The big moment has arrived! After months of planning, dreaming & waiting, I finally received the go ahead from the Liquor Board to open the doors (more like the trunk of my car!) for my new business, Queso y Vino. WHOO HOO!
After graduating from the Spanish Table last spring after six years as their Wine Manager, I knew that I needed to find a way to put my passion to use, selling the wines that I love, but in my own special way.
I've always dreamed of my own gourmet shop, but in crunching the numbers for opening a brick & mortar shop coupled with a troubled time for traditional retail establishments, I summoned up my creative juices (I'm originally a poet by trade) & decided to think outside the box. And so, the idea for Queso y Vino was born!
While listening to NPR business blurbs can scare the bejeebers out of any new small business owner, I know in my heart that people don't want to give up the enjoyment that wine brings them, they just want better values for their money & that's what I've specialized in for years because of my area of expertise. Folks have always been floored by the values that abound in places like Spain & South America, but as a value consumer myself, I've collected quite a list of wines from other parts of the world that really float my boat for the money.
So I have dedicated myself to the pursuit of truth, happiness, & finding great wines for under $15 bucks. A pretty good gig! That's what Queso y Vino is all about...
How does this all work?
- I have a weekly e-newsletter that divulges all my new wine finds & favorites, complete with bargains, some worthwhile splurges, up-coming events, & a mouth-watering recipe for you to try out at home. Sign up by emailing yours truly at email@example.com No sharing, no spam. Promise!
- Anything that piques your interest is deliverable & doable within a week's turn-around in the Greater Seattle Metropolitan area. Orders over $150 are good to go, smaller trial selections & special deliveries will include a nominal $10 delivery fee. How convenient is that! Want wine shipped? Let's talk! We can probably make it happen.
- Come to a Queso y Vino wine dinner--incredible chefs, copious pours, the list just keeps on growing---get on board! I am amazed by how quickly our wine dinners have been selling out, but then again, my goal has been to keep fantastic foodie experiences at reasonable prices & give me a legal tasting room! Dinners have thus far ranged from $35 to $60 bucks, wine included (now where are you going to find that?) After all my years in the foodie business, I've been privileged to befriend many of Seattle's top chefs, no lie. Their enthusiasm to pair up with me on private dinners has me pinching myself. Again, sign up for the newsletter at firstname.lastname@example.org and check your inbox frequently!
- Arrange a private wine tasting at your table--if you would like a personal tour through my stomping grounds, talk to me... I'm always up for meeting with enthusiastic wine lovers who truly enjoy being educated, without airs.
Will be compiling a much bigger list of wine that are near & dear to my heart, but here is a list of recent fave's from my newsletter! Glad to be of service & please let me know if I can enlighten your holidays with these wines...
Happy holidays to all, & to all, a goodnight glass of Garnacha or Tempranillo in hand,
Catherine "Caterina" Reynolds, Presidenta, Queso y Vino
CATHERINE'S QUESO Y VINO HAND-PICKS~
Montsarra Brut Cava, $14.99
This has to be one of my favorite affordable sparkling wines from anywhere in the world. Por que? Maybe it's the abundant golden apple & bright citrusy aromas with hazelnut & spice cake flavors. Then there's the deliciously toasty & fresh pear notes, a body that's round, creamy, & crisp with frothy bubbles that reminds me of expensive Champagne. There's even a hint of jasmine pearls. I'm ready to celebrate!
Gramona Gran Cuvee Cava 2004, $21.99
Gramona is one of the last hold-outs for cava producers that are still family run rather than operated by large companies, & my favorite cava for special occasions. A traditional blend of Xarello & Macabeo with the rare addition of Chardonnay, I love the exceptional elegance of this sparkling wine from Spain. Honey & beeswax aromatics float above golden apple fruit & macaroon notes--but let's talk about the bubbles, shall we? Very fine with an extremely crisp mineral side, this does become the creamy, toasty style I crave as it opens in the glass. Fantastic value, really.
Marques de Toldeo Verdejo, La Mancha $7.99
One more thing to love about La Mancha--they give us Manchego cheese & this deal of a Verdejo to go with it! Verdejo usually hails from the northern region of Rueda which fetches a higher price, but in La Mancha, land is cheap & home to many of the best values in Spain. I tasted this on a day where about 100 wines passed my lips--and this little number got a mighty big star when I saw the price. Classic Verdejo lemon drop flavor with a soft & slightly salty finish. It's oyster season, & this quaffer would love to come join you for appetizers...
