Let’s face it, each and every Summer we all feebly attempt to beat the humidity. The Warmth. The Sun. Those things are all good and fine. But when the air begins to resemble tomato bisque, that’s when you have to get strategic. We have a solution and it comes from the Basque Region.
Txakolina, or Txakoli (chock-o-lee), is from a special area in the north of Spain, nestled between Bilbao and San Sebastián. It is arguably the culinary epicenter of the world as it twinkles with Michelin stars and incredible restaurants (looking at you Mugaritz, Etxebarri, Elkano & Arzak). It’s also a region that happens to make some of the most refreshing wines imaginable out of two very hard to pronounce grapes: Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza.
These wines are a little lower in alcohol, light & bright, with lemony notes, and have a classic little bit of *spritz* that cools you off faster than a misting fan. No longer just a local wine to drink on your vacation, we currently have 8 different Txakolina(s) in our shop between $16.99-$24.99/bottle. Great on the beach. Perfect for a park picnic. Just the right perky pick-me-up after a long, hot day. The ultimate humidity fixer.
Spain just got a whole lot closer in one sip.
A spotlight on two incredible bottles that should be on your dinner table.
Xosé Lois Sebio is making impossible to miss wines in the oldest wine-region in Galicia, DO Ribeiro. Away from fashions and conventions; his sole intention is to respect and express the terroir. He discovers vineyards that are difficult to farm producing wines with soul and personality.
Super Héroe 2015 is a Galician field-blend of 20% Ferrol, 20% Sousón, 15% Caiño Longo, 10% Bastardo & 35% of other local varieties. A feast for the senses, it is delightfully aromatic with notes of violet, black fruits, figs and plums, combined with subtle hints of black pepper and mineral tones. Elegant and expressive. Rich yet vibrant on the finish.
Sip on this with a traditional paella, Chuletón de Ternera, or with oven-made pulled-pork sliders on a brioche bun with crunchy pickled red onions and slaw. $48.99/bottle.
From the first moment we tasted Bodegas Fulcro “Finca A Pedreira” Albariño we knew there was something magical about the producer. The wine has a salinity and minerality unlike other Albariños out there, a sense of razor-sharp precision.
In April and we were lucky enough to spend a whirlwind afternoon with winemakerManuel Moldes (aka Chicho) in his vineyards – more like small parcels – dotted throughout the hills in the subregion of Salnés, in Rías Baixas.
You could think of Chicho akin to Bill Nye Science Guy – with unending energy and curiosity about the world and the vines around him. His approach to viticulture is environmentally friendly. He farms with the health of the plant in mind and uses very minimal intervention. His winery is a small garage off the side of his house. There he uses mostly steel tanks and favors the freshness of wines that do not undergo malolactic fermentation.
While he makes a few small cuvées, we find that his 2017 Albariño is a wine that we have on repeat not only in the Summer months but all year round. It’s the type of “house wine” you’ll always want to have in your fridge. If you happened to make a grilled shrimp salad with fresh corn, avocado, and red peppers, or rosemary-lemon roasted chicken this would wash it all down nicely too. $21.99/bottle
We are constantly on the hunt for special and rare bottles with some age. After all, that is one of the many things that makes Spain so unique in the wine world. Historically speaking, Bodegas would cellar their wines until they were ready to drink; never releasing wine too young.
Recently we found the holy grail straight from a private cellar, virtually untouched, outside of Madrid. There was a gentleman who owned a restaurant and was a bit of a bon vivant/gourmand. He excessively collected cases of Rioja upon release and slipped them quietly into his underground cellar for decades. Most people had no idea he was even amassing such a collection!
He passed away a year or so ago, leaving his goldmine in the hands of his sons. There is more wine than time to drink it, so they have been selling off small quantities of their father’s stock. Moved only once from the bodega to the cellar and then a second time to NYC, these bottles are in impeccable condition. If you’re a fan of aged wine – the great old Barolos, Burgundies, and Bordeaux then this is a virtual candy shop of treasures. The prices are also fantastic, for the amount of age and condition the bottles are in.
The wines we purchased are from the late 50s – 80s, a time when labeling and rules were a little different, especially in Rioja. You will not find the same designations as in modern times. Although bottles were commonly aged in barrel beyond the level of a Gran Reserva in the past, by labeling it a ‘Crianza’ meant you paid less in taxes to the government. Clever vignerons! This is the first email in a series that we will send, giving you first access to these rare bottles before we list them online.
Quantities are incredibly limited on these wines so let us know if you’re interested.
Berberana Carta de Oro 1966
Researching blends is difficult for wines of this era, though it appears likely that this Crianza has some Garnacha and Mazuelo in addition to being predominantly Tempranillo. As with aged wine, this is crimson-garnet with clarity at the rim. The nose is that perfect combination of sweet mature fruit, dried flowers (petals) and cigar box. Much like us as we age into maturity, we begin flesh out and become lean. The body on this bottle is a gentle medium. With a gorgeous nose like old Burgundy, this aged Rioja is rare treasure from the cellar.
This wine is very much alive, with lively acidity and delicate, silky red fruit. The tannins have softly matured. A sheer pleasure for those who enjoy older wines. We recommend using a Durand key to open this with care, as corks are delicate at this point in its life. We’ve tasted through several bottles of the gem and are very happy with the harmony showing here.
A special dinner of Filet Mignon in delicate béarnaise sauce sounds like something we’d like to be eating with this wine. But it would also be lovely to drink a bottle with a close friend and think about food later.
CVNE Cune Monopole, Rioja Blanco, 1981 (375ml)
This is a crazy bottle of Rioja Blanco, made of mostly Viura with a fantastic addition of Manzanilla from Jerez. Yes, you read that right. CVNE is one of the top Bodegas in Rioja Alta, and this style of wine, as classic as it was, is almost unheard of nowadays. Color is light pale golden with aromas of apple, pear, and ground almonds. Remarkably it has a serious amount of acidity, and drinks rather youthful and vibrant.
A true treat from the past – history in a small bottle – that would be great with seared scallops or omakase sushi because of the complexity and length on the finish. Serve chilled, but not too cold, to capture the nuances here in this special wine.
An easy way to distinguish between the two is the fruit on top.
Sangria is wine (red, white or rose) mixed with Brandy, Triple Sec (sometimes), soda of some sort or Cava, and fresh fruit as garnish (apples, oranges, grapes, berries, peaches, etc) all over ice. Usually this is made overnight or earlier in the day to allow the flavors to combine nicely before serving. Everyone has a different way to make it. And everyone is convinced theirs is the best. In our Tapas Café we are incredibly proud of our Sangria. Our Cafe Manager, Victoria, makes small batches with her special secret recipe and we’re convinced it is the best we’ve ever tried! (see what I mean). For the rest of us at home, we’ll include some easy recipes to try out below.
Tinto de Verano (quite literally ‘red wine of summer’) is a much simpler combination of red wine and fizzy/soda-type drink over ice. In Spain this is usually Casera, but you can substitute it state-side with Kas Limon soda from Despaña. We’d suggest using an inexpensive bottle of fruity red wine with low to no oak influence. Bodegas Sommos “Xiloca” is a perfect juicy Garnacha from Calatayud that tastes great on its own, but could be combined into a spritz with ease.
Here are a few creative recipes to test out this summer. Invite a few friends over and give one of these sunny “cocktails” a try!
Mango-Peach Sangria with Costers del Sio “Petit Sios Blanco” a lovely blend of Viognier from Cataluñya.
Strawberry & Lemoncello Rosé Sangria with Enanzo Rosado from Navarra.
This unpredictable May weather has us searching across the spectrum for all sorts of flavors. Here are a few highlights of what’s new on our shelves (and hearts) from Left to Right:
Viñaspral “Honoratus Aurum” Blanco 2008 & “Maisulan” Rioja Tinto 2015
From a small 16-ha dry-farmed, biodynamic estate in the Basque portion of Rioja Alavesa tended by husband-and-wife team Eva & Luis Ruiz.
The white is 100% Viura, fermented in concrete/oak and aged in barrel for 8 months longer. Only 300 cases were made of this wine and we find the flavor of age to be elegantly integrated making it a wine with citrus, subtle minerality, and a “sur-lie” like floral finish. Try it with seafood paella, creamy lemon-basil chicken pasta, or a risotto with chanterelles.
The Maisulan Tinto (which translates to “good hard work” in Basque) is Tempranillo that is electric ruby-colored in the glass, with an aroma of smoky, earthen-berries, floral notes, and plenty of juicy black-cherry flavors that wash over your taste buds. This wine is supple on the tannins, making it pretty much perfect with a slight chill, a plate full of medium-rare cheeseburgers, or grilled tandoori chicken kababs.
Succes Vinicola “Patxanga Rosado” 2016
Really….just look at that label! A watermelon and a beach umbrella. We could just leave the description there, but all jokes aside, this may turn into the “wine of the summer” before we realize it. It is another darling husband-and-wife duo up in the Catalonian DO of Conca de Barberá. “Patxanga” means “party!” according to our Catalan amigos, and boy is this wine ready to rock. 100% Trepat, organic, with vibrant acidity and clean on the finish. Not a sweet rose– this is built for the 90-degree stoop-drinking in NYC with a Picante bocadillo from our cafe next door.
