“Where should I start?” is a common question shoppers ask when faced with literally hundreds of choices in our wine department.
We are proud of our unique selections at The Spanish Table, but newcomers can get overwhelmed by the sheer number of wines and other products, few of them familiar to those who grew up outside of Spain. Even our expatriate Spaniards can find unique and unfamiliar wines from the new wineries that are popping up all across Spain like mushrooms after a spring rain.
So, for those of you who are still wondering what the big deal is with all these Spanish wines you keep hearing about, continue reading (actually, everyone should continue reading, even the true Spanish wine aficionados, because the excellent values may well get you to re-try an old favorite or two).
If you are searching for a new favorite white wine, look no further than our newest Basque Txakoli or this week’s latest Galician Albariño. If your appetite yearns for a new wine to liven up a traditional back yard cookout, then you owe it to yourself to try the new vintage of one of our more popular young red wines from D.O. Yecla on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. For an excellent introduction to the wines of Rioja, check out our new promotion featuring the wines of Bodegas Montecillo.
Located in the Rioja Alta town of Fuenmayor, Bodegas Montecillo has roots that stretch back to the early glory days of Rioja. Founded in 1874, this winery has crafted traditional Rioja wines for over a century. Now owned by the large Grupo Osborne (the same Osborne that decorates the Spanish roadside with immense cutout silhouettes of their trademark black bull), Montecillo continues to make young white and aged red wines of consistently excellent quality thanks to the tireless efforts of Maria Martinez Sierra.
At her post for over thirty years, Señora Martinez Sierra is a very talented and well respected winemaker. She buys the best fruit (Montecillo owns no vineyards) each season for the wines, elaborating all the red wines with varying amounts of time in French oak barrels. Her preference for bought, rather than estate grown fruit allows her to skip a vintage if the primary material is not up to her quality standards. She uses only French oak to age the wines as she feels it gives a more balanced character to the wine than American oak. She insists that Montecillo red wines are all 100 % Tempranillo, unblended with any other varieties, a rare practice in a region where this primary grape can be a bit thin and pallid without a boost from darker and riper varieties such as Mazuelo, Graciano or Garnacha, the traditional blending grapes of the region.
Montecillo wines are excellent examples of delicious and well priced Rioja. For a few weeks we will be selling the remaining supply of the current vintages at significantly reduced prices.
To accompany these wines I suggest a typical regional dish known as Patatas A La Riojana.
Patatas A La Riojana (adapted from My Kitchen In Spain by Janet Mendel, $14.99)
(serves 4 as a first course)
3 pounds potatoes (Russet, Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn work well)
¼ cup Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium sized onion
1 medium sized green pepper
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoon salt
1 lb. Doña Juana brand Chorizo Riojano
2 cups water
Peel the potatoes and break them into medium sized chunks by inserting a fork and twisting (breaking the potatoes rather than slicing releases more starch and gives an interesting texture).
Dice pepper and onion into ½ inch pieces.
Heat olive oil in earthenware olla (lidded soup pot).
Add onion and pepper to the pot with 1 teaspoon of salt, Fry for a few minutes until softened.
Slice chorizo into bite sized pieces and add to pot. Fry Chorizo until slightly browned.
Add the chunked potatoes, water, paprika, remaining salt and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
Cook slowly until potatoes are fully cooked and starting to fall apart. There should be enough liquid left to create a starchy broth.
Turn off heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Adjust salt to taste. Remove bay leaf before serving.
Montecillo Blanco 2005 $7.99 (was $10.99) Pale yellow with green reflections. 100% Viura grapes (the traditional white grape of Rioja) fermented without the use of oak barrels. Abundant melon and pear aroma and flavor, crisp acidity and background notes of tarragon and beeswax.
Oreka 2006 $19.99 Our newest Txakoli wine from the Basque lands in Northern Spain is a stunner. Oreka (a Basque word that roughly translates as ‘balance’) is made from the indigenous Hondaribbi Zuri grape. Richer and more abundantly fruity than the rather lean and mineral wines that are typical of this windswept coastal region, Oreka displays slight spritzy effervescence and a firm mineral foundation overlaid with flavors of grapefruit and quince.
Nessa Albariño 2006 $14.99 Our newest Albariño is from Adegas Gran Vinum in D.O. Rías Baixas on the Atlantic coast of Spain. Those of you who are familiar with the varietal will be happy to find such a well priced offering and those who have yet to try this refreshing Spanish white wine will be excited by the crisply bright flavors. Josh Raynolds recently reviewed this wine for Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. He summed the wine up nicely.
“Light yellow. Spicy citrus and pear aromas are brightened by white flowers and ginger. Racy, precise and pleasingly bitter, with strong lemon zest and pear skin flavors. This tightly wound albarino shows a lively, persistent finish. A very good value and a great choice for summer guzzling. 88 points.”
Carro Tinto 2006 $10.99 The new vintage of this popular red wine from D.O. Yecla has just arrived. Composed of a blend of a blend of 50% Monastrell, 20% Syrah, 20% Tempranillo and 10% Merlot, this easy drinking red will add spice and contrast to your next backyard cookout. Dark, bold and fruity with intriguing flinty background flavor.
Montecillo Crianza 2003 $8.99 (was $11.99) Made from 100% Tempranillo fruit, aged for 12 months in French oak before bottling. Dark ruby color with initial oaky aroma that gives way to rich cherry and blackberry fruit character. Savory background flavors of minerals and tannic oak.
Montecillo Reserva 2001 $15.99 (was $20.99) Made from 100% Tempranillo fruit, aged for 18 months prior to bottling. Dark garnet color with ruby reflections. Bold aromas of black cherry and minerals. Smooth, elegant texture. Flavors of plum and blackberry. An opulent wine from an excellent vintage. Mature and ready to drink now, but with cellaring potential for at least 3 – 8 more years.