Tag Archives: xarel-lo

Time Change

This weekend marks the return of Daylight Savings Time. Now is the moment to celebrate the return of evening sunshine and the impending arrival of Spring. Reset your internal wine clock with a glass of fresh, bright Spanish white wine and toast the upcoming vernal equinox.
While best known for red wines,  it is no longer a secret that Spain makes fabulous white wines too. We continue to find new and interesting choices among the ever growing selection of  vino blanco coming out of numerous regions spread across the Iberian peninsula. We just posted a handful of spectacular Spanish white wines on our website. These wines represent a broad swath of Northern Spain, from the Atlantic coast, up through Basque country, across the Spanish Meseta and finishing up in Catalonia near Barcelona. These crisp, refreshing wines are eminently food friendly and also delicious by the glass with no further accompaniments other than a bit of sunshine and some good conversation.

albet_i_noya_xarel_lo__102982009 Albet i Noya Xarel-lo Classic
is a bright, refreshing Spanish white wine from the Penedes region in Catalonia. This wine features the Xarel-lo grape most often used in sparkling Cava. Albet i Noya makes this still version of a varietal Xarel-lo from from old vine parcels of Xarel-lo, grown organically. Floral aromas blend well with lemon and white peach fruit character. Background minerality and light texture add further context to this young white wine that pairs well with young cheeses, marinated vegetables and cold seafood salads.


pazo_senorans__26850The 2009 Pazo Senorans Albarino
is a standard setting example of top quality Albarino. The interplay of floral aromas and flinty minerality creates an intriguing and refreshing expression of Galician soil and climate. Hints of tropical fruit, green herbs, and granite dust add to the rich complexity of this wine. An ideal pairing is seafood (of course!).  Try it with a salad topped with broad flakes of ventresca tuna or, the Spanish favorite, some pulpo (octopus) with pimenton.


urki__693382009 Urki Txakolina
is a deliciously refreshing white wine from the Basque country. Crisp, bright, white Txakolina wine with a bit of residual spritzy effervescence, abundant grapefruit/lemon notes and a firm mineral foundation is what everybody drinks while wandering through the old part of San Sebastian snacking on Pintxos of many varieties. Urki is an excellent example of this traditional wine. It refreshes the palate and awakens the appetite.


img_0229__633432007 Pecina Blanco
is a wonderfully traditional white Rioja. Hermanos Pecina are one of only a handful of producers left in Rioja who produce their wines in this very traditional style.  Made from 100% Viura, the juice is fermented in stainless steel but then allowed to age for a few years in bottle before release.  The extra time gives it a bit more richness along with notes of dried tropical fruit and herbs.  Totally unique and totally delicious.  Fans of the Lopez de Heredia whites take notice!

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Wine Strategy

Everywhere I turn these days, I find people watching their budgets more closely than before.  As the current gyrations of financial markets continue, increasing uncertainty leads to difficult choices about where to spend our dwindling resources. In tough economic times we all need to prioritize our expenses.

When it comes to putting wine on the dinner table, the good news is that frugality does not need to include deprivation. What is needed is a good strategy.

With some careful shopping, excellent wines can be found for very reasonable prices. I write this with confidence because my primary responsibility around here is to find wines that combine high quality with low price.

For those of you who have shopped at The Spanish Table for years, this is not news. You know that Spain and Portugal are consistent sources of great wine values. Last year we added wines from Argentina and Chile to our collection because we saw the ever-increasing level of quality and value coming from these countries. In the last month we have started carrying a few Iberian style wines from right here in California that compare favorably in price and quality to their counterparts from distant shores.

My (admittedly partisan) coping strategy is simple, if a bit blunt. Tough times require good wine.

A simply prepared dinner, accompanied by a uniquely delicious bottle of wine is a surefire stress reducer.  The company of family and friends around the dinner table is both gratifying and economical.  Share a well made and well priced wine with your friends and you will earn both their gratitude and their respect.

Currently, The Spanish Table carries over 160 wines that are priced under $15 per bottle, with an additional 150 wines that come in under $30 per bottle. Included among these are some new wines that just arrived this week.

