Tag Archives: trajadura

Favorites, Old and New

The culinary traditions of Spain and Portugal are changing how we eat here in the USA. As these flavors work their way into the hearts, minds and palates of those of us not fortunate enough to have been born into these cultures, we learn to appreciate the new ingredients and preparations as well as the variations within specific regional styles.
As soon as we discover the distinct joy of, for example, Paella, we learn that this iconic Spanish dish is made in dramatically different styles from one part of Spain to the next. “Paella must include chorizo” says one expert. “Paella must never be made with chorizo” says another. According to many regional cooks “Paella made with anything other than rabbit and snails should not be called Paella”. And so it goes, with each individual cook claiming the mantle of authenticity.
Wines too can be the subject of passionate debate due to the numerous stylistic choices made by Spanish and Portuguese winemakers. ‘Tradition’ versus ‘Innovation’ is just the entry point into detailed discussions of style and character within a specific wine region.
At The Spanish Table we like to offer a broad choice to fit every palate, so we try not to take sides. To use this week’s wine selections as examples, we have a new Vinho Verde that offers a fresh new effort from a traditional winery. We have a new Txakolí that may change a few perceptions about what Basque white wine can be. Our newest red wine discovery comes from the Vinos de Madrid region, yet tastes unlike anything else we have previously tried from this part of Spain.
So please enjoy our newest selections in wine, knowing that there is more to choose from, with new discoveries arriving every week.

Trajarinho 2008 Summertime is perfect Vinho Verde weather. This traditional style of Portuguese white wine is crisp and dry with residual effervescence. Our newest Vinho Verde, from the same winemakers as the well loved Muralhas de Monção is a blend of Trajadura and Alvarinho. Put the two together and you get…Trajarinho (clever, no?). Bright grapefruit and lime flavors blend well with crisp mineral back notes and light but persistent spritzy effervescence. $10.99

Itsas Mendi 2008 Basque Txakolí has gone from relative obscurity to cult wine status in just a few short years. We just received the newest vintage of Itsas Mendi, an excellent Txakolí made by Ana Martín, a Basque winemaker who is also one of Spain’s best known wine consultants. After establishing her reputation for top quality red wines in Rioja with Señorio de Cuzcurrita and in Ribera del Duero with Traslanzas, she returned home and started Itsas Mendi. This wine is fuller and rounder than other Txakolí wines. The lean, spritzy grapefruit character has been traded in for richer texture and notes of white peach and apricot. This well balanced offering will appeal to Albariño and Godello appreciators. $25.99

Viña Herminia Tempranillo 2007 Bodegas Aldeanueva makes Herminia from 100% Tempranillo. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel (no oak barrels) helps retain the fresh berry fruit character of the wine. Dark garnet colored, Viña Herminia displays ripe berry aroma and abundant, youthful fruit character. The new vintage has come in at a significant discount over previous years. $9.99

Camino de Navaherreros Garnacha 2008 The ‘Vin Natural’ movement in France is thriving while in Spain this style of wine is only starting to appear. Bodegas Bernabeleva, located in the unassuming Vinos de Madrid region farms bio-dynamically and minimizes manipulation in the winery (no temperature control, only indigenous yeasts). Their 80 year old Garnacha vines produce small quantities of darkly expressive fruit that is used exclusively for this cloudy, dark red. Minerals, wild herbs and ripe blackberry flavors combine in this unfiltered and untamed wine. $12.99

Pago de Carraovejas Crianza 2006 Steve and Sharon (from the Seattle flagship store) just got back from visiting this winery in Spain. Sharon wrote this about the new wine: “This rare single vineyard Ribera del Duero red is a blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged for 12 months in oak barrels, it is an intense cherry color with purple tones. The nose is filled with ripe fruit aromas of black berries and spices. Flavors of tar and boysenberry slowly spread over the palate with glycerin contributing a rich fruity mouth feel. Well integrated oak, notes of coffee and cacao with supple tannins. Concentrated and intense, it has herbal notes with a smooth and persistent finish. A powerful and effusive wine, here is a rare opportunity to experience this wine outside of Spain.” $42.99

Pago de Carraovejas Reserva  2005 The Reserva version of Pago de Carraovejas uses the same estate grown,single vineyard fruit as the Crianza in a different blend. This wine is 78% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot. 12 months of barrel age is followed by 24 months in the bottle resting in the dark before release.Bold fruit character balances firm(at present) tannins. This structured, rich, assertive wine will age gracefully for years to come. $86.00



Paella Party in Mill Valley & Berkeley

Steve Winston is coming down from our flagship store in Seattle to make paella and sign copies of his new book. This is your chance to meet the man who started The Spanish Table and chat with him about all things related to the culinary traditions of Spain and Portugal.
Steve is a veritable treasure trove of food and wine esoterica. He has accumulated much of this knowledge in his new cook book. Stop in on Sunday August 9th at 1 pm (or Saturday August 8th in Mill Valley) to quiz him on what (and where) to eat in Spain and Portugal. While you are here you can sample his famous Paella (that’s right, FREE paella!) and pick up a signed copy of The Spanish Table Cookbook.
¡Buen provecho!

