Tag Archives: priorato

Elegant Spanish Whites

An interesting shift is taking place amongst Spanish wine drinkers in the USA. White wines are growing in popularity relative to the more traditionally recognized Spanish reds. Not long ago we had trouble convincing people to try white wines from Spain. Now, the choices are numerous, the quality is high and the prices are quite reasonable. The Albariños from Galicia were the first Spanish whites to really take off in the American market, followed by Rueda region Verdejo wines. Then a few years ago it was as if the grape cart tipped over and out spilled Godello from Valdeorras, Viura from Rioja, Garnacha Blanca from Priorat, Treixadura from Ribeiro and Hondarribi Zuri from the Basque country. With so many distinct, vibrant, interesting styles to choose from, Spanish whites have become an adventure in novelty grounded in traditions that are only now starting to find an audience outside their native regions.
This week I would like to share with you a few of the best Spanish white wines I have tasted lately. These are special occasion wines that showcase Spain’s unique grapes and winemaking styles. They tend to veer away from the barrel aged style in favor of a crisper tank fermented technique. Extended time on the lees (sometimes very extended) is the preferred way to achieve richness and depth while protecting the varietal/regional character of these wines. The complexity and textural weight of these wines makes them perfect companions to winter fare. Please consider the following selections for your holiday table:

Odysseus Pedro Ximénez Blanco 2007
This is a unique dry white wine in that Pedro Ximénez is usually reserved for use in sweet Sherry, while this, on the other hand, is totally dry and has notes of apricot, tangerine, a bit of lemon and white flowers. Bright acidity and foundational minerality find balance in the rich, leesy texture and floral aroma. We paired this with first-of-season Dungeness crab (simply steamed) the other night. It worked perfectly. Regular retail $35.99. Now $19.99-Limited.


Zárate Tras da Viña 2005
This is an Albariño with a decided difference that comes from 30 months (two and a half years!) spent ageing on the lees. On one hand you have a lean, flinty wine that expresses the edgy, almost saline side of the Rías Baixas regional style. On the other hand, after the extended time in tank, this wine takes on a denser, richer tone but not so much as to obscure its original character. If you have ever wondered whether Albariño has the ability to age, here is your affirmative answer. $31.99

Aforado Sobre Lías 2008
Aforado is a small family winery in the coastal O Rosal sub-zone of DO Rías Baixas just over the border from Portugal, The tradition here is to blend Albariño with small amounts of other local varieties. The 20 acre Aforado estate vineyard is planted mostly to Albariño with small quantites of Caiño Blanco & Loureiro. The estate fruit is used exclusively for the regular Aforado as well as this small production (250 cases in total) sobre lias version that ages on the lees for 12 months after fermentation. Floral aroma and tart citrus fruit character find expression here in a bolder, denser frame than the regular bottling. It will continue to age well for at least another 3-5 years. $38.99

Emilio Rojo 2008
While Spanish white wines are a recent discovery here in the USA, regions such as DO Ribeiro have been making wines for centuries. The tradition in Ribeiro is to drink the local wines from shallow ceramic cups. Emilio Rojo, named after its maker, is one of this region’s most sought after wines. Made in minuscule quantities (only 50 cases imported to the USA) this finely tuned white is a blend of several grapes including 55% Treixadura, 15% Loureiro, 10% Lado, 10% Albariño and 10% Torrontés. Poise and balance are the words that best describe Emilio Rojo. Firmly mineral at first, this wine reveals itself in layers over time. Aromas of orange blossom and grapefruit zest soften the minerality and add context to the melon and pear fruit character. This wine is rarely found at retail and we have just a few bottles to offer. $58.00

New Cava

We just got in a few new Cavas that are sure to find favor at your table this holiday season. You may also check out the rest of our extensive collection of sparkling wines, Cava and otherwise, here:

L’Hereu de Nit Rosado Brut Cava 2006 Raventos i Blanc is a true pioneer of Cava production (this family winery was making sparkling wine before the name Cava existed). They just released their newest wine, this vintage rosado Cava, and it is phenomenal. Adding 15% Monastrell to the traditional cava blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo (all estate grown in this particular instance, unusual for the region) tints the wine with the palest pink hue. Fine bubbles lift the yeasty brioche aroma from the glass. The barest whiff of strawberry aroma adds context to the dry, crisp, pinpoint precise style that Raventos i Blanc is known for. Pour this in any context that calls for sparkling wine and you (along with your guests) will be happy indeed. $21.99
Augustí Torelló Mata Reserva Brut Cava 2006 This bodega is celebrated for high end wines that rival the best French Champagne. This is a vintage Cava that spent several years ageing in the cellar to get the ‘reserva’ label. The blend here is 48% Macabeo, 27% Parellada and 25% Xarel-lo. Small, persistent bubbles and the aroma of freshly baked bread create a first impression that leads on to restrained green apple fruit character and a crisp toasty finish. This is a top shelf, traditionally styled Cava for serving at any festive moment that may arise. $24.99
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Valduero (and more) on sale

