Tag Archives: montilla moriles

Bar Lata

What is it about a small Spanish tapas bar that inspires thirst, hunger and conviviality all at the same time? The atmosphere is informal and friendly, the food is simple and ready to serve, the wines are well chosen and everything is modestly priced. It’s fast food for people who care about what they consume.

So why has ‘tapas’ become a pejorative word that evokes a fad several years past its prime?

My often voiced opinion is that the tapas concept has been turned on its head. The word ‘tapas’ has become restaurant code for ‘tiny appetizer’. A round of tapas with friends is a self contained snack while an appetizer is the first course of a full meal. This distinction has been hard to make due to a lack of proper tapas bars here in our part of the world. That is about to change.

Yesterday Daniel Olivella from B44 in San Francisco opened his new Bar Lata on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland.

In keeping with tradition the space is diminutive and simply decorated.  A long and varied list of cold and hot tapas is well paired with a wine selection that covers all of Spain. A unique collection of “canned” (lata = can) items are made in house and, in homage to the many superlative canned foods of Spain, are served in little oval shaped metal tins (the Lata de Pulpo was a traditional mix of octopus and potatoes dressed with extra virgin olive oil and a hearty dusting of smoked paprika).

Last night, seated in the corner with a view of the entire space I contentedly sipped a glass of cold, crisp Manzanilla while all around me the many wines of Spain, objects of my personal and professional passion, were flowing busily from bottle to glass. On one table a red Garnacha blend from Montsant was passed around amongst a cheery group of six. On another table bottle after bottle of Galician Albariño was happily consumed by an increasingly boisterous couple. Up front at the bar glasses of frothy Cava were handed out to a group of newly arrived patrons.

“This” I said to my wife “is my kind of place”.

In honor of my newfound home away from home, this week we feature a few the wines seen at (or inspired by) Bar Lata that are also found here at The Spanish Table. They have a pretty extensive list so if you go and try something you like, let me know and if I don’t have it already, I’ll get it.

Meanwhile across the Bay: I will be leading a wine class next week in San Francisco on Thursday March 19th at 7 pm at 18 Reasons (593 Guerrero St @ 18th St), a gallery in the Mission whose motto is “bringing the community together through food and art”.  The theme the evening is “Spanish Bubbles” and will include a tasting of sparkling Cava, lightly effervescent Txakoli from Basque Country and Vi D’Agulla from Catalunya as well as a sweet sparkling Muscat from Valencia. Background notes on the wines will be available during the event along with discounted purchasing opportunities. Appropriate snacks (dare I call them ‘tapas’?) will be prepared by the 18 Reasons crew. All of this can be had for the extremely tasty price of $10 ($5 dollars for 18 Reasons members). Go to their web site, http://18reasons.org/ for details and directions or call them at (415)-252-9816.

San León Manzanilla Clásica This wine, with an average age of 8 years, is palest straw colored and full of yeasty, saline aroma (like a fresh sea breeze) and toasted almond and chamomile flavors. If you are a Manzanilla lover this is an excellent new wine to add to your list. If you have not yet had a chance to try this most distinctive Spanish wine, this is the perfect place to start. $12.99 (375ml)

Gran Barquero Fino In the hills of Andalucia, just south of Cordoba in D.O. Montilla-Moriles they make fortified wines using the Pedro Ximénez grape.  These wines share the same production techniques as Sherry from D.O. Jerez further south. Gran Barquero Fino is pale straw colored, bracingly dry, lean and full of toasted almond aroma. $17.99

Sete Cepas Albariño 2007 This well priced Albariño is pale yellow tinged with green. Grapefruit aroma, lean minerality and light, refreshing texture are all to be found in this young white wine from Galicia. $12.99

Avinyó Vi D’Agulla 2007 Made in the Penedès region of Catalunya, this wine from the makers of Avinyó Cava is composed of Petit Grain Muscat, fermented to dryness and bottled with a bit of residual effervescence. The rich Muscat scent is present here but the sweetness usually associated with this grape is only barely perceived. In its place is tart citrusy fruit character and background flintiness. This wine was originally $14.99 but is on sale while it lasts for $11.99

Can Blau 2007 This dark, opulent Montsant region blend of Cariñena, Syrah and Garnacha is ripe and bold yet balanced too. Judging from the number of bottles of Can Blau that I saw being poured at Bar Lata in Oakland the other night, this is a real crowd pleaser. Personal experience affirms this perspective. $16.99

