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The Hit List: The Spanish Table

The Hit List: The Spanish Table

Daniel Santos,  Contributor

Daniel Santos, Contributor

One of the great joys in life is traveling and discovering the great cultures that exist all over the world. Those discoveries are even better when the cultures have such a rich history in wine and food like the Spanish do.  Bringing back or discovering that rich history is now easier than ever to do especially when you find a true culinary treasure like The Spanish Table nearby.  With four stores located in Seattle, Berkeley, Santa Fe, and Mill Valley you can easily be transported away to Spain as you enjoy shopping for Spanish food and wines in one of their wonderful locations. To those who are not nearby one of the physical storefronts, never fear, you can get your Iberian fix by shopping online.

The Spanish have been making wines since Roman days and they enjoy a rich history in viticulture.  With over 600 varietals planted throughout their wine regions, many of those grapes are native Spanish varieties that can only be found in Spain.  We visited the Berkeley location, which opened in 2001.  They have a great wine selection from all over Spain and their staff are very knowledgeable and willing to help you choose and select the right wine for any occasion.   For those who might be new to Spanish wines you will be happy to know that the wines span many different varieties and styles, from bubbles in Cava, to Tempranillo in Rioja, as well as other more familiar varieties such as Granacha (Grenache), Cabernet, and Sauvignon Blanc.  The Spanish Table in Berkeley has a wonderful selection of all these different styles and varieties.   

An interesting thing to note is that in 2013 Spain became the world’s top producer of wine beating their historic rivals France and Italy.   This was in large part to a perfect growing season in Spain that meant a bumper crop for many of its wine producing regions.   This surplus of fine wine will be a definite plus for those who are in the know.  If you’re looking for great new wines to discover in 2015, at an affordable price, you should become familiar with Spanish wines.  

On the day we visited the Spanish Table in Berkeley we were there to pick up some Spanish Chorizo sausage, and Spanish Paella for a dinner we were prepring that evening. The Spanish Table is Paella supply heaven, not only do they carry all the cookware, spices, and special Spanish bomba rice, but they also carry a variety of Spanish groceries, Olive oils, and Spanish ham known as Jamón Ibérico.

2007 LAN Rioja Reserva.jpg

We asked for some help with a bold red wine that would pair well with the Paella, something with rich fruit and a nice amount of smoke and spice.  The wine steward recommended a 2007 LAN Rioja Reserva, a 91 Point TWA (Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate) wine that is about 90% Tempranillo and spends up to 15 months in both French and American Oak barrels, at about $17.99 it was a definite winner.  We plan to return to the Spanish Table and pick up some more LAN Reserva, we recommend you do the same.

Don't forget to capture your wine and paella experiences using the VAULT29 app.


The Hit List: The Barlow

The Hit List: The Barlow

Photo cred:

Photo cred:

One of the greatest pleasures as a wine lover is to go beyond the "big names" and discover the smaller, boutique wineries in lesser known regions. As a Californian, our unlimited access to some of the best wine in the world is a car ride away, whether you're in Northern California (Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Anderson Valley), Central California (Monterey down to Paso Robles) or Southern California (Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and even San Diego). 

One of my most favorite places to visit is the small town of Sebastopol, 20 miles east of the Pacific Ocean in Sonoma County. In the past, the town was known for its sprawling plum and apple orchards, but today, most of the land is predominently vineyards. Emeritus Vineyards (recently featured in our inaugural Wine Mic Mondayseries) is a personal favorite, along with the very friendly folks at Dutton Goldfield, Marimar Estate and Lynmar. 

A new addition to the town is The Barlow: a state of the art "business community" made up of wineries, eateries and galleries. The concept is to bring together consumers to learn, enjoy and appreciate all that goes in to producing the best food, drink and art - a really cool concept!

WINE:  At the top of our list is MacPhail (no appointment needed, gorgeous tasting room and the ultimate hosts in Jim and his friendly staff!) Don't miss: (1) their "terrior wall," which showcases the different soil types in the vineyards they source grapes.  (2) the Gap's Crown Chardonnay and the Anderson Valley Pinot from the Toulouse Vineyard. They also offer food and cheese pairings - highly recommended!

For the religious Wine Spectator readers, Kosta Browne (appointment needed but their entire facility and operation is located here) is a must. The #1 in 2011 (Kosta Browne's 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot) will be long gone, but they consistently make exceptional Pinot Noir year after year. 

FOODZazu Kitchen + Farm says "you don't get any more local than local can get." Bacon is the common staple here, with the brussel sprout salad and "bacon in the burger" pretty popular menu items. The wine list has lots of local varietals to try, and if you're in the mood for a cocktail, they have you covered too!

Black Pig wine at Zazu.jpg

Other notables: Spirit Works Distillery, Subzero Ice Cream and Yogurt, Taylor Made Farms (Organic Coffee) and Woodfour (Brewery). 

You can find our Barlow experiences in the VAULT29app, but we encourage you to visit and add your own!