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Spanish Wines by the Sea

We are coming into crab season, and here in Muir Beach we are cleaning up crab traps and giving our kayaks a once-over in preparation. Normal protocol is to find some offcuts of meat or chicken to lure the crabs into the traps, and then team up with a partner to help paddle out and drop the crab pots just off shore, ideally as the tide is coming in and stirring up the creatures at the bottom. It is important to confirm that your partner is of seaworthy nature and critically able to coordinate paddling. Other important things are that they should not at any point swivel their legs over to one side to get a better look at a passing porpoise, or coil the float rope around their leg before dropping the crab pot over the side, both of which generally result in a certain amount of onboard panic. This therefore in true British fashion, necessitates a military-style on-the-beach briefing to point out safe operating procedure before making a small blessing to the local crab gods in the form of a ceremonial dance. Then, once the crab pots have been lowered, paddling back to shore to take in some refreshment and also keep a laser eye out for high seas acts of piracy to occur by certain landlubbers with speedboats. As the sun starts to set, one must brave the swell once more to hopefully pull up 3-4 tasty crabs, which are sped back to the kitchen to be boiled and either dipped in garlic butter or added to something like a lovely risotto.

If you've found yourself craving seafood, no need to fret. Our first of two wines from Spain are just the ticket. I really want to highlight the quality of both these wines for what they cost. They are just phenomenal value in a way you just don’t find very often.

Javier Sanz Viticultor Rueda Verdejo 2021 ($17) This sumptuous Verdejo is produced from the oldest vines (around 50 years old) on this wonderful estate in Castilla y Leon. Javier Sanz’s grandfather founded this little bodega, and today Javier tends to what are now 104 hectares of land in the heart of Spain. Harvest and winemaking are by hand with very minimal intervention, and viticulture is aligned with nature. Javier has continued the tradition of purely using grapes grown on his own vineyards, something that is rather unusual for the area.

This Verdejo is a super crisp wine full of gooseberry, passionfruit, lemon vetiver, and a perfumed fruit element that balances out the piercing acidity so beautifully. The geology here is sand, large pebbles, and clay. I find that the clean crystalline sand gives a precise character to the wine while the clay makes this wine flow like silk over the tongue. The proximity of the grapes to the winery is essential in conserving the freshness of the fruit and preventing any kind of oxidation from happening in the heat of the Spanish countryside. All this results in an incredibly clean and uplifting white. A perfect companion for fresh crab, grilled shrimp, or any type of freshly prepared seafood.

Our next wine is a new vintage from one of our favorite producers in Spain.

Valdesil Valderroa Mencia 2020 ($18) In an attempt to rebuild family history, the current generation of the Prada family (no relation to fashion), who run the Valdesil winery, have been buying back lost parcels of land on which their ancestors planted the very first vines back in 1855. As of 2021, they have officially regained all the small plots that over the years had been sold off. It is from this land that their Mencia is born.

This is the new vintage of this great value red from northwestern Spain. What a wine! Just such a wonderful juicy mouthful of yumminess. It is so clean on the palate with great acids, and lovely notes of black raspberries, black figs, dried orange, black olives and a hint of white pepper. There is so much this wine can go with from some succulent roast pork with crackling to a tasty Spaghetti Nero with grilled shrimps. Just a brilliant bottle of wine.

Holidays are coming so do let us know if we can be of help planning wine for family or company parties or for gifting wines for friends, clients or teams.

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