Tag Archives: kitchen on fire

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

Time For Jerez

In my time at The Spanish table I have seen a reoccurring post-holiday phenomenon that I hope to turn into a local tradition. After all the rich, indulgent holiday meals, many of our customers turn to Jerez (Sherry) as their drink of choice in the new year. A small glass of Manzanilla, Amontillado or Oloroso seems to be just what we all want right about now.
These traditional wines, unique to Spain, range from lean and dry to dense and sweet. They pair well with a wide variety of foods and can be enjoyed before, during or after a meal. Locally we have more choices than ever for places to try a glass of Jerez wine. Here in the East Bay we have Barlata and Cesar pouring several by-the-glass selections. In San Francisco, Gitane, Contigo and NOPA are excellent destinations for Jerez sampling. At The Spanish Table we carry a broad selection of Jerez wines to suit all tastes. Here are just a few suggestions to get your new year off to a good start:

La Cigarrera Manzanilla This pale, straw colored wine with aromas of fresh hay and sea breeze is completely dry with yeasty scent and flavor. A few salted almonds, olives or some sliced Jamón Serrano alongside a small chilled glass of Manzanilla is a classic Spanish experience. $11.99 (375ml)

San Leon Reserva de Familia Bodegas Argueso makes several grades of Manzanilla. This version is selected from the best barrels and was originally intended for the personal use of the winemakers’ families. Bracingly dry and nutty, this wine displays freshness, balance and a crisp, precise character found only in the best wines from this region. $32.99

Viña AB Amontillado This amber colored wine from Gonzales Byass is quite dry (some Amontillado can be lightly sweet) with lightly oxidized aromas of walnut/hazelnut and toasted oak. Brandy-like warmth adds to the final experience. $16.99

Sangre y Trabajadero Oloroso
Dark amber/gold in color, this dry Oloroso from the small Gutierrez Colosia winery displays aromas of beach air, wood smoke and toasted walnuts as well as a hint of burnt sugar and whisky barrel on the finish.  $15.99 (375 ml)

Upcoming Events
Special Guest Chef

Barlata in Oakland is hosting a week long appearance by guest chef Albert Assin from Barcelona. Normally Chef Assin can be found behind the counter at Pinotxo, his tapas bar in Barcelona’s Boqueria market.
Visitors to this famed public market will remember Pinotxo as the small bar in the center of the market where hordes of hungry customers spill out into the aisles as they await a chance to sample chef Assin’s food.
Daniel Olivella, the owner of Barlata (and B-44 in San Francisco) invited Assin to do a guest chef stint here after the two teamed up for a few demonstrations of Catalan cuisine at the Worlds Of Flavor conference in Napa this past November.
Chef Assin will be at Barlata this weekend, as well as next week (with some evenings at B-44 in San Francisco too). Check with the good folks at Barlata (510-450-0678) for exact times and details.

Cooking Class

The recent release of the long awaited cookbook Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking by Paula Wolfert has spurred renewed interest in the terracotta cazuelas, ollas and cocotes that we sell here. We did a clay pot class a few years ago at Kitchen On Fire cooking school in Berkeley and now that class is happening again.
Cooking in clay is an ancient way to transform simple ingredients into delicious meals. All of the fantastic foods for this class, from quick cooked appetizers to slow braised stews and even dessert, will be prepared using Spanish clay cookware.
The date for this class is Monday February 8th at 6:30 pm. Registration is exclusively through Kitchen On Fire, on their web site or by phone at (510)-548-COOK (2665). The class is limited to 30 participants so early registration is advised.

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Summer Wines & Padrón Peppers

Pimientos de Padrón Alert

We interrupt regularly scheduled wine news to announce the arrival of the new crop of Pimientos de Padrón. These small, seasonal  green peppers are traditional bar snacks in the north of Spain and  are one of the few fresh vegetables that we carry here. Simply fry a batch up in some good olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.  We should have these throughout the summer and into the fall. They are still the same price as last year:
$6.99 1/4 lb.

Summer Wines

As we move into the summer season, my attention is drawn to bright, refreshing white and rosado wines that cool me down from the heat of the day and awaken my appetite. I also like to pour robust reds that pair well with grilled food. Here are a few of this weeks’ new selections.