A long time importer friend of the Spanish Table here in California has called it quits and moved to Australia.  He’s given us first pick of his wines at amazing prices and we stocked up on a few choice items.
These hearty reds are cellar worthy selections that will be available only while the limited supply lasts. Enjoy them tonight after a bit of breathing time (they respond amazingly well to a bit of air) or put them away for down the line. This is definitely a not to be missed opportunity.
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valudero reserva.jpg2000 Valduero Reserva – 94 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, “The 2000 Reserva is a bit more refined than the Crianza but hardly a shrinking violet. The color is less dense and the nose is more expressive. There are notes of cedar, tobacco, scorched earth, truffle, blueberry, and blackberry which jump from the glass. On the palate the wine remains youthful with layers of flavor but also some elegance as well as power. The fruit is ripe and sweet, the tannins soft, and the finish lasts for at least 45 seconds.”

 

Regular retail is $39.99. While supplies last.  $23.99

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valduero crianza.jpg2004 Valduero Crianza – Valduero is one of the older wineries in Ribera del Duero and continues to make a more traditional styled Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

 

We’ve bought the last 30 cases of the 2004 Crianza and for good reason.  Floral blackberry, smoke and star anise and a touch of pepper on the nose. Rich and full flavored with sweet black cherry, chocolate, and cinnamon.  Lasting flavors of baking spice, black fruit and good acidity on the finish.  This is still young and will drink well for the next couple of years easily.

Regular retail is $28.99. While supplies last. $17.99

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Vall Por.JPG2004 Sangenis I Vaque Vall Por Priorat – Sangenis I Vaque was founded back in the late 70’s but the vineyards have been in the Vaque family since the 1700’s.  Their vineyards, which are organically farmed are located around the town of Porrera and are primarily the famed black slate (licorella) that has made Priorat famous.

 

A stellar vintage, this is tightly wound and a decant makes this shine.  Spicy blueberry, chocolate and plumcake on the nose.  Velvety & silky with dense, palate coating flavors of dark chocolate, plum and blueberry, anise and a mineral edge.  Bright acidity and lingering notes of mineral and sweet blueberries on the finish.

Regular retail $31.99. While it lasts. $17.99

Bodegas Ithaca

Joseph Puig is the man behind the Priorat winery called Bodegas Ithaca.  Puig is an avid inventor and is well-known throughout Spain for his numerous patents (the cantilevered cork screw, for instance) as well as his fascination with the tale of Odysseus.  His wines in have always done well at the Spanish Table but  due to a change of Importers (same story as Valduero in the adjacent column) Bodegas Ithaca has been in short supply. A new importer has started bringing in new vintages. Meanwhile, here are some choices from previous vintages that will disappear quickly at these prices.

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2006 Penelope Garnatxa Peludo – I really like the fact that this late harvest wine is only a touch sweet. Notes of black cherry, rose, spiced cranberries and blood orange.  Good natural acidity, this is an excellent option for upcoming holiday dessert wine. 500ml bottle. Regular retail $34.99. Now $19.99 Limited

2006 Penelope Garnatxa Blanca This is the other option, but done with the white grape.  Again just slightly sweet, this leans towards honey and white peach, apricot blossoms, a touch of mint and good minerality.  Round and full on the palate. 500ml bottle. Regular retail $34.99. Now $18.99 Limited.

2007 Odysseus Pedro Ximenez BlancoThis is a unique dry white wine in that Pedro Ximenez is most often found raisined and pressed to make an extremely sweet Sherry.  This is totally dry and has notes of apricot, tangerine, a bit of lemon and white flowers.  Good minerality and good acidity. Only 150 cases made. Regular retail $35.99. Now $19.99 Limited.

