Tag Archives: sogrape

Portugal in the news

A few weeks back we mentioned a review in The New York Times of a little known Portuguese wine we carry.  Eric Asimov’s opinion carries a lot of weight and many of you came into the store to try out the $8.99 bargain called Padre Pedro.

Well guess what? This week the same writer in the same newspaper published a piece entirely on the red wines of the Douro region of Portugal (Port’s Not-So-Sweet Cousin), and I am happy to report that The Spanish Table carries all but one of the wines that were reviewed. Some of the vintages and prices are different than in the article, but the fact remains that The Spanish Table is an excellent source for high quality Portuguese wines at all price points.   

Rather than simply copy and paste the information from The New York Times article (which you should read for yourself, and check out the tasty sounding recipe too!) I have re-purposed some of my own previous notes on these wines to give you a little more perspective on these delicious and interesting wines (many thanks to Eric Asimov for doing my job this week in addition to his own).

Vinha da Palestra 2003 $11.99 The “best value” candidate from The New York Times article is this wine. We featured it in our wine club earlier in the year (wine club members are ahead of the curve yet again). This is a young Portuguese wine from D.O.C. Douro composed of roughly equal parts Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo by another name) that offers a gentle glimpse at the powerful Douro reds of days gone by. This new style of Douro trades rustic power for poise and balance. The brash tannins are pushed to the background in favor of bright fruit character and lively acidity. Hints of smoky oak are faintly discernable though present in sufficient quantity to remind one of where this wine comes from. Serve Vinha da Palestra with your favorite Portuguese chicken recipe (there are so many) and a big salad.

Sogrape Douro Reserva 1999 $15.99

The Times reviewed the 2003 vintage which was the final year for this wine. Going forward, Sogrape has rebranded the wine as Callabriga and it is now produced in a Douro, a Dao and an Alentejo version. This is a mature, full-bodied wine with loads of concentrated dark fruit and tannic oak flavors. This balanced, spicy wine offers abundant pleasure straight from the bottle (no breathing time needed).


Quinta dos Quatro Ventos Reserva 2003 $22.99 This reserva level Douro red , composed of a blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional sees 14 months of barrel age in a combination of French and American oak. Dark garnet color with concentrated berry aromas and flavors augmented by spicy tannins and earthy foundation.


Vertente 2004 $27.99 In the Douro valley in Portugal the Niepoort family are long-time port producers and, more recently, innovative red wine producers as well. Dirk Niepoort is leading the table wine renaissance in the Douro and while most of his excellent products carry significant price tags, Vertente is made specifically to satisfy the buyer looking for distinctive Portuguese wine in the under $30 price range. They use the full range of Douro grapes (too many to name) to produce this wine that displays dark color, vivid, spicy aroma, ripe berry fruit, good acidity and slate-like minerality.


Casa de Casal de Loivos 2003 $35.99  Looking for a well priced, small production wine from the Douro region in Portugal? Check out this younger sibling to the well-known and more expensive Quinta de Vale D. Maria Douro red. Opaque garnet color, concentrated port-like aroma and rich fruit character are what you expect from this region and this wine delivers all of the above with some additional wild herb notes in the background.

2004 Quinta Vale D. Maria $43.99 Cristiano Van Zeller is a pioneering winemaker in the Douro Valley .He was the former enologist and owner of the famous Quinta Do Noval Estate, best known for the production of Port wine. Starting in 1996, he began to produce table wine as well in small quantities. This wine is made from a long list of typical Portuguese grape varietal including but not limited to Rufete, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Amarilla. 21 months of barrel age lend tannic complexity to this elegant, concentrated red wine.

2002 Pintas from $43.99 Jorge Borges and Sandra Tavares da Silva are the husband and wife team behind Pintas. Jorge has close ties with Dirk Niepoort (See Vertente above) and Sandra has worked for many years with Cristiano Van Zeller (see Vale D.Maria above). This well connected couple now makes their own wine (in miniscule quantities) called Pintas. Dozens of regional grape varieties, many of them from old vines combine to create this opulent, balanced wine that features the combination of poise and power that typify the best of the Douro region red wines.

