Tag Archives: navarra

What The Heart Wants

“It is the nature of desire not to be satisfied”.
That famous line from Aristotle is never more true than in the wine world where opinions and perceptions are in constant flux. The popularity of certain wines and various styles of winemaking change with the times, always in response to the desires of the wine drinking public.
Not so long ago rosado wines were considered by many to be sweet, simple, silly wines for summertime picnics. In just the last few years this perception has shifted dramatically. At The Spanish Table we now stock rosado all year long, in a variety of styles from numerous regions in Spain and Portugal. They range in hue from pale coral to ripe watermelon and express a spectrum of aromas and flavors. They can be dry or fruity, floral or mineral, ripe or lean.
Here are a few suggestions to dovetail with the arrival of Valentine’s Day. These are all fabulous representations of the broad range of exceptional pink wines available today at The Spanish Table. Try one of these with a special someone for a memorable Valentine’s Day experience.

img_4081__882672009 Gran Feudo Rosado

Bodegas Julian Chivite’s Gran Feudo Rosado is a classic Navarra region rosado.. It is a popular favorite in Spain as well as here in the USA. Made from all Garnacha grapes, this traditionally styled wine displays strawberry and watermelon aromas with bright acidity and a touch of minerality to tie everything together. This lightly fruity rosado wine makes for some classic Spanish refreshment.

 

 

2008_rosado_gurrutxaga__238642009 Gurrutxaga Rosado
An alternative to traditional white Txakoli, Gurrutxaga also comes in this rosado version that uses the red Hondarribi Beltza grape to produce a very dry pink wine that expresses the barest hint of strawberry fruit character. Chill this and serve as you would a traditional Txakoli. You will be surprised how quickly this low alcohol wine disappears.


img_3694__64451Raventos de Nit Rosado Cava

Raventos i Blanc is a true pioneer of Cava production (this family winery was making sparkling wine before the name Cava existed). Their new vintage rosado cava is phenomenal. Adding 15% Monastrell to the traditional cava blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo tints the wine with the palest pink hue. Fine bubbles lift the yeasty brioche aroma from the glass. The barest hint of strawberry flavor adds context to the dry, crisp, pinpoint precise style that Raventos i Blanc is known for.


rosebrut_montferrant__65586Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado Cava

This rosado cava is a deliciously berry scented yet still dry and refreshing cava that not only looks great in the glass but also offers up classic cava aroma and flavor at a reasonable price. Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado is blend of Garnacha & Monastrell. Darker than many this has a huge following in both stores. Bright strawberry and blackberry flavors, with notes of toast, tangerine and a creamy mousse on the palate.

Portuguese Pink

Our selection of pink wines include several crowd pleasing options from Portugal. These uniquely delicious wines will add a distinctive note to festive meals and get togethers.

img_3683__65991Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Rosé
Aveleda recently released this pink version of their most popular brand, Casal Garcia. Low alcohol and light effervescence are reminiscent of traditional white Vinho Verde. The pale pink hue and light berry aroma are a nice change of pace from the regular version. This spritzy, lightly fruity wine makes a wonderful start to a festive brunch or dinner party.

Luis Pato Espumante Rosé
Luis Pato, famous in Portugal for his bold red wines made from the indigenous Baga grape, has turned his attention to this unusual sparkling img_0205__51706Baga rosé. To produce this wine the grapes are harvested about six weeks early, which means that they have high acidity and low sugars, perfect for a refreshing sparkling wine. It shows pale watermelon color and flavors of tart cherries, pink grapefruit and the trademark earthiness and spice of Portuguese red wines.  All of these flavors are balanced out by bright acidity and foundational minerality.

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Filed under Portugal, rosado, Spain, Sparkling Wine

Kosher For Passover – Kosher Le Pesaj

Kosher wines from Capcanes
Celler de Capcanes is a pioneer among Montsant region bodegas. They began as a farm cooperative in 1933, went through a phase as a bulk wine source for Torres and other larger wineries before bottling wine under their own labels starting in the 1990s. They are best known for expressive Garnacha based reds such as Mas Donis, Costers del Gravet and Cabrida. In 1995 they began making Kosher wines in a separate facility supervised by local Rabbis. The two wines are “Lo Mevushal – Kosher Le Pesaj” (non-meshuval-Kosher for Passover). They are the best Spanish Kosher wines that I have tried among the dozen or so that are produced.

2007 Peraj Petita The younger of the Capcanes Kosher wines is a mulberry hued blend of 60% Garnacha, 20% Tempranillo and 20% Samso (Carinena). The varieties are fermented together before a small portion (15% more or less) is drawn off and aged in barrel of 10 months, after which the final blend is briefly aged in tank before bottling. The fresh, tangy (classic Garnacha) fruit character of the wine finds counterpoint in gently persistent tannins and underlying minerality. $26.99
2005 Peraj Ha’abib Flor de Primavera The flagship Kosher wine from Capcanes is this dark, brooding, rich red. Made up of 35% old vine Garnacha, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Samso (Carinena), the varieties are fermented together before the blend is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. The inky dark color indicates the style of this wine. Ripe berry fruit character blends with tannic oak, dense tannins, and notes of pepper and flinty minerality. $58.00

New Vintages of Gran Feudo from Julian Chivite
Bodegas Julian Chivite is the oldest winery in the Navarra region of Northern Spain. The original winery was established in the town of Cintruenigo in 1637. More recently, in the nineteen sixties, Julian Chivite Marco (1910-1997) was instrumental in the establishment of the Navarra D.O. (denominacion de origen). Today, Bodegas Julian Chivite is one of the most respected wineries in Spain, and produces several wines under the Gran Feudo label as well as small production reserve wines under the Chivite Coleccion 125  brand. All Chivite wines show remarkable balance and finesse.

