Raul Perez Wine Offering

Raúl Pérez is “One of a handful of the best winemakers in the world.”
  Winemaker Raúl Pérez is a genius at coaxing the maximum expression from each vineyard’s fruit.  Thoughtful, mercurial and experimental, he produces over 200 wines using mainly the red Mencia or white Albariño grape.  Most of his wines are made in minute quantities of just one or two barrels each.  A natural winemaker, his grapes are grown organically and his work is informed by respect for the environment.  He uses gentle extraction to preserve acidity and enhance ageability.
  In 2014 he turned to completely non interventionist wine making.  Of paramount importance to Raúl is understanding the place, and letting the wines transmit the expression of its soil and climate.  His wines are known for their purity, complexity and balance.   I’ve been fortunate to taste through a range of his wines from different vineyards, and it’s akin to comparing a Burgundian Gevry-Chambertin to a Pommard, versus a Vosne-Romanée.
Raúl Pérez has three of his own wineries in Bierzo, located in Spain’s northwestern province of Galicia,  His family founded the Castro de Ventosa estate in 1752 which now owns 75 hectares of vineyards in Bierzo’s Valtuille de Abajo.   Raúl runs this winery in addition to his other projects, and is in the process of classifying Valtuille’s hillside plots from which he cultivates the grapes. . He also collaborates with many top oenologists all over the world, in Portugal, France, Chile and South Africa. He has been described as restless, a superstar, uncompromising, humble, generous, and one of a handful of the best winemakers in the world.
 The wines of Raúl Pérez are of limited availability due to the infintesimal production and we scoop them up whenever the opportunity arises.  A lover of Burgundy wines would especially appreciate the nuanced character of these wines. 

They make very special gifts, and Father’s Day is just around the corner.

Raúl Pérez wines in stock.   REPLY TO THIS EMAIL OR CALL OUR SHOP TO ORDER – 206.682.2827.
BLANCO

2012 Muti Albariño, Rias Baixas ($46.00)  7 bottles available  “The 2012 Muti is pure Albariño, a mixture of different plots from the Salnés valley, 50% fermented and aged in oak and the other half in stainless steel. It has a sharp palate, with good freshness and a slightly bitter finish. The nose talks more about the soil, think about wet granite stones, white flowers with some faint smoky hints like roasted sunflower seeds, turning more and more mineral with time in the glass. This is superb, a real surprise. 1,500 bottles were made.”    93 points Wine Advocate
2013 Leirana Albariño, Rias Baixas ($38.00)   1 bottle available “Even the regular, early-released 2013 Leirana Albariño has a part that has been fermented in oak. It’s produced from vines from different villages in the Salnés valley, mostly with influence from the sea. You can feel the proximity to the sea in the nose but more in the palate where it’s almost saline, quite powerful and offering very good acidity and freshness. The nose mixes white flowers, apples and pears with a sea breeze sensation. This is much more than a young, fresh Albariño. 20,000 bottles produced.”  92 points Wine Advocate
2014 Leirana Finca Genoveva Albariño ($49.00)   4 bottles available “The Albariño 2014 Leirana Finca Genoveva comes from an old pergola vineyard (80% of the vines are thought to be over 180-years-old!). The grapes fermented with indigenous yeasts and without temperature control in oak foudres, and were kept in contact with the lees without racking (or bâttonage) for one year. It’s surprisingly more open than the regular Leirana, mixing the sea and soil sensations with lemon zest, white pepper and grapefruit, and even some aromatic herbs (mint?). The palate is sharp as a razor, ultra-focused and defined, vertical, precise like cut with a laser. A dry Mosel meets Puligny with granite electricity? Super! 4,000 bottles produced.”  95 points Wine Advocate
2012 Ultreia La Claudina, Bierzo ($61.00)  6 bottles available  “Love it or hate it, the 2012 Ultreia La Claudina is 100% Godello sourced next to La Cova on sandy soils produced in an oxidative/biological way in oak foudre where there was a veil of yeasts for a while, never refilled and with a slow fermentation. It has a deep golden color and a nose of cereals, nuts, pollen and yellow flowers. The straight palate is austere with a good acid frame, incipient complexity and a good length. The nose is round and the palate is much sharper – you can feel the different texture compared with the one coming from clay soils -, which is a surprising contrast. This should age very well, increasing its complexity and elegance with time in bottle. A white of strong personality, with a little bit of a Jura tang.”   93 points Wine Advocate
TINTO

