color indicates the style of this wine. Ripe berry fruit character blends with tannic oak, dense tannins, and notes of pepper and flinty minerality. $58.00

New Vintages of Gran Feudo from Julian Chivite
Bodegas Julian Chivite is the oldest winery in the Navarra region of Northern Spain. The original winery was established in the town of Cintruenigo in 1637. More recently, in the nineteen sixties, Julian Chivite Marco (1910-1997) was instrumental in the establishment of the Navarra D.O. (denominacion de origen). Today, Bodegas Julian Chivite is one of the most respected wineries in Spain, and produces several wines under the Gran Feudo label as well as small production reserve wines under the Chivite Coleccion 125  brand. All Chivite wines show remarkable balance and finesse.

2004 Gran Feudo Crianza This wine is composed of a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged in French and American oak barrels for twelve months, with further aging in the bottle before release. In the glass, Gran Feudo Crianza is bright cherry red with a pale violet rim. Aromas of sweet oak and dried fruit blend seamlessly with soft flavors of dried plum and cherry. The small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon gives the wine structure, but not so much as to detract from the lighter bodied Tempranillo character. The new vintage is nicely priced at $13.99
2003 Gran Feudo Reserva This Reserva wine spends 18 months in oak before bottling, giving the wine a rich texture and mature barrel tannins supporting dark berry fruit character. The wine is 80% Tempranillo with 10% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This mature red is drinking well right now, yet could be put down for an aditional 3-6 years to continue ageing in the bottle. The new vintage comes in at$17.99
2001 Coleccion 125 Reserva This wine comes from the superlative 2001 vintage and is composed of the best fruit from the Chivite estate vineyard in Alberin. Long, slow bottle maturation follows 14 months in French oak. The final result is a dark, expressive, elegant wine with mature character and great longevity. $43.99

These wines may be purchased online at www.spanishtablewines.com


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Online Wines

We have recently launched our wine site, www.spanishtablewines.com, so please take a look and let us know what you think.  Make sure to sign up for our separate wine newsletter to get a first look at great deals and hard to find wines.  We have a couple of initial offers just to whet your appetite.  And as an added benefit to our local customers, you can choose to pick up the wines in either our Berkeley or Mill Valley store as well.

2006 Artadi Vinas de Gain Rioja2006-vinas de gain-artadi.JPG92 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate & 91+ points International Wine Cellar, “Intensely perfumed, sexy bouquet of dark berries, fresh flowers and smoky minerals. Tactile and deep, offering powerful blackberry and mulberry flavors, chewy tannins and very good back-end minerality. Picks up sweet mocha, bitter cherry skin and candied licorice on the long, sappy finish. This wine is showing a more serious personality than I’ve ever seen at this stage.”

Regular retail is $34.99, but a limited offering at $24.99 while supplies last.

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2008 Tres Picos Garnacha – Year in and year out this wine gets amazing reviews.  Several stints on Wine Spectator’s top 100, 91 point reviews from Robert Parker the last 4 vintages and 90+ from International Wine Cellar (IWC). . .and all of this for a wine under $20.tres picos.jpg

The new vintage arrives this week and it already received an amazing 91 point write up from IWC, “Exotically perfumed bouquet of dark berry preserves, smoky minerals, potpourri and Indian spices, with a strong note of cracked pepper; smells like a high-end northern Rhone wine. Very spicy and tightly focused, offering juicy red and dark berry flavors and sexy notes of candied flowers and cocoa powder. Finishes with a wallop of sweet red berries and lingering, seductive spiciness; as ridiculous a value as one can find these days.”   $16.99

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Learning About Spain

The Wine Academy of Spain, an educational organization run by Pancho Campo (Spain’s first Master of Wine) stopped in San Francisco last week as part of a US tour currently wrapping up in Washington DC.
I joined a group of Spanish wine enthusiasts for the three day seminar that covered all of Spain’s regions, grapes and winemaking styles. I got to brush up on my Spanish wine knowledge and tried many new wines as well as some familiar favorites.
Esteban Cabezas and his crew did a fabulous job of squeezing a ton of information into a short space of time. I gleaned all sorts of tidbits of information that I will be sharing with you in the days and weeks to come.
My thanks and appreciation go out to The Wine Academy of Spain and to Catavino for sponsoring my attendance to the seminar (I won the scholarship for my why-I-love-Spanish-wine blog entry). Hopefully I passed the exam and in a few weeks will have a handsome Spanish Wine Educator certificate to hang on the wall.
I retried a few wines at the Wine Academy of Spain course that are making a repeat appearance here as a result of a good showing at the seminar. Check out this week’s wine notes for the Aria Brut Cava, Gramona Imperial Cava and the red Fra Guerau Monsant. They are now back in stock and drinking beautifully.