2004 Gran Feudo Crianza This wine is composed of a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged in French and American oak barrels for twelve months, with further aging in the bottle before release. In the glass, Gran Feudo Crianza is bright cherry red with a pale violet rim. Aromas of sweet oak and dried fruit blend seamlessly with soft flavors of dried plum and cherry. The small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon gives the wine structure, but not so much as to detract from the lighter bodied Tempranillo character. The new vintage is nicely priced at $13.99
2003 Gran Feudo Reserva This Reserva wine spends 18 months in oak before bottling, giving the wine a rich texture and mature barrel tannins supporting dark berry fruit character. The wine is 80% Tempranillo with 10% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This mature red is drinking well right now, yet could be put down for an aditional 3-6 years to continue ageing in the bottle. The new vintage comes in at$17.99
2001 Coleccion 125 Reserva This wine comes from the superlative 2001 vintage and is composed of the best fruit from the Chivite estate vineyard in Alberin. Long, slow bottle maturation follows 14 months in French oak. The final result is a dark, expressive, elegant wine with mature character and great longevity. $43.99

These wines may be purchased online at www.spanishtablewines.com


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Filed under Red Wine, Spain

Summer Wines

It’s shaping up to be an interesting summer for wine here at The Spanish Table. New arrivals continue to pop up like mushrooms after a thunderstorm while some trusty favorites are, on the other hand, arriving late or not at all. This week marks the better-late-than-never return of Muga Rosado in a brief appearance that will quickly sell through. We also have a new rosado from Navarra that will certainly please traditionalists and newcomers alike. For those who seek unique wines made from less well known varieties we have a stunning new white wine from Bierzo(yes, white Bierzo) made from Godello and Doña Blanca as well as a new 100% Xarel-lo white from Penedès. The Mencía that was so popular in last month’s wine club is now on the shelf for all to enjoy as is a new red wine from Montsant made from 100% Samsó. Add to these the hundreds of choices among the many wines from Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Chile (with a bit of California thrown in for good measure)that you find here on a regular basis and you need never worry about drinking boring wine ever again.

Muga Rosado 2008
The new vintage of Muga Rosado that many of you have been waiting for is finally in stock, but only for a brief moment. We got ten cases and may not get any more. As always this is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and a small amount of Viura. The 2008 is a bit darker and drier than previous years but still expresses freshness and edgy minerality. $13.99

Siete Rosado 2008
The newest ‘Vino de Terrunyo’ private label wine from José Pastor is this fresh rosado from Navarra. Following the tradition in Navarra, this wine is made from the Garnacha grape. Watermelon color and ripe strawberry aroma play off of bright acidity and red berry frut character. This is a fun, summer wine for back yard sipping. $11.99

Mengoba Blanco 2007
The Bierzo region of Spain is best known for red wines but here is an excellent white Bierzo made from Godello and Doña Blanca. The delicate softly fruity grapes here are given extra depth and weight by leaving the wine on the lees for 7 months before bottling. Finely tuned and gently expressive, this top shelf white has immediate appeal as well as the potential to age well for several years. $33.99

Calcari 2008
The choices for varietal Xarel-lo wines are not numerous. Luckily we have this 100% Xarel-lo white from Pares Balta which is excellent and has just arrived in the new 2008 vintage. Lean, flinty and mineral with just a hint of tart citrus fruit character, this wine will please those who like their white wines really dry. $19.99

Clos de Noi 2007
The Montsant region of Spain is best known as a source of garnacha based wines but the local version of Cariñena, known as Samsó, is the other predominant red variety here. This 100% Samsó wine is inky dark and abundantly aromatic and flavorful. Cherry brandy aroma and sweet berry fruit character balance rocky minerality and assertive tannins. A hint of wild herb adds intrigue to the experience. $14.99

El Castro de Valtuille 2005
This is the more serious, structured elder sibling of the young Castro de Valtuille Mencía that many of you are currently enjoying. Sourced from Bierzo region Mencía vines with an average age of 40-80 years, El Castro de Valtuille spends 14 months in used oak barrels before bottling. This wine is dark and expressive yet still retains some of the bright freshness of the younger wine. The dark color creates an initial impression that reinforces the aromas of wet slate and a sort of twiggy scent that I describe as autumn leaf pile (the kind you rake up in your yard). This pronounced mineral element is coupled with extracted cranberry/pomegranate fruit character. $36.99

You want points? We got points!


The Wine Advocate, home of Robert Parker’s influential 100 point rating system, has just published their reviews of 654 Spanish wines. We are proud to have many of the top rated wines available for purchase. Here are a few of the high scoring wines for you to consider:

2006 Clos Erasmus Laurel- 93 points
“The 2006 Laurel sports aromas of slate/mineral, black licorice, incense, black cherry, and blackberry liqueur. Ripe, sweet, and structured on the palate, this lengthy, succulent effort has enough tannin to support another 4-6 years of cellaring and will have a drinking window extending from 2014 to 2026. Laurel, one of Priorat’s greatest values dollar for dollar, is sourced from the younger vines of the estate and from declassified barrels of Clos Erasmus itself.” $39.99
2006 Clos Erasmus – 97 points
“As usual Clos Erasmus is one of Spain’s finest wines. The 2006 Clos Erasmus offers an ethereal bouquet of balsam and sandalwood, incense, liquid mineral, black cherry, and black raspberry. Dense, rich, and voluptuous on the palate, it has plenty of well-concealed ripe tannin, tons of fruit, and potential complexity.” $198
2006 Mas Doix Vinyes Velles – 97 points
“The 2006 Costers de Vinas Viejas amps it up considerably. It yields an enthralling, sexy/kinky bouquet of toasty new oak, liquid minerality, lavender, incense, and wild berries. Complex, elegant, and La Tache-like, it appeals to both the senses and the intellect. It is a remarkable effort that should evolve for 5-7 years but is difficult to resist now.” $126
2006 Nido El Nido – 97 points
“The 2006 El Nido is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Monastrell aged for 26 months in new oak. Aromas of wild blueberry and black currant are room-filling. Dense, layered, and totally hedonistic, it has serous depth and concentration, impeccable balance, and a 60-second finish.” $148
2006 El Clio – 95 points
“The purple/black 2006 Clio is composed of 70% old vine Monastrell and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 26 months in new oak. It offers up a super-sexy nose of underbrush, incense, lavender, blueberry muffin, and black currant. Voluptuous and creamy on the palate, this loaded, well-balanced wine is a total turn-on. For those who prefer their flavor in moderation, look elsewhere. Drink this pleasure-bent effort from 2011 to 2021.” $47.99
2006 Flor de Pingus – 94 points
“The 2006 Flor de Pingus spent 14 months in new French oak. Deep purple in color, it gives up a superb bouquet of toasty oak, spice box, mineral, incense, black cherry, and blackberry. Youthful, full-bodied, intense, and powerful on the palate, it retains an elegant personality despite its size. Splendidly balanced, it will evolve for 4-6 years and deliver prime drinking from 2013 to 2026. It is a superb value in great wine considering that the price of Pingus Junior is one-tenth that of Pingus.” $85.00