Jordi Miró “Ennak+” 2014
We could be very technical here-35% Syrah, 33% Garnacha, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Tempranillo. Partial cold soaked, partial whole-cluster, partially early harvested, partially larger 300L barrels, and partial in older French oak, and all dry-farmed organically with a mere 3lbs of grapes a vine! Is your head spinning yet? Only 250 cases produced, but most importantly the wine is in harmonious balance with sour cherry, good acidity, and some grippy tannins. Beautifully rustic ruby in the glass and smells like a clean black forest. If you’re into smoked brisket, white beans with rosemary and sausage, or slowly oven-roasted pork loin over garlic and rosemary balsamic-glazed potatoes and call it a night with a bottle of this. There is also an adorable cat on the label, and believe us, that helps too.
Purulio Blanco 2015
An incredibly unusual field-blend of 8+ grapes from Andalucia and ever so slightly a natural orange wine. Made by Torcuato Huertas under the guidance of his Uncle and natural wine whisperer, Manuel Valenzuela of Barranco Oscuro made with…ready for it…Sauvignon Blanc, Macabeo, Palomino Fino, Chardonnay, Viognier, Albariño, Torrontès, Moscatel de Alejandría & Jerezana. What does this taste like? Tastes like you should chill a bottle and bring it to a BYOB Peking Duck spot and be super happy with your friends. It’s aromatic and clean, but a little tannic and just lovely.
Suertes del Marques “7 Fuentes” 2014
So, for many of you, the wines of the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa are already near and dear to the heart. The volcanic ash soils mixed with the Jurassic Park themed landscapes make for some pretty interesting wines. The 7 Fuentes is no exception, chock full of subtle red fruit, saline mineral notes, and dusty earthy tannin that seems to come from wines grown in dried lava. Vines are up to 180 years old of Listan Negro and Tintilla and this is aged in concrete and used French oak. Making rabbit stew with tomatoes or a huge plate of empanadas Gallegas and this wine (with a slight chill) would be marvelous.
Get ’em while you can! Call us (212) 219-1550 if you need more info.
Skip the dirty dishes and packed restaurants.
We have a romantic idea for your Valentine’s date night! Since the holiday falls on a Tuesday this year, we created an easier way to impress your Valentine.
Tapas for 2. Pick-up your platters in our SoHo store on the 14th, and enjoy a evening Spanish-style in the comfort of your own home. Spend more time with your Valentine and less time coordinating!
It’s that time of year…the nights are chilly and long. We crave the cozy comfort of warm beverages in front of the fire (or wrapped up in blankets on the couch). This is a simple, but heart-warming way, to beat the post-holiday slump and make January a little more festive.
Mulled Wine Recipe (serves 4-5)
- 1 bottle (750ml) fruity red wine (like young Rioja or Tempranillo)
- 1 orange, sliced into rounds
- 1/4 cup Brandy (optional, but much like in Sangria, this adds a little structure)
- 1/4 cup sugar or honey
- 8 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- Feeling fancy? Optional garnish: slices of citrus, orange peel, float a star anise or cinnamon stick in the glass or add cranberries!
Combine all your ingredients in a stainless-steel pot and gently warm (not BOIL or you burn out all the alcohol) on medium heat to simmer out all the delicious flavors for 20 minutes (up to 3 hours).
Strain, and serve warm to your guests. Garnish as you like. Incredibly easy, and so soul-warming. Salud!
(photo credit: Rioja Wine )
We seriously love the Thanksgiving holiday–the food, friends, football and especially, the wines. Since the menu tends to be a standard mix of turkey/stuffing/mashed potatoes/candied yams/pumpkin pie we’ve selected a group of wines that are anything but the usual suspects. Also, they are insanely food (and people) friendly.
The breakdown: 1 bubbly Cava, 1 mineral-driven crisp aperitif white, a light bright red, a red with a bit more body and spicy oak, and 1 lovely naturally sweet half dessert half bottle for pumpkin pie.
Every vintage we purchase tiny amounts of wines from Envínate, a little winery grown from micro parcels in volcanic soils of the Canary Islands (and also some steep slopes of Ribeira Sacra in Galicia).
Envínate (translated into “Wine Yourself”) is the brainchild of 4 friends, winemakers Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez. This gang of 4 formed back in 2005 while studying enology at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante. Upon graduation, they formed a winemaking consultancy, which evolved into Envínate, a project that focuses on exploring distinctive parcels mainly in the Atlantic-inflected regions of Ribeira Sacra and the Canary Islands. Their collective aim is to make profoundly pure and authentic wines that express the terruño of each parcel in a clear and concise manner.
You’ve been waiting a whole year for the holiday season to arrive and suddenly you are out of ideas of what to get your loved ones. So now what? Fortunately we have a plan!
We love sharing food all year long, but we especially love it during the holiday season. It’s the perfect time to spread cheer with delicious food and wine at the heart of any celebration. And what better to give than something you can savor and share?
Christmas is just around the corner and has arrived at our home with all of the desired sweets and delicacies in varied options for Turron! In Spain this is a special time and everyone is looking forward to it. Supermarkets, gourmet stores and bakeries display a huge variety of turrones and other holiday specialties.There is no holiday without turron at the table and everyone buys a bit of this and that to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones.