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Aged & Fortified

As the year draws to a close, and with holiday celebrations in full swing, I want to take just a moment to thank all of you for your continuing support and enthusiasm for what we do here at The Spanish Table.
My holiday wish for each and every one of our loyal customers is that you get a few precious moments (somewhere/somehow, in the next week or two) to breath, relax and reflect upon the past year in all its aspects, positive and otherwise. In keeping with my function here, may I suggest that a small glass of aged Port, Madeira or Jerez (Sherry) wine, sipped slowly in the comfort of your own home, is a very appropriate way to contemplate the past and its relationship to the now and the soon to come.These days, young and quick gets all the attention while old and slow gets pushed to the side and too often forgotten altogether. When you drink a glass of 30 year old Amontillado you  acknowledge the benefits that only come with time and maturity. A 20 year old Tawny Port contains wines from many past vintages, only reaching their full potential over decades of slow elaboration. Madeira wines, from that eponymous island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, hearken back to the days of sailing ships and the Age of Discovery, a time long gone that nonetheless still figures prominently in the modern history of Spain and Portugal. These wines teach us, in no uncertain terms, that age has its benefits and that some things (many of the best ones) take time to create. So pour yourself a little glass of history, and another one for your friends and loved ones, even spilling out a few drops on the bare ground in memory of those no longer extant. Here are a few choices to ease you out of this year and into the next one:

Del Duque VORS Amontillado
The VORS designation is a recent addition to Sherry nomenclature, used to indicate wines that are at least 30 years old. These fortified wines are held for decades in the winery, getting topped off each year with small quantities of fresh stock to protect the wine from oxidation. This richly aromatic wine displays scents of dried fruit, toasted almonds and fresh hay. On the palate it is completely dry and elegant, offering up flavors of walnuts, more almonds and the barest hint of raisin-like fruit character . Brandy-like warmth makes this a particularly appropriate wine for sipping on a cold evening. $39.99(375ml)

Apostoles VORS Palo Cortado Palo Cortado is the rarest of Jerez wines. 30 year old Palo Cortado is even rarer still. Drawn from the best barrels in the bodega, Palo Cortado wines are usually held aside for the personal consumption needs of the wine makers’ families and friends. This particular wine, from the famed Bodegas Gonzalez Byass was recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle where Jon Bonné recommended it as one of his favorite gift wines. This amber/gold colored wine offers a sublime combination of the toasted walnut and almond flavors present in the Palomino Fino grape paired with the raisin and fig fruit character that comes from the small percentage of Pedro Ximénez blended into this wine. $39.99 (375ml)

Williams & Humbert Don Guido VOS PX A few years ago the VOS designation was created for Jerez wines with at least 20 years of barrel age. WIlliams & Humbert are a well known producer with significant stocks of aged Sherry. This one is dark mahogany colored with rich aromas and flavors of raisins, dates, figs and baking spices. Dense texture and caramel/toffee sweetness adds further complexity to this rich, sweet sherry that pairs well with dark chocolate. Served in small glasses after a meal this can be dessert all by itself $49.99

Ramos Pinto 20 Year Tawny Port In Portugal, Ramos Pinto is a well loved name in the Port wine trade. This winery owns some of the best vineyard sites in the Douro Valley. Their Quinta da Bom Retiro vineyard, one of the oldest vineyards in the region, is the source of all the grapes for this Tawny Port that is one of Ramos Pinto’s most popular wines. The wine is a blend of past vintages with an average age of 20 years, more or less. This amber colored wine displays dried fruit aromas yet is quite dry on the palate. Toasted almonds, walnut skin and coffee bean notes add to the finely tuned balance of flavors. Serve this wine with salty cured meats before dinner or, alternately, alongside a selection of aged cheeses after a meal. $72.00

Barros 1979 Colheita Port Founded in 1913, Barros is a relatively young addition to the world of Port wines, but they managed to build their reputation with their vintage ports and their amazing Colheitas which have won numerous international competitions world wide. Colheita Port (Tawny Port from a single vintage) is nutty and dry with just the barest hint of fruit character. The 1979 Colheita is dark amber in color with brandy-like warmth and aroma. Nutty complexity and background notes of baking spices and toasted oak create a long and aromatic finish. This 500 ml bottle comes in a nifty wooden box, making a gorgeous gift for someone celebrating a 30th anniversary this year. $93.00 (500ml)

Historic Series Madeira


Earlier this week Eric Asimov wrote an interesting piece in The New York Times about
pairing Madeira with savory foods. He specifically mentioned the Historic Series Madeiras from The Rare Wine Company. These unique wines include a portion of older wines blended with a larger portion of younger stocks intended to recreate the flavor of Madeira from days long gone by.
We are proud to carry these wines at The Spanish Table and I can personally vouch for just how great they are when served during (as well as after) a meal.  I have tried these wines with everything from fois gras and lobster to simple rice and pasta dishes. My personal favorite Madeira pairing leans toward anything involving cheese. If you have not yet experienced this distinctive food/wine combination, here are a few suggestions to get you thinking:

RWC Charleston Sercial Sercial, the driest of the Madeira grapes, creates lean, flinty wines with marked almond aroma and flavor. Toasted barrel character and burnt caramel back notes add to the long and complex experience of this amber/gold colored wine. $49.99

RWC Boston Bual The medium sweet Bual grape is the most popular choice for many Madeira appreciators. This dark amber colored wine is richly aromatic with notes of toffee, tangerine, cloves, burnt match stick, and a hint of brandied raisin.The acidity washes over the palate leaving lingering flavors of minerals, burnt sugar and candied orange zest. $49.99

RWC New York Malmsey Madeira wines made from the Malmsey (or Malvasia) grape reside at the sweet end of the spectrum. The New York Malmsey is dark mahogany in color with rich aromas of dates, figs, raisins and baking spices. Flavors of butterscotch and caramel add to the opulent character of this wine. Bright acidity leaves the flavors practically etched on the tongue. Traditionally served after a meal, New York Malmsey is a dessert course all by itself, but will work beautifully with some aged cheese. $49.99

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Holiday Wines, Version 1.4, The Big Gift

Sooner or later around this time of year you are probably going to want to buy something nice for someone deserving.  Some people are easier to shop for than others.  The easy-to-shop-for people will be happy with the same thing year after year, but if you have run out of unique and thoughtful gift ideas for that difficult-to-shop-for person on your list, read on.

During the holiday season The Spanish Table always puts together some special gift box assortments of Spanish wines.  We have several multi-bottle gift packs to choose from this year as well as some very exclusive single bottles in magnums and splits presented in attractive wooden cases.  Mature vintage Riojas, rare 30 year old VORS Sherry, both red and white late harvest sweet wines as well as older Vintage and Tawny Ports all make excellent gifts and can be combined in an endless range of variety and flavor. Some of these hard-to-find wines only make an appearance during the Holiday Season so even if your gift list is complete you will want to check out the current selections to see if anything appeals to your personal taste.

For those of you with extra time on your hands (Ha! Who am I kidding?)…For those of you with thirsty guests to satisfy, here is a seasonal version of Sangria for your next holiday get-together.

 

Blood Orange and Cranberry Sangria

(adapted from The Spanish Table Cookbook by Steve “El Jefe” Winston)

Serves 4

 

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 lb. whole fresh cranberries

3 Moro Blood oranges, sliced into rounds

1 bottle (750ml) Raventos Perfum de Vi Blanc (or other aromatic Spanish white wine)

1 12 oz. can Limon Kas (or other lemon-lime soda)

1 0z.  Spanish brandy

 

Put water, sugar and cranberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove cranberries from heat and cool to room temperature.

Combine cranberry mixture with sliced blood oranges and brandy in a 1-1/2 liter open topped pitcher and let the mixed fruit macerate for an hour or two.

Right before serving, add the wine and the Limon Kas to the pitcher, stir to mix and pour into tumblers filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of the orange and a few extra cranberries.

 

 

 

Lan Gift Pack $42.99 Bodegas Lan, located in the Rioja wine town of Fuenmayor, craft some of our most popular red wines. This sampler includes one of each of their primary brands. The Lan Crianza 2004 is bright and lively. It is one of my favorite wines to serve with Paella. The Lan Reserva 2001, from a superlative vintage is silky and smooth. Serve it with wintery soups and stews. The Lan Gran Reserva 1998 is mature and elegant. Serve this wine with cured meats and aged cheeses. The Lan Gift Pack is priced a little bit more than 10% off of regular retail for these items.

 

Rioja Alta Gift Pack $97.00 La Rioja Alta was established in 1890 in the little town of Labastida and maintains traditional Rioja winemaking practices while also embracing many of the latest technological advances. La Rioja Alta own 750 acres of vineyards from which they can source top quality grapes, resulting in excellent fruit and richness throughout their wines. The Vina Alberdi Reserva 2000 is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Mazuelo. Medium ruby in color, it exhibits a nicely developed and expressive nose of cedar, spice, and red currants. This wine is aged in new oak for one year followed by several more years in second use barrels before bottling; creating a wine that is light to medium-bodied, seamless, elegant, and ripe. Viña Ardanza Reserva 1999 is traditionally the richest and most expressively fruity of La Rioja Alta’s wines, with 20% Garnacha in the blend. The wine is aged in American oak for three years and then for a further two before release. With a brilliant deep cherry color and a terracotta rim, the wine has notes of ripe berry fruit, with hints of cinnamon, spice and vanilla.  The rare  1995 Gran Reserva 904, composed of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano, displays ruby color with a brick red tint. Earthy mineral aromas intermixed with smoky tobacco, scorched earth, red currants, sweet cherries, and spice box jump from the glass of this complex, nuanced red. The Rioja Alta Gift Pack is priced a little bit more than 10% off of regular retail for these items.