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Filed under Red Wine, rosado, Spain, White Wine

Summer Wines & Padrón Peppers

Pimientos de Padrón Alert

We interrupt regularly scheduled wine news to announce the arrival of the new crop of Pimientos de Padrón. These small, seasonal  green peppers are traditional bar snacks in the north of Spain and  are one of the few fresh vegetables that we carry here. Simply fry a batch up in some good olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.  We should have these throughout the summer and into the fall. They are still the same price as last year:
$6.99 1/4 lb.

Summer Wines

As we move into the summer season, my attention is drawn to bright, refreshing white and rosado wines that cool me down from the heat of the day and awaken my appetite. I also like to pour robust reds that pair well with grilled food. Here are a few of this weeks’ new selections.

Ochoa Rosado 2008 Our newest pink wine is a classically styled offering from Navarra, the traditional home of Spanish rosado wines. This one is made from the local Garnacha grape and is a lively, bright wine with an orange/pink hue. The light berry-like fruit character is tart and refreshing. $12.99
Ostatu Blanco 2008 The new vintage of this dry, herbaceous white Rioja has just arrived. Made from the local Viura grape (known elsewhere as Macabeo) this wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, never overwhelming the delicate fruit character with the aromas and flavors from oak barrels. This young wine displays grassy aroma and notes of kiwi fruit and green grapes. $12.99
Mas Torrontes 2008 For those who have loved the Mas Malbec from Argentina, here is a white Torrontes from the same bodega. This new arrival is floral scented (jasmine, honeysuckle)and richly fruity (apricot, crane melon). Racy acidity cuts through the perfume and maintains a fine balance. This is an excellent white to serve cold on a hot afternoon. $10.99
Siesta Brut Ernesto Catena, son of the famous Nicolás Catena (and brother of Laura, another well known winemaker) makes this sparkling wine from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Palest pink color, yeasty bread dough aroma and bright, tart fruit character are held together by fine bead bubbles. This is excellent bubbly and is one of the best examples I have yet tasted from Argentina. $17.99
Tahuan Malbec 2005 Ernesto Catena’s Malbec is a fine example of an Argentine wine that is bold and expressive without loosing the complexity that makes this region so interesting. The addition of 10% Cabernet Sauvignon adds structure to the juicy, ripe Malbec. The wine spends 12 months in oak, lending tannic depth to the final product. $18.99
Meia Encosta 2007 Portugal continues to produce some really good wines at rock bottom prices. This young wine from the Dão region is fresh and bright. Clear ruby color, cherry aroma and Gamay-like fruit character (the blend here is actually Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz) all work in harmony to express the tart,refreshing style that makes this such a perfect mid-week red. $8.99

Upcoming Spanish Wine & Food Events

On June 14th TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society) will hold their 2nd annual tasting of domestic wines made from Spanish & Portuguese grape varieties. Ft. Mason in San Francisco is the venue for this interesting event. Details can be found (and tickets purchased) on the TAPAS website. The Spanish Table will be in attendance showing off our new cookbook as well as sampling some olives and other imported Spanish snacks to go with all the local vino.

On June 22nd, I will be teaching my Paella And Wine class at the Berkeley cooking school Kitchen On Fire. Participants will get hands-on experience making (and eating) a large Paella Mixta (includes meat, seafood & vegetables) as well as a few simple tapas and a light dessert. We will sample a few appropriate Spanish wines as we go. Class starts at 6:30 pm and we should be done by around 9 pm. This popular event is limited to 30 people with a price of $65.00 per person. Sign up is through Kitchen On Fire, either on the web, or by phone 510-548-2665,(510-265-COOK).

The next TapasWalk Spanish wine & food walking tour is coming up on Wednesday June 24th. I will be leading this tour through downtown San Francisco, stopping in at five different restaurants to sample some of Spain’s unique wines accompanied by a few traditional tapas at each location. Details as well as future tour dates can be found on my blog.

On June 28th The Berkeley International Food Festival will enliven our little neighborhood with the aromas and flavors of many lands. Kabobs, tamales, samosas and other street foods will be available. Here at The Spanish Table we will be making our traditional huge paella which we hand out samples of (free of charge) to the hungry masses. In addition to the food  expect music, dancing, art and sunshine. It will be fun.

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Filed under Argentina, events, Portugal, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

Fall Flavors

The autumn harvest season is currently at its peak. The summer crops (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and such) are slowly dwindling away while fall fruits and vegetables (winter squash, shell beans, persimmons and so forth) are starting to crowd the shelves at local stores.

My favorite harbinger of autumn is the giant pumpkin pile at Monterey Market that reaches almost to their roof and creates an irresistible object-to-climb for local kids.

To celebrate the harvest season we have some new wines as well as some familiar favorites that will compliment fall flavors.