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Filed under Fortified Wine, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

Learning About Spain

The Wine Academy of Spain, an educational organization run by Pancho Campo (Spain’s first Master of Wine) stopped in San Francisco last week as part of a US tour currently wrapping up in Washington DC.
I joined a group of Spanish wine enthusiasts for the three day seminar that covered all of Spain’s regions, grapes and winemaking styles. I got to brush up on my Spanish wine knowledge and tried many new wines as well as some familiar favorites.
Esteban Cabezas and his crew did a fabulous job of squeezing a ton of information into a short space of time. I gleaned all sorts of tidbits of information that I will be sharing with you in the days and weeks to come.
My thanks and appreciation go out to The Wine Academy of Spain and to Catavino for sponsoring my attendance to the seminar (I won the scholarship for my why-I-love-Spanish-wine blog entry). Hopefully I passed the exam and in a few weeks will have a handsome Spanish Wine Educator certificate to hang on the wall.
I retried a few wines at the Wine Academy of Spain course that are making a repeat appearance here as a result of a good showing at the seminar. Check out this week’s wine notes for the Aria Brut Cava, Gramona Imperial Cava and the red Fra Guerau Monsant. They are now back in stock and drinking beautifully.

Espelt Vailet 2007 After my recent trip to the Empordá region of Spain (up along the French border on the Mediterranean side) I have been eagerly buying all the wine from this little known, rocky, sparsely populated corner of the globe. A few weeks back we featured the red from Espelt as well as the rosado. The white wine from Espelt has just come back in stock and I recommend it this week as a new option for those seeking bright, fresh white wines with distinctive character. The blend is 60% Garnacha Blanca and 40% Macabeo (Viura for you white Rioja fans). Crisp minerality is supplemented here with a bit of green herb and citrus character. $12.99
Aria Brut This Cava has been a well loved favorite and is finally back in stock here in Berkeley. This frothy blend of the three traditional Cava grapes (Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada)presents a fresh, balanced side of Cava with a bit of green apple fruit adding counterpoint to the mineral foundation. $10.99
Gramona Imperial 2004 For those who appreciate the complexity of long aged Cava, this vintage sparkler is always a welcome sight. 3-4 year of cellar age gives this wine a very Champagne-like character. Adding 10% Chardonnay to the blend of 50% Xarel-lo and 40% Macabeo adds to the similarity with French bubbly. Yeasty brioche aroma, an elegant mineral backnote and a bit of brandied fruit on the finish. $31.99
Fra Guerau 2003 This was one of the first wines that caught my attention back when I started with The Spanish Table. I recently retasted Fra Guerau and was reminded of the pure pleasure that comes from this blend of numerous grapes (Syrah, Garnacha, Cariñena, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Monastrell) from the Montsant region. Dark garnet color, sweet berry fruit character and well integrated barrel character (thanks to several years of bottle age) make this an easy wine to pair with all kinds of food. $13.99
Zaumau Priorat 2008 Carlos Escolar make miniscule quantities of wine in DOC Priorat. Old vine Garnacha and Samsó (the local name for Cariñena) are blended here in an unoaked red that expresses the rocky terruño of the region in a pure, darkly colored, ripely fruited style. Foregoing the barrel ageing regimen brings the price down significantly for this wine from a region not known for bargains. $17.99
Viña Lanciano Reserva 2001 Nothing says ‘Spain’ quite like a slowly matured Tempranillo from Rioja. This wine,from the superlative 2001 vintage, is composed of the best estate grown fruit from Bodegas LAN. Two years in the barrel followed by 5 years resting in the bottle in the cellar have created an elegant, traditional wine that blends tannic oak with tart cherry fruit character. Aromas of fresh earth, cured meat and wood smoke add depth and nuance to this excellent example of old school Rioja. $28.99

TapasWalk In The News

Last Sunday the San Francisco Chronicle ran a feature on the Spanish wine & food walking tour that I do called TapasWalk. Using my tour as an example, Janet Fletcher wrote a detailed piece on the burgeoning tapas scene now happening in downtown San Francisco. “In this new little world straddling North Beach, the Financial District and Russian Hill,” Fletcher wrote, “a Bay Area tapas enthusiast with good walking shoes can do the sort of bar hopping that many Spaniards enjoy nightly.” She included a lexicon of useful terminology for those less familar with Spanish cuisine as well as a few recipes for traditional tapas that you can make at home (with a few ingredients from The Spanish Table, of course). If you missed it in the paper last week you can still read the article online here.


Txakolí Wisdom


In tandem with last week’s San Francisco Chronicle article by Janet Fletcher about the downtown tapas scene, Jon Bonné put together a detailed and up-to-date summary of the current state of Basque Txakolí wine. If you have yet to experience the distinct joy of Txakolí, this article tells you all you need to know to get started. We carry all the Txakolí wines and (just between you and me) we even have some of the elusive Txakolí rosado still in stock.

Txakolí Etiquette

If you have visited San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque Country you probably noticed how the local bartenders pour the Txakolí wine with an outstretched arm from high overhead. Now our good friends from Vinos Unico have made an instructional video that shows just how to pour Txakolí like a pro. Check them out here:


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Filed under events, Red Wine, Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

Wine and Travel

Have you had enough of summer vacation yet?

Technically, summer is drawing to a close but I just got word of a trip that may inspire those of you with some free time to extend summer beyond Labor Day.

Chef Maggie Pond from Bar César is leading a food and wine centered trip to Catalunya in September. This 9 day trip will focus on the myriad delights of Barcelona and the surrounding countryside. Cooking classes, trips to wineries and olive mills, scenic excursions and elegant meals are all on the agenda. In addition to Maggie and her crew, Andy Booth from The Spanish Table will be on hand to share his knowledge of the local food and wine of this fascinating region. All the details are here: http://www.barcesar.com/tour/.

Meanwhile, here in Berkeley, we have been receiving some very hard-to-find wines from top shelf producers that I feel deserve your attention.

In recent weeks I have been focusing on the excellent value priced wines that are our specialty at The Spanish Table. This week I want to alert you to some recent arrivals that are (there is no way around it) on the expensive side. These are all finely tuned wines that showcase the very best efforts of their respective winemakers. They are made in miniscule quantities and are usually not available for purchase in retail shops. Most of these wines are only found in high end restaurants (at high end prices).

This is your chance to pick up some iconic wines for near term enjoyment or to stock the wine cellar for some time in the future. Check out the details below:

 

Les Brugueres 2006 Wines from D.O.C. Priorat are almost always red, but a few examples of the rare white Priorat can be found and this is one of those. Made from a small single vineyard of 100 year old Garnacha Blanca grown in the rocky schist soil of the region, this rich white wine achieves a level of depth and concentration that is impressive (even more so when you consider that the wine is not aged in oak). Juicy peach and tart apple fruit character, mineral aroma and full bodied texture combine to create a uniquely delicious wine. $32.99 (5 bottles in stock)

 

As Sortes 2006 Rafael Palacios, of the famous Palacios winemaking family, makes this 100% Godello wine in the Valdeorras region in Northwestern Spain. In the right hands, the Godello grape makes delicate and elegantly fruity wines. Rafael Palacios makes this wine from old vine Godello (40-60 year old vines) grown at high altitude (over 600 meters). Fermented and aged in large oak foudres , this wine displays white peach and crane melon fruit character, fine minerality and leesy complexity, with only the barest hint of barrel character. Josh Raynolds from Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar rated this wine at 92 points, saying: “Pale yellow. Spicy citrus, orange and melon aromas are brightened by zesty minerals; smells like Puligny-Montrachet. Suave white peach and pear flavors lead to firm lemon zest, spice and chalky minerality on the back end. Impressively elegant and clean wine with the balance to age for a couple of years.” $45.00 (5 bottles in stock)

Emilio Rojo 2006 The Ribeiro region of Northern Spain is not well known in the USA, yet. That will change soon as this flinty, dry style of white wine gets more exposure in this country. Fashioned from a blend of 55% Treixadura, 15% Loureiro, 10% Lado, 10% Albariño and 10% Torrontés, Emilio Rojo displays aromas and flavors of flinty minerals and tart grapefruit in a finely balanced frame. This small production wine (700 cases in total) is an excellent example of Ribeiro wine and I am not alone in this opinion. Josh Raynolds from Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar rated this wine at 91 points, saying: “Pale yellow. Bitter citrus, minerals and honeysuckle on the nose, with a bright white pepper quality adding spice. Brisk, sharply focused lime and orange zest flavors offer striking depth and energy, staining the palate with mineral-accented flavor. Finishes with superb thrust and clinging citrus and bitter pear skin flavor. This won’t quit.” $52.00 (only 11 bottles in stock)

Lan Edición Limitada 2005 Bodegas Lan uses its best estate grown fruit for this dark, concentrated wine. The blend here is 80% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo and 5% Graciano. Extended maceration on the skins helps to develop the dark ruby color and 9 months of barrel age gives a balanced oak note to the finished wine. Limited availability and high scores by the wine press in previous vintages make this a wine that will not be around for long. This impressive effort will please both traditionalists and more modern palates. $49.99

 

