Perfectly delicious wines are made by large producers, using state of the art technology and economies of scale. I am thrilled to find, for example, a bottle like Marques de Riscal Rioja in a small town restaurant. Savoring a dependably tasty bottle of wine with a meal absolutely increases the pleasure!
But when able, I’ll choose a wine from a small producer. Often small wineries’ bottlings are a labor of love, sometimes made with difficult-to-grow varietials that have a limited market appeal. Small wineries fill important niches: maintaining diversity in the plant world and on the wine shop shelves, and making wines that reflect the terrunyo of infintesimal plots.
We’re excited to now feature Small Vineyards’ portfolio of Spanish and Portuguese wines. Small Vineyards seeks out and supports diminutive family-owned estates that make exceptional wines for the price. Their criteria for adding a producer to their portfolio is simple: The winery’s size must be in the smallest 10% for that country; the estate must hand pick all grapes to ensure that only the ripest fruit is made into wine, and the producer must use sustainable growing methods to make earth-friendly wines. We’ve chosen to spotlight the following terrific wines in our floor stack just inside the door. Give them a try!
2009 Aravo Albariño, Rias Baixas ($19.99) Fresh green apple and citrus flavors have a weightiness on the palate. Clean and full of minerals, this wine stuns with mint, acacia flower and wet granite notes.
2008 Terras de Xisto, Alentejo ($8.99) A terrifically expressive wine and an extraordinary value! With a bouquet of dusty red fruit, spices and a hint of menthol, Terras de Xisto has been described as “Portuguese Chianti with a zing.” Concentrated, balanced and vibrant, it has dusty notes from the “xisto” (schist) soil.
2009 Clua Domenech Garnacha, Terra Alta ($11.99) Raised in stainless steel, Clua Domenech is bursting with ripe fruit, lively acidity and admirable color. This 100% Garnacha boasts a hint of mushroom on the nose. Bright and juicy with spice notes, this lengthy effort pairs wonderfully with cured meats.
2007 Perfil Douro ($17.99) Powerful and lush with muscular tannins, Perfil Douro is a red wine to serve with hearty, winter fare. From an exceptional vintage, it has notes of coffee, earth and ripe black fruit. A full-bodied red, it has notes of tobacco on the persistent finish which add complexity. With every sip, I thought again “this is delicious!”
2006 Parmi l’Infant Priorat ($36.00) 2006 was the first vintage from this estate and they’ve started off with a bang! Parmi l’Infant is a full-bodied, concentrated teeth stainer. This fascinating wine is fermented in oak, but not aged in oak. Extracted and structured, it has layers of pomegranate, pencil lead, crushed rock and mineral. Only 400 cases were produced – this is a stunning value from the Priorat region.
Look for other Small Vineyards wines on our shelves – they wear a distinctive gold sticker and tell the story of the producer on the back label.
GIFTS FOR FOODIES
A flavorful Extra Virgin Olive Oil adds complexity to grilled fish and is essential in salads. Our favorites: Duc de Foix and Luis Herrera from Spain, and Nectar from Portugal.
Sherry Vinegar: There is no substitute for this intense vinegar – its bright acidity makes flavors pop in a salad. Our favorite brand: Toro Albala.
Spanish Bonito del Norte Tuna in olive oil: I eat this for lunch a couple of times per week, on top of mixed greens or on a baguette. One of my favorites is on top of warm brown rice. The nuttiness of the rice is a perfect foil for the rich tuna. Our favorite brand: Ortiz
Olives! We have an incredible selection of Spanish olives, stuffed and plain. Our favorites: Spanish Table brand lemon stuffed and Miguel & Valentino Manzanilla Olives.
A whole leg of jamon serrano. We’ve got three boneless legs left, and it’s sure to make that special person very, very happy.
Spice kits: An assortment of 9 spices from North Africa and the Middle East to inspire the cook in your life.
Flavored sea salts: Flavors include smoked paprika, black olive and smoked. Our Paris Grocery store has many additional styles.
Our Paris Grocery store, located two doors south of Spanish Table, can slice jamon serrano and lomo to order.