Espelt Vailet 2007 After my recent trip to the Empordá region of Spain (up along the French border on the Mediterranean side) I have been eagerly buying all the wine from this little known, rocky, sparsely populated corner of the globe. A few weeks back we featured the red from Espelt as well as the rosado. The white wine from Espelt has just come back in stock and I recommend it this week as a new option for those seeking bright, fresh white wines with distinctive character. The blend is 60% Garnacha Blanca and 40% Macabeo (Viura for you white Rioja fans). Crisp minerality is supplemented here with a bit of green herb and citrus character. $12.99
Aria Brut This Cava has been a well loved favorite and is finally back in stock here in Berkeley. This frothy blend of the three traditional Cava grapes (Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada)presents a fresh, balanced side of Cava with a bit of green apple fruit adding counterpoint to the mineral foundation. $10.99
Gramona Imperial 2004 For those who appreciate the complexity of long aged Cava, this vintage sparkler is always a welcome sight. 3-4 year of cellar age gives this wine a very Champagne-like character. Adding 10% Chardonnay to the blend of 50% Xarel-lo and 40% Macabeo adds to the similarity with French bubbly. Yeasty brioche aroma, an elegant mineral backnote and a bit of brandied fruit on the finish. $31.99
Fra Guerau 2003 This was one of the first wines that caught my attention back when I started with The Spanish Table. I recently retasted Fra Guerau and was reminded of the pure pleasure that comes from this blend of numerous grapes (Syrah, Garnacha, Cariñena, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Monastrell) from the Montsant region. Dark garnet color, sweet berry fruit character and well integrated barrel character (thanks to several years of bottle age) make this an easy wine to pair with all kinds of food. $13.99
Zaumau Priorat 2008 Carlos Escolar make miniscule quantities of wine in DOC Priorat. Old vine Garnacha and Samsó (the local name for Cariñena) are blended here in an unoaked red that expresses the rocky terruño of the region in a pure, darkly colored, ripely fruited style. Foregoing the barrel ageing regimen brings the price down significantly for this wine from a region not known for bargains. $17.99
Viña Lanciano Reserva 2001 Nothing says ‘Spain’ quite like a slowly matured Tempranillo from Rioja. This wine,from the superlative 2001 vintage, is composed of the best estate grown fruit from Bodegas LAN. Two years in the barrel followed by 5 years resting in the bottle in the cellar have created an elegant, traditional wine that blends tannic oak with tart cherry fruit character. Aromas of fresh earth, cured meat and wood smoke add depth and nuance to this excellent example of old school Rioja. $28.99

TapasWalk In The News

Last Sunday the San Francisco Chronicle ran a feature on the Spanish wine & food walking tour that I do called TapasWalk. Using my tour as an example, Janet Fletcher wrote a detailed piece on the burgeoning tapas scene now happening in downtown San Francisco. “In this new little world straddling North Beach, the Financial District and Russian Hill,” Fletcher wrote, “a Bay Area tapas enthusiast with good walking shoes can do the sort of bar hopping that many Spaniards enjoy nightly.” She included a lexicon of useful terminology for those less familar with Spanish cuisine as well as a few recipes for traditional tapas that you can make at home (with a few ingredients from The Spanish Table, of course). If you missed it in the paper last week you can still read the article online here.


Txakolí Wisdom


In tandem with last week’s San Francisco Chronicle article by Janet Fletcher about the downtown tapas scene, Jon Bonné put together a detailed and up-to-date summary of the current state of Basque Txakolí wine. If you have yet to experience the distinct joy of Txakolí, this article tells you all you need to know to get started. We carry all the Txakolí wines and (just between you and me) we even have some of the elusive Txakolí rosado still in stock.