Calvario 2005 The flagship bottle from Finca Allende is as pedigreed a Rioja as you are likely to find. The grapes for this wine are old vine fruit (mostly Tempranillo with a bit of Garnacha and Graciano added in) from a single vineyard planted in the 1940s. The wine is aged for 19 months in oak before bottling. Concentrated yet elegant, this wine has a long life ahead of it, but may be enjoyed right away if allowed to breathe for an hour before service. Jay Miller reviewed this wine for The Wine Advocate. He rated it at 95 points, saying: The 2005 Calvario comes from a single vineyard planted in 1945. It is 90% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha, and 2% Graciano aged for 16 months in new French oak. It delivers an alluring perfume of toasty new oak, wild black berry, black cherry, and floral notes. Layered and with serious depth, the wine has great concentration and balance. Give it 5-7 years in the cellar and drink it through 2035.” $136.00

 

Achaval Ferrer Quimera 2006

Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira 2006

Bodegas Achaval Ferrer was founded in 1998 in the Mendoza region of Argentina by a group of Argentine entrepreneurs including Santiago Achaval Becu and Manuel Ferrer Minetti who lent their names to the project as well as Marcelo Victoria and Diego Rosso. They brought in several partners from Italy (Italian heritage is ubiquitous in Argentina).Roberto Cipresso, famed Italian winemaker and Tiziano Siviero (retired world rally champion race car driver turned winemaker) are partners in the La Fioreta winery in Montalcino. They came to Argentina to produce a series of wines for the new bodega. The motivation behind the wines of Achaval Ferrer is to make wines that express the unique grapes (primarily Malbec) and terroirs (or terruños, if you wish) of Mendoza.

Quimera is a blended wine that is made using the best grapes from each vintage. Roberto Cipresso chooses slightly different blends each year depending on how the various vineyard sites performed that year.

Quimera 2006 is composed of 34% Malbec from the Mederano and Lujan vineyards, 32% Merlot from Tupungato, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon from Medrano and Tupungato and 12% Cabernet Franc from Tupungato. After primary fermentation the separate varieties were blended and aged in oak for 13 months. The final result is a rich, dark wine with the bold, spicy aromas and dark berry fruit character that are typical of high quality Malbec from Argentina. The addition of other grape varieties adds complexity and structure to this wine. $41.99

Finca Altamira is the flagship wine of this Bodega. This small production wine is sourced from 80 year old Malbec vines growing in Achaval Ferrer’s estate vineyard called Finca Altamira in the La Consulta region of the Uco Valley in Mendoza. This unfiltered wine is darkly colored and richly flavored while simultaneously possessing delicate fruit character that creates an intriguing interplay of flavors and aromas. $96.00

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Last Chance Wine Sale

Good wines, like fresh fruits and vegetables, come and go with the seasons.

In this age of identical commodity products made in vast quantities we often forget that many wines, especially those from the small artisan wineries we love at The Spanish Table, are made in quantities determined by the amount of fresh fruit available to the winemakers and the amount of space they have to make wine from the fruit at harvest time. When these wines are gone, they are gone for good.

It is always a sad moment when one of my favorite wines runs out. Fortunately we always have new wines on hand just waiting for shelf space to open up and give these new products a chance in the marketplace.

This week I am making room for new wines by marking down some products that we are no longer able to re-order. These wines are the last of their vintage or are from distributors who no longer carry these brands. I have marked these wines down in price to give you more than ample reason to pick up a few while they are still available. The mutual benefit here is that you get some tasty bottles for not much money and I get shelf space to bring in yet more new products for you to try.

So come take a look at our new ‘get them while they last’ section and pick out a few of these beauties before they are all gone.

Speaking of almost gone, the last few spots in next week’s Paella & Wine class are getting claimed as I write. If you have some free time on Monday evening (6:30 pm – 9:30 pm)  click over to Kitchen On Fire  and sign up for this tasty hands-on event.

Here is an example of the type of seasonal dish we will be preparing in class while waiting for the paella to cook:

 

Blood Orange and Fennel salad with Black Olives

(serves 4 as a tapa)

 

4                             Medium sized Blood oranges

1                              large fennel bulb

1                              small white onion

12                           Oil cured black olives

2 tblspn                .                Spanish extra virgin olive oil

1 tblspn.                Spanish Sherry vinegar

1 tspn.                  Flor de Sal

 

Peal the oranges with a kitchen knife and either fillet them (cut into skinless sections) or thinly cross cut them into rounds. Slice the fennel and onion into thin rounds (a mandolin slicer works well here, but watch those fingers!). Rinse the onion slices in cold water and pat dry with a towel.  Pit the olives and tear them in half. Mix everything together in a shallow dish. Add the oil and vinegar and any leftover blood orange juice and toss the salad. Sprinkle on the sea salt and let the salad rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Viña Alarba Old Vines Grenache 2005 $6.99 Our newest ‘house wine’ comes from the Calatayud region in Northern Spain. This bright, refreshing Garnacha is full of cherry fruit character with a touch of cranberry tartness. We got a great deal on this wine (normally $9.99) which we are sharing with you. It won’t last long so act now if you want some.

