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New Stuff

One of the exciting parts about working in this little shop devoted to the food and wines of Spain, Portugal and Latin America is the opportunity to try new things on a daily basis. With the wines, not only do we get to try new styles, producers, grape varieties and growing regions but we also get to re-try the wines all over again with each new vintage.

New, and yet familiar. That’s how I describe what has arrived here in the past week. We have new wines that have never been featured before at The Spanish Table in Berkeley. We also have new vintages of some wines that were well loved in the previous year and are now out in the latest version. Many of you will recognize some favorites in the list that follows. I highly encourage you to come and try a bottle of the latest vintage to see if it is everything you remember and love from previous years. Some of the wineries may not be familiar but you will recognize the grape varieties and the growing regions. This is an opportunity to broaden your perspective on a favorite wine by trying some of what similar winemakers are doing.

The first 2007 white and rosado wines are starting to appear in the market as well as new vintages of red wines from years in the recent past. In the weeks ahead we will feature many more of the latest arrivals with you in this newsletter.

Here, after a brief recipe, are the latest arrivals:

Salmon Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

(Serves 4 as a tapa)

½ lb. Fresh salmon fillet

1 tspn. Kosher salt

½ cup water

½ cup Arte Oliva brand Alioli (garlic mayonnaise)

1tblspn. Toro Albalá 1980 Reserve PX vinegar

1 tspn. Sweet Pimentón de la Vera

8 Whole Piquillo Peppers

¼ cup Nunez de Prado Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Briefly poach the salmon fillet in 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and ½ cup of water until it is just barely cooked through (about 10 minutes). Remove the fillet from the water and cool to room temperature. Combine Alioli, vinegar and pimentón in a bowl. Gently fold in cooked salmon and mix everything without breaking up the fish too much. Divide the filling into eighths and fill each of the jarred piquillo peppers with the mixture. Drizzle the olive oil over the filled peppers and serve.

Amestoi Txakoli 2007 $18.99 I know that I am not alone in my anticipation of the new season of Txakoli wine. Many of you have already been asking for this dry, spritzy, supremely refreshing white wine from the Basque country. Well, wait no longer. Amestoi has landed, winning the prize for first 2007 Txakoli to arrive here. The residual effervescence is at its peak now as is the bright citrusy fruit character.

Crios “Rosé of Malbec” 2007 $10.99 A perennial favorite in our Seattle store makes its first appearance here in Berkeley. Famed Argentine winemaker Susanna Balbo makes this fresh, berry scented pink wine. It is full of strawberry and watermelon flavors. I love to serve this with salmon stuffed piquillo peppers for an all pink and red meal.

Obra Roble 2006 $10.99 The big hit of last summer is back in the latest vintage. This lightly oaked Tempranillo from the celebrated Bodegas J.C. Conde in Ribera del Duero is dark and rich, with velvety texture and just a hint of oak tannin. This wine was a spectacular bargain last year. I am happy to report that even as the Dollar continues to drop in value relative to the Euro, this wine is still the exact same price as last year. Rejoice!

Padre Pedro 2006 $9.99 This red wine from Casa Cadaval in the Ribatejo region of Portugal was reviewed very favorably by The New York Times last year. Many of you tried it based on that bit of positive press and the wine sold out quickly. The new 2006 vintage has just arrived. I find it to be just as tasty as last year, garnet colored with soft tannins and dark plum fruit character. A bit of earthy nuance on the finish.

Ventura Carmenere 2006 $9.99 When pairing spicy Carne Asada tacos (from Casa Latina across the street) with a red wine, I usually reach for a Carmenere from Chile. This typical Chilean varietal produces rich full bodied red wines that also posses a bit of spicy jalapeño-like complexity that works really well with a wide range of dishes on the picante end of the flavor spectrum. Ventura Carmenere is from the Lontué Valley in Chile, where some of the best Carmenere grows. This wine is made with organically grown fruit, something I am seeing more and more of in Chile.

Nuevomundo Cabernet/Carmenere Reserve 2005 $11.99 This Chilean blend of organically grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere from the Maipo Valley is dark and spicy with underlying complexity from 14 months of oak barrel ageing. The more firmly structured Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 60% of the blend and finds counterpoint in the spicy Carmenere which accounts for the other 40%.

La Posta Bonarda 2006 $17.99 In Argentina the Malbec grape gets all the attention but for those who have already explored this varietal I highly recommend trying some of the excellent Bonarda wines that are also available. La Posta Bonarda is dark garnet colored like a Malbec but shows more spicy black pepper and a leaner expression of fruit character. As grilling season begins I suggest trying this wine alongside some thinly sliced grilled skirt steak with a pimentón dry rub.

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Filed under Chile, Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, rosado, Spain, Uncategorized, White Wine

Luna Nueva

Today is the new moon which, if you follow these things, indicates a new beginning, a new cycle of change, a fresh start.