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What’s New?

I’m so glad you asked. Even though we are now in August, a month when many of us will head to the beach/mountains/countryside for a last bit of rest and relaxation before the end of summer, here at The Spanish Table we are continuing to search out new and delicious wines from Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina.

We have a new Txakoli from the Basque lands, and new Albariño from Galicia. The latest vintage of one of our favorite Rioja wines is now available as are several celebrated Malbec wines from Argentina, a great Carmenère from Chile and the most prestigious of Portuguese red wines.  

We are having a hard time figuring out what to call this growing collection of wines that encompass such a wide range of styles and nationalities. So far we’ve come up with ‘Iberian influenced’ as a catch all phrase to describe our wine selection, but we are still looking for something that rolls off the tongue a bit easier. How about ‘iberesco’?

Well, clearly I’m just making stuff up now, but I welcome suggestions from any of you that can think up something appropriate.

Meanwhile, before you decamp for somewhere other than home, please come see all our new wines and pick up a few for your trip. Chances are there won’t be a Spanish Table where you are going.

Also, make sure to pack something to eat because you never know what you’ll find for food on the road, in the air or over the water. Here is a recipe for one of my favorite travel snacks:


Kevin’s “Don’t make Me Stop This Car” Tuna Sandwich

(Serves 2 adults or four kids)


1 large can Spanish Bonito del Norte Tuna

6 Piparra peppers, destemmed and roughly chopped

4 Piquillo peppers, sliced in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

1 stalk of celery, diced

½ teaspoon Toro Albala Vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

2 soft sandwich rolls (‘twinkles’ from Acme Bakery are a personal favorite sandwich roll)


Drain the tuna only half way. Put the tuna and the remaining juice in a bowl and flake with a fork. Mix in mustard, celery, chopped Piparra peppers, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Slice rolls in half lengthwise. Divide tuna mixture evenly and spread on the two rolls.

Layer sliced eggs and piquillo peppers on top of tuna mixture.

Close up sandwiches and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. As the sandwiches sit, the bread absorbs the moisture from the tuna and makes the whole thing taste better. Serve after a few hours of travel time.



Vino Blanco:

Uriondo Txakoli 2006 $14.99 The Txakoli continues to flow unabated a The Spanish Table. This new arrival is from D.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina, near Bilbao. Unlike the coastal D.O. Getariako Txakolina wines that are made from the Hondaribbi Zuri grape, Uriondo is composed of a blend of 70% Mune Mahatsa and  30% Txori Mahatsa (say that five times fast). Less spritzy than most Txakoli wines, with riper fruit character and less assertive minerality.


Aforado 2005 $11.99 In D.O. Rías Baixas, the Albariño grape is King, but in the O Rosal sub-zone (where Aforado comes from) other grapes such as Treixadura and Loureira also share center stage. The end result of all this blending is a white wine with more peach and pear aromas and flavors than the typical flinty, citrusy Albariño wines. At this price, Aforado makes an excellent choice for buying by the case.


Mesache Blanco 2006 $11.99 We just received the new vintage of this unique white wine from D.O. Somontano. The blend here is 35% late-harvested Macabeo, 35% Gewurztraminer, and 30% Chardonnay. This rich, floral wine displays abundant melon and pear notes. The bold, fruity, multi-layered style will appeal to Riesling lovers, and would pair well with scallops or other rich seafood.


Vino Tinto:

Cune Crianza 2004 $17.99 If you go to Rioja and walk into any small bar and request a glass of vino tinto, chances are you will be served this wine. This blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo is aged for two years (12 months in American oak barrels and 12 months in the bottle) before sale. The new 2004 vintage shows dark garnet color with black cherry fruit character and balanced oaky tannins that, combined together, create a picture perfect example of crianza Rioja.