Continue reading to check out our latest new wines and remember that this is just a sample of the distinctly delicious and oh so affordable wines that you will find every day at The Spanish Table.

 

Hidalgo Clásica Amontillado This well priced Amontillado Sherry from the famous Bodegas Hidalgo–La Gitana exhibits light raisin fruit character as well as abundant toasted almond aroma and flavor. This medium dry Sherry makes an excellent accompaniment to full flavored cheeses, cured meats and other salty snacks. $11.99

 

Calcari 2007 If you are weary from drinking oaky white wines loaded with the flavors of coconut, vanilla and melted butter then this may well be the wine you have been searching for. Pares Balta, a Catalan winery in the heart of D.O. Penedès, makes this white wine from the local Xarel-l0 (more or less pronounced cha-rel-OH) grape usually reserved for the production of sparkling Cava. This unoaked, single varietal wine is stripped bare of all superfluous elements, leaving behind a crisp wine that is flinty and lean with tart grapefruit flavor and chalky minerality. $16.99

 

Solà Fred 2006 In the Montsant region of Catalunya, Celler el Masroig makes Solà Fred, a blend of 90% Cariñena and 10% Garnacha, fermented in tank without passing through any period of ageing in oak barrels. The result is a fresh, light, balanced wine with expressive fruit character and gentle grape skin tannins. Clear ruby color, abundant fresh berry aroma, bright acidity and almost weightless texture combine to create a wine that refreshes the palate and stimulates the appetite. $11.99

 

Luzon Verde 2007 This is a big wine for a small price. We just received the new 2007 vintage of this crowd pleasing 100% Monastrell wine from the Mediterranean Jumilla region. Bodegas Luzon makes this wine from their organically farmed vineyard (their other wines are not organic). Dark color, bold fruit character and bright acidity combine to express the youthful, primary quality of this rich red wine. $10.99

 

Alaia 2005 This dark, robust red is a blend of 50% Prieto Picudo (a little known grape that thrives in this region) along with 45% Tempranillo and 5% Merlot. Aromas of mushrooms and fresh earth encounter ripe blackberry fruit character and mid-weight barrel tannins (the wine spends 9 months in oak). A spicy finish rounds out the picture. $12.99

 

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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Valentine Wines

When I was a little kid at Briar Vista Elementary School in Dekalb County Georgia, Valentine’s Day was celebrated by all the school children decorating paper lunch bags with red and pink paper hearts and taping them up in ‘home room’ on the radiator by the window to collect the mostly pre-fab Valentine’s Day cards that would be purchased by the parents at the local drug store for all us children to distribute amongst our classmates.

These days, I like to concentrate my Valentine sentiments closer to home by cooking a special meal for my wife. Some fresh flowers set the scene. A few thoughtfully chosen courses and an excellent wine express my feeling better than words. A nice dessert rounds out my culinary love letter.

If this is your idea of a good way to spend Valentine’s Day, read on. We have a fabulous selection of special wines to woo your sweetheart with, and a simple recipe for a classic Spanish dessert (with a touch of my southern heritage) that will endear you to whomever you make it for.

 

Kevin’s Buttermilk Flan (serves 4 or 2 with leftovers)

6                              large eggs

1 & 1/2 cups       Buttermilk

½ cup                   heavy cream

1 tblspn.               Mexican Vanilla concentrate

½ cup                   sugar

1/2 tspn.              salt

 

Divide the sugar in half and add ¼ cup to a 9” clay cazuela. Place the cazuela on the stove and heat over a medium flame without stirring until the sugar has melted and turned a dark caramel color (it will start slow at first but do not walk away lest you burn your sugar). Turn off the heat and let the cazuela cool. You will have a hard caramel coating on the inside of the cazuela when you are done.

Beat 4 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks together in a bowl with the sugar and salt until blended. Add the vanilla, buttermilk and cream.  Mix well and strain through a fine sieve. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. The flan needs to cook in a hot water bath, so place the caramel coated cazuela in a larger oven proof container (I use a 10 inch cake pan) and set on the middle rack of the oven. Fill the cazuela with the flan mixture first, then fill the outer cake pan with boiling water to surround the cazuela with gentle moist heat (do this in the oven so you do not have to carry the sloshing flan and hot water bath to the oven). Cook for 30 minutes and check for doneness. The flan should still be jiggly but not liquid when fully cooked. If still undercooked, allow ten minutes more in the oven (take the flan out of the oven before it sets completely or it will be dry and grainy).

