Category Archives: Travel
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!
When Penelope Casas passed away earlier this month it marked the end of an era. She and I were almost the same age and shared an enthusiasm for Spanish cooking, then almost unknown. Before The Spanish Table was even a year old, before we had any customers, Penelope published her fourth book, ¡Delicioso! and came to our store one evening for a signing. She was gracious, lovely and enthusiastic about our new business. For us it was an exciting night that recharged our entrepreneurial batteries. We miss her. ~ Steve Winston, Founder, The Spanish Table
Penelope’s first cookbook The Foods & Wines of Spain completely transformed the way we cook. Her recipes were authentic, coming from Spain’s local cooks and restaurants, revealing the secrets behind Spain’s dazzling cuisine. This book was also a great travel guide, as naturally Casas credited each restaurant for their recipes. We compiled a list of “Penelope” restaurants and always sought them out on our travels, often driving miles out of our way to eat at these establishments. ~ Sharon Baden
We have three books in stock by Penelope Casas:
The first, and one of the very best around, ever. Some would say it’s all you need.
Some of these recipes are not traditional paellas, but every dish I’ve tried has been fantastic! One of our absolute go-to’s.
The original 1985 version of this book was one of our first tapas cookbooks. Our tattered, stained and crumpled copy has delighted many part guests at our house. It’s the ultimate book for making small plates – many recipes only have a few ingredients.
Arroz negro al fuego
Inspired by a recipe in Penelope Casas’ paella cookbook, here is our take on her arroz negro. A superb and striking paella, black as midnight and infused with deep sea flavors, arroz negro gets its pitch black color and wonderful depth of flavor from squid ink. Spiked with red chili peppers and spicy pimentón, this version has a kick to it, lifting the marine flavors to new heights. The spectacle of a dish of black rice creeping with tentacles is exciting and mildly alarming, making it the perfect Halloween or Day of the Dead feast. Serve with aioli.
2 oz black cod or halibut
¼ to ½ lb cleaned squid, tubes and tentacles
2 large shrimp
olive oil, enough to coat pan
1 cup clam juice
5 threads saffron
¼ onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
¼ bell pepper, finely chopped
½ red chili pepper, finely chopped
½ small tomato
a splash of Madeira
½ cup Valencia or ⅓ cup Bomba rice
1 tsp spicy pimentón
1 x 4 gram packet squid ink
1 artichoke heart, quartered
1 piquillo pepper, sliced, to garnish
1 tsp chopped parsley, to garnish
a lemon wedge, to serve
Cut the black cod or halibut into bite sized chunks. Slice the squid tubes into ½ inch rings, leave tentacles whole. Sprinkle all the seafood with a little salt. Heat your paella pan over medium high and coat lightly with olive oil. Sauté the seafood for a minute or two until they release some juice. Dump contents of pan into a bowl and reserve.
Pour clam juice into a pot and bring to a quick boil. Lower heat to keep warm. In a skillet briefly toast the saffron until aromatic, a minute or two. Then crumble into clam juice. Keep warm and covered.
Place paella pan over medium-low heat and coat generously with olive oil. Add your sofrito (onions, garlic, bell peppers, and chili peppers) and sweat gently until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Grate in the tomato halves over the pan and discard skin; this is easy as it will naturally remain in your hand as you grate. Stir well and cook down the mixture until almost jammy, about 10 minutes.
Add a splash of Madeira and stir until evaporated. Add rice and stir well to coat. Add pimentón and stir. Add clam juice and squid ink; stir for a minute or two. Return seafood to pan along with artichoke hearts and distribute evenly. Cook paella for about 15 minutes , without stirring, and then test rice for doneness. Cook a few minutes more if necessary, erring on the side of underdone rice. Allow to rest for 10 minutes then serve or return the pan to the heat for five minutes or so to make the crust (socarrat) . Garnish with piquillo pepper strips and parsley; serve with lemon wedges and aioli. ~ Rachel Adams
Spanish Table Seattle Newsletter October 20, 2011
In May we took one of the best wine trips of our lives to northern Spain. We discovered a multitude
of innovative winemakers who are pushing the boundaries to produce phenomenal wines. Raul Peréz, pictured to the left, epitomizes this group of groundbreaking innovators. (He’s sharing barrel samples with us in the photo). Born into the family that owns Bodegas Castro Ventosa, the largest owner of Mencía plantings in Bierzo, he developed his ideals and passions at his family’s winery and by studying intently the world’s wines. As a winemaker, Raul’s mission is to capture all of the potential from each site, and he has an uncanny knack for knowing exactly what a vineyard needs and how to extract the greatest expression from its grapes. In addition to producing his own handcrafted, artisanal wines, he is full-time winemaker at Bodegas Tilenus in Bierzo. His unwillingness to accept anything less than zenith has made him the most sought-after winemaker and consultant in northern Spain.
Many other winemakers that we met on the trip are just as passionate, but lesser known. And unfortunately, many of these wines are produced in very limited quantities with only infintesimal quantities available to the U.S. market. We were able to place small orders at the wineries, and the newest lot arrived late last week. You’ll be unlikely to find these wines anywhere except at The Spanish Table, due to the limited availability. Give these special wines a try or lay some away as gifts for that special Spanish wine lover!
NV Matilde Totus Tuus Brut Cava ($16.99) This delicious cava has bright notes of apple and pear, brioche and finishes dry with hints of toast. The 17 months aging on the lees offer up a sparkler with intensity and depth. ” Matilde’s Non-Vintage Totus Tuus Cuvee Brut is a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 18% Xarel-lo, 18% Macabeo, 18% Parellada, and 6% Pinot Noir aged for 17 months on its lees. It reveals a beautiful frothy mousse, fragrant aromas from the Chardonnay, plenty of glycerin, and a Champagne-like personality at a fraction of the price. This lengthy effort is an outstanding value meant for drinking over the next 12-18 months.” 89 points Wine Advocate
2010 Carro, Yecla ($9.99) A blend of 50% Monastrell, 35% Syrah, Tempranillo and Syrah, aged in stainless steel, 2010 Carro is a seriously delicious wine. Suave, elegant, and full-bodied with a hint of blueberry, it has notes of dust and profound earthy flavors. Rich and muscular, it has a depth of flavor and complexity that most $9.99 wines can only dream about. Highly recommended!
2009 Pinyolet Selección, Montsant ($19.99)
2008 Bodegas Licinia Licinia, Vinos de Madrid ($55.00). Licinia is produced by three extraordinary visionaries whose mantra is “no compromises” and where the team’s attention to detail is paramount. Their only wine, Licinia, is an homage to the soil and soul of Madrid and the first release in 2006 was named the best red wine in Spain in a blind tasting by 50 top winemakers. Not a bad way to start! 2008 Licinia is a blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Tempranillo and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, all farmed biodynamically without certification. The varieties are fermented and oak aged separately for 12 months in 95% French oak, 5% American oak; the wines are not clarified or cold stabilized. The result of this exceptional care is a seamless red wine, layered, with juicy red fruit, spices and complexity, elegant, polished and intense. “Inky violet. Pungent, highly expressive bouquet of dark berries, licorice, Indian spices and strong violet. Juicy, mineral-laced blackberry and bitter cherry flavors stain the palate, picking up an exotic floral pastille quality with air. Impressively focused blend with strong mineral cut to the finish… very impressive.” 92 points Stephen Tanzer 1000 cases were produced – 150 cases were brought to the U.S. – we have 12 bottles available.
2009 Muti Albariño, Rias Baixas ($37.00) Raul Peréz makes a one-of-a-kind albariño called Sketch, which he ages in an underwater cellar below an aquaculture barge in an estuary of Rias Baixas. We motored out to the barge while on our trip and tasted it with plates of fresh mussels and oysters. I can only say that drinking Sketch was a an incredible experience and we hope to one day carry it at the store! In the meantime, we’ve obtained 4 bottles of Raul’s 2009 Muti Albariño which actually contains a half barrel of Sketch in the blend. It is 50% oak aged in large barrels for 12 months with grapes from three vineyards, one of which has 100 year old vines. It is expressive, with high toned fruit, lean and rich simultaneously. Only 133 cases were made. ” Deeply pitched aromas of smoky lees, bergamot, apricot pit and salty minerals. Viscous, palate-coating orchard and pit fruit flavors are enlivened by juicy acidity and complemented by honeysuckle and a hint of spun sugar. Wild, complex and singular wine with strong finishing cut and sappy persistence. This is far removed from your classic albarino.” 91 points Stephen Tanzer
2009 Ultreia Saint Jacques Mencia, Bierzo ($26.99) Raul Peréz produces 100 cases of this wine, and less than half is available to the U.S. market – we have 12 bottles. Made of 100% Mencia, it is fermented in egg shape Austrian barrels made of French oak. Intensely aromatic, it displays the beautifully ripened red fruit of the stellar 2009 vintage. Loaded with minerals, it is succulent, brooding and concentrated. Herbal and earthy notes offer layers of complexity with silky tannins. It’s a great introduction to his style of wine making at an affordable price!
