Director of P.R. Gabriela Rezola, and winemaker Julio Sáenz of La Rioja Alta gave us a tasting of their entire portfolio, including the 1995 Gran Reserva 890 which is still improving in the bottle. Established in 1890, La Rioja Alta is one of the oldest wineries in Rioja and is a benchmark for traditional Riojas. Tasting the wines of both Muga and La Rioja Alta back to back was like meeting successful cousins. Each raised in the same soil, but with their talents deployed in equally accomplished ways, these two wineries are a microcosm of what is happening in Rioja right now.
One of the incredible wines we tasted that day is now in stock. 2001 Viña Arana Reserva Rioja ($32.00) is La Rioja Alta’s Rioja-meets-Bordeaux red. The 2001 vintage was excellent and Viña Arana displays all of the beautifully ripened fruit of this harvest. Aged for 3 years in used oak barrels, it shows “… “Complex aromas of dried red berries and cherry, with complicating notes of cured tobacco, cedar, smoky minerals, vanilla and rose. Smooth, nicely concentrated and sweet, offering cherry-vanilla and candied floral flavors supported by soft tannins. This fully mature Rioja finishes with alluring sweetness and a lingering note of dusty, dried flowers. 91 points Stephen Tanzer
2009 Yellow + Blue Malbec, Argentina ($11.99, in 1 Liter recyclable Tetra Pak). This tasty Malbec is super for picnics and hikes, and would be an ideal beverage to sip at the Seafair Hydroplane Races on Sunday. The ultimate “green” wine, it is shipped in bulk to North America to minimize the carbon footprint, and the recyclable packages are filled here. And the wine inside? It’s a perfect companion to cured meats, cheeses and even potato salad. With aromas of black cherry and flavors of ripe berry, chocolate and savory herbs, it is smooth with fine tannins. Yellow + Blue Malbec has a lingering finish and is also certified organic.
2008 Sol de Levante Monastrell, Jumilla ($11.99) Aromas of mature fruit, cherries and blackberries are well balanced with smooth tannins and a pleasant sweetness. Full-bodied and structured, this 100% Monastrell can be served with poultry or spicy fare. Poured by the glass at Ocho Tapas Bar in Ballard.
2005 Dominio de Valdelacasa Cosecha Toro ($22.99) This bright and full-bodied red goes through numerous changes on the palate. Sweet ripe blacktop berries and vanilla have a toasted, charred backbone. Dominio de Valdelacasa is light on its feet with great balance and notes of licorice on the persistent finish. This would be excellent with beef filet and chimichurri sauce.
2004 Matorramero Reserva, Ribera del Duero ($29.99) This finely chiseled red is so good that it could easily become addictive. Ripe boysenberry and dark chocolate have coffee and graphite notes with excellent balance. With lots of lift, bright fruit and minerals, it has a lengthy, delicious finish. Oh, and the price is about half as much as other Reservas from Ribera del Duero.
Queso Varé – A farmhouse goats milk cheese from Asturias–grassy, buttery with notes of lemon and a mild tangy finish. Priscilla’s new favorite cheese!
El Cantu – Similar in texture to cheddar, this new organic cow’s milk cheese comes from the small Asturian farm of cheese makers Anita and Valentin. Subtly sweet and creamy with notes of hay and a burst of sharp flavor.
Azeitão – This small round ‘torta’ like sheeps milk cheese from Northern Portugal just arrived. Most of you are already familiar with this uberliscious cheese. They are soft and gooey and perfect for your next picnic, outdoor concert, BBQ or small gathering. Cut off the top and scoop out this wonderful creamy cheese onto bread or crackers.
Cole’s Canned Portuguese Sardines and Mackerel. After one taste we had to have them! Both are wild caught and come smoked, in olive oil, or in piri piri sauce. The mackerel is skinless and boneless, excellent in salads.
Pimenta Moida in bulk, $4.99 per pound Stir this hot pepper sauce into soups or stews. It’s also excellent mixed into cooked lentils.
Mexican wafer cookies with cinnamon, Horchata lolly pops, Guava Marmalade
Back in stock – Mole Negro sauce. The last order wasn’t around very long, so come quickly if you’re a mole fan.