Remove the flan filled cazuela from the water bath and allow to cool completely (refrigerated over night is best). To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of the flan to loosen it and invert the cazuela on a serving plate. Serve the finished flan with sliced seasonal fruit and a nice glass of sweet wine.  

 

Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado Cava $14.99 I talk about this wine a lot, but now is the perfect moment to serve this sparkling rosado. It’s pink and bubbly, which may be all you need for the occasion, but this is also a deliciously berry scented yet still dry and refreshing cava that not only looks great in the glass but also offers up classic cava aroma and flavor at a reasonable price.

 

Can Vendrell Brut Reserva Cava $17.99 One of my favorite Cavas is back in stock! This classic blend of traditional Cava grapes (Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo), from organic vineyards, with extended ageing on the lees and low dosage is a dry wine with great depth and nuance. This is rich enough to serve with food, but dry enough to serve as a cocktail.

 

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 buttermilk flan (recipe above) for a nice change of pace.

 

Don PX Gran Reserva 1979 $27.99 (375ml)  One of Spain’s most distinctive wines. An extremely rare aged wine made from Pedro Ximénez grapes that are partially sun dried before fermentation. The wine is dark and thick as molasses, with concentrated sweetness and flavors of figs, raisins and baking spices. Amazing depth and complexity. This is another perfect match for the flan recipe above.

 

Dolç Mataró $33.99 (500ml) The long forgotten Mataró grape, a relative of the better known Monastrell is used to produce tiny quantities of this sweet dessert wine. Super-ripe late harvest Mataró is hand selected, crushed and macerated in its own juice to extract the maximum of color and flavor from the skins. After fermentation the wine ages for a scant few months in barrel before bottling with minimal filtration in stylish 500ml bottles.  The final result is a sweet wine with opaque purple color, the aroma of fresh violets and a sweet fruit character that for all its intensity still possesses a certain delicacy.

 

Azua Reserva 2003 $12.99 In the Manchuela region of Castilla, just southeast of Madrid, the big, dark, juicy Bobal grape is traditionally used in many of the hearty red wines from this underappreciated part of Spain. Azua Reserva uses 100% old vine Bobal, aged in oak for 12 months and in bottle for an additional 24 months before release. This dark abundant wine is, amazingly, only 12.5% alcohol by volume, making it perfect for those of us who love abundant flavor but tire of the boozy high proof wines that often fit this profile.

 

Riolanc Vendimia Seleccionada 2006 $10.99 Our newest Rioja is this young wine from the Rioja Alavesa sub-zone, made from 100% old vine Tempranillo. Whole bunch fermentation is used here to create a wine with great freshness and bright fruit character. This is an excellent choice for weeknight suppers now. When the weather warms up a bit I’ll be pouring this one in the back yard by the paella fire.

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

Holiday Wines, Version 1.0

Yes, my friends, it is that time of year again. The eating season is fast approaching, so it’s time to start thinking about big family meals, gift giving and general holiday merrymaking.  Thanksgiving is just two weeks away, with the rest of the annual end of year festivities following close behind.

At this time of year visiting family, friends and business associates all demand more than just your time and attention. They also want to be fed, and alongside something tasty to eat they will want a refreshing glass of something festive with which to toast your hospitality.  With this scenario in mind I offer you version 1.0 of our holiday wine buying guide. As the season progresses we will offer updates and new suggestions, always with the aim of supplying you with the best wines for whatever holiday plans you may have.

This week we focus on some basic requirements for the season; sparkling Cava and top shelf reds.

Cava is such a welcome and well priced wine that I feel it would be a disservice to you if I do not suggest that you pick up a mixed case of this Spanish bubbly to have on hand for organized as well as impromptu holiday get togethers. The prices are right and the wines go with just about anything.