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Many Are Tasted, But Few Are Chosen

It is that time of year again.

I speak of the spring tasting season when all the wine importers and distributors conduct tastings for the trade. New wines are featured along with new vintages of familiar favorites. At these events buyers like me get a chance to sniff, sip, compare and contrast dozens (no, hundreds) of wines before choosing what to carry in the store. It all sounds like a fun time and sort of a booze cruise but it is, in fact, a bit of work (yes, I know, poor me).

I used to make a habit of trying all the white wines before moving on to reds but I found that the high acidity of white wines tended to burn out my taste buds early, leaving me with a palate too compromised to accurately taste the red wines. My routine these days is to taste first all the things I am most interested in, switching back and forth between reds and whites. Then I go back and try other wines that I might have missed the first time through. Of course I am not consuming all this wine yet even so after a few hours I have to call it quits because palate fatigue sets in and everything starts tasting the same. Afterwards, with purple teeth, smudgy notes and, most likely, a wine stained shirt I head back home to review my notes and choose what to bring in and sell.

This week I offer you a selection of new arrivals that made the cut. Some of these wines are making a first appearance at The Spanish Table while others have just changed to the latest vintage, warranting repeat investigation.

Laxas 2008 The first 2008 Albariño of the season has arrived. Laxas is a ripe pear and citrus scented wine that displays a greenish tint and a light minerality. This bright, floral white wine is a perfect choice for springtime foods such as fresh cheeses, tender salad greens and fresh vegetables. The price has thankfully not gone up in the new vintage. $17.99

Solar de Serrade Alvarinho 2007 The wine world has ‘discovered’ Portugal (a case of hiding in plain sight, if you ask me) leading to the importation of numerous new and interesting wines that previously never made it out of the country. The Vinho Verde wines of northern Portugal have for many years been associated with cheap, spritzy, non-vintage white wines that are fun, refreshing and simple.  Now we are seeing more elaborate, intriguing wines from this region including this single varietal Alvarinho (Albariño in Spain become Alvarinho in Portugal). The light spritzy effervescence of a typical Vinho Verde is found here with a much drier, more mineral foundation underlying tart citrus fruit character. This crisp, refreshing, low alcohol white wine makes an excellent aperitivo wine as well as a nice accompaniment to lighter meals. $17.99

Muralhas De Monçao Vinho Verde 2007 Another example of the many wonderful wines coming out of Portugal right now, this white wine from the Vinho Verde region is a traditional blend of Alvarinho and Trajadura, bottled with a touch of residual effervescence. Aromas and flavors of white peach and meyer lemon give this wine a bit of roundness to balance the crisp acidity and light minerality. This wine is very popular in Portugal and has happily been showing up around the Bay Area on some by-the-glass lists of numerous restaurants. Try it at home with a big salad and some grilled sardines. $15.99

Mas Malbec 2007 The new 2007 vintage of Mas Malbec serves as a reminder that this has been a consistently solid wine and a customer favorite for several vintages running.  This wine from bodegas Sur de los Andes in Argentina is a private label for the importer Luis Moya who works with the producer to create a young 100% Malbec wine in a well balanced style. Ripe fruit never overwhelms the palate, leaving room for light barrel tannins and rocky minerality. This too is the same price as last vintage. $11.99

Novecento Malbec 2007 As the season changes and the weather warms, I start to bring in more wines intended to accompany outdoor cooking.  This young Malbec from Argentina is expressive and ripe with dark berry fruit fruit character. Dust off the grill, open a bottle of Novocento and start enjoying the sunshine. $10.99

La Planta 2007 Many of you have been waiting for the new vintage of La Planta to arrive. Wait no longer. This lightly oaked red from Bodegas Arzuaga in Ribera del Duero is dark and expressive with earthy nuance and ripe fruit character. Fashioned from the local Tinto Fino grape (Tempranillo by another name) and aged for just a few months in small oak barrels, this wine has a bold character that pairs well with full flavored meaty meals. A mixed grill of chuletas de cordero (lamb chops) and morcilla (blood sausage) would be a perfect pairing here. $15.99

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Arrivals / Departures

In the wine world (and in the rest of life, I suppose) nothing lasts forever. Wines come and wines go. Some diminish in quantity slowly and others disappear in a heart beat, but one way or another they all grow scarce before becoming extinct.

Fortunately for wine drinkers, the joy of a new discovery is matched by the familiar pleasure of a well loved favorite. Exploring new regions and grape varieties is always exciting, but so is revisiting familiar territory to see how a particular wine or producer has evolved over time.

This week we have some fine examples of new wines that are just starting on their journey in the marketplace as well as mature wines that are the last examples of their particular vintage. Check out the following selections from our ever changing collection and act fast if you want to pick up some of the end-of-vintage wines before they are gone.

Here too is a quick recipe using the best of late summer seasonal produce. This recipe comes from the famous Catalan chef Ferran Adrià by way of the increasingly (thanks to his new show on PBS) well known Asturian chef José Andrés. I’ve adapted the recipe a bit to simplify things, but you can find the original version of this recipe along with dozens more in the boxed set of recipe cards called ‘Tapas Deck’ ($14.95 at The Spanish Table) by José Andrés and Richard Wolffe.

 

Tomato and Watermelon Skewers

(Serves 6 as a tapa)

Ingredients:

6cherry tomatoes cut in half

121 inch cubes of freshly cut watermelon

1-tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

1teaspoon lemon zest

¼ cup-sherry vinegar

¼ cup-Spanish extra virgin olive oil

1-tablespoon sea salt

1-tablespoon minced parsley

12toothpicks

Directions:

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and parsley in a bowl and mix briefly.

Skewer each tomato half (cut side up) with a toothpick, followed by a watermelon cube on the bottom. Stand the skewers up on a plate. Pour the dressing over the skewered fruit and serve.

 

Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde The non-vintage version of Aveleda Vinho Verde has just come in with a new look and name. Now called ‘Fonte’, this is in fact the same fresh, spritzy white wine you know and love. Light mineral foundation and abundant citrus aroma and flavor combine to create this uniquely delicious white wine that is low in alcohol and big on refreshment. $7.99

 

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

 

Auratus 2007 This blend of two local grapes sourced from the northern end of Portugal is a declassified Vinho Verde (officially it is a ‘Vinho Regional do Minho’) made by Marcial Dorado at Quinta do Feital from a blend of Alvarinho and Trajadura grapes, vinified without any use of oak. The lean, flinty mineral notes from the Trajadura blend effortlessly with the riper melon and citrus scented Alvarinho. This crisp, dry wine will find favor with both Spanish Albarino appreciators as well as Portuguese Vinho Verde drinkers. $17.99

 

Quinta do Infantado Reserva 2003 One of our favorite small Porto producers, Quinta do Infantado, has made their first Reserva level red wine. This dark, rich, elegant blend of traditional Douro region grapes was made from the same field blend as used in the Porto. The fruit was crushed by foot in stone lagares, fermented in tank and then aged for 18 months in oak. This small production wine (just over 500 cases, total production) is expressive and full bodied while retaining a fine balance of aromas and flavors. Dark berry fruit character rounds out brambly herb and mineral back notes. $35.99 (very limited)

 

Rioja Bordon Crianza 2001 The last five cases of this excellent, very well priced, traditionally styled Rioja wine are going fast. A few months ago Jon Bonné from The San Francisco Chronicle described the wine well. He said: “Traditionally made Rioja, in well-worn American oak casks, wears its age remarkably well. More basic Crianza wines are meant to drink young. But this one from Bodegas Franco-Espanolas (founded when 19th-century Frenchmen journeyed south to find a solution to phylloxera that devastated Bordeaux) radiates with all the beauties of aged Rioja. Hints of wood and coriander merge with dried cherries and an almost translucent softness.” $11.99

 

Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2001 We are down to the last few cases of this superlative Rioja from the picture perfect 2001 vintage. This rare single vineyard wine, fashioned from 90% Tempranillo with the balance made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Mazuelo and Graciano is dark garnet colored with smooth, well integrated oak aroma and tannins adding contrast to the silky, ripe fruit character. In the upcoming 2004 vintage (the wine is only made in the best years) the wine will get the new “vinos de pagos” designation (indicating a wine made from only estate grown fruit and made on the same property as the vineyard) and will go up significantly in price. $23.99

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