2011 Vico  Mencia, Bierzo ($39.99)  2 bottles available   “(made from mencia vines that were planted in 1924; aged for 11 months in French oak): Deep ruby. Powerful, deeply pitched aromas of black and blue fruits, dark chocolate and licorice, with a spicy topnote. Densely packed and chewy in texture, offering smoky cassis and boysenberry flavors that coat the palate. Closes smooth and long, with lingering smokiness and slow-building tannins. I’d bet on this wine rewarding patience.”   91 points Josh Raynolds, Vinous

2011 La Vizcaina El Rapolao Tinto, Bierzo
($52.00) 6 bottles available “The 2011 La Vizcaina El Rapolao comes from the fresher of the red vineyards in the new La Vizcaina project. Like all the wines in Raul’s projects, these old vineyards have a field blend with a majority of Mencia, but they all have some Alicante Bouschet, Estaladina (the local name for Merenzao/Bastardo/Trousseau) and Souson. El Rapolao is a north-facing vineyard which is harvested 25-30 days after the warmer vineyards, and its soils are rich in clay and iron. The elegant nose shows some wild herbs, red rather than black fruit, and a strong sense of wet soil. The palate is balanced, with a light touch of the stems. Drink 2013-2020.”  93 points Wine Advocate
2011 La Vizcaina La Vitoriana Mencia, Bierzo ($52.00) 5 bottles available  “(made from mencia vines that were planted in 1892; all whole clusters and fermented in a large oak cask followed by ten months of aging in small French oak): Opaque purple. Mineral-accented black raspberry and cherry-cola aromas are complemented by notes of rose, minerals and spicecake. Sweet dark berry flavors show impressive depth and clarity, picking up a floral pastille nuance with air. The lasting finish leaves gently smoky floral and blueberry notes behind.”  92 points Josh Raynolds/Vinous, 93 points Wine Advocate
2012 Ultreia Saint Jacques Mencia, Bierzo ($33.00) 5 bottles available   “The 2012 Ultreia St Jacques is a Mencía cuvée from different plots across Bierzo, part fermented in stainless steel, part in barrique and part in oak vats all with 100% full clusters. It shows some notes of coffee and a herbal side with echoes of raspberry leaf and wild berries. The medium-bodied palate offers refined tannins and good freshness. It’s a great, approachable, very drinkable wine.” 92+ points, Wine Advocate

2010 Castro Ventosa El Castro de Valtuille, Bierzo
($25.99) 3 bottles available “The 2010 El Castro de Valtuille is the most fragrant of the 2010s from the winery. It displays a Burgundian nose of flowers and even peaches, balsamic (rosemary and other herbs) and a silky palate with good acidity and balance, showing ripe fruit and some minerality. A wine of pleasure. Drink 2014-2020.”  92 points Wine Advocate
 
2010 Castro Ventosa Cepas Centenarias, Bierzo ($68.00) 1 bottle available    “The 2010 Valtuille Cepas Centenarias perfectly combines elegance and power, displaying the concentrated balance that centenary vines are capable of. For this wine they play with different vineyards depending on the character of the vintage. In 2010 they selected the warmer vineyards, because it’s a cooler vintage, and in 2009 they selected cooler vineyards (for example Rapolao) as it was a very warm year. The ripe fruit is perfectly framed by the wood, making it a compact wine, with plenty of fruit and freshness: raspberries and dried roses. It needs a couple of years to completely integrate the wood, develop some more complexity and then it should drink well for the next decade. 2015-2020.”   94 points Wine Advocate
2011 Ultreia de Valtuille Mencia, Bierzo ($115.00) 2 bottles available 
(made from mencia vines that were planted on sandy soil in 1908; aged for a year in French oak): Brilliant violet color. High-pitched black and blue fruit aromas are complicated by suggestions of white pepper, Asian spices, lavender and smoky minerals. Lively, sharply focused blueberry and floral pastille flavors are framed by silky tannins and gain richness with aeration. Leaves suave notes of blueberry and black raspberry behind on the spicy, impressively persistent finish, which shows just a hint of tannins.   93 points Stephen Tanzer/Vinous
2011 Ultreia de Valtuille Petra, Bierzo ($114.00) 2 bottles available    “a Mencía-based blend from a plot on slate soils in the Ponferrada zone (Valdecañadas) at high altitude, produced for the first time in this vintage. The wine stayed in contact with the skins for seven months and then aged for one year in barrique. This is a very aromatic, flowery wine with notes of wild herbs that is very different from the rest as it shows aromas of graphite and black olives; it’s a wilder wine. The palate is medium-bodied, has a really silky palate of very good structure to support powerful, concentrated fruit that is not over-extracted. This is closer to a red from the Douro or a Northern Rhône Syrah. Unusual but great.”   95 points Wine Advocate
Photos courtesy of Friederike Paetzold

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Filed under Albariño, Mencia, Red Wine, Spain, Wine

Mother’s Day Gifts

MOTHER’S DAY IS SUNDAY MAY 8TH.   Happy Mothers Day to you all!
There are excellent gifts for Mom at The Spanish Table.   Some great items we have in stock are:
Hand made ceramics.    Give Mom a gorgeous, hand painted serving bowl, pitcher or flower vase.  We also have coffee cups, “Vuelve Tortilla” plates used to flip Tortilla Españolas, platters, and deviled egg platters.
 
Cazuelas:  Clay cookware made in Spain is durable and practical.    Available in a huge assortment of colors, shapes and sizes, they can be used on the stovetop, in the oven and in the dishwasher.
Paella kit: Get Mom a starter kit for making paella.   It contains a paella pan, ½ kilo of bomba rice, olive oil, saffron, paprika and Paella cookbook.   Add broth, vegetables and/or protein and get started!
  A selection of high quality extra virgin olive oils make a fantastic gift.   We have oils for salad, smoked and flavored oils for drizzling and intensely flavored oils for dipping.
Spanish Style by Kate Hill – Regularly $49.95, now $19.99.  Is Mom an architect, or thinking of moving to Spain?  This book showcases over 20 Spanish residences, from stylish city apartments, to Modernista seaside homes and country villas.  Featuring wrought iron accents, sumptuous textiles, Spanish tilework… this book is an inspiration to interior design.
Raw Greek Honeys:    Plain or with hazelnuts, Ariadne Pure honeys are raw and contain all of the natural pollen & propolis.   There are no preservatives, additives nor flavorings; the honey has not been heated, processed nor filtered.   The plain raw honey comes mostly from orange blossoms with traces of sage and lavender while the hazelnut honey has a nutty flavor along with the floral notes.   These are some of the most delicious and nutritious honeys available.
MARK YOUR CALENDARPIKE PLACE MARKET FLOWER FESTIVAL: Saturday, May 7 – Sunday, May 8, 2016     9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Pick up a gorgeous bouquet for Mom from one of Pike Place Market’s 40 local farmers, on Mother’s Day weekend.  Special tents will line the west side of Pike Place for this event and there will be more fresh flowers than ever.   Grab a bouquet and then purchase a beautiful vase at Spanish Table.
NEW! Pitted Peruvian olives, unpasteurized.  Mild and buttery green Ascolana olives come with a fiery marinade made with spicy Aji Limo & Rocoto Aji peppers and paprika.    Excellent in ceviche, to add heat and depth of flavor.
NOTABLE WINES 
2015 Txomin Etxaniz Rose, Getaria ($20.99)   Salmon berry colored with a slight spritz, Txomin Rosado is beautifully festive in the glass.   Offering notes of wild strawberry and apple, this mouthwatering dry rosé will have you yearning for a plate of fried fish.    Limited availability.
If there a wedding in your future, we have the perfect red wine for the special day!   2014 Flaco Tempranillo is produced with grapes grown in a high elevation vineyard in the mountains outside Madrid.  Aged in large concrete and stainless steel tanks, this is a quaffer that will please everyone.   And at a price of $7.99 per bottle, less 10% for 6 bottles or more (plus tax), the price can’t be beat!   Medium bodied with bright red cherry fruit, it shows notes of spice and a depth of complexity considering the price.   With low tannins, this is a great sipping wine which also pairs well with a variety of foods from poultry, pork, and spicy seafood.   “The red fruit nose shows Pinot-like energy, with white pepper and floral pastille nuances adding complexity. Silky and sweet on the palate, offering intense but edge-free raspberry and spicecake flavors. A wine of noteworthy elegance, especially for the money. Finishes sappy, floral and long, with lingering red fruit character and just a hint of tannins.”   90 points Stephen Tanzer/Vinous

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Filed under Basque, Books, Ceramics, crockery, Food, Red Wine, Rose, Spain, Tempranillo

