Tag Archives: vina mein

Buyer’s Choice

Wine drinkers are an opinionated bunch, united by our strongly held though often opposing beliefs about what constitutes ‘the good stuff’.

What one drinker enjoys, another may dislike. Some of us appreciate wines with delicate and subtle characteristics, while others are drawn to wines possessing bold, assertive flavors. My ‘balanced and elegant’ may be your ‘thin and lifeless’.

I am known to tell customers that among the hundreds of wines we carry (548 at last count), you are bound to find wines that you love as well as wines that are not to your taste. That is why we carry such a broad assortment. My job is to buy across a broad spectrum of styles and to steer you toward whatever type of wine you most enjoy.

Of course, when the day is done and I buy a bottle to take home and drink with dinner, I, like you, have my own particular preferences. Occasionally I write about the wines that I personally enjoy, not only as an exercise in shameless self promotion but also as a way to help you gauge what you read here. You can put my opinions in perspective and calibrate my palate to your own if you know what I like.

So this week it’s all about me, me, me.

As a wine buyer I taste boatloads of wines that are varietally and regionally ‘correct’ without being particularly interesting. For each wine that I buy for The Spanish Table, many more have been sampled and rejected for one reason or another. I tend to seek out wines with a noticeable difference from the many lookalike choices crowding the field.

Perhaps it’s my contrarian nature (almost a birthright in Berkeley) or maybe I am simply suffering from palate fatigue after trying so many wines at work, but at home I tend to favor simple wines that express their nature without pretense. A wine from a far flung region made from a little known grape will excite my intellect. A wine with a moderate level of alcohol, well integrated oak (or none at all, even better) and pure, clean fruit character will awaken my senses. The combination of all these elements really captures my attention.

This week I am highlighting some of my current personal favorites that are also appropriate to the autumn season. When you come into the store you will now find a special section labeled ‘Kevin’s Favorites’ with all these wines gathered together in one place. Please give them a try and let me know what you think.

Viña Mein 2007 This wine is fashioned from a blend of 80% Treixadura, 10% Godello, 5% Loureiro, and 1% to 2% each of Albariño, Torrontés, Albilla and Caiño. Bright gold color, fresh melon aroma and bright citrus fruit character never overwhelm the flinty mineral foundation that maintains the lean focus of this unoaked white wine. $19.99

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

Gorrondona Tinto 2007 The rare and elusive red Txakoli is difficult to find. These firmly tannic wines are lean and full of mineral flavor, with a gentle fruit character that fades quickly with age. Happily, the new Gorrondona Tinto, made from 100% Hondarribi Beltza (grown in miniscule quantities on ancient vines), is super fresh, with light berry-like fruit character balancing firm minerality. This is an excellent and unusual light red. $27.99

Viña do Burato 2007 This wine from Ribeira Sacra in Northwestern Spain, made from the local Mencía grape, is bright and youthful, medium bodied and relatively low in alcohol (12.5%). Firm minerality and delicate floral aroma combine with gentle fruit character. This small production wine (400 cases in total) is a rare treat from a region that deserves much more attention. $19.99

Tajinaste Tinto Tradicional 2007 This unique wine comes from the Orotava Valley of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. Agustín García founded Bodegas Tajinaste in 1981. He produces this wine from the local Listán Negro grape. This unoaked wine (they make a barrel aged red too) is cloudy lavender in color with light texture and sweet floral perfume. Firm minerality creates a foundation which supports fresh mulberry fruit character and gentle tannins. $21.99

 

 

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Filed under Portugal, Red Wine, Spain, White Wine

Vino Iberesco

Two weeks ago I wrote about a new thing we are trying here at The Spanish Table. After many years as an all-import wine merchant, domestic wines are now starting to make an appearance on our shelves.

As mentioned in the previous newsletter, “Starting this week we have a new section of California wines made from Spanish and Portuguese grape varieties such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Cariñena, Albariño, Verdelho and anything else I find that has Iberian origins and grows here in the USA. … These new wines, while remaining true to their California origins, are stylistically anchored in the winemaking traditions of Spain and Portugal.”

I am happy to report that you, our loyal customers, have taken a liking to these artisanal, hand made wines. The initial response was so enthusiastic that this week I have added four more domestic, Iberian styled wines to our growing selection of vino iberesco (the term I’m currently using to lump them all together).

This week I offer you a varietal Tempranillo from Santa Barbara as well as a Tempranillo blend from the Sierra Foothills. I also have two domestic dessert wines coming in this week. One is a late harvest Garnacha from Santa Barbara and the other is a Tawny Port style wine made from Bastardo (the traditional Portuguese grape variety, not the hurled insult!).

