Two American albariños with Greek-style chicken and Turkish-inspired salad (on Polish plates with Austrian wine glasses all served on a $5 coffee table from Iowa. I can keep going...).
We accidentally went global because the soft flavors from the night before warranted it.
We wanted Flavors and we got it.
Food: Chicken thighs with skordalia and tomato salad
Chicken thighs simply roasted in the cast iron skillet and put over a big, mushy pile of skordalia.
A change-up from the previous preparation, this time using up the bread in the kitchen in place of potatoes. Almonds, bread, garlic, lemon, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice blended into a purée that on first taste, I thought it was a modified hummus. Great garlic punch here with a smoothness and non-dairy creaminess that coated every inch of my mouth.
Chicken thighs that served more as an vehicle for the skordalia. Together, the skordalia dominated but that's exactly what we wanted.
The entire meal came down to the beautiful garlic hit and smoothness of the purée and the contrasting acid bath from the tomato salad.
I heart this tomato salad with every fiber of my being. Tastes like mowing the lawn on a 90 degree day and then drinking a tall glass of ice-cold water. Insanely fresh, this time done without the pomegranate seeds usually incorporated to pair up with red wine (usually Mas de Maha). Cherry tomatoes, oregano, parsley, mint, red onion, thyme, lemon juice, peppers, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. Mixed and left to sit for a bit to marry. Wakes up every possible taste bud in your mouth and we need to have it more often.
It felt like getting back on the horse in many ways. After having some largely uninspired food in Portugal and slogging through post-vacation ennui, it was an entirely welcome food night.
And the wine helped.
Wine: 2008 Bonny Doon Ca' Del Solo Albariño ($18 - Randolph Wine Cellars) & 2008 Abacela Albariño ($18 - Binny's)
Ca' Del Solo from Monterey County in California. Abacela from the Umpqua Valley in southern Oregon.
Bonny Doon's an interesting story. Their vines were destroyed by Pierce's disease in 1994 and they took that as an opportunity to get out of the big production world and into small production, terroir-driven wines. Now, they grow a ton of Rhône varieties along with a flurry of boutiquey-style grapes.
This one is 75% albariño, 21% loureiro and 4% treixadura, all grapes primarily grown both in Galicia in Spain and Vinho Verde in Portugal. It's also biodynamically-grown.
Minerals dominate with a precursor to a banana creaminess. Refined and understated citrus notes with some grapefruit, touch of melon, flowers and maybe even grass that made it wander into a sauvignon blanc realm for a time. Crisp but not over-the-top with a nice underlying acid in balance with everything else. Jumped around, vacillating between the different fruit notes yet still retaining its base of cream/slight butter/hint of oil base. Got better as it came up in temperature.
Not bursting with personality but in a good way. Light. Would be a good afternoon drinker on its own. The price makes it difficult for that, though.
The 2008 Abacela seems to be falling apart but drank well enough to enjoy moments. Clunky limeade, some nice melon tones and flat club soda notes with a wacky acidic edge that blew right past quenching and settled into tart and unwieldy for sips. Hasn't seemingly aged well in a very short time but some elements present in the initial bottle that we loved of this one showed up to the party with a bowl of fresh citrus showing best very cold in the glass. When very young, the Abacela exhibits a quirky citrus-pear-apple-creamy nut-crispy goodness that demands we follow it and we do (and will).
Pairing: 87 Mixed, largely welcome bag with the food
As the Bonny Doon came up in temperature, it enhanced all the separate flavors in the skordalia and chicken quite nicely. Tasted more of everything. The Abacela also had its base hits with its lime-lemon notes blending right into the Greeky purée just fine at times.
The tomato salad was predictably a land mine, though. Served best with the Bonny Doon more as a basic food-wine accompaniment but it had the guts to hang with the acid in the tomatoes and keep the basic elements of itself, though it was kind of spectacular with a big oregano bite. The Acabela hollowed out, finishing with something that resembled inhaling a cleanser vapor.
The 2008 Abacela seems to be hanging on for dear life but still occasionally told some funny stories. The 2008 Ca' Del Solo reminded me of the Do Ferreiro in some ways. Nice, light, refined, tasty but not exactly what we want from albariño. All that said, though, we liked what happened last night.
It had Flavors with enough complexity and nuance in the wine to enjoy everything that was happening.