Also popular at this time of year are rich red wines from top notch producers. Few gifts are as welcome as a great bottle of excellent red wine and bosses, clients, coworkers, friends and family members will well remember your thoughtful generosity long after the bottle is empty. And, if you work it right, you may even get to share in the joy of consuming these critically acclaimed celebrity wines (I suggest showing up for dinner with the wine in hand).  

Meanwhile, here is a little recipe from my new favorite cookbook to get you warmed up for even more fun in the kitchen as the season progresses.

 

Calabaza Rehogada-Fried Pumpkin (adapted from 1080 Recipes by Simone & Inés Ortega)

Serves 6 as a side dish

 

3 medium sized leeks

3 lb. pumpkin or butternut squash

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

3-4 slices of bread

3 cloves garlic

Salt

 

Cut leeks into 1 inch pieces and rinse well to remove sand. Peel and deseed pumpkin and cut in 1 inch cubes. Tear bread into 1/2 inch pieces. Cut garlic cloves in half. Simmer pumpkin in salted water until tender. Heat oil in large cazuela and fry bread until golden brown. Remove bread from oil and drain. Pour off all but a few tablespoons of oils and reheat cazuela. Add garlic and fry until brown (but not burnt). Remove garlic from oil and discard. Add leeks, pumpkin and fried bread to cazuela and cook over medium heat stirring often until leeks have softened and pumpkin starts to brown. Remove cazuela from heat, adjust salt and serve.

 

 

Cava:

Mont Ferrant Brut Rosado $14.99 I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Few wines make as welcoming and attractive a cocktail as a tall crystal flute full of this dark ruby colored wine. This rosado cava is a Brut wine so it’s quite dry, but a residual aroma of fresh berries adds youthful liveliness to this wine from one of the oldest Cava producers in Spain.

 

1+1=3 Brut $14.99 A traditional blend of Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo grapes creates a crisp sparkling wine with yeasty aroma and bright citrus fruit character. This wine with a funny name is a bit richer in fruit than some (though still a dry wine) which makes it particularly well suited to serving with food.

 

Montsarra Brut $15.99 You may be familiar with this wine as served by the glass since it has long been a favorite of local restaurant and bar owners (they know quality when they taste it). This traditional Cava offers rich, leesy complexity at a very reasonable price. Assertive bubbles, toasty aroma and bright acidity are what you want in a top notch Cava and this one has them all in abundance.

 

Big Reds:

Alto Moncayo 2005 $43.00 Garnacha is the most widely planted red grape in Spain but you won’t find many as good as what Alto Moncayo makes in D.O. Campo de Borja just south of Rioja. Deep ruby color, extracted aromas of ripe berries and a bright, spicy character that is a perfect match for red meat.  Parker gave the 2004 a 94 point score, but has not yet reviewed the new vintage. Tanzer gave the 2005 a 92(+?) point score.  Her at The Spanish Table we don’t do point scores, but we do rate this one as muy tasty.

 

Alion 2003 $75.00 Vega Sicilia Unico is THE iconic Spanish wine from D.O. Ribera del Duero, but with the current 1996 vintage clocking in at $387.00 many of us will never try it. On the other hand, Vega Sicilia also makes Alion, and the new 2003 vintage of this wine is stunning. It’s rich. It’s earthy, it’s complex and powerful and balanced.  Parker gave this wine 94 points and Tanzer gave it 91. You can decide for yourself since we just got the wine last week.  It’s waiting for you.

 

Termanthia 2005 $195.00 This has to be one of the biggest of the big reds of the season. The 2004 vintage received a perfect 100point score from The Wine Advocate, a publication known for its appreciation of big red wines. The 2005 has just been released and, due to high demand, we got just a precious few bottles for our modest little store. Think single small parcel of 100-150 year old ungrafted Tinto de Toro, miniscule yields, extensive barrel age (20 months) in new oak and you start to understand what’s going on here. The 2005 vintage produced just over 4000 bottles of this wine, so demand will be high and quantities will be scarce. Act now if you want some.

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

Ca N’Estruc for Everyone!

In our never ending search for new wines at great prices we sometimes come across interesting wine stories that are big news in other parts of the world but are not necessarily on everyone’s minds here in our corner of the globe.