2008 Tampesta Imelda Prieto Picudo, Tierra de Leon ($36.00) The Prieto Picudo grape is only grown in a small area of Leon, near Valdevimbre. Raul Peréz makes 50 cases of this wine with Noelia de Paz; we have 12 bottles available. It displays bright and juicy red fruits, rich and balanced, backed with spice notes and an elegant finish. “The 2008 Tampesta Imelda is 100% Prieto Picudo from 70-year-old vines that was naturally fermented and aged for 12 months in seasoned French oak. Purple in color with an inviting perfume of Asian spices, incense, lavender, leather, and cigar box, on the palate it displays enough structure to evolve for 2-3 years. This nicely proportioned, suave offering will have a drinking window extending from 2013 to 2023.” 90 points Wine Advocate, 90 points Stephen Tanzer
Photos by Friederike Paetzold
This excellent red made from old-vine Garnacha and Cariñena displays black fruit aromas with notes of crushed rock. Laced with minerals, it shows bright fruit and dark velvety elements, layered with notes of chocolate and road dust. Full-bodied and expressive, this has the stuffing to age for 3 to 5 years. “The 2009 Pinyolet Seleccion is made up of 80% Garnacha planted in 1945 and 20% Carinena planted in 1928 aged for 8 months in two-year-old French oak. Asian spices, incense, mineral, and a confiture of black fruits inform the nose of this juicy, incipiently complex red. Plush, friendly, and nicely proportioned, it can be enjoyed over the next 6 years, It is an outstanding value in pleasure-bent Montsant.” 91 points Wine Advocate 2000 cases made; we have 12 bottles available.
|Governor Chris Gregoire proclaims the week of October 30 – November 5 as Flamenco Awareness Week! Seriously, flamenco in Washington is hitting the mainstream. The Spanish Table will be playing exclusively flamenco music in the store that week, and the top-shelf flamenco group from Madrid, Casa Patas will be performing and teaching in the following greater Puget Sound locations. Don’t miss this group if you are a flamenco aficionado.
November 2 Evergreen State College Olympia 1:30p.m.
Master Class Open to the Public
November 2 Washington Center for the Performing Arts Olympia 8:00p.m.
Flamenco Show http://www.washingtoncenter.org/
November 4 Benaroya Hall Seattle 8:00p.m. Flamenco Show
November 5 Benaroya Hall Seattle 6:00p.m. Flamenco Show
November 6 Community Gym Makah Indian Reservation Neah Bay 2:00p.m. Flamenco Show
November 7 University of Washington Seattle Brechmin Auditorium – School of Music 1:30p.m.
Master Class Open to the Public
Spanish Table Seattle Newsletter September 26, 2011
|George, cheesemonger here at Spanish Table and Paris grocery, located some spectacular quesos at the summer Fancy Food Show. We had a special order of lucious cheeses flown in, and just have a few wheels of each, so come in now for the broadest selection!
Tou del Til.lers: A raw cows milk from Lleida in Catalonia with a bloomy rind and soft paste. Spreadable, nutty, and mushroomy. Melts well and is ideal for recipes that include melted or grilled cheese. This cut-to-order cheese can be found at our Paris Grocery store.
Viejo Maestro: from Extremadura, produced by the family who pioneered Torta del Casar. Viejo Maestro is just like Torta del Casar except made with goats’ milk cheese. With a creamy and intensely goaty flavor, it is phenomenal! This cheese is cut-to-order at our Paris Grocery store.
