Tag Archives: primavera

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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Portugal On My Mind

At The Spanish Table in Berkeley I buy wines with a very specific national focus. Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. That’s it.

Still, selecting wines from just the countries we represent, I go through periods of intense interest in one style or region or winemaker and I take home lots of wines from wherever/whatever/whomever is my current obsession. Lately I have been really enjoying the wines from Portugal, specifically the reds from the Dão region and the whites from Vinho Verde.

Not so long ago Dão wines were often rustic, chunky reds that displayed little in the way of freshness or complexity. These days, and especially this time of year, I have been enjoying a range of Dão wines, both young and more mature, that show off the improvements in quality for wines from this region.

In Vinho Verde, as with Dão, the quality level is rising with each year. Intrepid importers who once only shipped inexpensive, non-vintage blends for summertime picnics now supply us with some top notch varietal wines from this region on Portugal’s northern border.

As spring continues to unfold in the Bay Area I find that these Portuguese wines match the season perfectly. Lively, youthful aromas, bright fruit character and intriguing mineral notes pair wonderfully with a springtime menu. These wines, many of which have yet to be discovered by food and wine lovers in our little corner of the globe, offer a clear sense of place with styles and characteristics that are distinctly Portuguese.

To get a feeling for these wines, I suggest pairing them with a typical Portuguese dish, and few foods in Portugal are more typical than salt cod. Here is a classic version of a baked casserole that also has the advantage of using up some of those hard boiled Easter eggs that many of you will have on hand right now.

Salt Cod and Potato Casserole – adapted from The Food of Portugal by Jean Anderson

(Serves 6 as a main course)

Ingredients:

1 lb. Dried salt cod fillet

1 Large yellow onion

2 lbs. Yukon Gold (or Russet) potatoes

1/3 cup Minced parsley

1 tblspn. Butter

3 tblspns. Portuguese olive oil

3 Hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut in wedges

12 Oil cured black olives, pitted

1 tblspn. Salt

1 tblspn. Ground black pepper

Directions:

One day ahead, soak the Salt Cod in cold water, changing the water twice in 24 hours.

The next day, drain the Cod and poach it in 1 quart of simmering water on the stove for twenty minutes or until the fish starts to flake apart.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While waiting for the oven to come up to temperature, slice the onion in thin rings and sauté in a clay cazuela on the stove top with the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until the onion has softened and taken on a bit of color. Remove the onions when cooked. Peel and slice the potatoes in thin rounds and add them to the cazuela with the rest of the olive oil. Sauté the potatoes until they start to soften and fall apart. Mix in the cooked onions along with the salt, pepper and half of the parsley. Tuck big flakes of the cod into the potato and onion mixture. Top with the pitted olives and bake uncovered in the oven for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and garnish with wedges of hard boiled eggs and the rest of the parsley. Serve with a green salad and any of the wines below.

Broadbent Vinho Verde $10.99 An excellent example of top quality Vinho Verde. Composed of 50% Loureiro, 40% Trajadura and 10% Padernã it is light in color with lemon and grapefruit aromas. On the palate it offers more citrus as well as a bit of flinty minerality carried along by slight effervescence that makes the wine refreshing and easy to drink.

Ponte de Lima Adamado 2006 $9.99 This Vinho Verde is fresh and a bit fuller bodied than some others from this region. The extra dollop of fruit character is round and generous, adding weight to the flinty/spritzy Vinho Verde style. I pair this with a composed salad of butter lettuce, white asparagus and top shelf Ventresca tuna.

Solar de Serrade Alvarinho 2006 $17.99 In Portugal, Vinho Verde is often thought of (with good reason) as a simple, spritzy white wine for picnics and parties. This Vinho Verde on the other hand is a whole different story. Made from the Alvarinho grape (Albariño in Spain), this elegantly dry and flinty white wine is finely balanced and fragrant. If you are curious about just how good Vinho Verde can be, this is a perfect place to begin your investigation.

Quinta dos Grilos 2005 $15.99 Grilo is Portuguese for cricket, and while you won’t find any crickets in this wine, the flavor may remind you of a warm summer night in the back yard, grilling something tasty, swatting mosquitoes and listening to the (you guessed it) crickets. From the Dao region of Portugal, this red wine is bright and savory, with cherry-like fruit overlaying a tannic core. Chirp!

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.

Cardeal Reserva 2002 $13.99 This Dão wine is made from 100% Touriga Nacional, one of the traditional varieties used in Porto. This wine was aged in barrel for over a year and has bed come softer and rounder from several years of bottle age. Still, the barrel character gives this wine a bit more of the old school Dão character, blending well with the dark berry fruit. Serve this with some grilled sardines for a traditional pairing.

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Filed under Portugal, Recipes, Red Wine, White Wine

Bargains from Portugal & Argentina

Do we love a bargain? Yes we do, and this time of year is perfect for stocking up on some value priced wines that will compliment your meals and spice up your leisure time. We have some new arrivals from Portugal in our ever popular ‘house wine’ section (remember that ‘house wine’ is what we call a special section of traditionally styled wines that we price at $6.99 per bottle with a better than usual discounted price of $5.99 per bottle with full case mix and match purchase). Also in the new, interesting and well priced category are a trio of Argentine wines from Valle de la Puerta that offer distinctive grape varieties and solid winemaking skill at prices that encourage experimentation.

We have not forgotten those of you who are looking for something elegant and rare. This week we received a few special items that you won’t want to miss if you have a taste for unique and hard to find wines. The 2005 Numanthia is available in miniscule quantities as is the new vintage of one of our favorite Priorat wines.

I am happy to report that the Cooking in Cazuelas class was a big success. I hope to repeat it in the near future for those who could not make it this time around. Meanwhile, here is the recipe from the class for my Buttermilk Flan. I cobbled this together from available ingredients to recreate a flan de queso that I had in Madrid a few years ago. The Spanish don’t use buttermilk (how do you say ‘buttermilk’ in Spanish?) but the flavor and texture are similar to the Spanish version I loved so much when I first tried it.

 

Kevin’s Buttermilk Flan (serves 5)

 

5 large eggs

1.5 cups cultured buttermilk

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon Mexican vanilla extract

1/3 cup sugar for caramel

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set a tea kettle of water on the stove to simmer.

Heat 1/3 cup of sugar in a dry 8” clay cazuela for approximately 5-10 minutes until the sugar is barely liquefied and golden brown (do not over cook or it will burn). Remove cazuela from heat and let cool fully. The caramel will harden.

Whisk together 4 eggs and 1 egg yolk with ½ cup sugar until smooth. Add buttermilk, cream and vanilla. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.

Fill the cazuela with the flan mixture to ¼ inch below the rim (it should all fit). Place the full cazuela in a larger baking dish and place in preheated oven. Pour the simmering water around the outside of the cazuela (about 2/3 way up the side) to create a hot water bath. This will allow the flan to cook slowly and evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Check for doneness by tapping on the side of the cazuela. It is ready when the flan is just barely set.  If the flan mixture ripples like liquid, leave it in the oven for another 10 minutes.

When cooked, remove the flan from the oven, allow it to cool completely and then refrigerate until cold.

To serve, run a sharp knife around the rim of the flan to loosen it up, invert it on a serving plate and remove the cazuela. Serve with a sweet sherry or other dessert wine.

 

House Wines:

Gazela Vinho Verde $6.99 This perennial customer favorite from Portugal is the latest addition to our ‘house wine’ section. This is a crisp, flinty white wine with bright, refreshing citrus notes. Low alcohol makes this an excellent lunch or picnic wine.

 

Charamba 2005 $6.99 This youthful, fresh, fruity red wine from the Douro region of Portugal will pair well with spicy food and party snacks. It is also a fine candidate for using as the base of a tasty Sangría.

 

Alandra Tinto $6.99 From the makers of Esporão in the Alentejo region of Portugal comes this youthful, rich, fruit-filled red wine made from Moreto and Periquita grapes. This bright and spicy non-vintage red will compliment a wide variety of meals.

 

Primavera Bairrada Reserva 2003 $6.99 This earthy blend of 60% Baga, 30% Tinta Roriz and 10% Castelão is perfect for hearty meals. This Portuguese wine displays brick red color and smoky aroma with dried cherry fruit character and tannic foundation. Mature reserva wines don’t make it into the ‘house wine’ section very often so take advantage of this excellent value in red wine while it lasts.

 

From Argentina:

La Puerta Malbec 2006 $9.99

La Puerta Shiraz 2006 $9.99

La Puerta Torrontes 2005 $9.99

Valle de la Puerta is a new winery located in Northern Argentina dedicated to the production of value priced single varietal wines that represent the best of Argentine grapes.

The Malbec is a ripe, juicy red that will compliment red meat and spicy foods. The Shiraz is a bold, earthy red that pairs well with savory, slow cooked autumn stews and the white Torrontes is a rich aromatic wine that is perfect with crunchy vegetables and full flavored cheeses.

 

Numanthia 2005 $58.00 The Toro craze continues unabated and with good reason. The new wines from this region are blockbusters! They are big, inky, concentrated reds fashioned from old (ancient!) vine fruit grown on pre-phylloxera, ungrafted root stock. What they lack in subtlety they more than make up in depth of character.  Josh Raynolds recently reviewed this wine for Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. He said “Deep ruby. A deep, youthfully brooding bouquet offers dark cherry, blackcurrant, incense and suave oak spices. Spicy cherry and dark berry flavors show an exotic anise quality and slow-building sweetness. This gently tannic, chewy, extremely persistent wine finishes with echoes of oak spice and floral pastille, not to mention excellent vivacity. 93 points.

 

Font de la Figuera 2005 $41.99 Clos Figueras, located in the Priorat region of Catalunya is a small estate owned by famed importer Christopher Cannan and managed by the equally famous winemaker René Barbier.  Font de la Figueras is composed of a blend of Garnacha, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Monastrell. This opulent red is an excellent value from a winery and a region known for much more pricey offerings. 

 

 

 

 

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

Cooking in Clay

I am excited about a new class that I’m doing in October at Kitchen On Fire. The class is called Clay Pot Cookery and, as the name implies, is all about using the wonderful terracotta cookware from The Spanish Table to create hearty and rustic traditional Spanish meals at home.

Here are the details from the Kitchen On Fire website:

In this class, Kevin Hogan from The Spanish Table will share his passion for terracotta cookware as he prepares his version of several classic Spanish recipes for the class to enjoy.

All of the food for this class, from quick cooked appetizers to slow braised stews and even dessert, will be prepared using Spanish clay cookware. Cooking in clay is an ancient way to transform simple ingredients into delicious meals. In Spain, the earthenware cazuela is the required vessel necessary to prepare any number of traditional recipes. Recipes for this class will include:

Gambas al Ajillo (sautéed shrimp in olive oil with garlic and chilies)

Setas Al Fino (sautéed mushrooms with Fino Sherry)

Carcamusa Toledana (Toledo style braised pork and potato stew in tomato sauce)

Arroz con cosas (baked rice with assorted vegetables)

Buttermilk flan (Kevin’s own recipe)

Now that I have decided on the menu, I’m busy deciding which wines to serve with the meal. I plan to serve 5 different selections that are appropriate to the dishes we will be eating.

If you are interested in attending this demonstration dinner (due to the slow cooked nature of some of the dishes this is not going to be a hands-on class), please sign up on the Kitchen on Fire website. Their address is:

https://www.kitchenonfire.com//course_class.php?class=348

The class is limited to 30 guests so sign up soon to reserve your spot.

