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Buyer’s Choice

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

 

 

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Filed under Portugal, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

New Wines From All Over

It is, by now, a well established fact that the Spanish Table sells new, interesting, delicious wines from some of the world’s most dynamic wine producing regions. Our reputation has grown over time as customers taste the many unique wines arriving weekly from Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Chile. Nothing makes us happier than when a customer discovers a new wine in our shop and shares it with friends. We offer a unique and ever changing collection that can intrigue even the most jaded of palates.

This week’s selections are a perfect example of the new and distinctly delicious wines that arrive here on a regular basis. Today we offer you wines from Portugal made from grapes such as Arinto, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonês and Maria Gomes, with the latter coming in a still as well as a sparkling version. From a winery approaching its 200th anniversary we have just received a new Manzanilla Sherry which will provide supreme refreshment during the hot summer weather. Our first red table wine from the Canary Islands will surely please those in search of a change of pace and our newest Portuguese red showcases one of the new styles currently emerging from this rapidly improving region.

To go with your favorite new wine, here is a recipe for a wine friendly snack that is found in various versions all across Spain. Meat on a stick is popular world wide, but Pinchos Morunos 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.

Luis Pato Maria Gomes 2007 Some of you may remember this wine from its inaugural vintage last year. Maria Gomes is the Beiras region version of Fernao Pires. This bright, fresh, peachy wine is supported by underlying minerality. If you have been curious to explore Portuguese whites beyond Vinho Verde, this is the wine for you. $12.99

Luis Pato Espumante Bruto Luis Pato is a controversial figure in the Portuguese wine trade. His uncompromising commitment to quality has sometimes created friction between him and the regulatory authorities in Portugal. In 1998 he left the Bairrada D.O.C. to pursue his own path, with great success. This sparkling wine is made mostly from the same Maria Gomes grape as the previous wine and also includes 5% Arinto in the blend. Lean toasty aroma and tart, leesy fruit character combine with frothy effervescence to create a uniquely refreshing wine. $15.99

Campolargo Arinto 2005 This traditional Bairrada region white wine, made from the Arinto grape spends 6 months ageing in neutral oak barrels, adding a very gentle oak note to the ripe melon and peach fruit character. This small production wine (less than 600 cases in total) will appeal to those seeking a more subtle and restrained version of California white wine. $21.99

San León Manzanilla Clásica Herederos de Argüeso has been making wine in Jerez since 1822. They produce a full range of Sherry but they specialize in the production of Manzanilla. 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 an excellent place to start. $12.99 (375ml)

Tajinaste 4 Meses 2006 Many of you responded so enthusiastically to our first Canary Island white wine (Tajinaste Blanco) that we are now also bringing in the red wine from the same producer. Tajinaste 4 Meses, from the Valle de Orotava region on the island of Tenerife, is made from the local Listan Negro grape and, as the name implies, is aged for 4 months in oak before bottling. Firm tannins, mineral aroma and tart cranberry fruit character create the first impression, with more spicy black pepper aroma and wet rock minerality coming out as the wine breathes. $12.99

Heredade dos Grous 2006 This rich red wine from the Alentejo region in Portugal is made fom a combination of 35% Aragonês (Portuguese Tempranillo), 30% Alicante Bouschet, 20% Touriga Nacional and 15% Syrah. Napa Cabernet lovers will appreciate this wine (we recently poured this at Copia in Napa with great success). It displays dark garnet color and plush dark berry fruit character. 9 months of barrel age lend medium strength oak tannins and flavor to the wine. To truly enjoy what this wine has to offer, pair it with grilled meat (see above recipe). $21.99

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Filed under Fortified Wine, Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine