Category Archives: Tempranillo
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!
Not a fan of slogging through pounding rain to the grocery store? Or don’t have time? By keeping a few essential Spanish ingredients on hand, it’s easy to pull together a nutritious, tasty meal in a flash and save a run to the store.
Conservas are a must. In Spain, vegetables are picked at their peak of flavor, roasted or simmered and then packed in jars or cans. Equally delicious are a wide range of fish and shellfish, many packed in olive oil. The oil can and should be used in recipes.
Rice is a versatile staple to have in the pantry. Rice simmered with chorizo and jarred, roasted red peppers is delicious and quick to prepare. If there is chicken in the frig, make a fast and toothsome rice soup with Aneto chicken broth, Spanish garbanzo beans and a sprinkling of dried lime. Or, make a complete paella in 30 minutes with an Aneto Paella broth. Choose from Seafood, Squid Ink or Valencian Paella; comes in easy to store tetra paks with a one year shelf life.
In Spain, pasta called fideo is used to make a dish called fideau. Fideo, simmered with broth in a paella pan, can be prepared in minutes by adding jarred ingredients. For example, toss olive-oil packed Spanish tuna with strips of piquillo pepper, the oil from tuna, capers, water and pasta.
Or use Aneto Squid Ink Paella with fideo and revel in this different take on a traditional Spanish dish. If Mac n’ Cheese is a favorite, upscale it. Combine chicken stock with pasta and saffron; simmer until the pasta is done, then drain and stir in Manchego cheese to melt.
Gluten intolerant? A jar of lentils, cooked with spicy chorizo makes a hearty and simple meal. Canned mackerel or anchovies are fantastic tossed with lentils or white beans.
Got a freezer? Store packages of Bilbao Chorizo, Chistorra or Morcilla for the right moment. Scramble choistorra with eggs. Grill chorizo and serve with de la Estancia organic polenta from Argentina which cooks in 3 minutes. Just add grated Mahon cheese.
NEW! Hernán products from Mexico, made by artisan producers. Just arrived are Mole Poblano andMole Pipián sauces. Mole Poblano is a blend of chiles and spices, tempered by an infusion of nuts, chocolate and other ingredients. Typically served on chicken or pork. Mole Pipián contains roasted pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and peanuts with spicy chiles and epazote and is excellent on fish.
Hernán Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon is now available, in powder and squares.
Brush up on Spanish with Spanish Circle on Wednesday evenings. Held at the Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 4, Room 1. Jan 13-March 16 at 6 p.m. Free! For more information call 206.684.0849.
2013 Narupa Alala Albarino, Rias Baixas ($26.99) First vintage! Sustainably produced from a 30 year old, family-owned vineyard planted by the winemaker’s Grandfather. The grapes are pressed by foot and fermented with native yeast. Raised in stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation, it has extended aging of one year to develop complexity. Fresh aromatics with a hint of tropical fruit have notes of citrus and dust. Mineral-laden with great mouthfeel and a pleasurable weight, this is a terrific expression of Albariño. Limited availability – only 3 cases came to the state of Washinton, and we have 6 bottles.
2012 Carramimbre Roble, Ribera del Duero
SALE! Regular price $14.99, now $10.99
We rediscovered this tasty gem last weekend, accompanied by a tapas assortment. Versatile and nuanced, and it’s now 25% off! (6 cases available). 90% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged four months in oak. Offers up aromas of ripe blackberry, hints of earth and road tar, reminiscent of an old-school California Zinfandel. Very smooth and full-bodied, it displays lifted notes of white pepper, tobacco leaf and mushroom. Black fruit and mineral notes on the lengthy finish. Decant for 20 minutes to fully release aromas and depth of flavors.
2012 Lagar de Robla Premium, Castilla y Leon ($10.99) 100% Mencia, aged about 18 months in oak. Plush, with soft tannins and a hint of earth. Round and smooth, Lagar de Robla is mineral-laden, with well-integrated notes of oak. This is really good! “This firm red is reserved, but shows depth and integration, with mulled plum, licorice, mineral and smoke flavors that mingle over well-integrated tannins, giving way to the juicy finish.” 91 points Wine Spectator
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!