 

Sombrero Rojo Tempranillo 2006 $8.99 This is not a close out. It is a new arrival. Yes, it has a silly name but, hey, it just proves that I don’t judge a wine by its cover. This young Tempranillo is fresh and lively. Half regular fermentation and half carbonic maceration keep the youthful berry-like fruit in the foreground. A tasty wine for simple weeknight meals.

 

Casabayo Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 $8.99 Those dynamic young winemakers at  Mas que Vinos, makers of the ever popular and always delicious Ercavio Tinto and Ercavio Blanco, made this wine from a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. The hot 2003 vintage has given this wine with enough stuffing (ripe fruit, dark color, bright acidity) to last several vintages. We have just a few bottles left.

 

Gárgola 2003 $8.99 Extremadura is known for two things: Jamón Iberico and Vino Tinto.  We are still waiting for the Jamón Iberico to arrive, but meanwhile we can enjoy this red wine while we wait. I like this blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah for its restrained fruit and lean structure. It will turn any jamón deprived gargoyle into a perfect little cherub. 

 

Calina Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $9.99 The Rapel Valley is the source of some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Chile. Rich aromas and dark berry fruit character. Calina ages this wine in oak barrels to create firm tannins which add structure to the wine.

 

Finca Antigua Syrah 2004 $9.99 In the heart of Spain, vineyards stretch to the horizons in every direction. Finca Antigua is a Castilla region winery producing several single varietal wines including this Syrah. This wine shows dark color and tart, savory fruit character and firm, smoky tannins. A fine bargain in Spanish Syrah.

 

Baranc dels Closos 2002 $13.99 Mas Igneus makes many well crafted wines in Priorat, including this lightly oaked blend of Garnacha and Cariñena. The rocky Priorat soil is evident in this firmly mineral wine. Dark garnet color.  Notes of pie cherry and Kirsch (cherry brandy). More rocks on the finish.

 

Pissares 2003 $14.99 A fabulous bargain from Priorat is a rare find indeed. Most of the wines from this region are on the high side price-wise. Stylistically, this one tips its hand right away with a photo on the label of the slate and schist soil that is typical in Priorat. Mineral aromas and flavors of wet slate are a distinct element in this rich red wine. Other elements include dark, almost opaque color, rich cassis (black currant liqueur) aroma and fruit character reminiscent of blackberries and blueberries.

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Filed under Chile, Recipes, Red Wine, Spain

Football Wine

Are you planning on watching football on Sunday?  If so, what will you be drinking?

You know where I’m going with this, right? I’m about to suggest some new and interesting wines to pair with a traditional Superbowl Sunday menu, but if football is not your thing (hey, that’s OK) keep reading anyway because these new arrivals are worth knowing about and trying even without any official justification.

This week we have a trio of new wines from Chile made by Bodegas Montes. The Sauvignon Blanc, the Pinot Noir and the Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenère blend will all compliment a wide variety of party foods, from chips and dip to chicken wings as well as more traditional accompaniments like fresh ceviche or dry cured chorizo. Montes also makes wine in Argentina under the Kaiken brand. We have the new Kaiken Malbec this week for all you Malbec fans out there (which seems to include pretty much all of us).

Speaking of Malbec, we have another new one to try, this time from the well known Achaval Ferrer winery. Their 2006 Malbec is a top shelf selection at a very reasonable price.  If meat is on the menu this weekend then by all means pour this wine with the meal to taste it at its best. 

Meanwhile, back in Spain new vintages are being shipped our way. The latest arrival here is the 2003 vintage of one of my favorite Priorat wines, Odysseus Tinto. The news here is very good indeed. Not only is this an excellent wine but the 2003 is actually a bit lower in price than the previous vintage (how often do you hear that these days?).

Finally, if your Sunday plans mandate beer rather than wine, I understand. Old habits are hard to change and that’s fine because you can still add an Iberian twist to your beer appreciation. We have excellent Spanish, Brazilian and Portuguese Lagars as well Portuguese Bock and Argentine micro brewery Ale, already chilled and ready to enjoy. 

Now, before we move on to the wines, I have a few event notes to share with you.

My Paella And Wine class on Feb. 25 is still open for enrollment. Check out kitchenonfire.com for all the details.

If you would like to venture further a field (a lot further) to learn about the wonders of Iberian wines you can join Steve Winston and his wife Sharon Baden (the founding owners of The Spanish Table) on a spectacular 15 day cruise. Steve and Sharon have been invited to present a series of wine tastings during a Lindblad Expeditions cruise from Morocco to Portugal, Spain, France and England.  Every evening at dinner, complimentary wines will be served focusing on a particular region of Spain, Portugal or France with brief discussions of the wines, the regions and the grape varietals. April 28, 2008 is the departure date. The details are all here: http://www.expeditions.com/Treasures437.asp

 

Now, on to the wines:

 

Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2007 $13.99 This crisp, refreshing white wine from the Leyda valley in Chile is ripe with tropical fruit aroma. Bright, citrusy acidity and a bit of grassy background flavor make this an excellent cocktail wine. Serve this with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing, and okay, a few chicken wings too. Racy, refreshing, remarkable.

 

Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir 2006 $13.99  This Pinot Noir, made in small quantities from fruit grown in the Leyda Valley as well as the Casablanca region of Chile shows bright cherry color and fresh berry fruit character right up front. The light oak note comes from eight months of barrel age and becomes more apparent as the wine opens.  If you think that all Chilean wines are big and bold, this lighter style may surprise you in the best of ways. Chips and salsa will go great with this wine.

 

Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenère 2006 $13.99 This wine is a good example of how, when done right, Chilean Carmenère can be distinctly spicy and rich. The winemakers at Montes blend this traditional grape with a large proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon to achieve a structured complexity that compliments the peppery Carmenère. The fruit comes from the Apalta Valley, one of Chile’s best grape growing regions. Serve this wine with spicy pork ribs or carnitas tacos for a bold and hearty game day treat.

 

Kaiken Malbec 2004 $11.99 Kaiken is a Mapuche word for a particular Snow Goose that migrates across the Andes between Chile and Patagonia, just as Bodegas Montes has crossed the mountains to start making wine in the Mendoza region of Argentina. This dark, rich red wine is 100% Malbec from the prestigious Lujan de Cuyo region of Mendoza. Inky dark purple color and concentrated sweet fruit aroma. Ripe berry and spicy pepper flavors will compliment grilled meats and any food that is at last a little bit picante.

 

Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2006 $22.99 This young winery was founded in 1998 but has achieved great success in a short period of time. This wine, the entry level product for the winery, is 100% Malbec from the high altitude Vistalba region. Obvious care has been taken to produce a rich and opulent wine that still retains a certain level of finesse and detail. The ripe berry fruit character balances foundational minerality which, in turn, compliments a bit of spicy/herby background aroma. This is beef wine, from burgers to porterhouse steak. There is really no other option, but would you want it any other way?

 

Odysseus Tinto 2003 $41.99 Wines from the Priorat region in Catalunya have gotten pretty pricy of late, so I am very happy to offer this new version of one of our favorite small production Priorat reds at a better than usual price. Composed of a blend of 35% Garnacha, 35% Cariñena and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon with the last 10% composed of Touriga Nacional, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Caladoc, this unique and intriguing wine offers abundant pleasure for those know to ask for it. This is a plush wine that exhibits dark color, ripe fruit character and that distinctive mineral element that makes Priorat wines so interesting. If you want a big red for the big game, this is it.

 

Cerveza Estrella Galicia $10.99 (6 pack) Fresh, hoppy lagar from the north of Spain.

Cerveja Sagres $6.99 (6 pack) Another tasty lagar, this time coming from Portugal.

Super Bock $7.99 (6 pack) A strong beer (technically, malt liquor) from Portugal. Hearty!

Cerveja Skol $7.99 (6 pack)  One of Brazil’s most popular beers.  This lagar will remind you of Rio.

Jerome Cerveza Rubia $5.99 (660ml. bottle) The first micro brewery in Argentina makes this Belgian style ale in Mendoza. Hoppy and rich, this proves that Mendoza is good for more than just wine.

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

Holiday Wines, Version 1.2, The Thanksgiving edition

We are very excited to announce the arrival, just in time for Thanksgiving, of some spectacular new wines from the tiny Ribeira Sacra region in northwestern Spain.

De Maison Selections, the same intrepid importers who bring in many of our favorite Basque Txakoli wines, have been very successful at finding lesser known Spanish regions that produce unique and delicious wines. Andre Tamers, the President of De Maison Selections has this to say about their newest project.

