Flame for Spain
By Kerry Newberry
When George Bernard Shaw wrote: “There is no love sincerer than the love of food” it’s easy to imagine he had just returned from a trip to Spain. From the vibrant paellas of Valencia to the sea-salt kiss of mejillones in Galicia, the romance of food can sweep you off your feet from coast to coast. The Spanish proverb “barriga llena, corazón contento” rings true ... full stomach, happy heart.
In tiny villages, during the evening tapas hours, locals dress up and stroll the cobblestone streets, gathering in tapas bars and bodegas to eat and drink, flirt and debate, reveling in simple pleasures.
The tapas that adorn the bar can be as simple as slices of chorizo sausage and fresh figs wrapped with jamón Serrano to tuna stuffed in scarlet-hued piquillo peppers and classic tortilla española de patatas. An evening eating tapas is like a courtship should be: long, leisurely, tantalizing.
The cadence of culinary life in Spain is slower, and like the food — the wine, especially Tempranillo — tastes rich and lusty.
It’s easy to fall in love with Spain. This is why OWP asked local food and wine experts with a fiery passion for Spanish food and culture to share Tempranillo and tapas tidbits in hopes of making sparks fly during the month of February.
Earl & Hilda Jones - Abacela Vineyards & Winery
When reminiscing why he and his wife, Hilda, decided to crisscross the country from Pensacola, Florida to a small town in Southern Oregon in the mid-1990s to cultivate Iberian varietals and craft internationally acclaimed wines, Earl Jones often recounts poetic evenings eating tapas in Spain.
“We fell in love with Spanish wine,” says Jones. “But we really fell in love with the Spanish culture; it’s such a beautiful culinary way to live.” Jones, the co-owner of Abacela Vineyards & Winery, planted the first Tempranillo in the Pacific Northwest in 1995. The name Abacela stems from an ancient Latin-Iberian verb, “abacelar,” meaning, “to plant a vine,” paying homage to the wines of the Ribera del Duero and Rioja.
The Tapas: Chorizo with roasted red peppers, jamÓn Serrano and, of course, Manchego, preferably aged nine months and served at room temperature.
The Romance: Dinner in Aranda de Duero Spain at Rafael Corrales. Hilda and I enjoyed the perfect pairing of el lechazo (suckling lamb) and a bottle of 1987 Vega Sicilia Unico. Fabulous!
The Spark: Abacela Tempranillo takes your mind on a magic carpet ride with traditional Spanish tapas.
Your Love: I love Spanish Tempranillo. While an American varietal wine had never been produced from the grape, I accepted the challenge, believing strongly that the world’s fifth most planted red grape could be made into fine wine in the Spanish-Tempranillo homo-climate of Southern Oregon. It worked!
Kerry Newberry is vineyard-hopping, Pinot-sipping food and wine writer in Portland.