The Heart of Spanish Living Beats in Battle Ground

The Heart of Spanish Living Beats in Battle Ground

I n Madrid, they’re called tapas – small savory bites commonly served in bars. In the Basque region of Spain, it’s called a pintxos crawl. Whatever the descriptor, the tapeo culture is the heart of Spanish living and, thanks to Emanar Cellars in Battle Ground, its infectious conviviality can be experienced without taking a flight across the big pond.

Opened on Oct. 26, 2013, Emanar Cellars’ authenticity is not just found in its stout, carved wood door, extensive lineup of all Spanish wines, or a thoughtfully curated tapas menu…

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Celebrate Spain locally

Celebrate Spain locally

Been dreaming of a trip to Spain? Reminiscing over memories of an authentic pintxos crawl in San Sebastian? This week Spain is closer than you think as the world comes together to celebrate World Tapas Day. Although the actual event falls on Thursday, June 15 a smorgasbord of opportunities abound in the Portland area from June 12 - 18. For details, read on...

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Local vintners featuring port-style wines for Valentine's Weekend

Local vintners featuring port-style wines for Valentine's Weekend

Valentine’s weekend is upon us and, with that, wineries will be hosting their annual Chocolate & Wine Pairing festivities from SW Washington to the Yakima Valley, Southern Oregon and beyond.

In honor of the occasion, I tasted several of the port-style treats being crafted by vintners throughout Clark County. Be sure to pick up a bottle or two to enjoy at home with your sweetheart. Keep in mind all prices are for 375 ml size.

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Pilgrimage through Spain a wine adventure

Pilgrimage through Spain a wine adventure

El Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. In the Middle Ages, The Way of St. James was an epic religious journey. Walking hundreds of miles to arrive at the final destination believed to hold the remains of St. James must have been a thoughtful, introspective undertaking.

Today, some of the most popular routes parallel freeways, train tracks and villages whose main industry is tourism. Regardless of modern conveniences it is still an impressive physical achievement. For example, the Northern Way consists of 509 miles from its beginning in San Sebastián, Spain. Battle Ground resident, Nancy Herron, completed Camino del Norte in October and shared her experience recently at Emanar Cellars along with pairings of wines found along The Way.

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‘Tis the season for sparkling wine

‘Tis the season for sparkling wine

Nothing says party like bubbles and Clark County is getting ready to pour it on with sparkling tastings at wine bars from Vancouver to Battle Ground.

True Champagne is on the higher end of pricey. Thankfully, there are other pocket-friendly options that allow enthusiasts to partake in this elegant and celebratory beverage.

The language of Champagne:

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Start mulling scent, flavors of the holidays

Start mulling scent, flavors of the holidays

If you haven’t had the experience already, soon it will be that time when heavily-scented pinecones fill the noses of shoppers as they enter department stores and supermarkets. Evoking holidays past, this is a sure-fire sign that Christmas is on its way even when the Thanksgiving bird has yet to be cooked.

More so than any of our senses, smells trigger memories. When my mom lived in the area, among the array of tempting aromas wafting from the kitchen was the potpourri of mulled wine spices as a large pot simmered on the back of the stove. Ever the hostess, a ladle and glasses were placed conveniently near so family and guests could help themselves as she focused on putting the finishing touches on the table’s bounty.

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Area wineries divulge their Sangria tips and recipes

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Emanar Cellars offers a Sangria Blanca (white) and Sangria Tinta (red) featuring their liqueur wine— S'Naranja Pedro Ximénez. Courtesy of Mar Meyerhoefer.  Warm summer months create a whole new ambience in which to imbibe. Heavy red wines and mulled beverages are cast aside along with boots and wool sweaters. Lighter reds, crisp whites and that fun little drink from the Iberian peninsula—Sangria—take center stage after a day of yard work or to accompany patio-lounging.

True Sangria contains brandy—anywhere from one to six ounces per bottle of wine depending on the recipe—but it’s commonly made with wine only and Clark County wineries have several tasty versions available during summer winetasting hours or that make an appearance at special events throughout the season.

Emanar Cellarscourtesy of Mar Meyerhoefer

1 bottle red wine (we use Don Ramón)

mixture of lemonade and orange juice (750 ml)

*can sweeten with more orange than lemon or all 7-Up or Sprite

2-3 shot glasses of S'Naranja Pedro Ximénez (a liqueur wine)

Three varieties of citrus fruit (orange, lemon and lime), sliced or cubed

Sangria Blanca (white version)

1 bottle white wine or Cava (Spanish sparkling wine)

750 ml lemonade

2-3 shot glasses of S'Naranja Pedro Ximénez (a liqueur wine)

Three varieties of citrus fruit (orange, lemon and lime), sliced or cubed 

English Estate WineryFounder, Carl D English's, recipe

1 bottle red wine

2 Tbsp English Estate Pinot Noir Brandy

2 Tbsp sugar

juice of one lemon

juice of two oranges

1 lemon, sliced paper thin

1 orange, sliced paper thin, and quartered

3 C soda water

8-10 ice cubes

In a large pitcher or bowl, combine the wine, brandy or liqueur, sugar and citrus juices. Add the sliced fruits and steep for several hours in the refrigerator. Serves 6-8.

Heisen House Vineyards – courtesy of Michele Bloomquist

Served by the glass on Friday Music nights 5-9 p.m. every Friday in July, August and September

White Peach Sangria

1 bottle Barn Owl White

1 pint peach white grape juice

1 can lemon lime soda or sparkling water

Fresh or frozen peach slices

Combine the wine, juice, and fruit. Steep in fridge overnight. Add soda or sparkling water right before serving. Serve over ice with a sprig of fresh mint. Makes 8 servings.

Blueberry Pomegranate Sangria

1 bottle Barn Cat Red

1 pint blueberry pomegranate juice

1 can lemon lime soda or sparkling water

Fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, blackberries Combine the wine, juice, and fruit. Steep in fridge overnight. Add soda or sparkling water right before serving. Serve over ice with a slice of lime on the rim. Makes 8 servings.

Michelle Parker, co-owner of Koi Pond Cellars, is a sucker for the beautiful appearance of star fruit and tastes of lemons and limes but will mix things up with oranges and apples. She chooses two bottles of a citrusy white wine like Sauvignon Blanc, one bottle of a red wine and has been known to add seltzer water for bubbles, lemon-lime soda to ramp up the citrus and stone fruit (I.e. peaches, nectarines) for a more tropical flavor.

Moulton Falls Winery dispenses this beautiful concoction in their Northwest-style tasting room with a mixture of Big Jake Chenin Blanc and RR Red Cabernet Sauvignon steeped for several hours with orange, lemon and lime slices and a simple syrup flavoring.

Roll up your sleeves and try a couple variations or let Clark County wineries do the work for you. Salud!

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Gran Reserva heats up winter camping

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Enjoying a few dry, warm days along the Long Beach peninsula last week Sitting around a smoky campfire with Cape Disappointment State Park nearly all to ourselves last week it seemed appropriate to open a bottle of Juan Ramon Lozano’s 2008 Gran Oristan Gran Reserva from the La Mancha D.O. (Denominación de Origen) of Spain.

Made mainly of tempranillo with 25 percent cabernet sauvignon that bumps up the tannins and leans tasting notes more toward black fruit than the strawberry characteristics commonly found in a 100 percent tempranillo, the aging process of Spanish wine is really what distinguishes the quality.

Spain’s labeling system is tiered from Joven to Gran Reserva with Gran Reserva being a wine aged in oak barrels for 24 months and then matured in the bottle for another 36 months before release. As Richard and Mar of Emanar Cellars like to point out, when a wine lover buys a bottle of Spanish wine, they are buying a bottle meant to be consumed now. The Spanish wineries have done all the work for us.

Salt-crusted prime rib roast was a perfect pairing for this 2008 Gran Oristan Gran Reserva.

As expected, there’s considerable toast, vanilla, coffee and a hint of walnut in the 2008 Gran Oristan which goes far enough for the winemaker to mention a ‘rancio edge.’ Rancio is typically used to describe Port wine, Cognac and even Madeira—all fortified/distilled wines that see a lot of time in oak.

Rancio is not something detected on the nose of this Gran Oristan as it might be on the nose of the fortified/distilled wines but, with five years in oak, all those flavors do hint of rancio on the palate to give the taster an idea of how a stronger version might present itself in a Cognac that’s been aged for 10 years or more.

What this all translates into is a wine that goes down smooth and pairs fabulously with meats and Iberian cheeses for $18 a bottle. It’s recommended to enjoy this wine at 59 degrees so stick it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before pouring it—or leave it on the picnic table of your campsite in January for about 10 minutes before cozying up to it fireside.

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Sherry opens up a whole new flavor profile of possibilities

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An American oak-aged Oloroso Don Nuῆo Sherry. Recommended food pairings: beef, lamb, cured meats and game Hosting a sherry tasting as an anniver-sherry celebration is, for a Spanish wine bar, an absolute stroke of genius considering that true sherry grapes are grown in Andalusia, Spain and it enjoys the coveted protected denomination of origin much the same as the Douro Valley and Port or French Champagne.

A confession, however, is in order. When I stopped into Emanar Cellars in Battle Ground a couple weeks ago co-owner, Mar, humbly offered that it was actually a loyal customer’s idea. The Sherry selections were not and Richard and Mar unwittingly chose four Sherries that received from 91-96 points from Robert Parker so all those in attendance were in for a real treat.

The amber color of this Amontillado Los Arcos Sherry is easy to sip as an aperitif or a hearty cheese plate

Sherry ranges from very dry to quite sweet and is classified as a fortified wine. Admittedly the Fino Puerto Fino that I tried Friday night was my least favorite due to my inexperience with dry Sherry. I understand it really is an acquired taste that grows to a strong appreciation over time. The Amontillado Los Arcos, at 18.5% alcohol, was more reminiscent of Port which I have a greater knowledge of. Where the Fino was pale in color due to being aged in the protective blanket of flor to keep out oxidation, the Amontillado leaned toward amber with partial flor aging and partial oxidative aging. As such, not the sweetest of Sherries but a softer, more rounded mouth feel than the Fino.

The darkest of the Sherries poured at Emanar's anniver-sherry, this East India Solera was aged a total of 15 years and is deceptively sippable

Moving on to the Parker 94-point Oloroso Don Nuῆo I was really warming up from the inside out and enjoyed how the oaky finish was lingering well after being drank. Having purchased a bottle of S’Naranja from Emanar in the past, the East India Solera was at once familiar to me. Richard shared that this little beauty is actually sweetened with Pedro Ximénez grapes, same as what is in their house Sherry-style wine though Ximénez grapes are grown just north of the Sherry region so S’Naranja cannot be considered true Sherry. Aged a total of 15 years, East India Solera is dangerously sippable with 20% alcohol.

Seafood, nuts, blue cheese, smoked meats, pork, game and cakes are just a few recommended food pairings for Sherry depending on the style. With a list like this, Sherry opens up a whole new flavor profile of possibilities.

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Espaῆa – a hidden gem in the wine world

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Mar Meyerhoefer, Madrid native and co-owner of Emanar Cellars, with a selection of their top-selling Spanish wines If Tempranillo and Albariῆo sound more like far-off travel destinations than grape varieties producing outstanding Spanish wines, it’s time to get to know your spicy neighbors across the pond.

Mar Meyerhoefer is a native of Madrid and, together with her husband Richard, owns Emanar Cellars in Battle Ground. Her passion for Spanish wines is infectious.

“Spanish wines are kind of like a hidden secret. Spain has been making wines longer than any other country. It started with the Phoenicians. They’re good wines and good prices,” Mar said.

On any given weekend customers can taste for themselves the characteristics unique to Spanish wines at Emanar including their 100 percent tempranillo, 2011 Nexus Ribera del Duero. Mar shared that Ribera del Duero is comparable to the better-known Rioja region which sets the bar in Spain. She advised that a well-made tempranillo pairs nicely with just about everything from tapas (similar to appetizers) or American-style appetizers to roasted vegetables, heartier pizza, pasta or a good steak.

Garnacha is Spain’s answer to a barbeque or possibly even an upcoming Halloween event. Its higher alcohol content (up to 16 percent) and smokier nose and palate make a perfect accompaniment to backyard fair. Again, region is important. Choose garnacha from the Calatayud region for consistent quality.

Typically used in blends to give character, Emanar adds monastrell (known as mourvèdre in France) to its popular house-made wine, Catalina. Featured on its own in the 2010 La Tremenda, for example, it instantly becomes a wine whose bold nose and hearty flavor profile command food to be truly appreciated.

White wine lovers take heart. Albariño, grown in the Rias Baixas region of Northwest Spain, is “gaining a lot of appreciation and putting Spain on the map for white wines,” according to Mar. She describes it as a dry wine that pairs well with gorgonzola cheese, seafood, shellfish, Asian and Chinese cuisine.

Made in the same traditional method as Champagne, Cava is Spain’s version of sparkling wine. For people interested in picking up a bottle for a special brunch or lighter Spanish tapas, Mar recommends looking for Cava from the Penedès region where she says 90 percent of true Cava comes from. Mont Marçal Brut Cava Reserva is Emanar’s current offering and the addition of 30 percent chardonnay softens the edges.

Mar added “Because it’s a nice crisp wine it goes well with seafood, especially shellfish.”

Fall’s the perfect time to enjoy a soul-warming fortified wine. Sherry, produced in Southern Spain, can range from bone-dry to sweet and pair as nicely with sushi as it does blue cheese, depending on the version. Emanar’s sweet style Sauci Orange is one example but there are others available in local stores so, while you’re experimenting, be sure to toast those industrious Spaniards for their many gifts to the wine world.

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Pasta GiGi's new location dream of chef/owner

Pasta GiGi's new location dream of chef/owner

In conjunction with the Battle Ground Village Outdoor Market’s season opening, fans of Pasta GiGi’s were finally able to enjoy the unveiling of their new location in the round of Battle Ground Village. Saturday, May 3 marked the soft opening of Battle Ground resident, Kathy Aikens’ long-standing dream to preside over a full service Italian restaurant...

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