Gramona Gessami 2007, Penedes $17.99
This spectacularly elegant white is one of my favorite discoveries from Penedes. Unlike a splashy citrus-wrapped Rueda, or the big-boned Albarino's from the coast that I usually gravitate towards, Gessami (made from Sauvignon Blanc/Muscat d'Alexandria/Muscat de Fontignac) is a delicate departure with poetic notions. Bergamot, rose & cherry blossom underpinnings delight the senses along with tropical starfruit, tangerine peel, but quartz minerals leave you with a lively mouthfeel that is crisp as fresh linens. "Gessami" originates from the Hebrew word for jasmine--a wine as exotic as the flower itself. You'll be sad when your glass is empty, or at least I was!
Terra Andina Cabernet Sauvignon 2007,
Chile $7.99 (reg. $8.99)
This is a brand new (& I must say, an swirly artistic label
that definitely shocked me when I saw it--you go, Teo!) wine that
brings Bodegas Reyes well into the 21st century. 100% Tinto Fino
(Tempranillo) aged 7 months in American oak, Tamiz offers a sweet shop
of tootsie roll, brownie & black cherry aromas to sink your nose
into. Cedar & framboise oo la la, fine spices with good strong
shoulders. I would be diggin' this with some mole braised short ribs,
oh yes I would.
Palate: Structured and concentrated. It has a soft texture with firm and rounded tannins which give a very long aftertaste."
Carmernere: "Aroma: Tasty blend of black currant, blackberry, grilled red pepper and black pepper, those flavors carry over to the palate.
Palate: With a very varietal character, this wine shows balance with volume and soft but present tannins and a pleasant aftertaste."
Merlot: "Aroma: Very ripe fruit like plums and blackcurrant flavors complemented by black pepper and grilled red pepper. With sweet spice flavors.
Palate: The texture is smooth, rich and well balanced. Pleasing aftertaste."
Gouguenheim Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Mendoza ARG $9.99
Vina Alarba Old Vines Grenache 2006, Calatyud $9.99
Don't you want to walk right into their fairytale label? Calatayud is a wonderland of old vine Grenache at ridiculous prices. Vina Alarba has earned its following over the years, & it continues to rock the house whenever I host a wine dinner. No oak keeps things fresh & vibrant with earthy strawberries, sugar plums and a blueberry pie appeal, all from vines 50 to 70-yrs-old. Ripe but dusted with spices (I caught bit of curry leaves, myself) this is my kind of everyday wine. Whisk yourself away to Aragon tonight & coo
Quo Grenache 2007, Campo de Borja $9.99
I love this wine. How is it that Grenache from Spain can keep getting better & better? Florencio Lopez-Navarro of Quality Wines of Spain has outdone himself in sourcing out this wonderful new value. I was enamored instantly by the nose of rosy currants, kirsch & white pepper, & the fresh supple body makes this the perfect transition into autumn wines. Herbal essence & a soft ripeness makes this extremely versatile & hard to stop sipping. I will definitely be putting a bunch of Quo in our little cellar because I can afford to open it any dang night of the week.
Merum Monastrell 2006, Jumilla $9.99
Here's a handsome new Jumilla to celebrate! Winemaker Juan Jiminez makes this custom cuvee for Quality Wines of Spain here in the states, but at a very Jumilla-like price. This is actually a blend of 85% Monastrell, 10% Syrah (a new introduction to the area), & 10% Tempranillo to round things out. Dark as a star-less Andalucian night with mocha, dusty earth notes, & concentrated black cherry liqueur... Merum's alive with a fleshy, supple attitude that's peppered with spices, and a dark chocolate shavings/anise finish. Too bad for Spain--they don't get any, it all comes to us!
Ercavio Tempranillo 2007, Toledo $11.99
More than just a tourist destination, Toledo is beginning to export some fantastic wines. The local varietal Cencibel is a clone of Tempranillo with an earthier dark-fruited feel that had me crowing. Fermented partially in traditional tinajas, clay vessels dating back to 1851, Ercavio speaks the language of coriander, soil, black currants & basil. Loved the melted chocolate essence of this vintage & this is always a fave when I've poured it. This would go hand & hand with a wooden plate of garlicky chorizo & a sultry flamenca by your side. Ole!
-90 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Bodegas San Prudencio Cueto 2007, Rioja $9.99
A Rioja for $10, get out! The price of Rioja's (along with everything else) has been steadily rising so it was indeed a pleasure to have this Tempranillo come into my life. Wunderkind Ruben Saenz completed enology studies & became a consultant at several wineries in the Rioja before even hitting the age of thirty. His boundless energy shows, & the importer says that during harvest, Ruben is out in the vineyards well into the night to inspect his grapes by moonlight! Ruben selected vineyard sources in Montelaturce, the highest growing region in the Rioja, & the long hang-time makes this joven extra-special. Dark majestic black plum hue but with Tempranillo translucence, Cueto shines through the clouds with blackberry & wild plum fruit. Ripe & approachable, silky & supple with a smattering of black & white peppercorns, this blend of Tempranillo, Graciano, & Mazuelo is the ticket to putting Rioja's back on the bargain table!
