Category Archives: Rioja
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 Jar: SALE!! 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
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!
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!
Purity and finesse from an historic Rioja property. Firmly traditional, they produce artisanal, singular wines that are unmatched in style and grace.
Only a handful of other producers’ wines offer the character that distinguish those of Bodegas R. Lopez Heredia. Founded in 1877 and still family-owned, the Lopez Heredia winery has never purchased fruit. Grapes come exclusively from one of their four vineyards; wines are aged in barrels made by their own in-house cooperage (one of Rioja’s last two remaining). A dedication to the founder’s philosophy has been passed down through the generations, including meticulous viticulture, hand-picking of all fruit, natural wine making using native yeasts and no filtration.
1994 R. Lopez Heredia Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Rioja($99.00) A splurge and an experience fully worth the price. After serving this stunner with lamb chops last week (the quintessential Rioja pairing) we immediately bought out the distributor’s remaining stock.
1994 was a superb harvest, rivaling 1964 as the best Rioja vintage of the century. 1994 Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva delivers fresh aromas of spice and dried cherry fruit. Nuances of tobacco leaf and cigar box spice have lift and elegance. Shows finesse, ripe tannins and precision on the lengthy finish.
“(75% tempranillo, 15% garnacha, 5% graciano and 5% mazuelo): Wild, highly perfumed aromas of candied cherry, plum, anise, cured tobacco, Asian spices and vanilla, with smoke and allspice nuances. … seamless and expansive, offering sweet red and dark berry flavors and suggestions of candied rose and spicecake. In the glass, takes on weight with no loss of vivacity. Silky tannins build on and carry through a very long, smoke- and mineral-accented finish. No way I’d have guessed that this was an 18-year-old wine.”
94 points Stephen Tanzer/Vinous
96 points Wine Advocate
Photos by Steve Winston
WE ARE OPEN REGULAR HOURS ON MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY (MONDAY, JANUARY 18) 10 AM-6 PM
Our cured meats, cheeses and groceries have been restocked since the new year began.
Need Bilbao chorizo or Bomba rice for paella? It’s here. Looking for Morcilla, Chistorra or Cantimpalitos? Back in stock.
All manner of dried beans are here for making robust winter stews. My new favorite is Zursun Dapple Grey Beans. Creamy and ideal for soups, the bean’s mottled grey and ivory colors are reminiscent of a cowboy’s horse.
Mini wheels of 3 month aged Maese Miguel Manchego are available again. This is a buttery and flavorful manchego cheese with tangy hints. Slice and serve, or make into a sandwich with rustic bread.
New! Smoke-dried Ñora peppers from La Vera. Use these to make a smoky romesco sauce (see recipe below).
New Year, New Wines!
2014 Castillo de Mendoza Vitarán Cepas Viejas Blanco, Rioja ($14.99) 100% Viura produced from old-vine, estate vineyards in Rioja Alta. Aged on the lees and in neutral French oak, 2014 Vitarán offers up aromas of tropical fruit. Fleshy and rich on the palate with a hint of oak, it is smooth and bright, with a touch of spice. Finishes clean and dry. Great with Asian or spicy foods.
2012 Valdecampana Crianza, Ribera del Duero($16.99) 100% Tinto del Pais (Tempranillo) aged 12 months in oak. A delightful sipper, this medium to full bodied red is also a stand out with hearty meals. Delivers heavenly aromatics with well-knit flavors of marionberry and black cassis. Very fresh and lifted, its graphite and mineral notes add complexity to this distinguished red. Shows some grip on the lengthy finish. Great value!
2007 Viña Cubillo Crianza Rioja ($22.99) Bodegas R. Lopez Heredia is a benchmark producer of traditional style Rioja wines. Family owned and operated since 1877, Maria Jose Lopez de Heredia passionately adheres to her great-grandfather’s vision of making wine only from their own vineyards, using natural yeasts, long aging in wood and no filtration at bottling.
The Viña Cubillo vineyards average 40 years of age. The wine is a blend of 65% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, aged at least 3 years in barrel and 3 years in bottle before release. Most producers would label this a Gran Reserva; and at $22.99 per bottle, it’s a steal!
Viña Cubillo seems to get better with every vintage. The 2007 is intensely aromatic, showing a bouquet of dried cherry fruit and iron. Bright, aromatic, and satiny on the palate, it offers up layers of dried leaves, mushroom, plum, red currant fruit and incredible length. With cigar box spice, it is medium-bodied, dry and relatively low in alcohol (13%).
91 points Stephen Tanzer/Vinous, 91 points Wine Advocate:
“Lively smoke- and spice-accented cherry and raspberry aromas are complemented by floral oils and pipe tobacco. Sweet and seamless on the palate, offering juicy red fruit flavors that deepen with air. Shows very good energy and appealing floral character on a long, penetrating finish that’s given shape by harmonious tannins. Drinking nicely now, this fruit-driven Rioja should provide plenty of pleasure over the coming decade.” (Vinous)
“This could well be the best Cubillo of recent times.” (Wine Advocate)
2013 Alto Moncayo Veraton Garnacha, Campo de Borja, ($26.99) NEW VINTAGE The grapes for this wine come from Campo de Borja, thought to be the birthplace of Garnacha. Veraton is made with grapes from ancient vines which are placed in open vat fermenters, then aged 17 months in 60% French, 40% American oak barrels. Bottled unfiltered.
“This is a blockbuster, 100% Old Vine Grenache cuvée, with a deep-purple color, great intensity, loads of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, with licorice, lavender and touch of graphite and earth. It is full-bodied and powerful.” 92 points Wine Advocate
SMOKED ROMESCO SAUCE
Romesco is a Catalan sauce of tomatoes, red ñora peppers, garlic, vinegar and hazelnuts or almonds with stale bread as a thickener. It is one of those sauces of infinite variation with every cook having different proportions and variations on the ingredients.
4-5 Smoked Ñora peppers, re-hydrated with boiling water
2 tablespoon Olive oil for frying
1 slice (½ cup) Stale Bread
1 clove Garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Coarse sea salt
¼ cup Marcona Almonds and/or hazelnuts and/or pine nuts. (In a pinch, walnuts can even be used.)
1 Fresh Tomato, peeled and seeded, or grated. (Or roasting the tomato first, which adds depth).
1 tablespoon Red Wine vinegar or sherry vinegar (optional)
4 tablespoon Reserved liquid from ñoras
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (if needed)
Cover ñoras with water and bring to a boil. Allow to steep for half an hour. Reserving the liquid, remove stems and seeds saving flesh and skin.
Fry nuts in olive oil until brown, remove with slotted spoon. Fry bread in olive oil adding more if needed.
Put garlic and salt in a mortar and blend together with a pestle or put them in food processor and give it a couple of bursts.
Add cooled nuts with bread and grind. Add ñora and blend in.
If using tomato, blend it in now.
Season with a splash of vinegar. If serving with vegetables, go a little heavier on the vinegar. If using with fish, use a lighter hand or omit. If too thick, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
As with all sauces, running this sauce through a food mill gives a smoother, more sophisticated product.
Serve with baked or grilled seafood. Delicious with halibut or prawns!