Thursday, July 1, 2010

#92 - Hanger Steak, Zucchini Jam & Fried Egg With Two Duds

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Or maybe not.

A few wines exist in the cellar that have to be drunk quite soon as they approach the end of their drinking window. Some of them aren't going to be good. Some might be interesting. Some might surprise.

Last night was the first one.

To quote a Score caller, "Some stuff sucks."

In an attempt to salvage a pretty tasty meal with another wine, we opened another bottle in the cheap vein and, while it performed marginally better, it stayed in the same realm of boring, especially with the food.

Both were like the Pirates and Orioles this year. Everything was true and they tasted like this was their intent, but bad is bad and that's that.

Food: Hanger steak with a zucchini, pepper and onion jam, arugula and a fried egg for me

Simply prepared hanger steak (salt, pepper and olive oil) with a little more char on the outside. A zucchini, bell pepper and onion jam from the New Spanish Table (pg. 29) that smelled like ratatouille and tasted quite good. More finely chopped with just a wee hint of sweetness. Went great with the hanger and the egg yolk as it bled into the medley. In fact, a bite of hanger, egg and jam was simply awesome.

A nice meal, a satisfying meal. A solid mid-week meal. Nothing transcendent but I was full and happy.

Topped off with blueberry pie with blueberries from Harvestime on sale for a ridiculous $1.50 a carton. Would have been a crime to not buy them.

The entire meal could have been lifted to different heights with better wine.

Our choices for the night weren't. Bad and bad with a side of bad.

Wine: 2003 Domaine de Baron'arques Limoux ($15 - Binny's) And Loios J. Portugal Ramos Tinto Alentejano ($8 - WDC)

Went with cheaper side projects from good producers for the night.

The Domaine de Baron'arques is made in the Limoux appellation in the Languedoc in southern France by the family company running the Mouton-Rothschild estate, currently run by Phillipe's daughter and her two sons since his death in 1988 (Lafite is run by Eric de Rothschild). The story of Mouton and its ascendency to First-Growth status is a bit fascinating. Check out Noble Rot by William Eckikson, a nice little popcorn read that follows the development of the 2000 Bordeaux vintage and touches on some of the First-Growth details. And Mouton is a global brand with collaborative projects in Napa with Mondavi making the esteemed Opus One, and in Chile with Concha y Toro making the Almaviva. Last night's wine is much closer to home.

The 2003 vintage was the first for the Domaine de Baron'arques estate under the Rothschilds' control. A blend of 50% merlot and 10% each of cabernet, cab france, grenache, syrah and malbec, it received solid reviews upon release but the drinking window ended in 2010, which hey! That's this year!

And it showed.

Odd mixture of slightly stewed fruit with an occasional tannic grip. Tasted like nothing above a cheap, supermarket French blend that says "French wine" on the front. Occasionally, some fruit that resembled something distinctive popped with a little cherry showing through but mostly only bland, boring and past-its-window merlot with its cooked plums showed through. Came off flat, disjointed and done with some odd tannins hanging around. Sometimes, you can catch a heavily discounted wine at a good spot. The early 2000s Pragers have served us well. This one, $15 down from $35, stayed true to the reason for the discount. Nothing to recommend here. Move on (though I'll give it a shot to see what happens the next day after being opened for a bit).

The 2008 Loios João Portugal Ramos Tinto (a blend of Aragonês, Trincadeira and Castelão), by contrast, was just released and comes from...well...Mr. João Portugal Ramos, a superstar consultant at many of Portugal's best wineries for years who is now doing his own thing in southern Portugal's Alentejo region. Also, would someone please sell his 2007 Duorum Reserva on the North American continent so I can buy it. Geesh! It's been a failed quest since having it in Toronto.

The Loios, while it certainly performed better than the Domaine de Baron'arques, wasn't anything distinctive or really that tasty. Tons of butterscotch and vegetal notes, very soft and never got out of the fair-to-middling table wine world. It was $8 but never played above its price. Might have needed some decanting to get the party started.

Pairing: 65 Brutal

Can't say much. As a pairing....awful. A lot of blandness with a side of blandness.

Might have been interesting to see what a Heredia red would have done with the food but we weren't opening a third bottle.

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