Wine drinkers are an opinionated bunch, united by our strongly held though often opposing beliefs about what constitutes ‘the good stuff’.
What one drinker enjoys, another may dislike. Some of us appreciate wines with delicate and subtle characteristics, while others are drawn to wines possessing bold, assertive flavors. My ‘balanced and elegant’ may be your ‘thin and lifeless’.
I am known to tell customers that among the hundreds of wines we carry (548 at last count), you are bound to find wines that you love as well as wines that are not to your taste. That is why we carry such a broad assortment. My job is to buy across a broad spectrum of styles and to steer you toward whatever type of wine you most enjoy.
Of course, when the day is done and I buy a bottle to take home and drink with dinner, I, like you, have my own particular preferences. Occasionally I write about the wines that I personally enjoy, not only as an exercise in shameless self promotion but also as a way to help you gauge what you read here. You can put my opinions in perspective and calibrate my palate to your own if you know what I like.
So this week it’s all about me, me, me.
As a wine buyer I taste boatloads of wines that are varietally and regionally ‘correct’ without being particularly interesting. For each wine that I buy for The Spanish Table, many more have been sampled and rejected for one reason or another. I tend to seek out wines with a noticeable difference from the many lookalike choices crowding the field.
Perhaps it’s my contrarian nature (almost a birthright in Berkeley) or maybe I am simply suffering from palate fatigue after trying so many wines at work, but at home I tend to favor simple wines that express their nature without pretense. A wine from a far flung region made from a little known grape will excite my intellect. A wine with a moderate level of alcohol, well integrated oak (or none at all, even better) and pure, clean fruit character will awaken my senses. The combination of all these elements really captures my attention.
This week I am highlighting some of my current personal favorites that are also appropriate to the autumn season. When you come into the store you will now find a special section labeled ‘Kevin’s Favorites’ with all these wines gathered together in one place. Please give them a try and let me know what you think.
Viña Mein 2007 This wine is fashioned from a blend of 80% Treixadura, 10% Godello, 5% Loureiro, and 1% to 2% each of Albariño, Torrontés, Albilla and Caiño. Bright gold color, fresh melon aroma and bright citrus fruit character never overwhelm the flinty mineral foundation that maintains the lean focus of this unoaked white wine. $19.99
Dorado Alvarinho 2006 Marcial Dorado, from Galicia in Spain, makes this excellent 100% Alvarinho wine in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. After searching in vain for the perfect Albariño vineyard in Spain, he crossed the Minho River and bought a vineyard of 70 year old Alvarinho located just above the little town of Melgaço where he also built a small gravity fed (no pumping of wine from tank to tank) winery called Quinta do Feital. The unoaked ‘Dorado’, the flagship of the winery, is rich with melon and pear aromas and flavors. Bright acidity punctuates the ripe fruit character, creating a long, lingering finish. A quantum leap in quality compared to just about any other Vinho Verde. $28.99
Gorrondona Tinto 2007 The rare and elusive red Txakoli is difficult to find. These firmly tannic wines are lean and full of mineral flavor, with a gentle fruit character that fades quickly with age. Happily, the new Gorrondona Tinto, made from 100% Hondarribi Beltza (grown in miniscule quantities on ancient vines), is super fresh, with light berry-like fruit character balancing firm minerality. This is an excellent and unusual light red. $27.99
Viña do Burato 2007 This wine from Ribeira Sacra in Northwestern Spain, made from the local Mencía grape, is bright and youthful, medium bodied and relatively low in alcohol (12.5%). Firm minerality and delicate floral aroma combine with gentle fruit character. This small production wine (400 cases in total) is a rare treat from a region that deserves much more attention. $19.99
Tajinaste Tinto Tradicional 2007 This unique wine comes from the Orotava Valley of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. Agustín García founded Bodegas Tajinaste in 1981. He produces this wine from the local Listán Negro grape. This unoaked wine (they make a barrel aged red too) is cloudy lavender in color with light texture and sweet floral perfume. Firm minerality creates a foundation which supports fresh mulberry fruit character and gentle tannins. $21.99