Clos de los Siete 2005 $16.99 This is a high profile project in Argentina that combines the talents of seven celebrated French winemakers, with Michel Rolland (yes, that Michel Rolland) at the helm to create a blend from all these neighboring wineries. The individual winemakers will eventually bottle their own wines, but as the vines are still quite young, the Clos de los Siete blend is the one currently available product from this very substantial group. The blend here is 50% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah. The wine is poised between a big, ripe, typically Argentine style and a leaner, more terroir driven French style, which is exactly what you would expect from these winemakers working in this region.


Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec 2003 $21.99  From one of the oldest wineries in Argentina we recently received this 100% Malbec wine sourced from estate vineyards located in the prestigious Lujan de Cuyo district of Mendoza.  This finely balanced wine displays the dark color and ripe aroma of a typical Malbec, but the mid-weight tannins and the multi-layered aromas and flavors here are sophisticated and well tuned. This is one of the best Malbec wines I have tasted so far.


Secreto Carmenere 2006 $9.99 The Secreto wines are mid-tier products from the Viu Manent winery in Chile and are intended to express varietal character. The Secreto Carmenere is dark colored, ripe and fruity. A bit of spicy jalapeño pepper flavor is typical of Carmenere grapes and shows up here as a back note. Serve with boldly flavored food. Mexican tortillas and salsa with grilled skirt steak would be just about perfect.


Casa Ferreirinha Barca Velha 1999 $160.00 (extremely limited, only 6 bottles in stock) We have been looking for this wine for a long time now, and are very proud to offer it to you. Catherine in our Seattle store just wrote about Barca Velha and she did such a good job that I am shamelessly cutting and pasting her notes into my newsletter (thanks Catherine). She said “Barca Velha is the [Vega Sicilia] Unico of Portugal, only at half the price. While I knew that the winery was extremely selective about their releases, I was shocked to find out that there have only been 15 bottlings since the winery’s inception in 1952!!! Barca Velha is traditionally a blend of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Barroca from three of Ferreira’s vineyards in the Douro Superior. Ferreira’s winemaker was sent to Bordeaux in the early 1950s to decide on a table wine style and he chose the long aging style of Chateau Lafite Rothschild so this is made on that model.  This wine is only made in vintages with the potential of greatness.  It is aged for 7 years in barrel and bottle and then tasted to decide if the vintage is great enough to “declare” a Barca Velha.  Ferreira’s Board of Directors has to be unanimous in their decision before a vintage can be declared. Declarations average 2 to 3 per decade and this has traditionally been considered the greatest wine form Portugal.

Additionally, Mark Squires of Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate recently tasted this vintage of Barca Velha and rated the wine at 94 Points. He said “The 1999 Barca Velha (Casa Ferreirinha) is Portugal’s equivalent of Grange, the seminal cult wine for a nation. The winery (Ferreira; hence, the labeling “Casa Ferreirinha,” hearkening back to a famous owner from days gone by) that first made it has long since been sold to Sogrape, Portugal’s biggest wine corporation. Some younger winemakers openly questioned whether Barca Velha was a bit of a dinosaur. Nonetheless, in this vintage at least, it seemed superlative to me, a blend of a more modern styling than seen in Casa Ferreirinha wines like the 1996 Reserva, together with a slightly old-fashioned air lingering in the background. No one will confuse this wine with some of Portugal’s well-known, high-end, modern reds like the Symington’s Chryseia or Quinta do Crasto’s Maria Teresa. It is powerful, with significant tannins and fine structure. With decanting (which it had here), it can be approached. Deep and intense, it has a focused attack of fruit on the palate, some darker fruit notes like a touch of plum, some earthiness, and grip on the finish from that fine structure. It also manages to have a little brightness and a certain refreshing note, cutting through the muscular presentation. The texture has some velvet and it was a pleasure, too. It also shows some gracefulness and complexity, and it should drink well for a couple of decades, improving steadily in the cellar over the next several years. There were 2,500 cases produced. Drink from 2008-2022.

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