Getting back to imports, we just received the new vintage of Viña Mein, a white wine from the Ribeiro region of Galicia. This crisp, lean, wine has changed importers and, as often happens in these cases, now comes in a nice new package. The fossilized fish on the label emphasizes the flinty, fossil-like minerality found in Viña Mein while suggesting an appropriate pairing (seafood!).

We also just brought in a new Argentine Malbec that offers an abundant yet balanced expression of classic Malbec character. Maipe Malbec is not only a really tasty wine; it is a great value too (something we could all use right now). You can read more about it below.

Paella Class Update: You still have time to sign up for my paella and wine class that is taking place at Kitchen on Fire cooking school here in Berkeley. The date is Sunday October 19th at 6:30 pm. The cost is $65 per person and includes hands-on instruction to create several tapas and a large paella mixta, all of which will be consumed during the class. Several paella-friendly Spanish wines will also be sampled. Kitchen on Fire is handling the signup for this fun and popular class. Go to their website for more details.

Viña Mein 2007 The Ribeiro region of Galicia in Northwestern Spain is less well known than its neighboring coastal region Rías Baixas. Albariño is the grape of choice in Rías Baixas, while in Ribeiro the Treixadura grape predominates. If you have enjoyed the ever-increasing variety of Albariño wines now in the market, you owe it to yourself to try the similarly styled wines from D.O. Ribeiro. The flinty, crushed seashell minerality is emphasized here along with the grapefruity citrus and floral elements that are also found in Rías Baixas wines.

Viña Mein is fashioned from a blend of 80% Treixadura, 10% Godello, 5% Loureiro, and 1% to 2% each of Albariño, Torrontés, Albilla and Caiño. Bright gold color, ripe melon aroma and refreshing citrus fruit character never overwhelm the flinty mineral foundation that maintains the lean focus of this wine. $19.99

Maipe Malbec 2007 Our newest Argentine Malbec is darkly colored and boldly flavored without ever veering into the over extracted style that is common at this very reasonable price point. Ripe mulberry fruit character finds balance in dusty tannins and wild herb aromas. An underlying tart quality (gentle but present) adds complexity to this well priced wine. $10.99

Core C3 Tempranillo 2006 Dave Corey makes wine in Santa Maria, California at a winery that he and his wife Becky started in 2000. Originally they focused on Grenache and Mourvedre (known as Garnacha and Monastrell in Spain) grapes for their wines. The new C3 project also includes Dave’s sisters Melanie Corey-Ferrini and Sherri Corey-Pinero. They produce this single varietal Tempranillo in small quantities (425 cases in total) in addition to a more mature barrel aged Tempranillo/Cabernet blend called Crazy Eights. C3 Tempranillo is a fresh and lively red wine that expresses the more youthful side of tempranillo. Bright garnet color, cherry fruit character and a bit of earthy background all combine to give this wine a foothold in the traditions of both Spain and California. $17.99

Temporary Insanity 2006 Adam Webb and Mike Kuenz make the Odisea ‘Two Rows Garnacha’ that we featured in the last newsletter. Temporary Insanity is their more mature blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha and 10% Syrah. This wine ages in oak for 18 months before bottling. Dark garnet color and assertive barrel tannins create the initial impression here, with ripe berry fruit character and plush texture rounding out the picture. Like their other wines, this small production wine (125 cases in total) tastes very Spanish in style and will continue to develop for many years to come. $24.99

Candy Core Late Harvest Grenache 2004 This little bottle of sweet dessert wine from Dave and Becky Corey at Core Wine Company is made from 100% Grenache (Garnacha to us) from the Santa Barbara Highlands. The grapes are left on the vine until super ripe and then aged for 18 months in barrel (with 8 more months of bottle age) after fermentation. This opaque ruby colored wine retains bright acidity that balances the dense, perfumed sweetness and gives the wine an unexpected lively quality. $19.99 (375ml)

St. Amant Tawny St. Amant is a small California winery that was founded in 1979 by Tim and Barbara Spencer to produce Port style wines (they have since become even more well known for their Zinfandel). The non-vintage ‘Tawny’ is made from the Bastardo grape (a traditional Porto variety) sourced from the family estate vineyard in Amador County. According to Stuart Spencer (Tim Spencer died in 2006 and his son Stuart has been running the winery since that time) this wine started was an experiment in single varietal barrel aged Tawny Port style wine gone wrong. After primary fermentation and fortification (as is done in Porto) the wine was sampled and rejected as too rough and astringent. The experimental barrels were set aside and basically forgotten for several years. The wine was not racked or disturbed in any way.

Down the line curiosity prevailed and the wine was re-tasted. Time and neglect had proved beneficial to the experimental Bastardo tawny. The years of barrel age softened the acidity. The rough tannins had subsided and sweet, somewhat maderized notes of butterscotch and caramel had infused the dramatically improved wine. $33.99 (500ml)

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