Sometimes, you have to find the bottom of things to understand the spectrum of goodness.
At the very bottom of the wine and food spectrum of goodness for me is Iberico ham and the '98 Heredia Rosado. I truly can't describe how awful those two taste together. Best I can do is if you've ever accidentally mixed bathroom cleaners when cleaning the tub, like bleach and KaBoom!, and a wisp of something like the devil's brew of chemical vapors shoots up your nose.
Or like you washed your dog in a rusty basin and decided to see what the water tasted like.
Maybe people like that. People are into a lot of weird things. Just ask Brett Favre.
As an overall meal, it tasted like really fancy picnic food. But pretty much a dud with the wine.
Food: Quail with pistachio sauce, fennel and fava salad, Iberico, coffee-crusted cheese and soda bread
Quail marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, cumin and smoked paprika and cooked medium-ish. Slightly gamey, a lil bit sweet, tasty meat. Two medium-sized quail each. I like quail, or I should say I have fond memories of the few quail meals I've had. And that's probably it. My memories might be better than the actual consumption of it. More of a diversion that satisfies just enough than savoring every bite.
Fine on its own but much better with a Moroccan pistachio sauce made with pistachios, parsley, mint, chilies, garlic, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Fresh fava beans, nature's most well-packaged food, and sautéed fennel salad dressed with white balsamic vinegar, cilantro and mint. Sort of a seasonal transition salad between summer and fall bringing lightness and lift while serving as a bridge between the darker flavors on the plate.
Soda bread made with walnuts and dates, Barely Buzzed coffee-crusted cheese from Beehive Cheese Company in Utah and Iberico ham from Binny's.
Take out the Iberico and this meal could have been quite versatile with a huge range of wine. Pinot noir would have fit quite nicely. We were intrigued by the idea of a grüner veltliner just to see what would have happened. 2001 Heredia Bosconia worked well enough with Iberico in the past. Iberico isn't cheap so having it play a big role in the pairing seemed appropriate. With fennel involved as well coupled with the leafy orange peel notes that the Heredia rosado usually shows, the pairing seemed destined for, in the least, acceptableness to marginal goodness.
Wine: 1998 López de Heredia Tondonia Gran Reserva Rosado ($23 - Binny's)
It's shown better in the past.
60% grenache, 30% tempranillo and 10% viura
Dusty old orange peels on the nose. Fading, old, mashed dried cherries, cashews, moldy wet leaves, some caramel and even a car battery acid component (and maybe some old milk) on the palate. A bit flat with, dare I say, somewhat muddled flavors. Came off boring. We've only had three of this one in the last year but, from memory, it seems like it's taking a very linear, incremental arc to an odd place. I could be totally wrong but it just hasn't excited me lately like it has in the past.
It's in the dust. It hasn't been evocative lately. Where before, it tasted and smelled like the dust of vivid childhood memories, like walking into an old house where something exciting feels like it's about to happen. This dust tastes and smells like you're an adult and you have to clean out a water-damaged attic that hasn't been touched for years. You're left with an immediate sense that you're going to get real sick of the taste and smell real quick. Because it tastes like work you don't want to do.
Nearly all of the same elements as in the past with this wine, they just came off much less interesting and alive. Tasted kinda tired and diluted, like an old man that just wants to sit in a chair and watch TV until he dies instead of an infinitely interesting, energetic old man with stories coming out of his wa-zoo. Missed that underlying freshness that perks up among all its beautifully dusty, musty, crusty, blustery fall wind notes.
Utterly drinkable but still must be compared to how it's shown in the past.
A 2000 is out there. May be time for us to switch vintages.
We'll try it again with tuna niçoise sometime. We know that's spectacular and will be a better gauge as to where it is.
Pairing: 82 as it was, 86 if it were a picnic
All that said about the wine, there were moments. The fennel with the wine was borderline delicious and tasted like the wine was attempting to find its former legs.
A bite of quail and pistachio sauce with the wine wandered into the world of tasty. And with the soda bread, it might have been best with the dates playing right into the wine's wheelhouse.
Unequivocally awful with the Iberico ham. Have I mentioned that?
We didn't love the food but certainly liked it. If we had all of it on a picnic (which we've never done - picnic, that is), we would have thought it fancy pants and having any wine with it would have upped the fancy pants factor even more.
Happy enough overall but with some grumbles.