The Ca N’Estruc wines from Can Dez Mas have not yet made a significant impression on many American wine drinkers, but are very much on the minds and in the glasses of the Spanish press and public.

The winery and its 65 acre vineyard, located near Barcelona in a little village called Esparraguera, date back to the 19th century. In 1996, owner Francisco Marti along with celebrated winemaker Álvaro Palacios and Barcelona wine merchant Quim Vila re-tooled the blends and lowered the prices to attract the local market. The wines were well received by the public as well as the press and now are well known throughout Spain. The Ca N’Estruc red and white wines are just becoming available here in our market. These intriguing blends are delicious, well made and well priced.

Also, this week we offer some new wines in our ‘under $15’ section as well as some new choices for our ‘house wine’ selections. In case you missed our earlier description of these fabulous values, it goes something like this:

We have created a special section of youthful, traditionally styled wines (like what you would get in a typical Spanish bar) that retail for $6.99. These wines don’t demand too much attention, don’t cost too much yet are versatile and flavorful. They are cheap enough to buy by the case, but good enough to drink on a regular basis.  Individually these wines are already inexpensive. The standard 10% discount for full case purchases would normally bring the price down to $6.30 per bottle.  With these particular wines we will offer a special discounted price of $5.99 per bottle with 12 bottle purchase.

 

Vino Blanco:

Palacio Menade RS Cuvee 2005 $6.99 Our latest ‘house wine’ is this D.O. Rueda region white, a blend of 80% Verdejo, 15% Viura and 5% Sauvignon Blanc. Bold floral aroma encounters bright acidity to create a citrusy wine with flinty background. Excellent value!

 

Ca N’Estruc Blanc 2006 $9.99 A crisp, herbaceous blend of 83% Xarel-lo, 12% Macabeo and 5% Chardonnay. The Peñin Guide said this about the 2005 vintage. “Straw colored. Fruity nose with musky notes and hints of fresh fruit, herbs. Powerful palate, fresh and flavoursome, with excellent varietal character, good acidity. 87 Points.” (I should mention that a score of 87 in Spain is like a score of 90 here)

 

Ca N’Estruc Idoia Blanco 2006 $16.99 We do not carry many barrel fermented white wines. This one is definitely worth investigating.  The blend here is 40% Xarel-lo, 30% Macabeo and 30% Chardonnay. The Peñin guide described the 2005 vintage as “Straw coloured. Fresh, fruity and smoky nose, elegant, fragrant herbs (lavender, apple). Fresh palate with fruity and varietal expression, flavoursome with bitter traces, alcohol and acidity well balanced. 91 points.”  I didn’t know that apple was an herb, but they sure do like this wine, as do we.

 

Artadi Orobio Blanco 2005 $10.99 (was $14.99) This delicious dry white Rioja is now an excellent value as well. Made from the Viura grape, this lean citrusy white displays aroma of fresh herbs and a firm mineral foundation.  An excellent wine to serve with cheese.

 

Vino Tinto:

Tikalo Rubens 2005 $9.99 was $11.99 This traditional unfiltered Tempranillo displays youthful character and ripe fruit as well a dry earthy quality that is typical of the La Mancha region where it is produced. Serve Rubens Tempranillo with burgers on the grill to turn the simplest of meals into a sublime experience.

 

Luan Equis $8.99 was $10.99 This wine is an unfiltered blend of 40% Bobal, 20% Merlot, 10% Syrah, 10% Garnacha, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Tempranillo. Equis combines dry, earthy foundational aromas and flavors with bright, youthful fruit character. An excellent, very Spanish tasting bargain.

 

Ca N’Estruc Idoia Negre 2004 $16.99 A blend of several grapes including 50% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% mixed Petit Verdot, Tanat and Merlot. Structured and spicy with wild herb aromas and flavors. The Peñin Guide awarded this wine 91 Points (few wines in the Peñin Guide ever get over 90 Points). They said “Intense cherry. Aroma with good fruit expression (fresh fruit, varietal character) and fine toasty notes. Medium-bodied, fresh palate with fine toasty flavours and excellent acidity, easy drinking, elegant and very fruity with toasty oak.” Oh, and did we mention toasty?

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