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
What do you do when great wineries visit from Spain…
Welcome them with open arms into our home!
Join us in showing them a warm ‘bienvenida’ with OUR own Grand Tasting in SoHo as we sample some incredibly delicious wines.
Monday, April 23rd from 5:30-7:30pm
REPRESENTATIVES IN ATTENDANCE
JAMES TURNEY w/ BODEGAS GODELIA MENCIA ROSADO 2016
PABLO ALVAREZ w/ ABADIA RETUERTA SELECCION ESPECIAL 2014
GLORIA ZAPATERO w/ CVNE RIOJA GRAN RESERVA 2010
DIANA KELLEY w/ VEGA SICILIA ALION 2013
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.
There is something so thirst quenching about gulping down glasses of cool red wine in the sultry days of summer. And while every red wine should be served “cellar temp” (easily mastered with about 10 minutes in a refrigerator) there are some wines that beg to be chilled a little further and enjoyed frivolously. There is a term “Glou-Glou” that gets thrown around often which means essentially the same thing.
Here are a few options that we’re loving right now:
Celler del Roure “Vermell” 2012
With the temps rising we look to other sultry places for inspiration. Travelling from Valencia, this blend of Monastrell, Garnacha Tintorera & Mando (!!!) that is a brilliant purple/ruby color in the glass. Purely expressive of red berries, licorice, and aromatic herbs. Dry, with a medium-body. Light, candied red cherry skin notes. Tasty & easy to chill and drink with clam pizza!
Finca Parera “Fins Als Kullons” 2016
Brilliant ruby colored in the glass. This is a red & white co-ferment (Sumoll, Garnacha Blanca & Xarello) made in a quaffable, non-interventionist style from biodynamically farmed, estate owned fruit & no additions of sulfur. Dry, light bodied with savory black cherry & cherry pit notes, and a bright, tart finish. 1 Liter size makes it even more BBQ friendly!
Suertes del Marques “7 Fuentes” 2014
2014 was an easy, healthy harvest without rains or excessive mist (panza de burro). This is mostly Listán Negro with some 10% Tintilla, sustainably farmed with some vines up to 180-years-old. Fermented in cement or small 700-liter open vats, some destemmed, some with full clusters, but always with the indigenous yeasts. Forty percent of the volume matured in well-seasoned, 500-liter French oak barrels and the rest was kept in concrete, and blended before bottling. Ruby with brilliant reflections in the glass. Pronounced fresh red berries, floral notes & incense on the nose. Medium bodied with subtle red fruit, cassis, white pepper and angular mineral notes.
Bodegas Fulcro “Pescuda” 2015
From Valtuille de Abajo in Bierzo by Bodegas Fulcro from native varieties (60% Alicante Bouschet & 40% Mencía) with minimal additions of sulfur. Fermented with stems and aged partially in used oak & partially in stainless steel. Deep ruby in color. Subtle red fruit, bramble & mineral notes with lively acidity and a sharp, precise finish with fine tannins.
Partida Creus “VN Tinto” 2016
A wine that we can’t even keep in stock (but with good reason)! It seems like half of Manhattan has already caught onto the Partida Creus bug, and honestly, we can’t blame them.
From a younger vineyard planted in calcareous clay, farmed biodynamically. Fermented using indigenous yeasts. Grapes here are a virtual laundry list of: Trepat, Sumoll, Garrut, Queixal de Loop, Ull de Perdiu, Garnacha & Samsó. The varietals undergo whole cluster fermentation separately, in stainless steel where it’s aged 7 months on its lees. Bottled unfined, unfiltered & without any added sulfur. Pale ruby colored. Light-bodied & refreshing with bright acidity & minerality.
As mercury rises you’ll reach for all the Whites and Rosés that are humanly possible. Keeping cool with endless rooftop parties is one of the great parts of Summer in NYC. When you’re ready to explore the realm of flavor, stop by our shop for a bottle of something Tinto to chill with.
There is a lot of confusion around what type of glass is appropriate for drinking sparkling wine.
Traditionally (and widely accepted) as the correct glass is the champagne flute. Noted for a long stem; slim, tapered, & elongated bowl. Technically speaking, it reduces surface area (retaining the bubbles and creating a beautiful presentation) while also concentrating the aromas minimizing the oxygen-to-wine ratio. The glass was developed in the early 1700s and still is used for most New Years and wedding celebrations. We can all agree seeing this glass means “party!” more than anything else.
A more current idea is to use a wine glass. Specifically a white wine or “AP” (all purpose) wine glass. Benefits here are for those very interested in *what* they are drinking. The aromas are more prevalent, the color is easier to see, you taste the wine better (and possibly appreciate it more one might say). While the bubbles may gradually diminish visually, you can still experience the sensation of the secondary fermentation (or carbonation) on the palate. Still just as celebratory! A bonus is also that you may get a large pour of bubbly than in the traditional 4oz pour in a flute.
The coupe is another glass that is commonly used in bars for cocktails at the moment, but also a nod to the speakeasy times of yesteryear. Everyone knows the alleged origins of this glass–modeled after the fashionable French Queen Marie Antoinette’s chest size, however, England is technically responsible for this glass about 100 years earlier in 1663. If you’re throwing a Great Gatsby themed party this would be a great choice for stemware. You’ll just have to keep refilling it, as the vintage glasses only hold about 120-220ml of bubbly.
Ever see the tulip glass? It is a semi-hybrid stemmed glass that couples the elegance of the traditional flute with a bit more of a wide bowl and then tapers to a smaller opening at the top. This both provides the wine to “breathe,” thus the taster to gains better aromatics, while at the same time preserving the gorgeous little bubbles. Perhaps the best of both worlds, if you can find it.
No matter what, you should enjoy whatever glass you like to use, with whatever wine you like to drink! Sparkling wine should not be so complicated or off-putting that you don’t drink it on the regular. Remember sparkling wine and buttered popcorn is one of the best pairings of all time. Not only for weddings, graduations, and New Years, this is a beverage that is innately elevating and uplifting in all ways. It virtually makes a good time. And as Lily Bollinger said, “I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.”
A few options from our bubbly Cava selections…
For the celebratory: Gramona Celler Battle 2004
You want to taste this wine, trust us. We at Despaña have drank it on so many occasions over the years–fond farewells of staff members in the shop, at BYOB Thai restaurants downtown, in-store tastings at our shop out of plastic cups (thanks Bill, our Verity rep!), as well as tasting it blind next to the great Champagnes like Salon, Dom Perignon, Vouette et Sorbee, & Krug at Corkbuzz. This wine is powerful, hauntingly beautiful, and incredibly complex. The price is a humble $104.99 for 120 months of aging and is worth EVERY penny. Maybe serve this one in your white wine glass…..
A walk on the wild side….with Alba Viticultores Brut Nature Rosado 2013
This is packaged under a crown-cap (aka beer, pop-cap) but made in method champenoise in (of all places) Andalucía, and gaining so much attention from French Champagne grower-producers (like Jacques Selosee) this is an incredible wine to share. We have a meager few bottles to offer in the shop. We tasted through the 2013 (dark glass bottle) and the 2014 (clear, frosted and trendy bottle) and selected the older vintage in fact! It has the most remarkable depth of flavor-aged with a combination of stainless steel fermentation, biological aging in demijohn, and a year later being disgorged without filtration or dosage. If this doesn’t make sense, that is okay, for the few it will and the rewards are plentiful. This wine is very noteworthy, unique, incredibly singular & important. $54.99.
For the traditionalist at heart, wanting dry crisp zero-dosage with a touch of bottle age to add some dimension and intrigue, we have the legendary Recaredo estate making their “Terrers Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2010.” With is a textbook of depth and complexity. A pure example of Xarello, Macabeo, & Parellada in harmony from biodynamic farming and long aging. This wine is bone-dry, with a fine mousse, lemon, and an herbal mineral complexity. At $33.99 this is a steal and over-delivers most dry French Champagnes (and without all the added toxins).
And further more…..
Sure you can saber it, shake it up & spray it, or consume a lot of juice in it. To each their own. But appreciating this miracle and incredible amount of work that goes into each bottle is outstanding.
A few pro-tips for ease in the wild world of consuming sparkling wine:
1 bottle will give you about 4-5 glasses of wine, depending on the glassware used. If you are at a restaurant and are a party of 4 (and would like it to be simply a *toast* for celebration and quickly move on to another beverage) than 1 bottle is enough.
If you are 5-10 people, you will need 2-3 bottles of sparkling. Technically speaking, you can make 1 bottle of sparkling wine stretch to 11 glasses, but that gives each person about an inch of wine in a very empty champagne flute.
Once you pour your first initial pour of the sparkling wine, on the next pour it won’t bubble up (or over!) as much as before.
We are thrilled to announce our next special, after-hours wine tasting on April 27th from 7:30pm-9:30pm.
Joining us is Emilio Rodriguez, winemaker for Terras Gauda (in Rías Baixas) and Bodegas Pittacum (in Bierzo).
Enjoy a flight of 6 wines expertly paired with Galician Conservas (those little seafood jewels that Spain is known so well for)
as well as our very own Chef Jaume’s Arroz Negro.
We have very limited space available and tickets must be purchased in advance.
To reserve your spot please call us or send us an email.
Thursday, April 27th (7:30-9:30pm)
We think the best way to learn about wine is to imbibe as much as possible! That’s why we host weekly tastings in our SoHo wine shop on Wednesday & Thursdays, with some snacks from our next-door café as well.
Now that we’re in the holiday spirit, for the next week (Monday, December 19 – Friday, December 23rd) we will pour a few special bottles every night of the week, starting at 5pm-7:30pm. For further details give us a call, or better yet, stop by the shop!
A few weeks ago we hosted a very special event in collaboration with Palacio de Canedo winery, from El Bierzo (León). This estate has been associated with wine since 1730, when they would make and store 30 thousand liters of wine from the vineyards surrounding the Palace.