Ochoa Rosado 2008 Our newest pink wine is a classically styled offering from Navarra, the traditional home of Spanish rosado wines. This one is made from the local Garnacha grape and is a lively, bright wine with an orange/pink hue. The light berry-like fruit character is tart and refreshing. $12.99
Ostatu Blanco 2008 The new vintage of this dry, herbaceous white Rioja has just arrived. Made from the local Viura grape (known elsewhere as Macabeo) this wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, never overwhelming the delicate fruit character with the aromas and flavors from oak barrels. This young wine displays grassy aroma and notes of kiwi fruit and green grapes. $12.99
Mas Torrontes 2008 For those who have loved the Mas Malbec from Argentina, here is a white Torrontes from the same bodega. This new arrival is floral scented (jasmine, honeysuckle)and richly fruity (apricot, crane melon). Racy acidity cuts through the perfume and maintains a fine balance. This is an excellent white to serve cold on a hot afternoon. $10.99
Siesta Brut Ernesto Catena, son of the famous Nicolás Catena (and brother of Laura, another well known winemaker) makes this sparkling wine from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Palest pink color, yeasty bread dough aroma and bright, tart fruit character are held together by fine bead bubbles. This is excellent bubbly and is one of the best examples I have yet tasted from Argentina. $17.99
Tahuan Malbec 2005 Ernesto Catena’s Malbec is a fine example of an Argentine wine that is bold and expressive without loosing the complexity that makes this region so interesting. The addition of 10% Cabernet Sauvignon adds structure to the juicy, ripe Malbec. The wine spends 12 months in oak, lending tannic depth to the final product. $18.99
Meia Encosta 2007 Portugal continues to produce some really good wines at rock bottom prices. This young wine from the Dão region is fresh and bright. Clear ruby color, cherry aroma and Gamay-like fruit character (the blend here is actually Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz) all work in harmony to express the tart,refreshing style that makes this such a perfect mid-week red. $8.99

Upcoming Spanish Wine & Food Events

On June 14th TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society) will hold their 2nd annual tasting of domestic wines made from Spanish & Portuguese grape varieties. Ft. Mason in San Francisco is the venue for this interesting event. Details can be found (and tickets purchased) on the TAPAS website. The Spanish Table will be in attendance showing off our new cookbook as well as sampling some olives and other imported Spanish snacks to go with all the local vino.

On June 22nd, I will be teaching my Paella And Wine class at the Berkeley cooking school Kitchen On Fire. Participants will get hands-on experience making (and eating) a large Paella Mixta (includes meat, seafood & vegetables) as well as a few simple tapas and a light dessert. We will sample a few appropriate Spanish wines as we go. Class starts at 6:30 pm and we should be done by around 9 pm. This popular event is limited to 30 people with a price of $65.00 per person. Sign up is through Kitchen On Fire, either on the web, or by phone 510-548-2665,(510-265-COOK).

The next TapasWalk Spanish wine & food walking tour is coming up on Wednesday June 24th. I will be leading this tour through downtown San Francisco, stopping in at five different restaurants to sample some of Spain’s unique wines accompanied by a few traditional tapas at each location. Details as well as future tour dates can be found on my blog.

On June 28th The Berkeley International Food Festival will enliven our little neighborhood with the aromas and flavors of many lands. Kabobs, tamales, samosas and other street foods will be available. Here at The Spanish Table we will be making our traditional huge paella which we hand out samples of (free of charge) to the hungry masses. In addition to the food  expect music, dancing, art and sunshine. It will be fun.

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Filed under Argentina, events, Portugal, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

Grape Love

As Valentine’s Day is this Saturday it is my duty (and a pleasurable one at that) to remind you of the many excellent ways you can express your love with a well chosen bottle of wine.  From the traditional to the unusual, a unique and delicious wine can set the right tone for a romantic evening, add the perfect accent to a cozy dinner for two or even express sentiments that words fail to convey.

Am I attributing too much power to a bottle of fermented grape juice? I think not.  From my (admittedly subjective) perspective drinking wine is about an experience of aroma and flavor that is much more fulfilling and fun when shared with another person.  I see Valentine’s Day as a perfect opportunity to experience a special bottle of wine with someone you care about.

For me, I like a rosado Cava on Valentine’s Day. The rosy hue fits in with the traditional color of the day and the bubbly wine always puts me in a celebratory mood. A white wine with a bit of extra weight and fruit character also fits the season quite well. To this end I suggest an Argentine Torrontes or an Albariño from Galicia that skews more toward the ripe style and away from the dry, flinty side of the Albariño flavor profile. For reds I think something complex and spicy but not overpowering would be a good choice for a celebration of romantic love. I have a few suggestions from South America that fit this category quite nicely, though in very different ways.

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. 

Cavas Hill Artesanía Brut Rosado Cava Just arrived for Valentine’s Day; this bright, rose tinted wine offers up aromas of fresh strawberry and toasted bread followed up by tangy citrus and crisp green apple flavor. Big bubbles refresh the palate and entice the appetite. $11.99

Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado Cava I talk about this wine a lot, but now is the perfect moment to serve this sparkling rosado. It’s dark pink and bubbly, which may be all you need for the occasion, but this is also 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. $14.99

Reymos Espumoso de Moscatel Sweet sparkling wine from D.O. Valencia. Rich Muscat grape scent, bosc pear and honeydew melon fruit character with light but persistent bubbles. A mere 7.5% alcohol makes this the perfect end-of-meal wine. $11.99

Arte Mayor Brut Nature Cava Dominio de la Vega is a boutique Cava producer in Valencia. They make several wines with increasing levels of age and dryness. This wine is the driest and most mature of the bunch. Zero dosage creates a crisp, lean wine with fine minerality and toasted bread aroma. We got this at a big discount and are selling it the same way. Normally a $50 bottle, we have a few on hand for $28.99

Dominio de La Vega Brut Reserva Cava The same folks who make Arte Mayor Cava also create this Brut Reserva version with a mere hint of residual sugar from a light dosage. The blend here is 80% Macabeo and 20% Chardonnay.   Crisp, toasty character is supplemented by a bit of textural heft and a slight note of baked spiced apple. Also at a significant discount this wine which originally sold for $39.99 is now available for much less while supplies last. $24.99

Do Ferreiro Albariño 2007 The new vintage of this plush, abundant Albariño has just arrived. Gerardo Mendez blends the fruit from various parcels of his small 15 acre estate to create this finely tuned wine. Slatey mineral aroma leads on to rich melon and white peach fruit character with a grapefruit-like citrus note adding counterpoint to this top shelf Galician wine.  $25.99

Cicchitti Torrontes 2007 This new Torrontes offers a different take on Argentina’s indigenous white grape. Normally grown in the northern province of Salta, Torrontes wines are rich and honeyed with a snappy tang of acidity in the background. Cicchitti uses all estate fruit from their property in Mendoza to produce a more mineral wine that retains a bit of typical Torrontes density. This unoaked wine is rich and detailed with notes of ripe apple, green herbs and a bit of tangerine peel all combined in the glass. $14.99

Cicchitti Blend 2007  This Argentine red combines ripe fruity Malbec with the more structured Cabernet Sauvignon and then tops it off with a dash of Merlot (interestingly they only print the word ‘Merlot’ in small type, perhaps as a South American version of the ‘Sideways’ backlash against the ‘M-word’ grape). The ‘blend’ alluded to in the name is 60% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot sourced from vineyards in the Valle de Uco and Lujan de Cuyo sections of Mendoza. Bold and assertive, this wine is powerful yet restrained, a positive trait that I find in well made Argentine Cabs and Cab blends. $14.99

Cicchitti Malbec 2006 (375ml) The 100% Malbec wine from Bodegas Cicchitti is dark and earthy, displaying dried leaf aroma, restrained dark berry fruit character and dusty minerality. The balance on this wine is quite fine and elegant rather than the big boozy style that some Malbec wines express. This one is currently available here in the small 375ml size, just perfect for solo diners as well as gift givers. $9.99 

Azul Profundo Pinot Noir 2006 The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Bio Bio Valley, Chile’s southernmost grape growing region. This temperate region is quickly becoming one of the most highly regarded areas in Chile for wine production. This climate is well suited to growing the fickle Pinot Noir grape. Azul Profundo is a bright and fresh wine that is reminiscent of a Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast of California or the Willamette valley in Oregon. Crystalline ruby color and fresh berry aroma create an intriguing first perception. Tart, pie cherry fruit character balances but never overwhelms subtle grapeskin tannins. This unoaked red is made in miniscule quantities (only 600 cases were produced) and each bottle is hand numbered. $19.99

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

Last Chance Wine Sale

Good wines, like fresh fruits and vegetables, come and go with the seasons.

In this age of identical commodity products made in vast quantities we often forget that many wines, especially those from the small artisan wineries we love at The Spanish Table, are made in quantities determined by the amount of fresh fruit available to the winemakers and the amount of space they have to make wine from the fruit at harvest time. When these wines are gone, they are gone for good.

It is always a sad moment when one of my favorite wines runs out. Fortunately we always have new wines on hand just waiting for shelf space to open up and give these new products a chance in the marketplace.

This week I am making room for new wines by marking down some products that we are no longer able to re-order. These wines are the last of their vintage or are from distributors who no longer carry these brands. I have marked these wines down in price to give you more than ample reason to pick up a few while they are still available. The mutual benefit here is that you get some tasty bottles for not much money and I get shelf space to bring in yet more new products for you to try.

So come take a look at our new ‘get them while they last’ section and pick out a few of these beauties before they are all gone.

Speaking of almost gone, the last few spots in next week’s Paella & Wine class are getting claimed as I write. If you have some free time on Monday evening (6:30 pm – 9:30 pm)  click over to Kitchen On Fire  and sign up for this tasty hands-on event.

Here is an example of the type of seasonal dish we will be preparing in class while waiting for the paella to cook:

 

Blood Orange and Fennel salad with Black Olives

(serves 4 as a tapa)

 

4                             Medium sized Blood oranges

1                              large fennel bulb

1                              small white onion

12                           Oil cured black olives

2 tblspn                .                Spanish extra virgin olive oil

1 tblspn.                Spanish Sherry vinegar

1 tspn.                  Flor de Sal

 

Peal the oranges with a kitchen knife and either fillet them (cut into skinless sections) or thinly cross cut them into rounds. Slice the fennel and onion into thin rounds (a mandolin slicer works well here, but watch those fingers!). Rinse the onion slices in cold water and pat dry with a towel.  Pit the olives and tear them in half. Mix everything together in a shallow dish. Add the oil and vinegar and any leftover blood orange juice and toss the salad. Sprinkle on the sea salt and let the salad rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Viña Alarba Old Vines Grenache 2005 $6.99 Our newest ‘house wine’ comes from the Calatayud region in Northern Spain. This bright, refreshing Garnacha is full of cherry fruit character with a touch of cranberry tartness. We got a great deal on this wine (normally $9.99) which we are sharing with you. It won’t last long so act now if you want some.

 

Sombrero Rojo Tempranillo 2006 $8.99 This is not a close out. It is a new arrival. Yes, it has a silly name but, hey, it just proves that I don’t judge a wine by its cover. This young Tempranillo is fresh and lively. Half regular fermentation and half carbonic maceration keep the youthful berry-like fruit in the foreground. A tasty wine for simple weeknight meals.

 

Casabayo Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $8.99 Those dynamic young winemakers at  Mas que Vinos, makers of the ever popular and always delicious Ercavio Tinto and Ercavio Blanco, made this wine from a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. The hot 2003 vintage has given this wine with enough stuffing (ripe fruit, dark color, bright acidity) to last several vintages. We have just a few bottles left.

 

Gárgola 2003 $8.99 Extremadura is known for two things: Jamón Iberico and Vino Tinto.  We are still waiting for the Jamón Iberico to arrive, but meanwhile we can enjoy this red wine while we wait. I like this blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah for its restrained fruit and lean structure. It will turn any jamón deprived gargoyle into a perfect little cherub. 

 

Calina Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $9.99 The Rapel Valley is the source of some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Chile. Rich aromas and dark berry fruit character. Calina ages this wine in oak barrels to create firm tannins which add structure to the wine.

 

Finca Antigua Syrah 2004 $9.99 In the heart of Spain, vineyards stretch to the horizons in every direction. Finca Antigua is a Castilla region winery producing several single varietal wines including this Syrah. This wine shows dark color and tart, savory fruit character and firm, smoky tannins. A fine bargain in Spanish Syrah.

 

Baranc dels Closos 2002 $13.99 Mas Igneus makes many well crafted wines in Priorat, including this lightly oaked blend of Garnacha and Cariñena. The rocky Priorat soil is evident in this firmly mineral wine. Dark garnet color.  Notes of pie cherry and Kirsch (cherry brandy). More rocks on the finish.