Cinco de Mayo Wines & Foods

CINCO DE MAYO WINES & FOODS
Next Thursday May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) is a day that commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.  Oddly enough, it is more widely celebrated in the U.S. than in Mexico, as it’s a great excuse to enjoy Mexican fare.
Sayulita Mexico is a laid-back surfing town about 30 miles north of Puerto Vallarta.  Surprisingly, the town has several wine shops with an unimaginable selection of Mexican wines.    Most wines are produced in the Valle de Guadalupe region of Baja Mexico, and are typically blends containing Cabernet Sauvignon.   We tried numerous bottles during our recent stay.  Many were excellent, and paired well with the spicy cuisine.
We’ve got two Mexican wines from Valle de Guadalupe in the shop.
Try one on Cinco de Mayo!
2009 Jubileo Meritage, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja Mexico ($18.99) 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc.  Aromas of bing cherry, plum, espresso, wild herbs and vanilla fill the glass.  More red fruit comes through on the palate, with plenty of acidity to keeps things in balance.  Finishes long, with supple tannins.   400 cases produced.
 
2009 Villa Montefiori Cabernet-Sangiovese, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja Mexico ($24.99) 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Sangiovese, aged 15 months in French oak.  Paolo Paoloni was formerly an enologist at Perugia University in Italy until he moved his family to Mexico and planted vineyards.   Structured and vibrant with excellent balance.   Full-bodied with spicy notes, it offers up silky tannins.
PARA COMER – MEXICAN FOODS FOR CINCO DE MAYO

Mole sauces:  Making a mole sauce from scratch is rewarding but time consuming.   Buying pre-made mole sauce simplifies everything, and by purchasing one of the  scrumptious Mexican-made sauces we stock, it taste as good as homemade.   We  stock many styles of mole sauces, including Negro, Rojo, Coloradito and  Poblano.  Chicken Mole on Cinco de Mayo, anyone?


Santa Fe Ole sauces:   When in New Mexico I order “Christmas” style entrees to get equal parts red and green chile sauce.  The roasted pepper flavors in these chile sauces are sublime with everything.    Santa Fe Ole sauces are the best jarred chile sauces we’ve found.    Try the red or green chile sauce (mild or medium hot), Green Chile Salsa or Ancho Salsa.
 

Miss Marjorie’s Plantain chips:  These are phenomenal with guacamole!  A creation of Marjorie Restaurant in Seattle, these plantain chips and guacamole are their signature appetizer.
 
Amor y Tacos by Deborah Schneider  SALE!  $9.99 (regular price $18.95) A cookbook inspired by roadside stands in Mexico, it contains recipes for appetizers, salsas, drinks, and loads of taco recipes.   Comes with mouth-watering photos.
 
 
PADRON PEPPER PLANT UPDATE:   We’ve got about 3 dozen plants for sale now, and when the Alaskan Way Viaduct reopens, we’ll have more plants available (hopefully around May 13).

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Filed under Books, Chile, Red Wine, Travel, Wine

Portuguese Wine Tasting, Snack Packs

PORTUGUESE WINE TASTING SATURDAY APRIL 23, 2:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Mark your calendar — a week from tomorrow we’ll be tasting Portuguese wines with Eugenio Jardim from Wines of Portugal.
  Last July, Eugenio led us on an eye-opening trip around Portugal’s gorgeous wine regions.  Each day we toured vineyards of indigenous grape varietals – Portugal has over 250 native grapes; the Douro Valley alone has 116 native grapes.    Most grow nowhere else on earth.      We met passionate winemakers, who, recognizing the treasure of their native grapes, are producing distinctive, character-filled wines with these grapes.
I was a fan of Portuguese wines before the trip, but came home wildly enthusiast about getting more of these phenomenal wines into the shop.  They are mind blowing, especially considering the prices!
Eugenio will be on hand April 23 to talk about the fantastic wines coming out of Portugal right now.  We’ll be pouring samples of several wines that represent what the excitement is about.     Join us between 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. for this event!
Ybarra Anchovy Stuffed Olives in JarSALE!! Regularly $3.99, now $1.99

