Tag Archives: malvasia

Barbeito Signature Madeiras

A few weeks back I was invited to a Madeira tasting put on by Manny Berk, the owner of The Rare Wine Company. He had brought Ricardo Freitas over from Madeira to introduce the new collection of Signature Madeiras from Barbeito. Ricardo is the grandson of Mario Barbeito de Vasconcelos who founded Vinhos Barbeito in 1946. In the early days, it was possible to travel around the island buying up large quantities of privately owned wine, some of it dating back to the 18th century. The company earned a reputation as the source of mature, aged Madeira as well as younger wines bought from small local wine makers.Today Ricardo Freitas carries on the family tradition while simultaneously marketing the new collection of single harvest and single cask Madeiras that are distinctly different in style from the older wines. These new wines are not blends of many different wines over numerous vintages as has been the tradition in Madeira. They are instead an expression of unique characteristics of the climate, geography and geology of Madeira. This unique “terroir” driven style is new to the island and the resulting wines are prized for their balance and precision.
We are proud to be among the first retailers to carry these distinctive and delicious wines. Here are some details on these new arrivals:

2001 Boal The 2001 Boal Madeira is a blend of two exceptional casks of vintage wine from the same year. This is a bright amber gold colored wine with aromas of toffee and woody essence. Flavors of toasted almond and light raisin sweetness support bright acidity and feather light texture. $39.99 (500 ml)

2000 Malvasia Single cask ’44a’
The 2000 Malvasia is a rare single cask Madeira. Just 1026 bottles were produced from this exemplary batch of mature Malvasia that was selected by Ricardo Freitas fot its concentrated and aromatic qualities. Light amber in color the wine possesses aromas of brandied raisin and toffee. Flavors of walnuts and dried fruits precede a rich,warm finish laced with dusty minerality. Drier than a typical Malvasia, this wine exhibits a complex elegance that reflects the care with which it was created.$54.00 (500 ml)

1994 Sercial Single Cask ’70b’ The 1994 Barbeito Sercial is a rare single cask Madeira. Just 252 bottles were produced from this exemplary batch of mature Sercial that was selected by Ricardo Freitas from a small batch of fruit grown on the north side of the island in Arco de São Jorge. The fermented wine was aged in a single old 450 liter French oak cask called a “Canteiro”. Light amber in color the wine possesses aromas and flavors of almonds and toasted walnuts. The texture is feather light and precise. The alcohol is warming yet not obvious or intrusive. This is a fabulous choice for pairing with rich cream soups and cured meats.$49.99 (500 ml)

VB Reserva This is the second lot of 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 (“cask 12d”) of 2001 Verdelho and another (“cask 46a”) 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)

Pão Português

An exciting new  non-wine shopping opportunity has started this week and I thought you should know about it. The Spanish Table in Berkeley  will now have Portuguese bread deliveries every Thursday from Silva Bakery in Hayward. Available this weekend in limited quantities: massa sovada (Portuguese sweet bread), pão de mihlo (Portuguese corn bread), papo secos (dinner rolls), biscoitos (crunchy cinnamon twists) and pasteis de nata (custard tarts). This is a new venture for us, so we’re starting slowly. If you know you want bread or pasteis next weekend, let us know so we can special-order them for you for delivery next Thursday.

We tested out the new bread with another newly arrived Portuguese product (also available only in the Berkeley store at present) called Bifanas de Porco. The good folks over at Barcelos Linguica just started making these traditional  thin cut pork cutlets that they marinate in lemon juice, piri-piri pepper and garlic.  Quickly grilled and served on a Silva’s roll this tasty and traditional Portuguese snack needed only a few grilled onions, some fried potatoes and a cold Sagres beer (or a glass of Vinho Verde) to complete the picture. Muito tasty!

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Aged & Fortified

As the year draws to a close, and with holiday celebrations in full swing, I want to take just a moment to thank all of you for your continuing support and enthusiasm for what we do here at The Spanish Table.
My holiday wish for each and every one of our loyal customers is that you get a few precious moments (somewhere/somehow, in the next week or two) to breath, relax and reflect upon the past year in all its aspects, positive and otherwise. In keeping with my function here, may I suggest that a small glass of aged Port, Madeira or Jerez (Sherry) wine, sipped slowly in the comfort of your own home, is a very appropriate way to contemplate the past and its relationship to the now and the soon to come.These days, young and quick gets all the attention while old and slow gets pushed to the side and too often forgotten altogether. When you drink a glass of 30 year old Amontillado you  acknowledge the benefits that only come with time and maturity. A 20 year old Tawny Port contains wines from many past vintages, only reaching their full potential over decades of slow elaboration. Madeira wines, from that eponymous island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, hearken back to the days of sailing ships and the Age of Discovery, a time long gone that nonetheless still figures prominently in the modern history of Spain and Portugal. These wines teach us, in no uncertain terms, that age has its benefits and that some things (many of the best ones) take time to create. So pour yourself a little glass of history, and another one for your friends and loved ones, even spilling out a few drops on the bare ground in memory of those no longer extant. Here are a few choices to ease you out of this year and into the next one:

Del Duque VORS Amontillado
The VORS designation is a recent addition to Sherry nomenclature, used to indicate wines that are at least 30 years old. These fortified wines are held for decades in the winery, getting topped off each year with small quantities of fresh stock to protect the wine from oxidation. This richly aromatic wine displays scents of dried fruit, toasted almonds and fresh hay. On the palate it is completely dry and elegant, offering up flavors of walnuts, more almonds and the barest hint of raisin-like fruit character . Brandy-like warmth makes this a particularly appropriate wine for sipping on a cold evening. $39.99(375ml)

Apostoles VORS Palo Cortado Palo Cortado is the rarest of Jerez wines. 30 year old Palo Cortado is even rarer still. Drawn from the best barrels in the bodega, Palo Cortado wines are usually held aside for the personal consumption needs of the wine makers’ families and friends. This particular wine, from the famed Bodegas Gonzalez Byass was recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle where Jon Bonné recommended it as one of his favorite gift wines. This amber/gold colored wine offers a sublime combination of the toasted walnut and almond flavors present in the Palomino Fino grape paired with the raisin and fig fruit character that comes from the small percentage of Pedro Ximénez blended into this wine. $39.99 (375ml)

Williams & Humbert Don Guido VOS PX A few years ago the VOS designation was created for Jerez wines with at least 20 years of barrel age. WIlliams & Humbert are a well known producer with significant stocks of aged Sherry. This one is dark mahogany colored with rich aromas and flavors of raisins, dates, figs and baking spices. Dense texture and caramel/toffee sweetness adds further complexity to this rich, sweet sherry that pairs well with dark chocolate. Served in small glasses after a meal this can be dessert all by itself $49.99

Ramos Pinto 20 Year Tawny Port In Portugal, Ramos Pinto is a well loved name in the Port wine trade. This winery owns some of the best vineyard sites in the Douro Valley. Their Quinta da Bom Retiro vineyard, one of the oldest vineyards in the region, is the source of all the grapes for this Tawny Port that is one of Ramos Pinto’s most popular wines. The wine is a blend of past vintages with an average age of 20 years, more or less. This amber colored wine displays dried fruit aromas yet is quite dry on the palate. Toasted almonds, walnut skin and coffee bean notes add to the finely tuned balance of flavors. Serve this wine with salty cured meats before dinner or, alternately, alongside a selection of aged cheeses after a meal. $72.00

Barros 1979 Colheita Port Founded in 1913, Barros is a relatively young addition to the world of Port wines, but they managed to build their reputation with their vintage ports and their amazing Colheitas which have won numerous international competitions world wide. Colheita Port (Tawny Port from a single vintage) is nutty and dry with just the barest hint of fruit character. The 1979 Colheita is dark amber in color with brandy-like warmth and aroma. Nutty complexity and background notes of baking spices and toasted oak create a long and aromatic finish. This 500 ml bottle comes in a nifty wooden box, making a gorgeous gift for someone celebrating a 30th anniversary this year. $93.00 (500ml)

Historic Series Madeira


Earlier this week Eric Asimov wrote an interesting piece in The New York Times about
pairing Madeira with savory foods. He specifically mentioned the Historic Series Madeiras from The Rare Wine Company. These unique wines include a portion of older wines blended with a larger portion of younger stocks intended to recreate the flavor of Madeira from days long gone by.
We are proud to carry these wines at The Spanish Table and I can personally vouch for just how great they are when served during (as well as after) a meal.  I have tried these wines with everything from fois gras and lobster to simple rice and pasta dishes. My personal favorite Madeira pairing leans toward anything involving cheese. If you have not yet experienced this distinctive food/wine combination, here are a few suggestions to get you thinking:

RWC Charleston Sercial Sercial, the driest of the Madeira grapes, creates lean, flinty wines with marked almond aroma and flavor. Toasted barrel character and burnt caramel back notes add to the long and complex experience of this amber/gold colored wine. $49.99

RWC Boston Bual The medium sweet Bual grape is the most popular choice for many Madeira appreciators. This dark amber colored wine is richly aromatic with notes of toffee, tangerine, cloves, burnt match stick, and a hint of brandied raisin.The acidity washes over the palate leaving lingering flavors of minerals, burnt sugar and candied orange zest. $49.99

RWC New York Malmsey Madeira wines made from the Malmsey (or Malvasia) grape reside at the sweet end of the spectrum. The New York Malmsey is dark mahogany in color with rich aromas of dates, figs, raisins and baking spices. Flavors of butterscotch and caramel add to the opulent character of this wine. Bright acidity leaves the flavors practically etched on the tongue. Traditionally served after a meal, New York Malmsey is a dessert course all by itself, but will work beautifully with some aged cheese. $49.99

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