Take, for example, our latest wine selections at The Spanish Table. Right now we have new wines that have never before been seen outside their respective regions of origin. We also have the most recent vintages from celebrated and well known bodegas. You can thrill your palate with untried new flavors and textures or you can affirm your sense of taste memory by re-trying a favorite wine in the latest vintage (the try-it-again-for-the-first-time concept).

However you construct your newness (perhaps you wear your new with a difference) now is the perfect time to experiment with wines that are familiar yet novel.

This week we have some excellent values from Spain and Portugal as well as some stunning collector’s wines that those of you with wine cellars will be wise to pick up while they last (down the road, these will offer that most rare sense of aged newness).

 

Cooking Class Update:

The upcoming Cooking in Cazuelas class (also a new opportunity) on October 22nd is mostly full (10 tickets left), but I want to be sure to encourage those who haven’t heard about it yet to go check out 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. 

 

Here is a quick idea for using up the end- of-season summer vegetables from the market.

 

Grilled Vegetable Escalivada

(adapted from Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America by José Andrés)

Serves 4 as an appetizer

 

1 medium Japanese style (long not fat) eggplant (about ½ lb)

1 large Yellow Onion

1 large red or yellow bell pepper

3 large tomatoes

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Spanish olive oil

2 teaspoons Sherry Vinegar

1//4 teaspoon Pebrella (dried wild Spanish Thyme)

Salt and pepper

 

Coat the vegetables with a bit of the olive oil and grill them whole over medium hot charcoal (or roast in a 400’ oven) until the vegetables are soft and the skin is charred. Remove the blackened skins, de-seed the pepper and tomatoes and roughly slice everything up in long strips. Marinate the cooked/sliced vegetables for a few hours in a shallow dish with the pebrella, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with some bread and wine.

 

Vino Blanco:

Raventos Parfum de Vi Blanc 2005 $9.99 From the same winery that produces the excellent Raventos i Blanc Cava comes this blend of 60% Macabeo and 40% Muscat that is perfect for the season. Crisp acidity meets floral aroma in a ripe but restrained style that would pair well with butternut squash or end-of-season tomatoes.

 

Ostatu Blanco 2006 $12.99 White Rioja is another seasonal favorite and this fresh, unoaked 100% Viura wine is lean, bright and pin point precise. A hint of sesame seed is typical with Viura and is found in the background of this wine. A superb autumn white.

 

Lícia Albariño 2006 $15.99 From the same winemakers who brought us the exclusive single vineyard Albariño called Finca Arantei comes this well priced second label that is now available in the new 2006 vintage. Lícia is crisp and lemony, with a hint of floral richness held in check by the dry mineral component found in all the best wines from the region.

 

Nessa Albariño 2006 $14. From Adegas Gran Vinum in D.O. Rías Baixas on the Atlantic coast of Spain. Those of you who are familiar with the Albariño 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. 88 points.

 

Vino Tinto:

Padre Pedro 2005 $8.99 Did you see the September 19th 2007 article in The New York Times titled “Happiness for $10 or Less”? The wine writer Eric Asimov was excited about his latest discovery, a little Portuguese wine called Padre Pedro. He said “Our No. 1 wine, the 2002 Padre Pedro from Casa Cadaval in the Ribatejo region of Portugal… had personality, with cherry fruit, spice and smoke flavors and enough tannin to give it structure… Portugal is an excellent source for good, inexpensive wines, especially those from the Douro and those, like the Padre Pedro, from the Ribatejo region…This wine is labeled Ribatejano, which is a wine that comes from Ribatejo but doesn’t follow the appellation’s rules. It’s made from an unlikely mixture of grapes, including cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, alicante bouschet and castelão, a Portuguese grape known in other parts of the country as periquita.”

 

Altos de Luzon 2005 $18.99 At last, the new vintage of one of our most popular D.O. Jumilla wines has arrived. This blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon is lush and full while retaining balance and structure. A perfect autumn red, just in time for the season.

 

Pardevalles Gamonal  2005 $21.99 Have you tried any wines made from the Prieto Picudo grape yet? Now is your chance to check out this interesting varietal in a wine that has been the favorite of many local restaurants since its recent introduction. Sourced from the newly demarcated  Tierras de León region and aged for 6 months in oak after fermentation, this ripe herbaceous red will add spice and interest to autumn meals such as  slow cooked white beans and chorizo.

 

Pintia 2004 $60.00 The new vintage of Pintia is now in stock (in very limited quantities). This is the Toro region project of Vega Sicilia. The quality level here is, as you would expect, extremely high. The old vine Tinta de Toro used for Pintia is ponderously dark and earthy, with abundant fruit character that will last for years to come. A 95 Point rating in The Wine Advocate will add to the demand for this robust autumn red.

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