This week we have a new Torrontés from Argentina that combines perfumed florality with crisp acidity to create the perfect autumn white wine.

We also have a new rosado wine that, due to its bright character and plush fruit character may convert a few skeptics that only think of pink wine in the heat of summer.

Our newest sparkling Cava comes in at a very nice price that should tempt you to give this bubbly wine a try.

This week also marks the return of Navarro Lopez Old Vine Crianza, a Valdepeñas region Tempranillo that was such a popular favorite that we brought in another big stack to satisfy the continuing demand for this very well priced red wine.

Another new red wine is the Beronia Reserva from the excellent 2001 vintage. If you have had a chance to try the Beronia Gran Reserva this wine will be similar, but in a more youthful, smooth style.

The Basque hard apple cider we first announced in August continues to grow in popularity. Autumn is the perfect season to enjoy this cloudy farmhouse sidra.

Here is a recipe for a sidra­- friendly snack that is found in various versions all across Spain. Meat on a stick is popular world wide, but Pinchos Moruños are specific to Spain. The Moorish origins of this dish are retained in the spice mix, but in Spain the meat is most commonly pork though lamb is still sometimes used. You can make these for a party and serve one per person or put three or four on a plate and serve them as a main course.

Kevin’s quick and easy Grilled Pinchos Morunos

(Makes about 20 skewers)

Ingredients:

3 lbs boneless berkshire pork shoulder (Café Rouge Meat Market is my source)

3 tblspns sweet smoked paprika

2 tblspns freshly ground cumin

(or substitute 5 tablespoons Chiquilin brand Pincho Seasoning for the paprika and cumin)

1 tspn salt

2 tblspns sherry vinegar

2 medium sized yellow onions

2 lemons

20 6” bamboo skewers

Directions:

Cut the pork into 1 inch cubes and combine with paprika, cumin, salt and vinegar. Place seasoned pork in refrigerator and marinate for a few hours. Place skewers in water and soak for one hour before using. Cut onion in eighths and pull apart layers. Cut lemons into wedges.

Prepare the skewers ahead of time using 4 cubes of seasoned pork and two pieces of onion. Thread them on the skewer in the following order: pork, onion, pork, pork, onion, pork.

Grill the skewers over a hot charcoal fire or indoors (if you must) on a grill pan for approximately ten minutes, turning frequently. Serve immediately with lemon wedges as a garnish.

Isastegi Sagardo This traditional Basque apple cider is cloudy green/gold with yeasty fermented aroma and tart apple flavor. This unfiltered artisan cider displays just a hint of sweet apple character (more apple barrel than apple juice) along with apple skin tartness filling in the rest of the flavor profile. At six percent alcohol by volume this makes a perfect autumn aperitivo. $11.99

Gran Feudo Rosado 2007 Rosado in autumn? You bet! This Navarra region pink wine makes a wonderful accompaniment to fall flavors. This 100% Garnacha displays vivid pink color, ripe berry aroma and tart, wild strawberry fruit character. Due to its late arrival, this wine is priced well below normal and should give you ample reason to try it right away. $7.99

Pircas Negras Torrontés 2008 Torrontés is the indigenous white grape of Argentina. Grown at high altitude this grape produces ripe, floral wines that evoke scent memories of autumn grape harvest combined with a bright character that is reminiscent of a crisp fall afternoon. $9.99

Cavas Hill Reserva Oro Our newest sparkling Cava, made from the three traditional Cava grapes (Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo) is abundantly bubbly and redolent of toasted bread and crisp green apples. This nicely priced sparkler compliments both light tapas as well as fuller meals. $11.99

Navarro Lopez Old Vines Crianza 2001 500 years ago, if you were a member of the Spanish royal court, you drank wines from the Valdepeñas region that lies south of Toledo. Today, after centuries of obscurity, the region is making a comeback. This wine, made from Tempranillo, is earthy, tart and savory, as is the style in D.O. Valdepeñas. 12 months of barrel age (not something they did 500 years ago) has rounded the flavors, added a bit of tannic complexity and sweet oak aroma to the wine. This traditional, very ‘Spanish tasting’ wine was a good value at $13.99. Now, the price is much better, so we just bought another bunch of it. This is a fine candidate for buying by the box. $8.99

Beronia Reserva 2001 This Rioja wine from an excellent vintage come from the same bodega that makes the Beronia Gran reserva that has been flying off the shelf here over the past few weeks. The Reserva spent less time ageing in oak barrel than the Gran Reserva and thus retains more color and ripe fruit character than the more mature wine. The perfect 2001 vintage is reflected in the balanced, lively fruit character. The skill of the winemakers finds expression in the finely tuned barrel tannins that add depth and complexity to the wine while never stripping it of elegance and freshness. $19.99

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Filed under Argentina, Recipes, Red Wine, rosado, sidra (cider), Spain, Sparkling Wine

Drink In The Season

 

So, I’m walking to work this morning and I’m thinking about the priorities of the business day. I have wines to buy, people to call, events to plan (typical daily minutiae) and as I plod along I look up and, in a moment of sudden realization, say to myself “Holy smokes, the trees are turning yellow”.

Yep, summer is drawing to a close and, as usual, the gingko trees on my block are the first sign that the days are getting shorter and the nights are growing cooler as the season changes. Soon (hopefully) rain will return to this part of the world and the Bay Area hills will once again turn from brown to green.

This in-between season calls for foods that take advantage of the bounty of the harvest. We still have tomatoes and corn and eggplant, but now we also find shell beans, acorn squash and (soon) wild mushrooms.

This season calls for (begs for, pleads for, kicks and screams and rolls around on the floor for) tart, yeasty hard apple cider. In the Basque country this is a traditional springtime drink, but the flavors of this unique beverage evoke all the best elements of autumn in America.

Our latest batch of new wines also compliments the flavors of the season. This week we have several unique and delicious wines from some little known producers as well as from some well established bodegas.

