Monday, August 23, 2010

#110 - Tapas Spread With '01 Heredia Bosconia

I kills me that we didn't decant.

Well...not so much.

But this changed.

It's a sin, I tell you. A sin that we haven't had a Heredia red since February. That was the '64 Tondonia, a wine I'm quite fond of in a very euphemistic sense. The only other Heredia red we've drunk since the inception of this blog in late November of last year was a 2000 Bosconia when I was sick. DOES. NOT. COUNT!

And it would have been nice to compare being that it's all lined up vintage-vineyard-wise and all. But I can't.

All I can tell you is that it was a freakin' gorgeous late summer day in Chicago, the first day (or maybe the second or third day) where the rhythms of the summer could even be tracked/felt/understood and we had a meal that played right into that wheelhouse.


It's unfortunate in many ways that we've diverted from full-board Spanish as much as we have in the last ten months or so. It's what we love more than most things on this Earth. I blame a family dinner at a Spanish restaurant last winter but that's just me.

Last night was a re-introduction back into the fold. Have I told you about the New Spanish Table cookbook? I think I have.

Have I mentioned the fact that I feel a bit embarrassed that we haven't drank Heredia red to any extent, really, over the last ten months? Embarrassed might be a stretch. Unfortunate is more accurate. Along with our dog and not being around people, it's what we like.

Food: Patatas bravas with linguiça and Iberico ham, Idiazabal cheese and arugula

Perfect patatas bravas with whole/macerated/sauced cherry tomatoes (garlic, onion, chili flakes, salt,'s the recipe. Read it, know it, use it.) mixed in along with linguiça. The sauce on the side to keep it fresh, added at the last minute right before eating. It was a bite filled with recent food loves too long absent - the kind of thing that, along with the great weather, made me turn the page on the miserable summer we've had. Felt...almost sentimental, like something changed or something was offered to mark a passing.

Iberico ham which, for a brief period in Chicago shot up to almost $200/lb, is down to below its original $100/lb initial offering in 2005 (the year the FDA finally loosened its britches and allowed it into the country) at $85/lb right now. So one can get an entirely adequate 1/8 lb. portion of Iberico for like $13! No excuses anymore for the best ham experience on the planet and it's not even close.

Idiazabal sheep's milk cheese that could have been a Manchego/Parmigiano-Reggiano well-aged blend and I wouldn't have known the difference. Not Manchego-y but close. Not chalky/nutty but close. Not salty-lifty but close. Mellow. Nice. Almost ethereal.

An arugula salad with a lemon thyme/sherry vinegar vinaigrette to finish it off. Any Spanish person would have swooned over it. It was Spanish without any fake pretense. Just simple and Good. Well...maybe the Iberico was a bit over-the-top but c'mon.

Wine: 2001 López de Heredia Viña Bosconia ($28 - WDC)

Grape: 80% tempranillo, 15% garnacha and 5% graciano and mazuelo
Appellation: Rioja
Vintage (WS): 93 Hot, dry weather gave ripe wines with opulent flavors and powerful structure

It's a wee lad right now but nonetheless oh, so lovely. The fruit isn't distinctive enough yet, showing a smoked cherry note with a ton of cigar box (and a touch of leather and cedar). If I drank it blind, I wouldn't have known it was a Heredia until about an hour in. Popped and poured because of how the day and dinner came to us. But it was unmistakably an old-style Rioja in the best sense, just don't think I've ever had one at this point before. To feel the newness of it all was new. Beautiful tannins right now, though. Washed over my palate in a way that felt evocative yet new and fresh. Felt like putting on an old t-shirt long gone that remarkably still fit in the way I remember.

And I didn't even love it initially. It took a few sips to figure it out.

Old-style Spanish wines in my world have something else, something that Italian wines can't touch. It's a graceful acidity, an acidity that's wrapped in its cigar box notes, toning it down to something that feels like Hemingway. You can smell the smoke wafting up during a good yarn. This one has it in spades. You drink it and taste something like a feeling.

And that was without the signature autumn leaf note usually so prevalent in properly-aged Heredia reds.

This one's gonna age oh, so beautifully.

Pairing: 94-97-99 Ever read a novel that you know will stick in your craw for eternity? How is it going to sit? How is it going to be processed? The meal felt that ridiculously ponderous.

Mrs. Ney says unequivocally 99. And that's because she didn't have to think about the pairing. It was perfect in the sense of NOT having to think about it. I tend to agree with one caveat - I want to reserve the 95-100 for the unseen.

I had a dalliance with the unseen. But given that, I would eat and drink this meal and this wine a hundred times over and never, ever get sick of it. It had everything.

Tons of funk that was not unpleasant with the Iberico. Tasted OOOOOld. With a bite of potato, linguiça and tomato, it's a 100 perfect score, even with the relative tightness of the wine. In fact, it might have helped. The acid, carb backbone and smoky earth with the linguiça took a crowbar to the wine, opened it up and made it taste like it was right at its peak. The change made me pause.

I couldn't have loved it more.

With proper Spanish food and this wine (or any Heredia, really), I don't know if there's anything better in this world.

A quick note: Something of a dichotomy compared to tonight's pairing, it was Frozen Food Sunday in the Ney house last night. I declare - the best frozen food Sunday ever. Trader Joe's shrimp sautéed in black garlic, peri-peri pepper, salt, pepper and olive oil with tomato bread using the patatas bravas sauce from tonight's dinner prepared ahead of time and the baguette from TK chicken on Saturday. A great meal with a hugely spicy and utterly ridiculous shrimp tapa-style presentation. Crap on a stick, this was G.O.O.D and we'll be having it again.

The wine pairing sucked eggs, though (my first and last On Golden Pond reference ever). Started with a 2009 Raventos Perfum de vi Blanc ($20 - Red & White) because we were unaware of the spice level and utter balls of the shrimp preparation and, predictably, it turned to water with the food and we put it away. The 2009 Skouras Moschofilero ($13 - WDC) performed a wee bit better and even fell into the realm of acceptable in many ways with its lemon rind notes freshening things up. Both were chilled and an experimentation with a red was right out! We were fine and good with the food on a Frozen Food Sunday. Pairing Score: 83.

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