© by Sheral Schowe
The fourth stop on our World of Wines tour was Cafe Madrid. The cuisine is completely authentic Spanish, creating the perfect pairing for our wines. The owners, Encina and Paul, have an absolute passion for Spain that comes across in the cuisine from Encinaís Barcelona heritage, and Paulís expertise in wines.
The class started with the Paul Cheneau Blanc de Blancs Brut ($8.15) which surprised everyone with its dry, elegant style. The Paul Cheneau paired with every item on the appetizer list, including one of those hard-to-match foods, white asparagus. Everyone enjoyed this sparkling wine. It would be a good selection for receptions, weddings, and parties this summer because it is enjoyable alone or with almost any food, and it is reasonably priced.
With the salads and appetizers, the Martin Sancho Verdejo 1996 ($9.95) was served. This wine comes from ancient, 350-year-old vines in the Rueda wine region. The vines are grown in alluvial soils, which are smooth, white rock with very little sediment for several feet. The owner, Angel Rodriquez, takes such pride in his 25-acre vineyard, which has been passed down in his heritage for many generations. This is a beautiful white wine full of green fruits, spice, a slight smokiness, bitter almond, and honeydew melon.
Next, we cheated a bit and introduced a wine from Portugal, since it is Spainís close neighbor. Periquita 1995 ($7.50) is full of excitement for the low price. It has a mouthful of spice, violet, hyacinth, overripe plum and cherry with a little smoke. It is full of fruit, very approachable but short on the finish. This wine calls for some food to bring out the acid on the finish.
The next two red wines were from Rioja. Both were excellent on their own, but superb with many of the menu selections. Faustino V. Reserva 1994 ($16.95) was delicious with the pork tenderloin and fried potatoes, and the lamb with vegetables. It has flavors of deep plum, dried fruit, and cinnamon. It was the studentís choice for a food match for the evening. The Marques de Murrieta Ygay 1991 ($22.95) was an incredible Rioja. It paired perfectly with the Osso-Bucco. The 1991 is a beautiful ruby color, full of plum, berry, spice and dried fruit up front, emerging on the palate to fruit compote, earth, vanilla custard and oak. It is worth every penny and a good addition to your cellar for the next few years.
In southern Spain, particularly in Sanlucar de Barrameda, the locals would start with Manzanilla Sherry with their appetizers and continue drinking it throughout the night. Despite its austerity, I personally think this is the most civilized way in which to enjoy a Spanish restaurant experience.
June 3, 1999