Now is the moment to break out your olla, the traditional earthenware bean pot of Spain, and cook up a batch of pardina lentils, garbanzos, or big creamy Judión beans (my favorites). Once cooked, these legumes will serve as the beginning of any number of traditional recipes but they are also delicious all by themselves.

The following recipe takes full advantage of the unique products from The Spanish Table. Judión beans from Astorga (the bean capital of Spain), Serrano ham bones (a Spanish Table exclusive) and the lidded clay bean pots from Spain that cook slowly and evenly, insuring soft, fully cooked, unbroken beans.

Judión beans with Serrano Ham bone

(Serves 6-8 as a side dish)

Ingredients:

1 lb – Spanish dried Judión beans

1 – Serrano ham bone (joint end)

1 – earthenware olla (bean pot)

1 – teaspoon, sweet smoked paprika

2 – tablespoons, sea salt

Directions:

Rinse the dried beans under running water to remove any dust or debris. Soak the beans over night in the olla filled with water. The next day, drain the water and refill with fresh cold water to cover the soaked beans by two inches. Heat the olla over a medium flame on the stove. When the water comes to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer the beans for one hour before adding the ham bone and paprika. Continue simmering the beans for another hour or two until the beans are fully cooked but not falling apart. Add more water as needed to keep the beans submerged at all times. Add the salt only after the beans are fully cooked.

Serve along side grilled meats or fish. Alternately, add a few whole chorizos, morcillas and chunks of slab bacon to the bean pot and cook for another hour to create a version of Fabada Asturiana.

Isastegi Sagardo Kit Basque apple cider (cloudy gold colored with yeasty fermented aroma and tart apple flavor) is proving to be quite popular since its recent introduction here. Anyone who has tried this hard cider in Spain will tell you that you need the traditional cider glass to experience the drink at its best. We now have these thin glass tumblers, imprinted with the Isastegi logo (a limited edition) for sale. In our new Basque cider gift set you get a bottle of Isastegi Sagardo Naturala and two glasses for $19.99 ($11.99 for the cider alone). You can buy extra glasses for $4.99 each.

Con Class 2007 The new vintage of Con Class is here. This Rueda region white wine is an unoaked blend of Verdejo, Viura and Sauvignon Blanc. Floral aroma blends well with citrus and tropical fruit flavors. This tart and refreshing wine is versatile and very food friendly. $12.99

El Chaparral 2007 The new vintage of El Chaparral is, as always, crafted from old vine Garnacha fruit from the Navarra region in Northern Spain. This medium bodied red wine combine fresh berry fruit character with a bit of black pepper spice and minerality that ad a ‘Rhone-like’ character to the wine. $15.99

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

Azamor 2004 The Alentejo region of Portugal continues to be a source of new, interesting, nicely priced wines. This blend of numerous grapes (Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Franca, Trincadeira, Syrah, Merlot) displays dark color and smooth, elegant fruit character. A bit of gamey/earthy background adds complexity and depth this well made but not yet well known wine. $19.99

Beronia Gran Reserva 1996 If you have wanted to experience the distinct pleasure of a mature Gran Reserva Rioja but have been put off by the high prices that these wines command now is your chance to taste this style at a price that won’t make you hesitate. This wine spent two years in oak and has been ageing gracefully in the bottle for the past decade. Brownish brick red in color with gentle aromas of oak and coffee bean, this wine possesses elegant fruit character that evokes brandied cherries and cranberries. A wine for contemplation at a no-brainer price. $24.99

 

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Filed under Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, sidra (cider), Spain, White Wine

Even More New Stuff

I have been keeping this newsletter brief in recent weeks due to the new wines arriving here all the time. I know that many of you enjoy the recipes that often come with the wine news and I want to reassure you that I will be sharing more of these in the weeks ahead. At present I am taking time to attend the many trade tastings that give wine buyers such as me the opportunity to see what lies ahead for the coming year. This week alone I will taste over one hundred Portuguese wines at Viniportugal and dozens of Spanish wines at the Spanish Cellar & Pantry event. Last week I got to work my way through hundreds of selections at the portfolio tasting for celebrated importer Eric Solomon (more on this below). Aside from purple teeth and stained shirts (white is a bad color to wear to a wine tasting) I come away from these events with a clearer sense of what to share with you, our customers, in the weeks and months ahead. For only by tasting many, many wines do we come up with the select few products that you will find at The Spanish Table. So for now, check out the new arrivals from Eric Solomon and José Pastor. These two importers of excellent Spanish wines are (each in their own distinct way) bringing in some truly special and exciting wines that deserve your attention.

German Gilabert Cava $14.99 No, this is not a wine from Germany. Importer José Pastor has re-purposed the less used parts of his name (José German Pastor Gilabert – honest, he showed me his drivers license) to christen the first Cava to be included in his privately labeled Vinos de Terruños brand. This blend of traditional Cava grapes (Xarel-lo, Macabeo, Parellada) is as crisp and clean as freshly ironed linen. Organically grown fruit from the village of Santa Fe del Penedès is aged on its lees for 16 months with zero dosage, producing a dry, toasty assertively bubbly wine for drinking as a cocktail or with food.

Siete 2007 $12.99 This blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo from the Navarra region of northern Spain made its first appearance last year in the inaugural vintage of the Vinos de Terruños brand from Jose Pastor. The fruit is organically farmed and the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks, not oak barrels, to render the maximum of fruit character unobscured by oaky tannins. This sophomore edition of Siete is true to the style established last vintage and is one of the most popular of the Vinos de Terruños wines.

Tajinaste Blanco 2006 $14.99 This interesting white wine, our first from the Canary Islands, is back in stock. Made from the local Listán Blanco grape grown in volcanic soils at high elevation on the island of Tenerife, pale straw color and mineral foundation frame aromas of white peach and lemon zest. This gentle yet lean white will compliment subtly flavored vegetable dishes and cold seafood appetizers.

