Tonight was another case of the food outshining the wine.
But again, no real complaints.
We just wouldn't do this exact pairing again while both of us would eat the same exact food tomorrow. It was that good.
Food: Skirt steak with paprika butter and almond potatoes with arugula mixed with parsley and mint
If we had to only eat one sort of cuisine for the rest of our lives, it would be Spanish...hands-down.
Medium-rare skirt steak marinated in a purée of onions and olive oil. I took a bite after it rested for a few minutes and it was one of the best bites of beef I've had in a long time. Extremely juicy with a distinct onion overtone.
Paprika butter was whipped up and put on the side to drizzle over everything. Butter in a hot pan with smoked paprika, garlic, rosemary and a little lemon juice to brighten things up. The butter breaks, turning the entire mixture into a sort of a jus with a burnt orange color and an unctuous quality that stuck in my cheeks in a great way.
Almond potatoes that screamed Spanish were a mixture of almonds, garlic, saffron, sherry vinegar, bread, olive oil, parsley and black pepper. The result is like a hot potato salad with a clingy goop that coats everything. Great eats and with the paprika butter, it covers many of the critical flavors present in authentic Spanish food.
I could eat a huge bowl of arugula, parsley and mint with the paprika butter and remnants of the meat juice and be a full and happy person.
This meal was exactly what we freakin' love about Spanish-influenced fare.
Wine: 2006 Torres Celeste ($20 - Binny's)
Grape: 100% Tempranillo
Region: Ribera Del Duero
Wine Spectator vintage score: 90 (Fresh and firm with bright fruit and good balance)
Miguel Torres makes more than 50 different wines in three different countries. We've had probably ten or so of them, two since November - his Chilean Cabernet and the Viña Esmerelda. His Santa Digna line in Chile isn't too shabby and his Xarel.lo-based Nerola white from Catalonia is quite tasty as well.
From Torres wines, you get solid representations of the respective region, serving as a good starting point when you don't know anything about a region or style of wine, as his name on the label did for us.
The Torres Celeste is no exception.
Dark ruby in the glass. Muted nose. Cherry and espresso right away. Left it open for close to an hour before drinking. No decant. The fruit, a mix of blackberry and darker cherry, was muted on first sip and that continued throughout the meal. A hint of spice with pleasing tannins and nice balance. Medium body and medium finish.
Mostly, it had that sweet smoke characteristic of Ribera Del Duero. For $20 ($12 at Wine Library right now and used to sell in the mid-teens in Chicago), you get something very typical of Ribera. If you like it, you're probably going to love Riberas. If you hate it, you can probably move on.
Nothing spectacular but worth my $20. When it was around $16, it was a ridiculous bargain. I THINK we had the 2005 (better vintage - 95 WS) a couple years ago and liked it more. I seem to remember this being a bit larger.
And the bottle is just so pretty!
Pairing: 85 Fine enough but no surprises
A problem arises when you have great food and merely good wine and this is an example. Nothing plays off each other in new or intriguing ways. A Ribera wine should have been right in this meal's wheelhouse but there just wasn't enough chutzpah in this particular Ribera to step to the plate and take some hacks.
We were glad a solid wine was present. And the wine certainly qualified as a solid little wine. But other wines like a higher quality Ribera or the Heredia Cubillo (weird we haven't had this since November) would have been a better pairing.
An even more intriguing match might have been a Australian Shiraz/Albariño blend, the First Drop Two Percent. A bit more fruit with a sparkly roundness might have been wonderful.
Heck, even if it was just skirt steak, breaking out the big boys wouldn't be out of the question. The food was that flippin' delicious.