Food tastes better out of a jar, and these anchovy stuffed Manzanilla Olives are selected for high quality, and stuffed with anchovy paste.  Excellent for snacking, or chop up and put on a pizza!
New!  Mina Shakshuka Sauce – A Tunisian sauce traditionally served with baked eggs for breakfast or lunch, its popularity has spread throughout the Middle East.  The sauce ingredients vary with the seasons but typically contains peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic with a variety of spices.  Shakshuka is also excellent on pizza or roasted vegetables.
New!  Snack pack – We’ve packaged up cubes of Manchego cheese, trail mix and dried fruit combination to satisfy that mid-afternoon slump.   Avoid hangriness in a healthy way!
Paul and Pippa cookies:  Featured in Wednesday’s New York Times, these delectable cookies made from organic ingredients are in stock at The Spanish Table.   The Cocoa and Salt Flakes are my personal favorite.
2013 Belondrade y Lurton Verdejo (Rueda) $36.00 Jean Belondrade paid a visit to Spanish Table yesterday and gave a first-hand account of the meticulous vinification process that makes these wines so incredible.  His father, Didier Belondrade released his first vintage in 1994 after tasting a Verdejo wine and becoming convinced of the grape’s potential for aging.   The winery owns 30 hectares with 19 plots, each with differing soils and aspects.   Each vineyard is fermented in oak using native yeast on the lees and aged separately.  Oak barrels are from different French coopers, some given a light toast, others with heavy toast and used based on the characteristics of each plot.
  “2013 was not an easy harvest in Rueda, but those that worked well in their vineyards and were able to harvest early (by hand and sorting the grapes), the result is often a fresh wine. For those that worked well, 2013 could be similar to 2007, which not coincidentally, is my favorite vintage at Belondrade. However, they had to sort and discard lots of grapes (around 10%) for this 2013 Belondrade y Lurton. The nose is really exuberant, very perfumed, very Verdejo, very fresh, open and expressive, with aromas of lilies, aromatic herbs (lavender), fennel, rhubarb and a hint of orange peel; the oak is in the background, much better integrated than in the old times. The palate is very fresh, lively, vibrant (in general there is no malo, but as they use natural yeasts if a barrel starts doing malo they do not stop it) with some citric flavors reminiscent of grapefruit, talcum powder and aromatic herbs; it has with good length and balance. This has the potential to have a long life in bottle, especially in large formats. As a reference, I tasted the 2010 which is aging nicely and developing balsamic aromas that reminded me of some aged Cavas. As some new vineyards had come into production for Belondrade (as a general rule the vines have to be around ten years old and they have to see the potential in the must), the total volume was around the same as in previous vintages, as in 2013 there were 92,000 bottles produced.”  93 points Wine Advocate
2009 Vina Alberdi Reserva Rioja ($20.99) THIS CUSTOMER FAVORITE IS BACK IN STOCK!  100% Tempranillo.   “Aromas of ripe red berries, candied rose, vanilla and pipe tobacco, with a mineral element contributing vivacity. Juicy, penetrating and gently sweet on the palate, offering vibrant raspberry and cherry flavors that deepen on the back half. Shows very good heft and power on a long, focused finish framed by harmonious, slow-building tannins.”  92 points Stephen Tanzer/Vinous

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Filed under Events, Food, Portugal, Rioja, Spain, Tempranillo, Travel, Verdejo, Wine

ROSADO, BLANCO & BOCADILLOS

March 31, 2016

Tip a glass to our few days of sunshine with the first Rosado of the season!
2015 Ostatu Rosado Rioja  70% Tempranillo and 30% Garnacha from 60 year old vines.  Lightweight and aromatic, with wild strawberry flavors and nuances of spice.  Very dry, it offers up a rich palate, balanced by refreshing minerality.  Fans of Provençal-style rosés will love this rosado.  Take a sip, relax, and know that summer is around the corner!
   Don’t wait to pick up a few bottles of this because the distributor will be sold out by next week.
2014 Licia Albariño, Rias Baixas ($16.99) 2014 Licia is extraordinarily tasty and fit to be quaffed on a sunny day.  Licia’s vineyards are in O Rosal and Condado do Tea, the warmest sub-zones of Rias Baixas that produce the ripest fruit.  Licia is dry and steely with bright citrus notes and a fresh minerality.   With creamy apple and quince notes offering stoniness and weight, this is a solid Albariño at a great price.   What really impressed me about this wine is its pure freshness.  It will rock in 70 degree weather, especially with a plate of shellfish or cheese.
Enjoy the outdoors while the great weather lasts, by keeping meals simple.  Make fancy bocadillos (sandwiches) with a loaf of crusty bread.  Mix and match ingredients, such as our Bruschettas (Piquillo Pepper and Artichoke or Piquillo Pepper and Eggplant) topped with a sheep’s milk cheese such as El Valle Semicurado.   Or chop green, pitted olives, mix with Spanish Bonito Tuna and alioli and spread on bread.  Slices of roasted Piquillo Peppers withBlack Empeltre Olive spread paired with Majorero goat milk cheese is divine.   Brush slices of bread with flavorful extra virgin olive oil and top with slices of Chorizo or Jamon Serrano with Manchego cheese to make a classic sandwich. Or, peruse our shelves and invent new combinations!    

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Filed under Albariño, Cheese, Fish, Food, Garnacha, Jamon, Meat, Rioja, Rose, Spain, Wine

Easter Specialties

March 25, 2016

Easter, or Pascuas, is a major holiday in Catholic Spain.  The week before Easter is Semana Santa (Holy Week), when many towns close down and hold religious processions throughout the streets.   The arrival of Pascuas ends the fasting of Lent, and special sweets such as torrijas (similar to French toast) are widely enjoyed.
  For Easter brunch or other meals, using hearty Spanish ingredients will enhance any recipe.  For example, using roasted Piquillo Peppers from a jar, scrambling or baking them with eggs and chorizo makes an easy and crowd-pleasing brunch dish.   Or make a Tortilla Espanola in advance, and grill a side dish ofchistorra (breakfast sausage).    Accompany these dishes with our Easter Brunch Bread (recipe below), which delights with Spanish flavors of orange blossom honey, orange zest and pine nuts (ingredients are available at The Spanish Table).
NEW ARRIVALS 
A timely shipment of cured meats arrived yesterday, including favorite chorizos for paella, the semi-cured Bilbao and Riojana.
New:  Despana chorizo – a semi-cured sausage, with smoky and mild flavors of garlic and spices.
 
Dacsa Valencian paella rice is back in stock, again available in 1 kg and 5 kg bags.
Customer favorite Miguel and Valentino Arbequina extra virgin olive oil arrived this week.   Fruity, buttery and flavorful!
New cut:  The uncured, raw Iberico Bellota meats are melt-in-the-mouth tender.  In addition to the Solomillo (tenderloin) cut, we now have a limited supply of Carrilleras (cheeks).
Easter basket treats:    
From Portugal, pastel colored, sugar coated, egg shaped almonds.
 
Spanish hot chocolate mix.   Extra thick style to cling to churros or anything sweet that is dipped into it.
We’ve got churro mix and churreras (extruders for making churros), too.
WHAT TO DRINK WITH THIS FABULOUS MEAL?
 
ROSÉ SANGRIA is refreshing and gorgeous, and perfect at Easter brunch.
INGREDIENTS:  (substitute frozen fruit if necessary)
2 cups blueberries
2 cups blackberries
2 cups hulled strawberries
2 cups mixed red and golden raspberries
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
5 ounces Framboise or Cassis
1 bottle chilled Abadia de la Oliva rose wine
1 1/3 cups white cranberry juice
DIRECTIONS
In a pitcher, combine fruit. Stir in sugar. Add Framboise; let sit at least 1 hour. Stir in wine and juice. Serve chilled.

EASTER BRUNCH BREAD
Bread is relatively inexpensive and there are many great bakeries, so why bother?  Because making bread is a chance to participate in the almost mystical experience that occurs as the yeast springs to life and loaves of bread puff up, rising before your eyes.  So once in a while, I make some off-beat bread that is not like store bought bread at all.  This is one, a fluffy loaf with a sprinkling of flavors I associate with Spain.   Steve Winston
 
Sponge:
½ cup Flour
½ cup Warm water
1 package Dry yeast
1 tablespoon Orange blossom honey
Dough:
1 cup Milk, room temperature
¼ pound Butter, melted (we recommend using French butter, available at Paris Grocery)
½ teaspoon Salt
2 large eggs
1/8 c cup minced orange zest
1/8 c cup Poppy seeds
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
3½ cups all-purpose flour
Sponge: Combine first four ingredients and proof for 30 minutes until bubbles form.
Dough: Mix in the remaining ingredients, adding flour ½ cup at a time.
Turn out onto a board and knead until elastic, 15-20 minutes.    The dough will be quite wet so keep your hand floured and work the dough with a pastry scraper.  Oil a large bowl and turn the dough into it, turning it over so the oiled side is up.  Let rise until doubled in volume.
Preheat oven to 350º
Form into a loaf.  It is very flexible.  I make a U shape and twist the two arms over each other.  Place on a baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Let rise again, 40 minutes. Bake for 40 minutes.