Meanwhile, back in the wine department, we have some excellent new selections in our ‘house wine’ department. For those of you who are not yet familiar with our ‘house wine’ selections, here’s how it works: We carry a selection of traditionally styled wines (red, white, rosé) that taste like what you would be served in a little Spanish or Portuguese bar. We sell all of these wines at a special price of $6.99 per bottle and we give even deeper discounts ($5.99 per bottle) on mix-and-match 12 bottle purchases. This allows you to buy a case of wines for $71.88 (+ tax) that you can have around the house for whenever the need arises. Our newest arrivals in the ‘house wine’ department are:

Alandra Tinto $6.99 From the makers of Esporão in the Alentejo region of Portugal comes this youthful, rich, fruit-filled red wine made from Moreto and Periquita grapes. This bright and spicy non-vintage red will compliment a wide variety of meals.

Primavera Bairrada Reserva 2003 $6.99 This earthy blend of 60% Baga, 30% Tinta Roriz and 10% Castelão is perfect for hearty meals. This Portuguese wine displays brick red color and smoky aroma with dried cherry fruit character and tannic foundation. Mature reserva wines don’t make it into the ‘house wine’ section very often so take advantage of this excellent value in red wine while it lasts.

Lavradores de Feitoria Douro Tinto $6.99 The Douro region in Portugal is also the area where Port wine is produced. Forward thinking winemakers have re-purposed the grapes of this region for table wine production. This young red is a blend of wine from 13 different producers across the Douro region. Youthful color and aroma blend with dark berry fruit character and background minerality. Excellent quality from an interesting winery.

We also have some exciting new wines from all over:

Vino Blanco:

Follies Branco 2005 $10.99 This medium bodied, Portuguese blend of Chardonnay and Maria Gomes displays lush melon-like fruit character and gentle acidity. Steel tank fermentation (no oak) maintains a fresh, ripe aspect that is particularly delicious when paired with creamy soft ripened cheeses.

Luis Pato Maria Gomes 2006 $11.99 Luis Pato is one of Portugal’s most celebrated winemakers. This wine, made from the local Maria Gomes grape is bright and refreshing. Aromas of white peach and fresh melon accent a grapefruity foundation. Amazing purity in this unique white wine.

Blanco Nieva Verdejo 2006 $14.99 The new vintage of this perennial crowd pleaser has just arrived. Grapefruit and flint come to mind as descriptors here. Additional quince-like fruit character and a bit of residual effervescence are most noticeable while the wine is very young.

Vino Tinto:

Terra Buena Malbec 2003 $10.99

Terra Buena Tempranillo 2004 $10.99

I wrote about the Terra Buena wines in last week’s newsletter, but foolishly omitted the descriptions of the two red wines. Briefly, these wines are made in Argentina by the good folks up at Laurel Glen winery in Sonoma County. After fermentation the wines are put on ships and transported in bulk to California where they are aged and bottled. The reds both display dark color and ripe berry aromas. The Malbec is the bolder of the two and shows impressive concentration and richness. The Tempranillo is spicy and lively with bright cherry-like fruit character. Both of these wines would be perfectly paired with spicy tomato sauced pasta or harissa marinated lamb kabobs.

Chévere 2004 $10.99 Not only has Paul Campbell at Laurel Glen been making wine in Argentina, he has also crafted a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon which, like the Terra Buena wines, undergo primary fermentation in their native countries with barrel ageing and bottling taking place in Graton, California. The novelty factor is high here with the image of Che Guevara on the label but the wine inside is quite tasty. Youthful dark berry aroma encounters nicely structured tannins in this hearty, full-bodied red wine. The back label states that “A portion of the proceeds from this sale will be donated to the Lambi Fund of Haiti, a community-based NGO that promotes democracy and economic justice in Haiti. Drink up, America!

Les Terrasses 2005 $36.99 We blew through the 2004 vintage in record time, so we’re happy to see the new 2005 Les Terrasses. This wine is consistently one of our best D.O.C. Priorat wines in the under $50 category. Alvaro Palacios, Priorat’s most celebrated winemaker is best known for his rare and very expensive L’Ermita, but thankfully he also makes Les Terrasses for those of us on more modest budgets. 30% Garnacha, 60% Cariñena, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark garnet color, opulent cherry brandy aroma, rich silky dark berry fruit character and seamlessly integrated oak tannins. Delicious now. Even better with a few years of cellar time.

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Filed under Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine