Tag Archives: listan negro

The Path Less Traveled

Sometimes the most interesting wines are the ones you don’t expect. A little known grape variety or a region that is off the beaten path can provide the most unexpected pleasure.
This week we offer you two examples of unusual wines that will delight your sense of taste as well as your sense of adventure.

2008 Soalheiro Primeiras Vinhas
It used to be that Portuguese Vinho Verde was simple, spritzy, fun in a bottle. While those wines still exist (and we stock them enthusiastically), a new breed of Vinho Verde can be found that features estate grown grapes with distinct pedigree, vintage specific bottlings and finely tuned wine making skills. Soalheiro Alvarinho Primeiras Vinhas is a standard setter for top shelf Vinho Verde. This 100% Alvarinho wine from Soalheiro’s oldest vineyards is crisp and elegant. Greenish tint (from whence the region gets its name) and spritzy effervescence are in keeping with regional style. The use of 100% Alvarinho as well as the detailed level of winemaking skill sets this wine apart from all other wines in the area. Grapefruit aroma and a palate of fresh citrus blossom and flinty minerality give this wine a distinctiveness that is truly unique. This ain’t no back porch Vinho Verde. This is some serious juice! $33.99

2009 Bermejo Tinto ‘Maceracion Carbonica’
Wines from the Canary Islands have been few and far between in the USA but thanks to the intrepid folks at Jose Pastor Selections numerous intriguing bottles from this string of Spanish islands off the coast of Africa are about to become much more prevalent around here. Bermejo Tinto from Lanzarote, made from the local Listan Negro grape, comes in several styles. This one is made in the “Maceracion Carbonica” style (whole cluster fermentation, a technique used to make fresh,youthful wines quickly) and tastes like a French Beaujolais grown in rocky, volcanic soil. Pure, bright fruit character combines with quartz crystal minerality. This light bodied red will work its magic equally with seafood, poultry and meatless meals. $19.99

Paella Class

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Our friends at Kitchen On Fire Cooking School are hosting us once again for our semi-regular Paella class. The date is Monday September 20th at 6:30 PM.

This is a hands-on class that teaches all the skills needed to make fabulous paella in all sizes and flavors. We will work together to make a large  paella that will include meat, chicken, seafood and vegetables. We will also make several quick tapas to nibble on while we wait for the paella to cook as well as a light dessert. Several paella friendly wines will be sampled along the way. Details and registration are all to be found on the Kitchen On Fire web site at:

www.kitchenonfire.com/classes/view/id/1220/

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Filed under events, Portugal, Red Wine, White Wine

Buyer’s Choice

Wine drinkers are an opinionated bunch, united by our strongly held though often opposing beliefs about what constitutes ‘the good stuff’.

What one drinker enjoys, another may dislike. Some of us appreciate wines with delicate and subtle characteristics, while others are drawn to wines possessing bold, assertive flavors. My ‘balanced and elegant’ may be your ‘thin and lifeless’.

I am known to tell customers that among the hundreds of wines we carry (548 at last count), you are bound to find wines that you love as well as wines that are not to your taste. That is why we carry such a broad assortment. My job is to buy across a broad spectrum of styles and to steer you toward whatever type of wine you most enjoy.

Of course, when the day is done and I buy a bottle to take home and drink with dinner, I, like you, have my own particular preferences. Occasionally I write about the wines that I personally enjoy, not only as an exercise in shameless self promotion but also as a way to help you gauge what you read here. You can put my opinions in perspective and calibrate my palate to your own if you know what I like.

So this week it’s all about me, me, me.

As a wine buyer I taste boatloads of wines that are varietally and regionally ‘correct’ without being particularly interesting. For each wine that I buy for The Spanish Table, many more have been sampled and rejected for one reason or another. I tend to seek out wines with a noticeable difference from the many lookalike choices crowding the field.

Perhaps it’s my contrarian nature (almost a birthright in Berkeley) or maybe I am simply suffering from palate fatigue after trying so many wines at work, but at home I tend to favor simple wines that express their nature without pretense. A wine from a far flung region made from a little known grape will excite my intellect. A wine with a moderate level of alcohol, well integrated oak (or none at all, even better) and pure, clean fruit character will awaken my senses. The combination of all these elements really captures my attention.

This week I am highlighting some of my current personal favorites that are also appropriate to the autumn season. When you come into the store you will now find a special section labeled ‘Kevin’s Favorites’ with all these wines gathered together in one place. Please give them a try and let me know what you think.

Viña Mein 2007 This wine is fashioned from a blend of 80% Treixadura, 10% Godello, 5% Loureiro, and 1% to 2% each of Albariño, Torrontés, Albilla and Caiño. Bright gold color, fresh melon aroma and bright citrus fruit character never overwhelm the flinty mineral foundation that maintains the lean focus of this unoaked white wine. $19.99

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

Gorrondona Tinto 2007 The rare and elusive red Txakoli is difficult to find. These firmly tannic wines are lean and full of mineral flavor, with a gentle fruit character that fades quickly with age. Happily, the new Gorrondona Tinto, made from 100% Hondarribi Beltza (grown in miniscule quantities on ancient vines), is super fresh, with light berry-like fruit character balancing firm minerality. This is an excellent and unusual light red. $27.99

Viña do Burato 2007 This wine from Ribeira Sacra in Northwestern Spain, made from the local Mencía grape, is bright and youthful, medium bodied and relatively low in alcohol (12.5%). Firm minerality and delicate floral aroma combine with gentle fruit character. This small production wine (400 cases in total) is a rare treat from a region that deserves much more attention. $19.99

Tajinaste Tinto Tradicional 2007 This unique wine comes from the Orotava Valley of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. Agustín García founded Bodegas Tajinaste in 1981. He produces this wine from the local Listán Negro grape. This unoaked wine (they make a barrel aged red too) is cloudy lavender in color with light texture and sweet floral perfume. Firm minerality creates a foundation which supports fresh mulberry fruit character and gentle tannins. $21.99

 

 

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Filed under Portugal, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

Wine Strategy

Everywhere I turn these days, I find people watching their budgets more closely than before.  As the current gyrations of financial markets continue, increasing uncertainty leads to difficult choices about where to spend our dwindling resources. In tough economic times we all need to prioritize our expenses.

When it comes to putting wine on the dinner table, the good news is that frugality does not need to include deprivation. What is needed is a good strategy.

With some careful shopping, excellent wines can be found for very reasonable prices. I write this with confidence because my primary responsibility around here is to find wines that combine high quality with low price.

For those of you who have shopped at The Spanish Table for years, this is not news. You know that Spain and Portugal are consistent sources of great wine values. Last year we added wines from Argentina and Chile to our collection because we saw the ever-increasing level of quality and value coming from these countries. In the last month we have started carrying a few Iberian style wines from right here in California that compare favorably in price and quality to their counterparts from distant shores.

My (admittedly partisan) coping strategy is simple, if a bit blunt. Tough times require good wine.

A simply prepared dinner, accompanied by a uniquely delicious bottle of wine is a surefire stress reducer.  The company of family and friends around the dinner table is both gratifying and economical.  Share a well made and well priced wine with your friends and you will earn both their gratitude and their respect.

Currently, The Spanish Table carries over 160 wines that are priced under $15 per bottle, with an additional 150 wines that come in under $30 per bottle. Included among these are some new wines that just arrived this week.

Continue reading to check out our latest new wines and remember that this is just a sample of the distinctly delicious and oh so affordable wines that you will find every day at The Spanish Table.

 

Hidalgo Clásica Amontillado This well priced Amontillado Sherry from the famous Bodegas Hidalgo–La Gitana exhibits light raisin fruit character as well as abundant toasted almond aroma and flavor. This medium dry Sherry makes an excellent accompaniment to full flavored cheeses, cured meats and other salty snacks. $11.99

 

Calcari 2007 If you are weary from drinking oaky white wines loaded with the flavors of coconut, vanilla and melted butter then this may well be the wine you have been searching for. Pares Balta, a Catalan winery in the heart of D.O. Penedès, makes this white wine from the local Xarel-l0 (more or less pronounced cha-rel-OH) grape usually reserved for the production of sparkling Cava. This unoaked, single varietal wine is stripped bare of all superfluous elements, leaving behind a crisp wine that is flinty and lean with tart grapefruit flavor and chalky minerality. $16.99

 

Solà Fred 2006 In the Montsant region of Catalunya, Celler el Masroig makes Solà Fred, a blend of 90% Cariñena and 10% Garnacha, fermented in tank without passing through any period of ageing in oak barrels. The result is a fresh, light, balanced wine with expressive fruit character and gentle grape skin tannins. Clear ruby color, abundant fresh berry aroma, bright acidity and almost weightless texture combine to create a wine that refreshes the palate and stimulates the appetite. $11.99

 

Luzon Verde 2007 This is a big wine for a small price. We just received the new 2007 vintage of this crowd pleasing 100% Monastrell wine from the Mediterranean Jumilla region. Bodegas Luzon makes this wine from their organically farmed vineyard (their other wines are not organic). Dark color, bold fruit character and bright acidity combine to express the youthful, primary quality of this rich red wine. $10.99

 

Alaia 2005 This dark, robust red is a blend of 50% Prieto Picudo (a little known grape that thrives in this region) along with 45% Tempranillo and 5% Merlot. Aromas of mushrooms and fresh earth encounter ripe blackberry fruit character and mid-weight barrel tannins (the wine spends 9 months in oak). A spicy finish rounds out the picture. $12.99

 

Tajinaste Tinto Tradicional 2007 This unique wine comes from the Orotava Valley of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands.  Agustín García founded Bodegas Tajinaste in 1981. He produces this wine from the local Listán Negro grape. This unoaked wine (they make a barrel aged red too) is cloudy lavender in color with light texture and sweet floral perfume. Firm minerality creates a foundation which supports fresh mulberry fruit character and gentle tannins.  $21.99

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