Mas Alta Artigas 2005 $38.99 Bodegas Mas Alta is a joint project of an American, importer Eric Solomon and two Frenchmen, negociant Michel Tardieu and enologist Philippe Cambie. The small production wines from these three well known names were some of my favorites at the recent Eric Solomon Selections portfolio tasting. Artigas is composed of 65% Garnacha and 35% Cariñena grown in the rocky slate/schist of the Priorat region of Catalunya. This opaque amethyst colored wine displays the best elements of Priorat, including abundantly ripe dark berry fruit character interwoven with notes of wild herbs and minerals. Decant for immediate enjoyment or cellar for several years before drinking.

Mas Alta La Basseta 2005 $84.00 My favorite of the Mas Alta wines is this blend of old vine Garnacha, Cariñena and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged in a combination of new and used oak for 16 months prior to bottling. Blackberry liqueur, wild herbs and rocky minerality benefit from the added structure and tannins coming from the Cabernet Sauvignon and the oak barrel ageing. Bold and ripe at present, this wine has a long life ahead of it. Keep this wine in the cellar for a few years and then enjoy it at any time over the following decade.

Artadi El Pisón 2005 $184.00 Bodegas Artadi, one of the best wineries in Rioja Alavesa is known for producing 100% Tempranillo wines of stellar quality. El Pisón, the flagship wine of this bodega, is deeply nuanced and complex yet light as a feather on the palate. Somewhat muted at present, this wine will reveal itself in all its silky glory to those with the patience to wait three or four years before enjoying it. This famous wine (98 points Wine Advocate, 95 points International Wine Cellar) is produced in very small quantities. We have just a few bottles in stock so do act fast to secure a bottle for your cellar.

 

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With Age Comes Deliciousness

‘Fresh’ and ‘young’ are desirable qualities in food and fashion. Everyone wants the latest new thing. But what happens when the hot new trend is celebrated for its age and maturity?

Try this little experiment. Say to your favorite person, “Wow, honey. That’s a fantastic outfit. You look ten years older.” Not such a good idea, right?

Now try this: “Darling, would you like another glass of 1964 Gran Reserva Rioja to go with your slow cured Jamón Iberico?”

Ah, much better!

You see, the food world rewards those who appreciate the complexity that comes with age (what else in life works like this?).

Several perfect examples of age equaling beauty have just arrived in our little store. I speak of course of the long awaited Jamón Iberico. This Spanish cured ham from the rare breed of pig known as Pata Negra (Black Foot) has finally landed in California, along with even rarer Paleta de Bellota made from the front leg of the same breed of swine, wild grazed on acorns to fatten them up before, um, processing.

A perfect accompaniment to these very exclusive cured meats is mature, aged Gran Reserva Rioja from an excellent but long past vintage. We are happy to report that a batch of some of the best Rioja from the past 60 years is arriving at The Spanish Table.

Another option: Cava, that delicious Spanish sparkling wine, ages for several years in the bottle before release. This too makes for a memorable combination when paired with some Jamón Iberico.

Doubt me? You can test this out for yourself on Thursday March 6th when we will be offering a Cava and Jamón tasting in our Mill valley store from 6pm-7:30pm. The cost for this exclusive tasting is just $12. Call the Mill Valley store (415-388-5043) to reserve you spot.

Speaking of our Mill Valley store, here is what Andy Booth, one of the owners who can often be found working in the Marin County branch of The Spanish Table, has to say about the impending arrival of some spectacular older vintages of Rioja from his good friends at Lopez de Heredia.

 

The family owned Lopez de Heredia winery has been making beautifully aged Rioja since it’s founding in 1877.  They pride themselves on continuing the tradition that Rafael Lopez de Heredia y Landeta started.  We have ordered a handful of these wines direct from the winery and they are scheduled to arrive at the beginning of March.  We are offering a presell on the wines before they arrive.  They are all extremely limited in availability.  If interested, please give us a call or email.  The presell price is available only until the wines arrive.
1942 Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva: $840, presell price $750 (only 1 available)
1947 Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva: $785, presell price $705 (only 1 available)
(The 1942 & 1947 Vina Bosconia are considered by many who have tried the wines extensively two of their best wines produced.)
1970 Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva: $206, presell price $184 (12 available)
1970 Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva: $206, presell price $184 (2 available)
1976 Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva: $125, presell price $112 (12 available)
1981 Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva: $89, presell price $78 (4 available)
1981 Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva: $104, presell price $93 (4 available)
1976 Vina Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva: $120, presell price $107 (2 available)
This pairs perfectly with the chanterelle & gremolata pizza from Chez Panisse (as we did last weekend)
1981 Vina Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva: $89, presell price $78 (8 available)

 

Meanwhile, here in Berkeley we have some tasty new arrivals at all price ranges to share with you. The big news is the arrival of The 2005 Pago de Carraovejas Crianza and Reserva.  These hard to find wines from Ribera del Duero make an appearance each year, but supplies are limited so they sell out quickly. When we did our staff tasting of the Jamón Iberico this was the wine we paired it with.  The combination is sublime.

Also, for those looking for a bargain, we have some new ‘house wine’ as well as a new Monastrell from Almansa and the new vintage of a popular and, yes, youthful blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo from Navarra.

 

Infinitus Chardonnay/Viura 2006 $6.99 This white ‘house wine’ makes a repeat appearance here after a popular run in the last vintage. Infinitus, made by the same folks who bring you Finca Antigua and Conde de Valdemar, is a fresh and floral blend of Viura and the more well known Chardonnay. Crisp citrus flavors from the Viura encounter fuller melon flavors from the Chardonnay.

 

Valcanto Monastrell 2005 $10.99 This new Monastrell comes from Bodegas Piquera in Almansa. A bit fresher than the ripe, concentratedMonastrell wines from neighboring Jumilla and Yecla to the south, with lighter balance and leaner fruit character.