Txakolí Etiquette

If you have visited San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque Country you probably noticed how the local bartenders pour the Txakolí wine with an outstretched arm from high overhead. Now our good friends from Vinos Unico have made an instructional video that shows just how to pour Txakolí like a pro. Check them out here:


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Favorites, Old and New

The culinary traditions of Spain and Portugal are changing how we eat here in the USA. As these flavors work their way into the hearts, minds and palates of those of us not fortunate enough to have been born into these cultures, we learn to appreciate the new ingredients and preparations as well as the variations within specific regional styles.
As soon as we discover the distinct joy of, for example, Paella, we learn that this iconic Spanish dish is made in dramatically different styles from one part of Spain to the next. “Paella must include chorizo” says one expert. “Paella must never be made with chorizo” says another. According to many regional cooks “Paella made with anything other than rabbit and snails should not be called Paella”. And so it goes, with each individual cook claiming the mantle of authenticity.
Wines too can be the subject of passionate debate due to the numerous stylistic choices made by Spanish and Portuguese winemakers. ‘Tradition’ versus ‘Innovation’ is just the entry point into detailed discussions of style and character within a specific wine region.
At The Spanish Table we like to offer a broad choice to fit every palate, so we try not to take sides. To use this week’s wine selections as examples, we have a new Vinho Verde that offers a fresh new effort from a traditional winery. We have a new Txakolí that may change a few perceptions about what Basque white wine can be. Our newest red wine discovery comes from the Vinos de Madrid region, yet tastes unlike anything else we have previously tried from this part of Spain.
So please enjoy our newest selections in wine, knowing that there is more to choose from, with new discoveries arriving every week.

Trajarinho 2008 Summertime is perfect Vinho Verde weather. This traditional style of Portuguese white wine is crisp and dry with residual effervescence. Our newest Vinho Verde, from the same winemakers as the well loved Muralhas de Monção is a blend of Trajadura and Alvarinho. Put the two together and you get…Trajarinho (clever, no?). Bright grapefruit and lime flavors blend well with crisp mineral back notes and light but persistent spritzy effervescence. $10.99

Itsas Mendi 2008 Basque Txakolí has gone from relative obscurity to cult wine status in just a few short years. We just received the newest vintage of Itsas Mendi, an excellent Txakolí made by Ana Martín, a Basque winemaker who is also one of Spain’s best known wine consultants. After establishing her reputation for top quality red wines in Rioja with Señorio de Cuzcurrita and in Ribera del Duero with Traslanzas, she returned home and started Itsas Mendi. This wine is fuller and rounder than other Txakolí wines. The lean, spritzy grapefruit character has been traded in for richer texture and notes of white peach and apricot. This well balanced offering will appeal to Albariño and Godello appreciators. $25.99

Viña Herminia Tempranillo 2007 Bodegas Aldeanueva makes Herminia from 100% Tempranillo. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel (no oak barrels) helps retain the fresh berry fruit character of the wine. Dark garnet colored, Viña Herminia displays ripe berry aroma and abundant, youthful fruit character. The new vintage has come in at a significant discount over previous years. $9.99

Camino de Navaherreros Garnacha 2008 The ‘Vin Natural’ movement in France is thriving while in Spain this style of wine is only starting to appear. Bodegas Bernabeleva, located in the unassuming Vinos de Madrid region farms bio-dynamically and minimizes manipulation in the winery (no temperature control, only indigenous yeasts). Their 80 year old Garnacha vines produce small quantities of darkly expressive fruit that is used exclusively for this cloudy, dark red. Minerals, wild herbs and ripe blackberry flavors combine in this unfiltered and untamed wine. $12.99

Pago de Carraovejas Crianza 2006 Steve and Sharon (from the Seattle flagship store) just got back from visiting this winery in Spain. Sharon wrote this about the new wine: “This rare single vineyard Ribera del Duero red is a blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged for 12 months in oak barrels, it is an intense cherry color with purple tones. The nose is filled with ripe fruit aromas of black berries and spices. Flavors of tar and boysenberry slowly spread over the palate with glycerin contributing a rich fruity mouth feel. Well integrated oak, notes of coffee and cacao with supple tannins. Concentrated and intense, it has herbal notes with a smooth and persistent finish. A powerful and effusive wine, here is a rare opportunity to experience this wine outside of Spain.” $42.99