Senorio de P.Peciña Crianza 2000 Produced from a blend of mostly Tempranillo with small additions of Garnacha and Graciano, this Crianza level wine spends an extended period (2 years) ageing in French and American oak barrels, with an additional year of bottle ageing before release. The bright cherry-like fruit and resiny tannic barrel character that are typical of traditional Crianza Riojas are present here in a finely tuned frame. Serve this wine with sliced Serrano ham or cured Spanish chorizo for a classic flavor pairing. $19.99

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Feliz Navidad

Since opening in Berkeley seven years ago The Spanish Table’s reputation has grown steadily, mostly by word of mouth, as one of the few specialty stores featuring the food traditions of Spain, Portugal and Latin America. Now, with Christmas a week away, we are stocking many of the traditional holiday items that are difficult to find elsewhere.  The deliveries of wines, cookies, chocolates and other seasonal treats continue to arrive daily here and the staff is busily stacking everything in tall piles to satisfy demand for these unique items.

In the wine department we make sure to carry a wide variety of sweet Moscatel, Porto, Madeira and Sherry at this time of year in addition to numerous sparkling wines and rich, wintery reds.  This week I call your attention to a few of these traditional Christmas wines.  

Also, we have an upcoming event (don’t worry, it’s after the Holidays) organized by Andy and Tanya Booth, the c0-owners of The Spanish Table. Here is what Andy had to say about the Wine Dinner at César in Oakland:

The giant Tio Pepe weathervane that sits on top of the Gonzalez Byass Bodega is one of the first things that you see as you drive into Jerez from the town just south, Puerto de Santa Maria.  Many of my memories of the five years I lived in Spain while I was seven have the ubiquitous logo of Tio Pepe Fino somewhere in the background.
We are extremely fortunate to have Felipe Gonzalez -Terry Gordon of Gonzalez-Byass visiting San Francisco in January and we’ll be hosting a wine dinner on Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 at 7:00 at Cesar’s in Oakland for a fabulous night featuring Spanish foods and wines.  Maggie Pond, the Chef at Cesar’s, has put together a tasty menu featuring tapas, paella and dessert that is paired specifically with the sherries and wines we’ll be tasting.
Felipe will join us to speak about his family’s long tradition of making superb sherries (including Tio Pepe, Alfonso Oloroso and Noe Pedro Ximenez) and amazing wines such as Beronia Gran Reserva.  The cost is $65 per person and includes dinner, wine pairings, tax and gratuity.  This could even be the perfect gift for your foodie friends and/or family members.  Stop by our Mill Valley or Berkeley stores to sign up or give us a ring at 415-388-5043.
See you there
!”

 

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

 

Don PX Gran Reserva 1979 This rare aged wine made from Pedro Ximénez grapes that are partially sun dried before fermentation is celebrating its 30th birthday this year. It is dark and thick as molasses, with concentrated sweetness and flavors of figs, raisins and baking spices. Amazing depth and complexity.  The SF Chronicle recently wrote this wine up in their annual gift guide. Read the article here. $29.99 (375ml)

 

J.P. Moscatel de Setubal 2001This sweet dessert wine from the Setubal Peninsula in Portugal is a perennial favorite at Christmastime. Amber colored and redolent of brandied raisins and honey, this wine is perfect fireside refreshment. $14.99

 

Infantado Vintage Port 1997 While searching for a really delicious and well priced Vintage Port to offer during the holiday season I was thrilled to find this wine from an outstanding year made by a small family winery in the heart of the Douro Valley. The Infantado style is gentler than most, with a sweet floral quality reminiscent of an older wine. $45.99

 

Infantado Vintage Port 1995 For those seeking the pleasures of Quinta do Infantado Vintage Port in a stocking stuffer size we have just brought in the 1995 vintage in half bottles.  This wine is a bit more evolved than the 1997 (in addition to being an older vintage, the smaller bottles age faster than the big ones) with softer acidity and mellower fruit character.  $26.99 (375ml)

 

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 their wines. 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

 

Abel Mendoza Seleccion Personal 2003 Abel Mendoza Monge is a third generation grape grower and winemaker producing a handful of excellently crafted wines from his small estate vineyards in Rioja. Each year his Seleccion Personal is made from whichever of his vineyards performs best (thus the name).  This small production (approx. 7000 bottles) wine is dark and concentrated. Toasty barrel aroma dominates at first but blows off with some exposure to air. The meaty, impenetrable element gives way to a rich elegance. Mineral back notes soften with time but never disappear.  Originally priced at $52.00, we have a small quantity available at $34.99.

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