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Filed under Food, Garnacha, Jamon, Meat, Portugal, Recipes, Rose, Spain, Wine

The Timeless Pleasure of Rioja Wines

 

Rioja,Sierra la Demanda
THE TIMELESS PLEASURE OF RIOJA WINES   March 19, 2016
Rioja has been on the cutting edge of viticulture and oenology since the late 1800’s when Bordeaux vineyards were destroyed by the phylloxera louse.  To keep French wine markets supplied, Bordelaise vintners fled to Rioja, establishing wineries and bringing the latest winemaking technology to Spain. Many historic Spanish wineries date from this period and still exist today, including La Rioja Alta (established 1890), Bodegas Faustino (founded 1861), CVNE (1879), Marques de Murrieta (1852) and a number of others.

  Today in Rioja, wines vary from ‘traditional” style, with aging in American oak according to the Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva designations and released when ready to drink.   “Modern” style wines age for varying durations in French, Russian, American or Hungarian oak and offer a unique expression of Rioja.  Terruñyo-driven wines are produced from singular plots and showcase Rioja’s profusion of micro climates, soil, vineyard orientation and altitude.
Some of our favorite, traditional style Riojas:
2005 Bodegas La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Rioja($35.00)  One of the premier producers of old-school Rioja with impeccable quality. Viña Ardanza is labeled Reserva, but has aged long enough to be classified as a Gran Reserva.  80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha from ancient vines, aged separately; the Tempranillo is aged 36 months and the Garnacha was aged 30 months, both in neutral oak.  The wines were manually racked six times.    Offers up a silky depth of nuance and elegance.   “Sexy, highly perfumed aromas of red fruit preserves, vanilla, mocha and fresh flowers, with a hint of pipe tobacco coming up with air. Sappy and broad on entry, then more taut in the middle, with sweet cherry-vanilla and spicecake flavors given lift by juicy acidity. Closes smooth, spicy and long, with lingering smokiness and fine-grained tannins adding grip. A touch more lively than the excellent 2004 version of this wine and of equal quality, which makes it an outstanding value in old-school Rioja.”  92 points Stephen Tanzer/Vinous  94 points Wine Advocate
 
2001 Faustino I Gran Reserva Rioja ($40.00)  A classic house, founded 150 years ago and one of the largest landowners in Rioja.   Located in Rioja’s Basque Alavesa sub-region which many consider the best area for Tempranillo.  2001 was a spectacular vintage in Rioja and the 2001 Faustino Gran Reserva was named 2013’s Wine of the Year by Decanter Magazine.   Aged for 26 months in American and French oak barrels, then 3 years in the bottle before release, this is a full-bodied Rioja with balance and elegance.  “Restrained, mineral style with elegant tannins.  Youthful and fresh, feminine and complex.  Deliciously decadent, with extraordinary vitality in the palate and a long, unique finish.  A jewel at this price.”    19.25/20 points Decanter
 
2010 Señorio de P. Peciña Crianza Rioja ($19.99)   Pedro Peciña learned how to do things the painstakingly hard, old-fashioned way in his 18 year tenure as vineyard manager at Rioja’s iconic La Rioja Alta. A quarter century later, his attention to detail and dedication are displayed in his own bodega. His structured, beautifully layered wines speak to the soul of traditional Rioja with a Burgundian-like complexity and elegance.   “Deeply pitched red and dark berry aromas are complemented by vanilla, allspice and mocha and lifted by a smoky mineral topnote and building florality. Sweet and expansive on the palate, offering concentrated cherry-vanilla and raspberry flavors and a zesty undercurrent of minerality. Shows excellent power and persistence on the finish, which features supple tannins and resonating mineral and spice notes. This spent two years in American oak barrels before bottling and then rested for two more years prior to being released.”   92 points Stephen Tanzer/Vinous
  For an inspiring tutorial on Rioja wines, pick up a copy of “The Wine Region of Rioja” by Ana Fabiano.  With 229 pages of Rioja’s history, top bodegas and winemakers, grapes and much more, with gorgeous pictures.    You’ll be on a plane to Rioja in no time!

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