Quinta das Maias Tinto 2004, Dao $10.99
One thing that I love about wine is that there is always something new to be learned. My happiest recent discovery is that the Portuguese varietal Jaen has been declared to be a direct relation of Mencia, one of my absolute favorite Spanish grapes. Geographically this makes a lot of sense as pilgrims would have had no trouble bringing cuttings from the mountains of Bierzo in northwest Spain into the northern mountains of Portugal. And as usual, underdog Portugal can offer us stellar values as the wines of Bierzo continue to go up, up, up!! This blend of Jaen, Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, & Tinta Roriz has an exotic nose that lured me right in with perfumed French oak nuances... But what really stood out for me can be expressed in one word: elegance. Supple with spice box notes, savory plum & dry cassis, Maias has taken the rustic reputation of the Dao & put it to bed. Looking for a refined "cellar-protector"? Put this at the top of your list.
Vinos de Terrunos Siete7 2007, Navarra $13.99
Ogier Caves des Papes Les Truffiers 2005, Vacqueyras $14.99
Okay, so you don't really think that I live in some Iberian bubble & just drink Spanish wine, do you? I love wine from everywhere, but ironically, I've been prejudiced about Vacqueyras wines. Shame on me! I actually just attended a tasting of 98/99 Rhone Villages wines & I found my usual dislikes emerging in my notes. But I say, "I do" to Truffiers' plump yet silky cassis, that liqueur-like element I revere in Grenache-Mourvedre-Syrah based wines, and am always willing to cross the border for that wild card of brambly fruits off the vine & meatiness this region is known for. Darn it, my last sip was gone before I knew it, so enjoyable was the Truffiers. Good French stuff for fifteen bucks? Love it.
Luna Beberide 2007, Bierzo $14.99
What took you so long? For years, I've read about the wines of Luna Beberide, & now I finally have had a chance to taste what everyone's been talking about. Wines from the mountainous region of Bierzo are certainly no longer a secret, & winemaker Alejandro Luna was wise to return from Madrid to partake in the Bierzo Renaissance at his family's winery in Villafranca. Wines here are made with old-fashioned tender loving care--the grapes are hand-picked, no pesticides are used, & the wines are aged in "a big rambling house of the XVI century". Hopefully I'll see it for myself someday! Made from 100% Mencia, this entry-level wine from Beberide is light on the wallet & heavy on charm. The enchanting bouquet of crushed wildflowers, mineral & graphite lured me into the glass, with lucent boysenberry & spiced blueberry in waiting. This is unfiltered & unoaked so the fruit is left unobscured, and the finish definitely promises potential for enjoying this for years to come. If you are a Chinon-lover, jump right on the Bierzo band wagon!
According to Robert Parker, "By most accounts, Teofilo Reyes is the most legendary winemaker in Ribera del Duero." This comes as no surprise as Reyes made his first wine in 1950 at the young age of 28, and went on to become the winemaker for famed bodega Pesquera from 1974 to 1993, and finally went off to form his own winery in '94. And I'm partial to graduated renegades these days, okay?
Quinta de la Rosa Tawny Port, $13.99
Broadbent 'Lot 1 Auction Reserve Port', Porto 375 ml/ $12.99, 750 ml $24.99
This is a PLEASURE to drink. While I usually reserve such enthusiasm for single vintage ports, this one (bottled by Niepoort) seduced me into believing that yes Virginia, great blended ruby ports do exist. On the tongue, you'll find cherries & boysenberries dipped in milk chocolate, pot au creme & a caramel/custardy richness. It's as if you dipped into a box of cordials–the sweet fruit hooks you & then a rich caramel/vanilla sensation glides down your tongue. The flavors make you want to sip it slowly, but the delicious nature of this port is hard to resist.
Copyright 2008, Queso y Vino
This is a brand new (& I must say, an swirly artistic label that definitely shocked me when I saw it--you go, Teo!) wine that brings Bodegas Reyes well into the 21st century. 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) aged 7 months in American oak, Tamiz offers a sweet shop of tootsie roll, brownie & black cherry aromas to sink your nose into. Cedar & framboise oo la la, fine spices with good strong shoulders. I would be diggin' this with some mole braised short ribs, oh yes I would.DESSERT: