Glamorous Paris, the city of love, is an unforgettable place to celebrate La Saint-Valentin.  Couples exchange love letters as they sit on benches near the Seine River.  A hedonistic Valentine’s Day dinner typically starts with fresh oysters and Champagne, and after the main course, a cheese plate featuring extraordinary fromage.  Now that’s romantic, except that it’s snowing right now in Paris and sitting on a wet bench might be chilly.   So it’s probably better to stay home this year for Valentine’s Day (next Wednesday, February 14) and create your own Parisian-style romance.  Just stop by Paris-Madrid Grocery and get one of the new cheeses that just came in, some French Champagne or Spanish Cava, and an assortment of specialties, including French Kisses.

Brillat Savarin Frais cheeseBrillat Savarin Affiné (7oz wheels for $14.99) – Brillat-Savarin is THE classic French triple crème. The Brillat-Savarin Affiné is a soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese made in Burgundy, and its 72% butterfat content means it is truly a full-flavored and creamy fromage. With an edible bloomy rind, this cow’s milk beauty is velvety, buttery, and melt-in-your-mouth decadent.  A fantastic addition to your cheese platter, and an excellent pair with Champagne!

Torta de Casar cheeseTorta del Casar – (27 oz wheel, $53.74) – A raw sheep’s milk cheese made with vegetable rennet.  Rich, buttery, nutty, herbaceous and sweet with a long, piquant finish, this washed-rind cheese from Extremadura takes 20 sheep, milked twice daily to create one wheel of cheese.  Serve by cutting off the top and spooning out the delightfully oozy center.  Perfect balanced and complex!

d'artagnan french kissFrench Kisses – A decadent treat of prunes, plumped by marinating in Armagnac and filled with mousse of foie gras.  A bite-sized hors-d’oeuvre that is pure pleasure!  Available as singles or in a pack of 6.

caviaroliCaviaroli – “Taste explosion” best explains Caviaroli.  Tiny Picual Olive Oil pearls are spheres of olive oil with the consistency of caviar that explode on the palate.  With intense aromas of butter and spice, it surprises and stimulates the palate.  Used as a garnish in salads or sprinkled on main courses,  it’s a fantastic addition to a special meal.

Bubbles for Valentine’s Day – We’ve got an extensive selection of sparkling wine from France, Spain and Portugal.   Here are a few recommendations:

Lombard champagneLombard Extra-Brut 1er Cru Champagne ($30.00) From a small family owned Champagne house located in Epernay.  A blend of 50% Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and 50% Chardonnay, all from Premier Cru vineyards.  Bright, crisp and dry with some perfumed notes of citrus and yellow stone fruits (apricots, peaches and yellow plums).  Excellent with oysters.

gaston Chiquet blanc de Blancs d'ay champagneGaston Chiquet Blanc de Blanc d’Ay Brut NV Champagne ($52.00)  Gaston Chiquet is a grower-producer, using only grapes from their own vineyards to craft their Champagnes.   Their Blanc de Blancs is 100% Chardonnay.  “A chalky version, with bright acidity and a lively bead framing hints of pastry cream, glazed apricot, and fresh ginger.  Focused and finely knit.”   91 points Wine Spectator

Wine Ice Bucket 1Juve y Camps Brut Nature Reserva de la Familia, Penedes ($14.99)  Aged 40 months on the lees, this Spanish cava is a top seller here at Paris-Madrid Grocery,  Bone dry with fine, tiny bubbles, it offers up delicate notes of dried pear and toast.  With no dosage (sugar), this is as crisp as a freshly sliced apple.  Flinty, elegant and with a depth of flavor and complexity, Juve y Camps is a stellar value.

Luis Pato Baga Espumante Brut, Beiras Portugal ($15.99) Baga is a notoriously finicky grape, and difficult to vinify.  Luis Pato, known as “The King of Baga”, is one of the only growers and winemakers to produce sparkling Baga on a (very small) commercial scale.  To produce this wine the grapes are harvested about six weeks early, which means that they have high acidity and low sugars – perfect for a refreshing sparkling wine. It’s the color of watermelon and has zesty flavors of bright red raspberries, cherries, red citrus, and the trademark earthiness and spice of Portuguese reds. All of the flavors are balanced out by great acid and minerality. This is the perfect partner to a number of meals – from spicy Chinese food to grilled Salmon.

frontaura winesLast week’s exciting tasting of Frontaura Tempranillos showed that many of you like these wines as much as we do!   In fact, we sold out of all the wines we tasted, but now three of them are back in stock:

Frontaura Tierras Guindas Tinto 2013 ($8.99)  Lightly oaked, this 100% Tempranillo is fresh with notes of spice and red fruit.  Shows depth and minerality – a lot of wine for a modest price!

Dominio de Valdelacasa 2009, Toro ($14.99)  An all-around great value, its nine years of age have polished this wine to its peak.   Bright and lifted with notes of vanilla, it is intense on the palate with notes of tobacco, spice and a velvety texture.

Aponte Reserva Toro 2006 ($30.00)   100% old-vine Tempranillo, aged 20 months in French oak.   Elegant and full-bodied with notes of red and black fruit.   Nuanced with flavors of coconut, graphite, mineral, and tobacco notes.  This is a serious wine that develops beautifully in the glass.

Rubina Carmona Flamenco Fundraiser:   Carmona Flamenco has been a foundation on the Seattle Flamenco scene since 1996, when they formed Flamenco Arts Northwest.   After living and performing in Spain, they settled in Seattle to raise a family and continue performing and teaching guitar, cante, and dance.   Rubina, an accomplished singer, dancer and seamstress, has been a positive force and touched the lives of virtually anyone who’s studied Flamenco in the Pacific Northwest.   Now undergoing surgery to control Parkinson’s disease, a benefit fundraiser is taking place on March 10, at Club Sur in Seattle.  Click benefit to purchase tickets, make a donation, and for more details.