 

Ochoa Garnacha/Tempranillo 2006 $12.99 This is always a great wine for weeknight suppers and informal gatherings. The new vintage of this bright, berry scented blend from Navarra is refreshing and fruity but not cloying or sweet. A fine example of the ‘tinto joven’ style found in countless little bars all across Spain.

 

Pago de Carraovejas Crianza 2005 $39.99

Pago de Carraovejas Reserva 2005 $64.00

They are back again! Pago de Carraovejas is the name of a single vineyard on the outskirts of Peñafiel in the Ribera del Duero region of Northern Spain. Nestled in the shadow of the famous medieval fortified Castillo de Peñafiel, the 60 hectare estate grows mostly Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) along with small parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  The Crianza uses all three estate grown grapes in the blend (85% Tinto Fino, 10% Cabernet, 5% Merlot). The wine ages for 12 months in mixed French/American oak barrels before bottling. The rich, dark berry fruit is backed by muscular grape skin tannins and balanced oak. With air (the more the better right now) the wine comes alive with loamy aroma and layer upon layer of ripe fruit character.

The 2005 Reserva omits the Merlot from the previous blend in favor of a 90/10 split between Tinto Fino and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Using hand selected bunches of very ripe fruit, this wine spends its first twelve months of life ageing in French oak. Currently less expressive than the Crianza, the Reserva is intended for long term storage. With time, it will reveal a core of sweet dark berry fruit which at present is cloaked in assertive tannins. For immediate gratification, decant this wine a full day ahead of when you want to drink it.

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Holiday Wines, Version 1.2.1

This week finds us in a brief lull, an intermission if you will, in the holiday frenzy.

With Thanksgiving all finished except for the leftovers, everyone takes a quick breather before heading into the whirlwind of holiday office parties, extravagant meals, traveling to see family and/or having family travel to see (and stay) with you.  In this brief in-between period (just barely a week) I want to share some newly arrived wines with you that will ease you into the rest of the holiday season in style, as well as leaving you with plenty of funds for gifts, decorations and other seasonal accoutrements.

Here in the Berkeley store we have been having fun trying out the recipes in the classic Spanish cookbook 1080 Recetas de Cocina by Simone and Inès Ortega, newly translated into English and available now in a big hardbound edition for $39.95. Last night while out at Bar César for an after dinner drink, I saw that Chef Maggie Ponds is also celebrating the arrival of this most popular of Spanish cookbooks by including one dish from the book in her ever changing menu. Her version of Dried Plums Stuffed with Blue Cheese and Pine Nuts was a deceptively simple small plate with five bite sized mouthfuls of the most explosive flavor imaginable. I had to look it up in the book so I could try and recreate this knock-you-back-in-your-chair appetizer. It is really quite simple but the combination of ingredients is a complex and vivid mixture of flavors, aromas and textures.

 

Prunes stuffed with Valdeón cheese and pine nuts.

(adapted from 1080 Recipes by Simone and Inès Ortega)

Serves 4

 

¼ lb. Valdeón cheese (or other aged blue cheese)

12 pine nuts

12 raisins

1 tablespoon sweet Moscatel wine

¼ cup cream

12 pitted prunes

In a mixing bowl, mash blue cheese with a fork and mix with cream and sweet sherry. Roughly chop pine nuts and raisins and add to cheese mixture. Stir to combine everything. Fill each prune with a small spoonful of the cheese mixture and seal with a toothpick. Allow 45 minutes for the flavors to blend before serving alongside small glasses of the same wine used in the recipe.

 

Siete 2005 $12.99 A blend of 80% Garnacha and 20% Tempranillo made in the historic wine town of Olite in the Navarra region of Northern Spain. Organic fruit from old vine vineyards (+/- 25 years) is fermented in tank and aged on the lees for two months before bottling. Dark ruby color and youthful berry-like aroma create the first impression. Bright acidity gives lift to fresh cherry fruit character, resolving in a savory finish with light grape skin tannins. Serve this wine with another traditional Navarra specialty, the Piquillo pepper, served in any of a dozen ways (cold, hot, sliced, stewed, stuffed, you name it).

 

Navarro Lopez Old Vines Crianza $13.99 In the Valdepeñas region of southern Spain (a region with many centuries of wine making tradition) Bodegas Navarro Lopez crafts a range of wines from the local Cencibel (Tempranillo by another name) grape. This wine is made from old vine fruit and aged for 6 months in oak (mostly American) before bottling. Bright fruit character and toasty oak mix to create a lively red wine that will compliment meals based on traditional Spanish flavors

 

Navarro Lopez Old Vines Reserva $18.99 The Reserva version of this traditional red wine from the Valdepeñas region in southern Spain is composed of 100% Tempranillo fruit (known in this region as Cencibel) from 30 year old vines. After fermentation the wine is aged in oak barrels for 12 months before bottling. The end result is a wine with dark, mature fruit character, smooth, well integrated barrel tannins and a hint of traditional earthy background flavor and aroma.

 

Familigia Bianchi Malbec 2006 $15.99 Three successive generations of the Bianchi family have been making wine in the San Rafael region of Mendoza in Argentina. This wine uses some of their best quality Malbec fruit sourced from one of the family estate vineyards. After fermentation this wine is aged in oak for 10 months before bottling. This dark, abundant wine is rich with toasty oak aromas and dark berry fruit character.

 

Elsa Malbec 2006 $9.99 Bodegas Valentín Bianchi, one of the oldest wineries in Argentina, was started in the 1930s by Italian immigrants and is now one of the most well known and popular wine brands in Argentina. They craft this wine from a single vineyard of Malbec grapes named after Elsa Bianchi, the family matriarch. This young wine is full of ripe aromas and flavors of cherry and plum.

