Efforts were made to replicate the bean, corn and pepper salad with this exact wine from Ad Hoc last month.
We were shocked! Shocked, I say, just how good of a pairing that was.
Probably perfect when talking about a bite of food and sip of wine.
While there was nothing wrong in the least with the salad - and it was actually better than the one we had at the restaurant - the pairing with the salad and overall didn't reach those heights.
Which led to other questions, like not decanting last night's wine and the difference between a half-bottle and full bottle.
Food: BBQ skirt steak with bean, corn and pepper salad with arugula
Looked Californian, tasted Texan. Or Southwestern.
Big, juicy, BBQ flavor from a sauce found in the freezer. It was probably from the beef brisket in May, which was part of a larger batch from a beef brisket in January. Or not. We're confused about where that came from.
Boatloads of allspice flavor that was nonetheless balanced and delicious. Surprising. Worked great with the skirt steak.
Pinto beans, corn, shallots, bacon, peppadew (sweet piquanté pepper - looks like a tomato and a pepper had a baby), pea shoots and oregano in the salad. The star of the meal with the steak a close second. Sort of made up on the fly in an effort to mimic the salad at Ad Hoc, it came out better - more meaty and substantial and could easily be a lunch by itself. I think we found something here. This will be made again.
An arugula salad to top things off.
Something turned this meal in an unexpected direction. My nomination goes to the allspice and pinto beans. They turned the meal into Cowboy Chow in a pretty great way.
What it did with the wine was another matter.
Wine: 2007 Domaine Les Pallières "Les Racines" Gigondas ($38 - Knightsbridge)
Grape: Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Clairette
Vintage (WS): 95 - Drink or hold - Ripe, rich, powerful reds thanks to long Indian summer at harvesttime. Grenache is heady and rich, so Mourvèdre and Cinsault key for balance. Best wines are classic hedonistic delights, though some are over-the-top
Predominantly Grenache. A winery just bought in part by Kermit Lynch after being owned by the same family for 150 years.
Just bought three full bottles of this. To decant or not to decant. Probably should have decanted. Or not. I don't know. At Ad Hoc, we had a half-bottle so a decant to open it up to that point of half-bottle accelerated aging might have been wise but I didn't want to kill it off since I didn't know the guts of this wine to any extent. It opened up a month ago more with food and tasted delicious right away with a pop-and-pour then.
So we started our three-bottle cycle with a pop-and-pour as a starting point. Early verdict: Needs time.
Wet herbs on the nose right out of the bottle. Similar dark red berry fruits on the palate with the same red licorice explosion, a touch of Rhône-y fruit cake and kirsch, more heat than before and a pretty texture. Overall, a darker, more brooding wine than before as well. The bursting, bright licorice notes went back into hiding rather quick and the wine settled into Quality, Bargain Rhône territory that wasn't as transcendent as our previous experience.
A lot of balance and we would even say it was a very good wine right now. But after our experience with it last month (and trying it at Chez Panisse as well the next night with different results), the Les Racines might be going through some growing pains right now. A bit volatile right now, jumping around like a spastic child that you know, with a little maturity, is going to turn out to be a genius.
The full bottles could use at least six months to a year. We'll try another then to see if more should be bought.
Pairing: 86 Solid and Good, but somewhat of a letdown with the expectations
The food played above the wine as a pairing. Tons of food flavors that played right into our comfort zone.
Everything in the wine played nice with the food (well...except with the arugula), it just never reached any level of surprising or complex. Wasn't ordinary or boring and, at times, was interesting and good. A minimum level of great Rhône tastiness was there.
But it was kinda like going out with friends you haven't seen in years with the anticipation of having a great time and afterwards, you realize it wasn't as great of a time as you anticipated. A good time, sure. Great...well...
My anticipation may have killed my ability to take it as it was.
Next time, we might try it with food that's more Rhône food specific. Something more catered to Rhône wine.
This one's not ready to field just anything.