Pago de Carraovejas Reserva  2005 The Reserva version of Pago de Carraovejas uses the same estate grown,single vineyard fruit as the Crianza in a different blend. This wine is 78% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot. 12 months of barrel age is followed by 24 months in the bottle resting in the dark before release.Bold fruit character balances firm(at present) tannins. This structured, rich, assertive wine will age gracefully for years to come. $86.00



Paella Party in Mill Valley & Berkeley

Steve Winston is coming down from our flagship store in Seattle to make paella and sign copies of his new book. This is your chance to meet the man who started The Spanish Table and chat with him about all things related to the culinary traditions of Spain and Portugal.
Steve is a veritable treasure trove of food and wine esoterica. He has accumulated much of this knowledge in his new cook book. Stop in on Sunday August 9th at 1 pm (or Saturday August 8th in Mill Valley) to quiz him on what (and where) to eat in Spain and Portugal. While you are here you can sample his famous Paella (that’s right, FREE paella!) and pick up a signed copy of The Spanish Table Cookbook.
¡Buen provecho!

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Sense Of Place

Welcome back to our continuing Spanish wine round up. This week the glory that is Spanish regionalism is in full effect as we hopscotch around this diverse land tasting wines of all types and styles. This week the ever changing selection of new vino at The Spanish Table includes some traditional and familiar names, but also several white and red wines from parts of Spain that are only recently getting their fair share of attention. Each of these wines express the character and style of their respective regions. Read on to discover a half dozen uniquely delicious wines that will compliment your meals, excite your intellect and inspire your imagination.

Benaza Godello 2008 Benaza marks our first foray into the Monterrei region in Northwestern Spain. Mostly Godello with small additions of Doña Blanca and Treixadura, this white wine displays gentle aromas and flavors of white peach supported by slatey minerality. If you have enjoyed Albariño from Rías Baixas, this Monterrei region Godello should be your next new wine experience. $13.99

Talai Berri 2008 The 2008 Talai Berri Txacolí is now in stock. Lean minerality, tart citrus fruit character and slight effervescence combine to create a precise and intriguing white wine fashioned from the Basque grape called Hondarribi Zuri. Perfect summertime refreshment. $21.99

Odysseus Garnacha Blanca 2008 The new vintage of Odysseus Garnacha Blanca has just arrived. This white from DOC Priorat is initially dense and floral, then the mineral structure kicks in and balances the richness. This layered, complex wine is made in tiny quantities by the father and daughter team of Josep and Sylvia Puig at their Viñedos de Ithaca winery in Gratallops. $26.99

Finca Viladellops 2005 Vinícola Viladellops is a small family winery located in the DO Penedès village of Viladellops near Olèrdola and dates back to 1875. Finca Viladellops 2005, the flagship of this winery, is composed of 40% Garnacha along with 30% Syrah and 30% Marcelan (a French hybrid of Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha).  The addition of Syrah and Marcelan adds structure to the bright, cherry-like Garnacha. Savory barrel tannins are well integrated, with tart fruit character and flinty minerality coming forward as the wine opens. $18.99

Viladellops Garnacha & SMC 2006 The second wine from Vinicola Viladellops is composed primarily of Garnacha along with small additions of Syrah, Merlot and Cariñena (the ‘SMC’ of the title). The grapes in this rocky section of DO Penedès tend toward a lean, savory style which emphasizes the mineral notes in the wine as well as bright fruit character. $11.99

Ysios Reserva 2002 Ysios, the newly built bodega, designed by Santiago Calatrava and located in the Rioja town of Laguardia, makes only ‘Reserva’ level wines. Long slow maturation in oak barrels followed by several years of bottle age are requirements for Reserva Rioja. Estate grown Tempranillo is used exclusively here. The wine spent 14 months in barrel and has been in the bottle ever since. Over time the wine has taken on a light patina of age, delivering elegant, fully integrated barrel character and smooth, lightly oxidized fruit. This wine, normally twice this price but put on sale by the distributor to make room for the arrival of the new vintage, is available briefly here while the supply lasts. $14.99

A Plateful Of
Paella Wisdom



Steve Winston is coming down from our flagship store in Seattle to make paella and sign copies of his new book. This is your chance to meet the man who started The Spanish Table and chat with him about all things related to the culinary traditions of Spain and Portugal.
Steve is a veritable treasure trove of food and wine esoterica. He has accumulated much of this knowledge in his new cook book. Stop in on Sunday August 9th at 1 pm (or Saturday August 8th in Mill Valley) to quiz him on what (and where) to eat in Spain and Portugal. While you are here you can sample his famous Paella and pick up a signed copy of The Spanish Table Cookbook.
¡Buen provecho!

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Bar Lata

What is it about a small Spanish tapas bar that inspires thirst, hunger and conviviality all at the same time? The atmosphere is informal and friendly, the food is simple and ready to serve, the wines are well chosen and everything is modestly priced. It’s fast food for people who care about what they consume.

So why has ‘tapas’ become a pejorative word that evokes a fad several years past its prime?

My often voiced opinion is that the tapas concept has been turned on its head. The word ‘tapas’ has become restaurant code for ‘tiny appetizer’. A round of tapas with friends is a self contained snack while an appetizer is the first course of a full meal. This distinction has been hard to make due to a lack of proper tapas bars here in our part of the world. That is about to change.

Yesterday Daniel Olivella from B44 in San Francisco opened his new Bar Lata on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland.

In keeping with tradition the space is diminutive and simply decorated.  A long and varied list of cold and hot tapas is well paired with a wine selection that covers all of Spain. A unique collection of “canned” (lata = can) items are made in house and, in homage to the many superlative canned foods of Spain, are served in little oval shaped metal tins (the Lata de Pulpo was a traditional mix of octopus and potatoes dressed with extra virgin olive oil and a hearty dusting of smoked paprika).

Last night, seated in the corner with a view of the entire space I contentedly sipped a glass of cold, crisp Manzanilla while all around me the many wines of Spain, objects of my personal and professional passion, were flowing busily from bottle to glass. On one table a red Garnacha blend from Montsant was passed around amongst a cheery group of six. On another table bottle after bottle of Galician Albariño was happily consumed by an increasingly boisterous couple. Up front at the bar glasses of frothy Cava were handed out to a group of newly arrived patrons.

“This” I said to my wife “is my kind of place”.

In honor of my newfound home away from home, this week we feature a few the wines seen at (or inspired by) Bar Lata that are also found here at The Spanish Table. They have a pretty extensive list so if you go and try something you like, let me know and if I don’t have it already, I’ll get it.

Meanwhile across the Bay: I will be leading a wine class next week in San Francisco on Thursday March 19th at 7 pm at 18 Reasons (593 Guerrero St @ 18th St), a gallery in the Mission whose motto is “bringing the community together through food and art”.  The theme the evening is “Spanish Bubbles” and will include a tasting of sparkling Cava, lightly effervescent Txakoli from Basque Country and Vi D’Agulla from Catalunya as well as a sweet sparkling Muscat from Valencia. Background notes on the wines will be available during the event along with discounted purchasing opportunities. Appropriate snacks (dare I call them ‘tapas’?) will be prepared by the 18 Reasons crew. All of this can be had for the extremely tasty price of $10 ($5 dollars for 18 Reasons members). Go to their web site, http://18reasons.org/ for details and directions or call them at (415)-252-9816.

San León Manzanilla Clásica This wine, with an average age of 8 years, is palest straw colored and full of yeasty, saline aroma (like a fresh sea breeze) and toasted almond and chamomile flavors. If you are a Manzanilla lover this is an excellent new wine to add to your list. If you have not yet had a chance to try this most distinctive Spanish wine, this is the perfect place to start. $12.99 (375ml)

Gran Barquero Fino In the hills of Andalucia, just south of Cordoba in D.O. Montilla-Moriles they make fortified wines using the Pedro Ximénez grape.  These wines share the same production techniques as Sherry from D.O. Jerez further south. Gran Barquero Fino is pale straw colored, bracingly dry, lean and full of toasted almond aroma. $17.99

Sete Cepas Albariño 2007 This well priced Albariño is pale yellow tinged with green. Grapefruit aroma, lean minerality and light, refreshing texture are all to be found in this young white wine from Galicia. $12.99

Avinyó Vi D’Agulla 2007 Made in the Penedès region of Catalunya, this wine from the makers of Avinyó Cava is composed of Petit Grain Muscat, fermented to dryness and bottled with a bit of residual effervescence. The rich Muscat scent is present here but the sweetness usually associated with this grape is only barely perceived. In its place is tart citrusy fruit character and background flintiness. This wine was originally $14.99 but is on sale while it lasts for $11.99

Can Blau 2007 This dark, opulent Montsant region blend of Cariñena, Syrah and Garnacha is ripe and bold yet balanced too. Judging from the number of bottles of Can Blau that I saw being poured at Bar Lata in Oakland the other night, this is a real crowd pleaser. Personal experience affirms this perspective. $16.99

Senorio de P.Peciña Crianza 2000 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. $19.99

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Portugal On The Menu

Are you ready to drink more Portuguese wine?

Márcio Ferreira of Viniportugal certainly hopes so.  Viniportugal, a Portuguese wine export trade organization, was in the Bay Area last week meeting with local wine merchants and sommeliers. Márcio Ferreira hosted a lunch (at the impeccable NOPA) organized by Evan Goldstein of Full Circle Wine Solutions to taste a few wines and share some information about the grapes, growing regions and producers of Portugal.

I am happy to report that the wines were very good as is the news in general coming out of Portugal.  The Portuguese wine industry has paid close attention what has worked well in Spain over the last ten years and is applying the lessons learned from the recent success of their neighbor to the east. With recent infrastructure improvements, private investors from within Portugal as well as from other countries are building new wineries and producing an ever widening array of wines across a broad range of styles and price points. Indigenous grape varieties are being recuperated and ancient growing regions are being renovated. Portugal is embracing tradition while simultaneously recognizing the need for modern wine production technology.

In the year ahead I expect to see more Portuguese wines showing up on local restaurant wine lists. At The Spanish Table I am adding a few wines from the tasting last week (read about them below) that I think are perfect choices to help you become more familiar with a country whose wines deserve more attention. Look forward to more choices in Portuguese reds (and whites too) as the year progresses.

Locally, I just read on the internet that a Catalan tradition known as a ‘Calçotada’ is happening next Monday in Napa at Ubuntu restaurant.

‘Calçots’ are a variety of green onion (somewhere between a scallion and a leek) that are traditionally harvested at this time of years,  grilled over a wood fire and wrapped in newspaper where they steam a bit before being consumed out of hand after a dip in rich, nutty/peppery Romesco sauce and a sprinkle of sea salt. Never having attended the real deal in Catalunya, I am anxious to check this out for myself. I’ll report back if I make it up to Napa on Monday.

Speaking of Romesco sauce, you can buy one of several brands of Romesco sauce here at The Spanish Table and liven up not only grilled onions but also just about anything grilled from fish to beef. If you are feeling like making your own, here is a recipe adapted from the César Cookbook that many customers rave about.

Salsa Romesco (makes about 2 cups)

Ingredients:

1 cup blanched marcona almonds

4 dried ñora peppers

½ cup day old bread pieces

¾ cup piquillo peppers

1 clove garlic

¾ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon picante smoked paprika

¾ cups extra virgin Spanish olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Directions:

Toast the nuts in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes until light brown, then allow to cool. Rehydrate ñora peppers by simmering in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. After the peppers have cooled in the water remove them and soak up the remaining water with the day old bread.  Pulse the room temperature nuts in a food processor until coarsely ground.  Add the rehydrated ñoras, piquillo peppers, soaked bread, garlic, salt, sugar and smoked paprika to the food processor and blend to a thick paste. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil followed by the lemon juice and both vinegars. Blend to a slightly chunky puree. Serve this in a bowl alongside grilled vegetables, fish, meat or just about anything that could use a little zing. The unused portion keeps well in the fridge for a week.

