Thursday, February 11, 2010

#37 - Wine Can Chicken, Tomato Salad & Arugula With '06 Mas De Maha

Couldn't have changed in just two months, right?

Couldn't have...?

We returned to Wine Can Chicken last night. With the Mediterranean feel of the meal, something Rhône-ish seemed fitting and we weren't in the mood for an actual Rhône.

Food: Wine can chicken with tomato salad/arugula and baguette with butter

No glaze this time. Chicken was rubbed in salt, pepper, copious amounts of cumin and baking soda, left in the refrigerator overnight. Glaze was put on the side in an attempt to see if the skin will crust up better.

Boy did it. Salty, crispy goodness. Best skin so far. Might have missed the molasses quality that comes with the glaze a wee bit, but that was made up for by the utter crispiness of the skin. I can see us switching back and forth between glaze and no glaze in the future.

Juicy, more simple roast chicken without the glaze.

We had the same tomato salad with this wine just two months ago. Cherry tomatoes, parsley, mint, red onion, pomegranate molasses, pomegranate seeds, thyme, lemon juice, peppers, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper - made and allowed to sit and marinate in itself. It's Turkish.

Exploding, bright, acidic salad without washing out your mouth with an acid bath. I could eat this concoction three times a week and never get sick of it.

Solid, solid meal.

Wine: 2006 Villa Creek Mas de Maha ($22 Binny's)

We're getting to the point here at Food With Wine where we can do real comparisons with wine and different food pairings. That's been the intent. Copious notes that don't rely on my brain. 100 pairings is the goal and then we'll reevaluate its utility.

Last time we drank the Mas de Maha, we had it with hanger steak, plantains and the same tomato salad and loved every second of it.

This is maybe the fifth time we've had the Mas de Maha and the consensus has been that it pairs perfectly with Cuban-influenced food. It seems unlikely that the Mas de Maha has changed in two months, but the price did mysteriously drop from $31 to $22 at Binny's. Did something change? The result last night makes me wonder.

What made this wine great was the tempranillo in the blend (60% tempranillo, 20% grenache, 20% mourvèdre). The cherry notes and the lifting quality of the grape brought a lightness and brightness to the wine while still retaining a nice heft. It could have been the food, but that seemed to fall last night.

Used to be a bit of tobacco and herb nose, with plum and cherry fruit on the palate. Never tannic, though. And that makes me think this might be changing rather quickly. Where the fruit was always concentrated, you could distinguish between the fruits and there was a lightness that seemed to defy what you were tasting. Last night was gobs of raspberry pie filling and some black pepper, like the grenache is starting to overtake the tempranillo, and it lost some of that lightness.

Still good stuff, just not what it used to be.

I never found a drinking window for this wine on the internet, usually meaning it's a drink early and often wine. But that big a difference in two months? I doubt this matters, but last night's came from the $22 batch while the one two months ago came from the $31 batch. Hmm.

With a few bottles left, we might relegate it to a meal we know works in an attempt to extend its pairing life - Cuban or Latin food.

Pairing: Perfectly good, just not what we were expecting

Even after saying all this, I liked the pairing.

Everything worked just fine, helping the chicken in small ways and standing up to the tomato salad.

We've had other offerings from Villa Creek and they came off a bit syrupy for my taste. The Mas de Maha never did. Last night, it kinda had that.

Mas de Maha = Cuban food, particularly with plantains and red meat fat from this point out.

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