One of the most stunning landscapes in Spain is located in the heart of Galicia in an area known as the Ribeira Sacra (Sacred Banks). Driving on the N-120 between Vilafranca del Bierzo and Orense you follow the river Sil as it cuts through gorgeous canyons terraced with vineyards.

D. Ventura is a new project by Ramon Losada and his family utilizing old family holdings in this ancient wine growing region. Ever since the Romans inhabited the area, people have been growing grapes on the steep terraces bordering these two rivers.

Working these lands is extremely difficult as the terraces in some areas are so steep that all the grapes have to be brought in on a hoist.

In addition to an organic approach to farming, winemaking has also changed. Only indigenous yeast is used to start fermentation. None of the wines are filtered or cold stabilized. Lastly, the maturation of the grapes is watched carefully to insure that the grapes are fully mature when harvested.

There are currently three vineyard sites. Two border the River Sil and one borders the Miño River. Caneiro in particular is unique. Steep terraces line the river, which adds a sweet freshness to this plot, cooling it during the heat of the day. Pena do Lobo is also on the Sil but the vineyard is less steep and is slightly further away from the river. Viña do Burato is in a totally different area north of the other two on the Miño River. Here the landscape is lush. Streams flow directly through the vineyard on the way down to the river Miño. The soils here are more fertile and alluvial. All three of these plots have unique climates that create distinct wines.

I am particularly happy to receive these wines right now because they are, I feel, particularly appropriate for Thanksgiving. These are medium bodied wines with no oaky overtones to mask the vibrant fruit character and the fine minerality of these low alcohol (12.5%, also a good thing this time of year!) wines. Any of them would be a perfect match with turkey, dressing and the rest of a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Additionally, we also have some white, rosado and sparkling wines that have been well received in past years and are back again to add a bit of lively Spanish character to your Thanksgiving table.

 

Avinyo Vi D’Agulla 2006 $12.99 This lightly effervescent white wine made from Petit Grain Muscat is floral and aromatic like a Moscatel, but only gently sweet. The light bubbles lift the scent and give the wine a lively, fresh character. The prickly effervescence is what gives the wine its name. Serve Vi D’Agulla as a welcoming cocktail to your dinner guests and watch the smiles spread with each sip.

 

Reymos Espumoso de Moscatel $11.99 Sweet sparkling wine from D.O. Valencia. Rich Muscat grape scent, honeydew melon fruit character and light but persistent bubbles. A mere 7.5% alcohol makes this the perfect end-of-meal wine. Serve alongside a slice of your favorite pumpkin pie.

 

Valduero Rosado 2006 $14.99 If you can’t choose between serving red or white, here is your solution. This unique rosado is made in the Ribera del Duero region from Tempranillo grapes. This dark, spicy rosado will compliment rich, sauced dishes such as salmon in a pastry crust or turkey and gravy.

 

Odysseus Rosado 2006 $23.99 Composed primarily of the same Garnacha grapes that go into the Odysseus Tinto, plus smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cariñena and Touriga Nacional (a traditional Portuguese variety), the 2006 is the darkest and ripest Odysseus Rosado so far. Fresh berry fruit character is rich and mouth-filling, balanced by moderate acidity. Not a light back porch rosado, this wine calls out for candied yams, cranberry sauce and creamed pearl onions.

 

D. Ventura Viña do Burato 2006 $16.99 Composed of 100% old vine Mencía from D. Ventura’s Minho River property, this light red is fresh and youthful with the dried leaf aroma that is typical of Mencía. This is the leanest of the D. Ventura wines.  This unoaked red will compliment fresh vegetables, poultry, rice and pasta.

 

D. Ventura Peña do Lobo 2006 $19.99 This wine, from one of the two the Sil River vineyards is 100% Mencía from vines that are over 80 years old. This dark ruby colored wine is ripe with lush fruit character balancing flinty background minerality. I will be pouring this with my Thanksgiving dinner.

 

D. Ventura Viña Caneiro 2006 $24.99  The boldest of the D. Ventura wines, this exclusive bottling sourced from small plots of old vine Mencía grown on the steep slopes of the Sil River Valley is opulent and silky while still retaining a fresh, lively balance of flavors. Notes of cranberry and pomegranate mingle with flinty minerality. This dark and abundant wine never veers into the overly extracted or the syrupy. It maintains a fine balance of flavors with moderate alcohol content and a solid foundational structure.

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Filed under Red Wine, rosado, Spain, Sparkling Wine, White Wine