Yes, it’s true. The floodgates are cranked wide open on the flow of Spanish wine into the USA.
According to the Spanish Exterior Commerce Commission (ICEX), we in the USA now consume over 11 percent of all exported Spanish wine. The value of Spanish wine sold here also continues to grow by hefty margins with each passing year (15% increase in 2006 over 2005, for instance).
What this means for you and me is that we have more choices than ever before when it come to wine from Spain. From crisp, bubbly Cava to elegant Gran Reserva Rioja (and many others in between) the options and varieties are numerous.
At The Spanish Table we taste dozens of wines each week, searching for the best in quality and value, winnowing out the indistinct or overpriced choices that invariably crop up in such a broad and expanding market. The small percentage of wines that finally end up on our shelves represent some of the very best that Spain has to offer right now.
Happily, for those of us with a taste for tradition, some of our ‘new arrivals’ are in fact old favorites. The most intriguing element of the Spanish wine world for me is the mix of famous old bodegas (both large and small) and young, new wineries (also ranging from giant factories to tiny artisan projects). This broad range is reflected in our current batch of new arrivals.
This week we are excited to witness the return to the US market of Marqués de Murrieta, a well established and respected name in Rioja that has been off the market here for several vintages. They are back with a new importer and several excellent wines.
Also from Rioja is the new vintage of Conde de Valdemar rosado, a perennial summertime favorite here.
A big hit in its initial release last year was the basque Txakoli called Gurrutxaga. It is back in the new 2007 vintage.
Speaking of white wines, we are very excited about our latest Albariño called Paco & Lola. Don’t be put off by the silly name or the polka dotted label. This is an excellent example of what Albariño can be when made by skilled and attentive winemakers.
We are also quite pleased with a new white wine from Rueda called Vevi. This flavor filled bottle combines high quality with low price; a combination that always makes me smile.
Finally this week, we have a unique red wine for you. The Arrels Sangre de Garnatxa is made in the Montsant region of Catalunya by local Bay Area winemakers. This small production wine is very difficult to find outside of a few San Francisco restaurants. Those of you who enjoy rich, dark reds will rejoice at the prospect of having this wine in your own personal cellar.
Here then are six choices from among the almost 600 wines we carry
Vevi Rueda 2007 This is the inaugural vintage of a custom blended Rueda wine created specially by Antonio Sanz and the importer José Pastor. The wine is 80% Verdejo and 20% Viura. The bright lemon color mimics aromas and flavors of fresh citrus. Additional notes of melon and guava with a bit of minerality in the background add depth to this bright and refreshing wine. $10.99
Gurrutxaga Txakoli 2007 This basque Txakoli wine comes from the little village of Mendexa along Spain’s northern Cantabrian coast (curiously, the image on the bottle is of the neighboring town, Lekeitio). Crisp, flinty minerality and grapefruity flavor combine in this spritzy, low alcohol white. $15.99
Paco & Lola Albariño 2007 This new arrival will delight Albariño lovers. Pale yellow color with green reflections, citrus and mineral aromas and white peach fruit character all combine with bright, assertive acidity in this excellent example from D.O. Rías Baixas. $19.99
Conde de Valdemar Rosado 2007 The newest vintage of this Rioja region rosado is composed of mostly Garnacha with a bit of Tempranillo added to the blend. This refreshing, summery wine is dark pink in color with ripe strawberry fruit character balancing bright, citrusy acidity. Like a fresh breeze on a hot afternoon, this wine can cool you down and perk you up simultaneously. $10.99
Marqués de Murrieta reserva 2004 We have waited years for this wine to come back to our shores and the wait was not in vain. This excellent, mature red is everything Rioja aficionados look for in a traditional reserva. Brick red color, rich fruit character and elegantly integrated barrel tannins all contribute to the overall experience of this wine. Josh Raynolds of Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar gave the wine 91 points, saying: “Fading medium red. Strawberry and cherry-vanilla aromas are complicated by cured tobacco and coffee. Light in body and supple, offering sweet red fruit flavors, gentle tannins and good back-end grip. Deepened with air, picking up darker berries and a pleasantly bitter cherry skin quality. Finishes with an echo of red fruits and vanilla. Textbook Rioja, and drinking beautifully right now.” $26.99
Arrels Sangre de Garnatxa 2004 This dark, opulent wine from the Montsant region of Catalunya has roots right here in the Bay Area. Arrels is a small production (444 cases in total) project between local Chefs Laurent Manrique (Aqua), Gerald Hirigoyen (Piperade, Bocadillos), Sylvain Portay and Master Sommelier Emmanuel Kemiji (both formerly at the Ritz Carleton, San Francisco). The wine is 100% Garnacha sourced from a small, high altitude plot of old vines. Opaque garnet color and rich, concentrated black cherry fruit character along with tart acidity and background minerality. T-bone steaks, cooked rare on the grill would be a good match. Read more about the wine makers here in a recent SF Chronicle article. $36.99