Petit Odre: A cousin to Catalan goat cheese Nevat, it is produced by same cheesemaker but with sheeps’ milk cheese. Odre has a full rich buttery flavor with herbal overtones and a sweet finish. Think slightly chalky sheep camenbert. Small wheels, approximately half pound, in the grab-n-go case at Spanish Table.
Quinta da Rigueira: Portuguese cured sheeps milk cheese in half pound wheels. A less expensive version of the intensely flavored Azeitao, look for this in the Spanish Table grab-n-go case.
Casa Lusa Amonteigado: Soft and delicious Portuguese cured sheeps milk cheese in half pound wheels, wrapped in fabric. In The Spanish Table grab-n-go case.
Torta de Barros: Produced in Extremadura from raw sheeps’ milk cheese, it is made with a vegetable rennet. Soft, with a piquant touch, it has intense flavors and herbal notes. Winner of a gold medal at the 2009 World Cheese Awards. This cut-to-order cheese can be found at our Paris Grocery store.
Our cut-to-order cheeses are now stocked at Paris Grocery, our French store two doors south of Spanish Table on Western Avenue. At Spanish Table, we stock fresh, in-house cut and wrapped cheeses such as Manchego & Argentinian Reggianito, as well as the above selection of small whole wheels.
1994 Graham’s vintage port ($94.00) A small amount of this stunning 1994 port has just been released; last week we were supremely fortunate to taste it. Superbly balanced with an intriguing and subtle note of herbs to offset the sweetness, it can absolutely be enjoyed now but also has the stuffing to age for another 10 to 15 years. An excellent gift for port afficiandos!. “In a  port tasting, Graham’s is almost like tasting a big, rich, succulent Merlot after a group of blockbuster, tannic Cabernets. Sweeter and more obvious than many ports, the opaque purple-colored 1994 is fruity, powerful, and rich, with an addictive hedonistic quality. It will be ready to drink in 8-10 years and keep for up to 30. As always, this is a showy, flamboyant port that has the advantage of being slightly sweeter than other 1994s. A great Grahams.” 96 points Wine Advocate
2008 Mas Doix Salanques Priorat ($29.99) I’ve been hounding our distributor for the new vintage of Salanques ever since the exceptional 2007 vintage sold out. The 2008 vintage is fabulous, indeed just as delicious as the 2007. “the [winery] owners consider 2008 to be one of the top 3 vintages of the decade, a great vintage with low yields and vibrant acidity. A blend of 65% Garnacha, 20% Carinena, and the balance Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, it has been aged in second year barrels. Medium purple in color with a fragrant nose of cedar, mineral, spice box, lavender, black cherry, and blueberry, on the palate it is smooth-textured, intense, and concentrated with 2-3 years of aging potential. It will perform optimally from 2014 to 2023.” 91 points Wine Advocate
We’ve got Czech pilsner! There are only seven independent breweries left in Prague. When we discovered that a pilsner from one of the independents is available here, we had to have it. Zatec Lager is deep gold, with complex malt, bright hop aroma and finish.
Spanish Table Seattle Newsletter September 16, 2011
We just returned from two amazing weeks in Eastern Europe. The weather was scorching which made the cold pilsners taste crazy-good in Prague! In Dubrovnik, Croatia our daily platters of grilled seafood fresh from the Adriatic were perfection. The heat, the beaches and the plates ofpescaito frito (small fried fish) made it feel almost like Spain. Now if they could just figure out rosé wines…
One thing they do really well in Eastern Europe is judiciously use great condiments. A variety of mustards on grilled sausages really takes this simple dish to the next level. We’ve got over 20 mustards at our Paris Grocery store – grab a selection for the next tail gate party! Ajvar, the eggplant and pepper sauce was served everywhere with grilled vegetables and also made a great dipping sauce for French Fries. The Spanish Table has three brands of Ajvar, and it’s finally the season to grill eggplant and zucchini. We’ve also got a large selection of tapenades made from asparagus, artichokes and of course black or green olives. Wild mushroom mousse is fantastic on crostini, and we stock Baba Ganoush, the traditional eggplant and tahini spread that is traditionally served with warm pita bread.
|NEW PRODUCTS AND OLD FAVORITES BACK IN STOCK
Calasparra rice is back in stock! ($8.99/kg.) Named after the province where it is grown in Murcia, southeastern Spain, this special strain of rice has its own Denominación de Origen. Calasparra is grown in mountain valleys, unlike Valencian rice which is grown in coastal areas. These conditions produce a hard grain rice which takes a few minutes longer to cook and requires more liquid. Its nutty taste and firm texture offer up a subtle difference in rice dishes. It’s especially delicious in mushroom rice dishes. Lomita is a smaller and more affordable version of the pure acorn fed, 100% iberico, cured pork loin. We think it’s better than Jamon Iberico! The Iberican pigs roam free on 400,000 hectares of Dehesa (acorn tree forest) in the province of Cordoba, Spain. The acorn trees that grow here are the Encina (Holm Oak), considered to have the sweetest acorns in Spain.
Larsa San Simon – We’re excited to introduce a new brand of this traditional smoked cow’s milk cheese from Galicia. Larsa San Simon does not come in cryovac which allows it to develop naturally. The cheese has a drier paste and wonderful woody, smoky note reminiscent of an artisanal Idiazabal.
2012 Spanish and Portuguese calendars are here ($14.99). With seasonal photos from all over each country, it’s the next best thing to being there.
Juego de Loteria games are back in stock! Learn Spanish words and numbers while you play this Mexican bingo game.
2003 Marti Fabra Selecció Vinyes Velles ($9.99) SALE! Regularly $19.99. “Aged 10 months in French oak, the unfined/unfiltered 2003 Marti Fabra Seleccio Vinyes Velles (70% Grenache, 10% Carignan, 10% Tempranillo, and equal parts Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon) exhibits a rich, sweet perfume of black cherries and earth, an elegant attack, medium to full body, good depth as well as ripeness, and a long finish.” 90 points Wine Advocate
2009 Dacu Tempranillo, Ribera del Guadiana ($9.99) Produced in Extremadura from the second largest D.O. in Spain, it is also one of the least known wine regions. The cool nights in this 1837 foot-high vineyard enhance the bright fruit flavors, and the 2009 vintage is marked by concentrated black fruits and licorice notes. Balanced and dry, it finishes with notes of tobacco and earth. This is all-around delicious!
2006 Celler Ripoll Sans Closa Ballett, Priorat special price $29.99 (regular price $45.00!) Mark Ripoll Sans of Celler Ripoll Sans gave us a Jeep tour of his Gratallops family vineyard in May and ushered us into his infinitesimal winery. He produces less than 20,000 bottles per year and makes three wines: Black Slate Gratallops, Closa Batllet and a white wine made of escanyevcuran, a native grape that is practically extinct. 2006 Closa Batllet is a serious red wine with sweetly ripened fruit, characteristic of the warmer weather in 2006. Made of 65% Carineña, 20% Garnacha, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot and Syrah, it is explosive, full-bodied, structured and balanced. Notes of black cap berries, tar and dust lead into a lingering finish which is dry and mineral-driven. This is an amazing price for a profound wine! Only 4000 bottles made.
The Wine Spectator featured the wines of one our favorite Rioja producers, Cune Imperial in the October 15, 2011 issue. We’ve got the 1996 Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja in stock ($72.00) which is “Dark red. Bright, spicy cherry and redcurrant on the nose, with sexy oak spice, leather, anise and coffee accents. Silky, broad and sweet, with the vibrant red fruit flavors building with air. The supple tannins blend nicely into the wine’s rich cherry and currant flavors while conferring structure and focus. There’s a load of flavor here but the palate impression is elegant and graceful. Concentrated, suave and long, a late note of cigar box providing even more interest. Absolutely lovely right now, this should hold for some time to come.” 93 points Stephen Tanzer
1998 Cune Imperial Reserva Rioja ($51.00) is “Highly nuanced, quintessential Rioja aromas of plum, strawberry, cherry, mocha, minerals and tobacco. Firm and quite dry, with sinewy flavors of plum, minerals and tobacco leaf. Solidly structured Rioja, finishing with dusty tannins and a minty note. With time in the recorked bottle, this put on weight and sweetness, showing a very pure strawberry flavor and considerable elegance.” 90 points Stephen Tanzer