 

Casta Diva Cosecha Miel 2006 $28.99 It’s the time of year when a little late harvest sweet wine is particularly appealing. The new vintage of the celebrated Casta Diva is a lush Moscatel from the Alicante region on the Mediterranean coast. This bright gold colored wine is redolent of honey and tangerines. The rich Sauterne-like complexity of Casta Diva works with everything from fois gras to lemon tart.

 

Ochoa Moscatel 2006 $23.99 In the Navarra region of Northern Spain (home to a wide range of grape varieties), Moscatel grapes are left on the vine to fully ripen before they are harvested for this sweet (but not too sweet) dessert wine. Serve it with a pear tart on a crisp fall afternoon. Ethereal.

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Busy, busy, busy

It seems like everybody is really busy taking care of professional, family and personal obligations. We too are in the middle of bringing in new and delicious wines and specialty groceries while at the same time putting together wine dinners and food classes.

I am already behind schedule for this week’s newsletter so I will be brief.

We have some excellent new wines to share with you this week. Several spectacular and very traditional Rioja wines have just arrived from a small family winery that is just starting to gain attention from Spanish wine lovers. Some new white wines have come in that express a richer more floral element that I find especially desirable as we move away from summer. We are also receiving new vintages of some of our favorite late harvest dessert wines that are so appropriate to this early autumn season.  

Meanwhile, for those of you who have been requesting more wine oriented events, we are excited to announce that we will be hosting a winemaker’s dinner with some special guests from Spain. The date is November 13th at 7 pm. The venue is Zarzuela Restaurant located at 2000 Hyde Street in San Francisco.  Andy and Tanya Booth from our Mill Valley store will be leading up this food and wine extravaganza.  Here is what they wrote about this upcoming event:

This will feature a stellar lineup of wines from famed winemaker Eduardo Garcia, whose father is even the more famous Mariano Garcia.  We’ll try a couple of higher end offerings from Ribera del Duero, Toro and Bierzo, which is home to the grape Mencia.  Importer Aurelio Cabestrero will also be on hand to share several other wines that he has selected from Spain.  The cost for this dinner will be $80 a person.

In addition to a stellar line up of wines, the Zarzuela chefs will prepare a full meal of assorted tapas.  To reserve you places for this rare food and wine experience, contact us here in Berkeley at (510)-548-1383 or you can also reserve places at The Spanish Table in Mill Valley (415)-388-5043.

My upcoming Cooking in Clay Cazuelas class on October 22nd still has a few spots open. If you want to participate in this event, go to www.kitchenonfire.com where the details and the signup form can be found. I am very much looking forward to this new event that features some of my favorite recipes as well as some really tasty and well matched wines. 

Now, on to this week’s wines:

 

Vinos Blancos:

Valdelainos Verdejo 2006 $12.99 An excellent Rueda region white fashioned from the local Verdejo grape. Crisp citrus aroma, mineral foundation and just enough fruit character (guava, pineapple) to maintain the balance of flavors. An excellent cocktail wine.

 

Jose Pariente Verdejo 2006 $19.99 From Bodegas Dos Victorias (named after the two owners, both named Victoria) comes this aromatic Verdejo wine that showcases the fuller side of Rueda region whites. Aromas and flavors of quince and guava are full and ripe. Crisp acidity is edgy and refreshing. A perfect seafood wine, especially with scallops and crustaceans.

 

Casta Diva Cosecha Miel 2006 $28.99 It’s the time of year when a little late harvest sweet wine is particularly appealing. The new vintage of the celebrated Casta Diva is a lush Moscatel from the Alicante region on the Mediterranean coast. This bright gold colored wine is redolent of honey and tangerines. The rich Sauterne-like complexity of Casta Diva works with everything from fois gras to lemon tart.

 

Ochoa Moscatel 2006 $23.99 In the Navarra region of Northern Spain (home to a wide range of grape varieties), Moscatel grapes are left on the vine to fully ripen before they are harvested for this gently sweet dessert wine. We just received the new vintage and it is one of my current favorite autumn wines. Serve it with a pear tart on a crisp fall afternoon. Ethereal.

 

Vinos Tintos:

We are very excited about our latest new arrivals from Rioja. Bodegas Hermanos Peciña is a relatively young winery. Founded in 1992, this family owned winery initially made only young wines from their own estate grown fruit but over time expanded to include increasingly mature wines as well. Located in the Rioja Alta village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, they have quickly earned a reputation for high quality wines that preserve the traditional style of barrel aged red wines that the region is known for.

Senorio de P.Peciña Cosecha 2006 $11.99 This joven (young) wine is produced from estate grown Tempranillo grapes with small additions of Garnacha and Graciano as well. This bright, youthful red is refreshingly uncomplicated.  Moderate alcohol content (12.5%) is traditional for this style of wine and makes this a perfect picnic or party wine.

 

Senorio de P.Peciña Crianza 2000 $18.99  Also 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.

 

Senorio de P.Peciña Reserva 1999 $25.99 The blend of  grapes for the Reserva is the same as for the Crianza, but the Reserva sees 3 years of barrel age before bottling and another several years of bottle age before sale. This long maturation period smoothes out all the edgy tannins and produces a silky, elegant wine that is perfect for special meals and cold autumn nights.

 

Torremoron 2006 $11.99 The new vintage of this customer favorite has just arrived. This well priced Ribera del Duero region wine is a fresh and full bodied wine fashioned from the local Tempranillo grape. Ripe fruit character and dark color combine with background earthiness. Serve with lamb burgers and green salad.

 

Primavera Dão 2003 $14.99 The Dao region was once among the most desirable sources of quality red wines in Portugal.  These wines were dry and earthy with rich but oxidized fruit character. Over time this style fell out of favor with the international market (the Portuguese still love the old style). Flash forward to the current day and we see some fresh, fragrant Dão wines that still retain some elements of the old style. This wine is a perfect example of how this region is blending modern style with traditional heritage.  Fashioned from a blend of Touriga Nacional Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca, the garnet color and the dark berry fruit character balance fine tannins and background minerality.

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