Wednesday, May 12, 2010

#74 - Beef Brisket & Cornbread With '08 Orin Swift Saldo

The Orin Swift Saldo Zinfandel had been absent from Chicago wine shops for about a year or so.

We had the 2008 before at Bar Cento in Cleveland last month after being a bit shocked to see it on the list. Unfortunately served at the same 80 degree temperature as the restaurant, we nonetheless still enjoyed it.

On a whim, I asked our favorite wine person at WDC if she has seen it and she said they were actually coming in the next week. We bought four and drank the first one last night.

Food: Beef Brisket, cornbread and snap peas with mint

Beef brisket stewed in two bottles of root beer, a boatload of five-spice and a mystery BBQ sauce from the freezer that may have been from January's beef brisket.

Wasn't light, wasn't heavy. It struck a nice balance.

Really, the entire meal was predicated on the idea that we wanted cornbread and Saldo. Beef brisket was a vehicle to get there due to its ease of cooking. After Mother's Day flower week at Mrs. Ney's place of employment, no meal involving copious amounts of work was on the docket.

The cornbread was great but the brisket certainly held its own with everything playing at a pleasant mid-weight level, nothing too sticky, nothing too dense, nothing too delicate.

Felt like good picnic food.

Wine: 2008 Orin Swift Saldo Zinfandel ($26 - WDC)

Grape: 88% Zinfandel, 8% Syrah, 4% Petite Syrah
Vineyard: Culled from multiple vineyards in five counties

Dark purple in the glass, alcohol mixed with wild berry and smoke on the nose. The fruit is a little hidden with this one. Not really that jammy at all. More like a under-sweetened pie filling quality right now. Very herbal with a background of indistinguishable wild berry, some oak, soft tannins and low acid with a good amount of alcohol at the front and back end. Bordering on the more simple right now but with a year or so, the fruit should move to the front of the line and everything should become more complex.

Given all of that, we liked it. Hints of licorice perked up on occasion and the 15.5% alcohol was certainly present but not in an unpleasant way in the least. Nice vanilla from the oak, a tiny smoke and coffee-like element throughout and a finish that was long and smooth with a pleasing alcohol burn right at the end. But what probably saved it was the pairing.

Pairing: 90 Right in the wheelhouse

With the brisket, the Saldo became much thicker, almost port-like and butterscotchy. Just when we thought it was going to become too much, it tailed off into a great herbal finish.

More fruit came out with the cornbread but it was still pretty much buried. The smoke-butterscotch-coffee-vanilla-dark berry character, though, was right in line with the brisket's root beer and five-spice preparation.

The Saldo was maybe too young. The brisket was thrown together for the most part. Both were made more delicious with each other on the table (or coffee table, actually).

So...a success.

A good meal and more enjoyable on many levels than Monday's trip to The Bristol.

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