 

Pissares 2003 $14.99 A fabulous bargain from Priorat is a rare find indeed. Most of the wines from this region are on the high side price-wise. Stylistically, this one tips its hand right away with a photo on the label of the slate and schist soil that is typical in Priorat. Mineral aromas and flavors of wet slate are a distinct element in this rich red wine. Other elements include dark, almost opaque color, rich cassis (black currant liqueur) aroma and fruit character reminiscent of blackberries and blueberries.

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Filed under Chile, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain

Monastrell, Mi Amor

Yes, it’s true. I’m in love with a grape.

The object of my affection is the big, juicy, dark, thick skinned Monastrell grape grown throughout Mediterranean Spain (already well known in France where it is called Mourvèdre, this grape is seen in the wines of Bandol and Châteauneuf-du-Pape). In Alicante, Jumilla and Yecla the popularity of this varietal is increasing with each vintage.  Once used as a bulk wine shipped out to various parts of Spain to add depth to a thin vintage, many Spanish winemakers now bottle this varietal on its own or in blends where it plays a substantial, not a supporting role.

Monastrell has become extremely sought after here in the USA thanks to some high profile bottlings as well as some reliable young wines that have proved to be excellent values from vintage to vintage.

This week I remind you about the 2005 Clio, a Monastrell blend that has seriously impressed the wine world in recent vintages. We have also just received a second shipment of the 2005 Juan Gil, a 100% Monastrell that showcases the varietal all by itself. The 2005 Casa Castillo, one of the first Monastrell wines to be bottled as a single varietal wine is back at a better price.  I also have late harvest Monastrell from Alella (just outside of Barcelona) and fortified sherry-like Monastrell from Alicante, produced from stocks that date back to 1948. Now is an excellent time to try this very sought after varietal in all its permutations.

Also this week, we have some tasty bargains that offer big flavor at a small price. Check out the Bodegas Fontana wines below to see what I mean.

In other news, Paella Class is filling up fast, but a few spaces still remain for any of you who wish to learn about this most famous of Spanish dishes. We will be making and eating a big paella accompanied by some tapas to nibble on while the paella cooks. We will also taste five Spanish wines to go with all the food. The date is February 25th at 6:30 pm. The location is Kitchen On Fire cooking School here in Berkeley. The cost is $65 per person. Registration and details can be found at the Kitchen On Fire website.

 

Mesta Tempranillo 2006 $6.99 (was $8.99) Our newest ‘house wine’ comes from Bodegas Fontana in central Spain near Cuenca.

In Spanish shepherd-speak a ‘mesta’ is a meeting of shepherds to sort out intermingled flocks. This young Tempranillo from central Spain is a perfect red wine for all sorts of informal gatherings. Fresh berry fruit character and light tannins make this a well priced option for lighter meals as well as back porch sipping.

 

Fontal Tempranillo Roble 2004 $9.99 (was $11.99) This wine from Bodegas Fontana (like the previous wine) shows what a bit of barrel age does to Tempranillo. The fresh berry fruit character is now nuanced with gentle tannins and spicy aromatic complexity.

 

Casa Castillo 2005 $10.99 (was $12.99) This is a dark ruby colored wine with bright aromas of fresh red berries, and a medium to full-bodied cherry-like fruit character.  A brief period of oak barrel ageing (6- 8 months) lends a bit of tannic dryness to the wine, adding balance to the rich fruit and a bit of spice to the finish.

 

Juan Gil 2005 $16.99 We just got in a second shipment of this popular Monastrell from Jumilla, made by Miguel Gil, one of the pioneers of this grape and this region. Dark color and concentrated blackberry aroma create the first impression, leading on to sweet dark berry fruit character and a touch of grape skin tannin. A fine example of a pure Monastrell wine.

 

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

 

Clio 2005 $46.00 Old vine Monastrell from Jumilla is what Clio is mostly made from (along with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon). These thick skinned grapes are picked at full ripeness and treated with great care at every step in this wine’s elaboration. The end result is a dark, full bodied red that will best accompany a full-flavored meaty meal. Josh Raynolds recently reviewed the new vintage of Clio for The International Wine Cellar. He rated the wine 93 points saying: “Inky purple. Vibrant red and dark berries on the nose, with sexy vanillin oak, Asian spices, fresh flowers and bright minerality. A silky, graceful midweight, displaying vivid raspberry and blackberry flavors and slow-building tannic grip. More tangy than the 2004, and at least as elegant, finishing with outstanding clarity and persistence.”

 

El Nido 2005 $140.00 The flagship wine from this celebrated Jumilla region winery is made from the same fruit as the Clio but the proportions are switched around. El Nido is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with 30% old vine Monastrell. Josh Raynolds also reviewed this wine for Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. He rated it 94 points, saying “Opaque violet. Seductively perfumed bouquet of red and dark berry liqueur, graphite, Asian spices and incense. This saturates every nook and cranny of the palate with flavors of sweet raspberry, boysenberry, candied licorice, cinnamon and vanilla. Impressively fresh for such flavor impact, thanks to gentle tannins and vibrant finishing minerality. A lingering, subtle strawberry quality underscores this wine’s impression of elegance over brute force.

 

Dolç Mataró $33.99 (500ml) The long forgotten Mataró grape, a relative of the better known Monastrell is used to produce tiny quantities of this sweet dessert wine. Super-ripe late harvest Mataró is hand selected, crushed and macerated in its own juice to extract the maximum of color and flavor from the skins. After fermentation the wine ages for a scant few months in barrel before bottling with minimal filtration in stylish 500ml bottles.  The final result is a sweet wine with opaque purple color, the aroma of fresh violets and a sweet fruit character that for all its intensity still possesses a certain delicacy.

 

Primitivo Quiles Fondillón Reserva 1948 $63.00 Historically, Fondillón was called Vino Noble de Alicante not only because it was enjoyed by royalty (Louis XIV is said to have enjoyed the wine) but also as an indication of a winemaking style that achieves 16% alcohol by volume without resorting to fortification of the wine with spirits as is done in Jerez.

Late harvest Monastrell is picked at ultimate ripeness and the sugars in the grape convert to alcohol at a higher rate than normally. After many years in the solera the wine looses its red color and turns a ruddy amber. Nutty sherry-like aroma and flavor balance gentle but not cloying sweetness. Serve this wine with afternoon cookies and tea. A small glass after dinner is also nice.

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Filed under Misc.Wine, Red Wine, Spain

Paella Class

Paella Class is back!  You heard it right friends. This most popular and always delicious Spanish rice dish is the subject of our upcoming Paella and Wine class at Kitchen On Fire Cooking School in North Berkeley. We will delve into the history and origins of this fascinating dish, exploring the many regional variations that have been handed down through the years from generation to generation. Then, working together, we will create a mixed seafood/chicken/pork Paella that we will all share.  In addition to cooking up a big Paella I will also be offering hands-on experience at whipping up some classic tapas to nibble on as the Paella cooks and, since it is me teaching the class, I will be pouring a selection of my favorite Spanish wines to accompany the tasty food.

The date for the class is Monday February 25th. We will start at 6:30 pm. The cost is $65 per person. Registration for this class is through Kitchen On Fire.  The class is limited to 30 participants. You can sign up for the class on the Kitchen On Fire website.

Meanwhile, we have some important wine news to share with you. Once a year we get a small allotment of one of Spain’s most popular wines. I am talking about Clio, the Jumilla region Monastrell that has been an object of intense desire for wine lovers from coast to coast in recent vintages.  This inky dark, plush, opulent wine will definitely satisfy those in search of a Big Red with a fine pedigree and an almost cult-like following. But wait, that’s not all.  We will also be getting a tiny amount of Clio’s elder sibling El Nido, which, though less well known, is every bit as distinguished if not more so than the less expensive Clio. I suggest you call right away if you want some of these wines as they tend to disappear quickly from our shelves.

We also have some new white wines this week as well as some of my favorite reds for under $20. The descriptions are all here right after my latest classic American recipe with a Spanish accent.

 

Kevin’s (Not) Fried Chicken ‘al ajillo’ (serves 4 as an entrée)

1                    Organic Chicken (approx. 4 lb)

1                  Pint Buttermilk

5                     Garlic cloves

½ cup                     Kosher Salt

3 cups       All Purpose Flour

2 tbls.                     Pimentón de la Vera Dulce

1 tbls.                     Ground Black Pepper

 

This recipe for fried chicken is actually made in the oven. The end result is delicious and very similar to the fried version, only without the pot of messy hot oil.

Cut the chicken up into 10 serving sized pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings with wing tip removed, 2 breasts cut in half crosswise). Crush garlic cloves lightly with the flat side of a knife. Combine chicken pieces, garlic, buttermilk and ¼ cup of salt in a large heavy duty plastic bag. Seal the bag and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, combine flour, pimentón, pepper and remaining ¼ cup salt in a clean, dry plastic bag (I use leftover produce bags from the market). Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk and (without wiping off any remaining liquid) shake them one by one in the bag of seasoned flour and then place each piece skin side up on a wire rack, on a baking sheet (use 2 racks and baking sheets so as not to crowd the chicken pieces). Let the chicken pieces rest for 10-20 minutes while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cook the chicken pieces for twenty minutes skin side up, then turn the oven down to 300 degrees and finish cooking the chicken on the second side for another twenty five minutes.   

 

Martin Fierro Blanco 2007 $8.99  In the San Juan region of Argentina, Bodegas Bórbore makes this white wine from a blend of  80% Chardonnay and 20%  Torrontes. This unoaked wine blends the crispness of Chardonnay with the more floral Torrontes (the indigenous white grape of Argentina). The result is a refreshing wine with enough body to stand on its own as a cocktail wine. It would also pair well with poultry or rich seafood meals.

 

Tajinaste Blanco 2006 $14.99 This interesting new white wine, our first from the Canary Islands, is made from the local Listán Blanco grape grown in volcanic soils at high elevation on the island of Tenerife. Pale straw color and mineral foundation frame aromas of white peach and lemon zest.  This gentle yet lean white will compliment subtly flavored vegetable dishes and cold seafood appetizers.

 

Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas 2006 $35.99 We are thrilled to have just received an entire case of this extremely rare Albariño produced from vines reputed to be over 20o 0years old.  Considered by many to be one of the best Albariños, even one of the best white wines in all of Spain regardless of varietal, this firmly mineral wine will evolve over time (2-3 years) an will release more aroma and gentle fruit character as it ages. For immediate gratification this is a white wine to decant and serve with raw shellfish. As pure an expression of Albariño as I have yet tried. Simply stunning.

 

Convento Oreja Roble 2005 $19.99 This 100% Tempranillo wine from Ribera del Duero was aged in oak for a brief 4 months before bottling. Dark color, typical for the region, is matched with ripe berry fruit and just a hint of toasty oak. This smooth red will compliment red meat and hearty winter stews.

 

Pago Florentino 2004 $19.99 This opulent La Mancha region Tempranillo has a loyal following which grows as the wine becomes more well known. Jay Miller reviewed this wine for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. He rated it 89 Points, saying: “Serious efforts are being made to elevate quality in La Mancha and this is one signpost. The 2004 Pago Florentino is an estate bottled wine composed of 100% Tempranillo from young vines. It was aged for 12 months in new and used French and American oak. Dark ruby in color, it offers up attractive fruity aromas of plums, blueberry, and licorice with smoky, toasty notes in the background. This is followed by a lush, medium to full-bodied wine with a supple texture, ripe fruit, and good flavors in an easy-drinking, user-friendly style. Drink this hedonistic effort over the next 2-3 years. It is a very good value.”

 

Clio 2005 $46.00  Old vine Monastrell from Jumilla is what Clio is mostly made from (along with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon). These thick skinned grapes are picked at full ripeness and treated with great care at every step in this wine’s elaboration. The end result is a dark, full bodied red that will best accompany a full-flavored meaty meal. Josh Raynolds recently reviewed the new vintage of Clio for The International Wine Cellar. He rated the wine 93 points saying: “Inky purple. Vibrant red and dark berries on the nose, with sexy vanillin oak, Asian spices, fresh flowers and bright minerality. A silky, graceful midweight, displaying vivid raspberry and blackberry flavors and slow-building tannic grip. More tangy than the 2004, and at least as elegant, finishing with outstanding clarity and persistence.”

 

El Nido 2005 $140.00 The flagship wine from this celebrated Jumilla region winery is made from the same fruit as the Clio but the proportions are switched around. El Nido is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with 30% old vine Monastrell. Josh Raynolds also reviewed this wine for Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. He rated it 94 points, saying “Opaque violet. Seductively perfumed bouquet of red and dark berry liqueur, graphite, Asian spices and incense. This saturates every nook and cranny of the palate with flavors of sweet raspberry, boysenberry, candied licorice, cinnamon and vanilla. Impressively fresh for such flavor impact, thanks to gentle tannins and vibrant finishing minerality. A lingering, subtle strawberry quality underscores this wine’s impression of elegance over brute force.

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