Paella Class: The first paella and wine class of the year is coming up at Kitchen on Fire cooking school here in Berkeley and a few tickets are still available. The date is Monday February 23rd at 6:30 pm. The cost is $65 per person and includes hands-on instruction to create several tapas and a large paella mixta, all of which will be consumed during the class. Several paella-friendly Spanish wines will also be sampled. Kitchen on Fire is handling the signup for this fun and popular class. Go to their website for more details.

Capote Velho This non-vintage red ‘vinho de mesa‘ from Portugal really delivers on freshness and versatility. This is a full liter (1.5 regular sized bottles) of wine with gentle berry-like fruit character, bright acidity and soft grape skin tannins coupled with a moderate level of alcohol (11.5%). Like a no name house wine in a little Portuguese bar or restaurant, this red tastes great by itself and will also accompany, but not overshadow, a broad range of foods. I just retried this wine a few days ago and not only is it in perfect shape but it has gone down a buck in price since the last time I ordered it. This is an amazing bargain. $10.99 (1 liter)

Quinta de San Francisco Tinto 2005 From a little known region called DOC Óbidos located just north of Lisbon comes this red wine composed of 60 % Castelão, 20% Aragonez and 20 % Touriga Nacional. Garnet colored with a brickish tinge, this wine displays initial aromas of fresh berry and fresh portland cement. I get more mineral notes and light mulberry fruit character on the palate along with a bit of black pepper spice. Eight months of barrel age lends a gentle tannic note to the wine. One of my favorite wines from the recent Viniportugal trade tasting. $11.99

Cartuxa Évora 2004 This wine has a long history in the Alentejo region of eastern Portugal. The winery was established in 1896 on the site of an ancient Carthusian monastery. In 1957 Vasco Maria Eugenio de Almeida bought and refurbished the winery which now carries his name as part of his philanthropic efforts to improve the Alentejo region. Cartuxa is composed of a blend of of Periquita, Aragonez, Trincadeira, Moreto and Alfrocheiro grapes. The wine displays dark garnet color that fades to brick red at the rim of the glass. Loamy mushroom aroma intermingles with the scent of fresh earth. The wine mixes flavors that are savory and lean (black olive, oak, white pepper) with bold fruit flavors of black currant and plum. Firm tannins add texture and indicate that this wine will hold its character even after years in the cellar. We featured the 2003 vintage of this wine in our wine club a few years ago, priced at $25.00. Would you believe that the price has gone down a bit since then? $21.99

Altozano Blanco 2007 This fresh, food friendly Spanish white wine was the big hit of our recent Gonzalez-Byass wine dinner at César in Oakland. Made by the same folks who bring you the ever popular Tio Pepe Fino Sherry, this Castilla region blend of Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc is bright and tangy with green herb aroma and grapefruity citrus flavor. $9.99

Beronia Crianza 2005 Another wine featured and enjoyed at the recent Gonzalez-Byass wine dinner was this barrel aged Rioja from Beronia (the Rioja region winery of Gonzalez-Byass). This blend of mostly Tempranillo blended with small amounts of Garnacha and Mazuelo spends 12 months in oak (American and French) before bottling. The barrel character plays a prominent role here but never overwhelms the cranberry and cherry fruit character. The various elements in this wine are well knit, unlike some wines where the oak envelopes the wine like a woolen blanket, obscuring all other scents and flavors. This is a very “Spanish tasting” wine at a very reasonable price. $14.99

Tejada 2005 This Tempranillo/Garnacha blend was the best seller of our recent experiment in wines made from Iberian grapes grown in California. Back in 1999 Spanish natives Celia Tejada and her brother Ivo started this small family winery in Lake County. They planted part of their 80 acre property with 3.5 acres of Tempranillo and Garnacha (the grapes they remembered from home). This small estate vineyard is the source for the fruit that goes into two Tejada wines (this one and a more mature reserva). The blend here is 58% Tempranillo and 42% Garnacha. This is a dark garnet colored wine with fresh red berry fruit character, mid-weight barrel tannins and a lean, savory element that helps retain the Spanish style of the wine. $21.99

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