Too often, days fade into memory like the Bainbridge ferry disappearing into fog. But there are also times that are simply unforgettable, such as our trip to Cordoba where we waited in line for hours to see a flamenco concert we’d stumbled upon by accident. It was a sensational show featuring Jose Merce, Jose Menese and Chocolate. The raw emotions I felt that night turned me into an aficionado of cante flamenco.
The next morning’s visit to Bodegas Toro Albala was just as memorable. For starters, it was raining so hard that the wine maker had to drive us across the parking lot. Situated in a former electric plant since 1922, the tiny bodega is a hands-on operation which produces phenomenal sherries. Known for their dessert wines such as the Don PX Gran Reserva, they tasted us through their selection and I was blown away by the Fino Electrico. All of Toro Albala’s sherries are made from 100% Pedro Ximenez which has sufficient residual sugar so that fortification is unnecessary, in contrast to sherries produced in D.O. Jerez from the palomino grape. We’ve stocked the Don PX Gran Reserva for years but the rest were not available until now. This week we received 4 new sherries from Toro Albala.
NEW SHERRIES FROM BODEGAS TORO ALBALA
Fino Electrico ($11.99) Aromas of yeast meet pungent flavors of green olive and almonds. Bone dry, intense and great with salty jamon iberico.
Amontillado Viejisimo ($29.99) This superb wine is an average of 30 years old. Great intensity of rich roasted nuts, dried fruit and leather with a seemingly endless finish.
Oloroso Viejo ($17.99) From soleras and reserve stocks approaching a century in age, Oloroso Viejo displays a round, velvety texture with aromas of butterscotch. Essentially dry, it is also rich with notes of caramel and a dry persistent finish.
Cream PX ($17.99) A blend of 10-year-old Oloroso which has been enriched with Don PX Gran Reserva. A complex and refined palate caressing wine, it melds flavors of dried fruit and raisins with balanced acidity.
NOTABLE NEW WINES
2004 Castell de Les Pinyeres, Montsant ($15.99) A blend of Grenache, Carignan, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, this is an old world wine with panache. “Energetic spiced raspberry and cherry on the nose, with white pepper and cinnamon qualities adding complexity. Fresh, finely etched red fruit flavors are intense but almost weightless, with bracing minerality adding nerve. Pure strawberry and raspberry flavors dominate the long, refreshingly brisk finish. There’s a pinot noir-like vivacity to this wine that is extremely appealing.” 90 points Stephen Tanzer
2005 El Castro de Valtuille, Bierzo ($34.00) Winemaker Raul Perez is breathing life into these old vineyards. Made from vines between 50-60 years old, El Castro de Valtuille is 100% Mencia. It has spent 14 months in one year old barrels to let the intense fruit shine through. Elegant, tannic and structured with a persistent finish, this has amazing concentration. Absolutely wonderful! 90 points Stephen Tanzer, 92 points Robert Parker
FELIZ CINCO DE MAYO! Need ingredients for a party this weekend? Try some of our Mexican specialties:
Habanero lollipops ($1.59) Warning! Very hot adult candy. Marilyn says “Yum – tingles the tip of your tongue.”
La Morena Chipotle Sauce $2.79/7 oz Smoked hot peppers essential for many Mexican recipes
Cocina Mestiza salsas ($7.99/22 oz) Choose from Serrano, Chipotle or Habanera. Grab some chips and the appetizer is ready!
Los Chileros New Mexican whole dried peppers, posole, chile powder, chicos y mas.
We have an extensive selection of general and regional Mexican cookbooks, from $5.99 and up.
NEW VALUE WINES UNDER $10.00
2007 Juan de Valdelana Rioja ($9.99) Made of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano and 5% Viura, this young Rioja has plenty of verve in a traditional style. Valdelana has cherry aromas with flavors of black currant, boysenberry and a touch of spice. Well balanced with a persistent finish, this wine has enough acidity to balance out paella or grilled sausages.
2008 Higueruela, Almansa ($9.99) Higueruela is made from 100% Garnacha Tintorera (also called Alicante Bouchet), from low-yielding vines between 30 and 80 years old. Aged in stainless steel tanks, it has a fruity aroma which reveals black cherry flavors and moderate tannins. Higueruela has an appealing earthiness with great lift on the finish. 87 points Jay Miller, Recommend Best Buy
2005 El Cipres Malbec, Menoza ($9.99) 100% Malbec from the 70 year old Don Angelino vineyard at 2800 feet above sea level, El Cipres presents a delicious blend of red and black fruits supported by soft, smooth
tannins. Smoky and meaty, serve this with a slab of grilled beef and chimichurri sauce.
Isastegi Basque cider ($10.99) is back in stock at long last! We now have two distinctive ciders in stock. Isastegi is tart green apple flavored with a fresh finish. Bereziartua cider ($9.99) is loaded with fermented fruit. Try one of each and compare!
Seven Fires, Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallmann ($35.00) We ate at Mallmann’s 1884 Restaurant in Buenos Aires and it was an amazing experience. When South America’s most venerated chef published a cookbook, we had to stock it. Filled with mouth watering photos of everything from empanadas to assorted meats cooking over coals, if you like playing with fire, this is a must-have book.
Clos Mogador extra virgin olive oil ($37.00): Produced in limited quantities by Rene Barbier’s Priorat estate, this is a cold extraction of arbequina, rojol and empeltre olives. Amazingly buttery with grassy notes, it is full flavored with a peppery finish. So good it’s hard to stop dipping bread into it.
Now back in stock: Choricero dried peppers ($19.99/7 oz)
Access from the Pike Place Market: The stairs between the Market and Western Avenue will be closed for several months for construction and utility work. In the meantime, the other stairs are still open and the elevator is working. The market is installing signage to help folks find their way to Western Avenue.
We hope to see you soon, and have a great week!
Sharon Baden and Steve Winston, Owners
The Spanish Table