 

 

Faustino Gift Pack $399.00 The most prestigious of our boxed sets is this vertical of Faustino’s amazing Gran Reserva Riojas. Bodegas Faustino is the largest exporter of Gran Reserva wines from Rioja, accounting for more than one third of Gran Reserva wine exports from the region. Bodegas Faustino is a proud custodian of the Rioja region’s traditional winemaking style and has earned a well deserved reputation as a source of truly world-class fine wines. Included in this sampler are 4 bottles of Faustino Gran Reserva (1964, 1970, 1982, and 1994) as well as a lovely crystal decanter embossed with the Faustino logo. A truly unique gift.

 

Les Terrasses 2004 Magnum $80.00 (1.5 Liter) Alvaro Palacios is one of the most celebrated of Spanish winemakers. He was instrumental in the rejuvenation and subsequent popularity of wines from the Priorat region. Les Terrasses is a Priorat wine that is made from 60% Cariñena, 30% Garnacha, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for one year in a combination of used French and American oak. This dark, opulent wine would make a perfect match with a hearty, slow cooked winter stew. The big bottle makes a wonderful gift (packaged in its own wooden case) for someone who loves to entertain and has a big crowd to feed.

 

Maestro Sierra VORS Oloroso 1/14 $81.00 (375ml) The Maestro Sierra story is fascinating. Maestro Sierra was founded in 1832 by Jose Antonio Sierra, who, as a master carpenter, was responsible for building barrels for all the major Sherry bodegas. Recognized as one of the top coopers in the area, he longed to become involved in the Sherry trade itself. As this business was dominated by the nobility, a start-up such as his was not very welcome. After many hardships he was able to establish and grow his business becoming one of the top Almacenistas (stockholders) of high quality Jerez wines. Poking fun at his struggle, the label depicts an allegorical fox hunt with the “Nobles” hunting the fox (Maestro Sierra).

Pilar Pla Pechovierto currently owns Maestro Sierra. Doña Pilar is a widow whose husband was a direct descendent of the Sierra family. She respected her husband’s wish that the winery remain in operation after his death and over the last thirty years she has kept the winery open, selling very limited stocks of wine to a few of the large bodegas. Because the wines have virtually remained unmoved due to the almost non existent business, the stocks at Maestro Sierra are some of the oldest in Jerez. The soleras at the winery are easily over 60 years old and some maybe close to 100 years old. The Oloroso 1/14 is so named because it is drawn from the final barrel of a 14 barrel solera (a solera is the group of barrels traditionally used to age Jerez wines). This wine is categorized as a VORS wine indicating at least 30 years of age. The actual age of this solera here is very hard to determine as the wines have been here for as long as anyone can remember. The 14 butts of this wine have spent at least 50 years in the solera system. Each year a new vintage is added to the solera and a portion of the solera is drawn off for bottling.

Oloroso 1/14 is medium amber colored, with slight raisin-like sweetness, complex flavors of burnt sugar and butterscotch and outstanding length.

 

Domecq 51-1a VORS Amontillado $88.00

Domecq Sibarita VORS Oloroso $88.00

Domecq Venerable VORS PX $88.00

The House of Domecq has spent almost three centuries pleasing sherry-drinkers of every stripe, including the royalty of Spain and England. In the bodega Domecq has an incredible advantage: an ancient lineage of soleras. Their oldest solera, used in making the Sibarita Palo Cortado, was founded in 1792, and other Sherries are aged in soleras dating from 1830, 1902, and 1919. Great age gives their Sherries depth and power, and Domecq has been careful to insure that the añada (the new wine being added at the top of the solera) is high quality, since compromising such a legacy would be a great waste. To do so they have invested in state-of-the-art facilities in the winery. The 51-1a Amontillado is named after its solera. A complex combination of fruits (raisins and figs, primarily) and savory components such as chestnuts, dark bread, and baking spices are accented with a delicate briny note. This sherry unwinds into a long, warm finish. The Sibarita Oloroso is medium-bodied, with aromas of fruitcake, prunes, and dates.  This Oloroso maintains the Domecq family traits of power and intensity framed with cleansing acidity. From a solera founded in 1792, only 370 cases are withdrawn and released each year. The Venerable PX offers a rich blend of dark chocolate, molasses, and figs. This dark, sweet wine is round, big, and elegant in the mouth, demonstrating just how spectacular these mature wines can be.

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