Wednesday, December 15, 2010

#140 - Lamb Stew & Pea Purée Dip With Two Wines

Two wines might be a stretch.

We certainly gave the Thackrey a go and enjoyed its candied cherry mixed with ripe horse poop. Interesting stuff, that one.

It just didn't do much with and to the lamb stew, not like an old dog that inexplicably found a quality resembling its initial former self.

You can read about our 2003 Pirramimma past here: love at first drink for a couple years, stocked up on only to maddeningly see it rapidly dying and followed now by a second life.

We don't know if the wine was in an awkward phase or if it was the result of different batches at the winery or different importer/retail sources and warehousing/stockroom issues (three different orders are all mixed up), but this has been an interesting progression, regression and progression again over the years.

Outside of cheap and good Trader Joe's Muscadet, the 2003 Pirramimma is the wine we've drunk the most in the last five years and every revisit is more interesting than the last.

Food: Spanish lamb stew, pea purée dip, baguette and butter

A New Spanish Table recipe once again. Lamb stew with dried and fresh red peppers is the title (pages 248-249) but the beauty came from the use of San Marzano tomatoes in all their brightness and pearl onions bringing a perfect level of depth. Red bell peppers and ancho peppers with garlic, chicken stock, white wine, red wine vinegar and various stew-ish essentials with a pronounced black pepper presence.

Started out tasting like a simple lamb stew but as it came down in temperature just a bit, all the flavors gelled together oh-so beautifully. Some great balance here with a surprising lightness that left us feeling clean.

Mint pea purée served as a dip for the bread and serving as a traditional match with the lamb in ways that made the meal feel like it was more than just a bowl of stew. Brought a more complete "mealness" to the meal.

Mrs. Ney didn't expect much while cooking it up but we ate well, really well with this concoction and compilation of goodness.

Wine: 2003 Pirramimma Shiraz McLaren Vale ($40 - 20/20 Wines) & NV Thackrey Pleiades XVII Old Vines ($32 - Randolph Wine Cellars)

Some of what we got from the Pirramimma last night we found last February. But where the fruit last time was a jumble of macerated fruit with a port-like consistency, the fruit this time showed more distinction and definition with big blackberry and blueberry with a bit of cherry perking up and announcing itself while coming off only slightly cooked this time. Almost round and supple (!), as they say. The fruit showed up to the party in some surprising and tasty ways.

Iron-rich blood to start that gave way quickly to the shockingly bright-ish fruit with a black pepper edge. Halfway through the meal, a huge, cheap and fresh tobacco note wrapped in mint, like Virginia Slims in all their 'bum a smoke in my 20s' glory. Seemed as if it had just 20% more lively acid, this one would have been almost exactly like when it was first released.

It's a comparative thing. It's not the freshest of fresh shirazes right now but it's showing a rejuvenation of sorts and we kinda loved it for what it was relative to past tastings and even for what it is right now separate from that.

The NV Thackrey Pleiades XVII is a complex little number (a blend of sangiovese, syrah, viognier, mourvèdre, roussanne, barbera and carignane). It's our first in the Thackrey line and from what I can gather, this might not have been the place to start. Candied red fruits, mostly cherry, with solid, medium-bodied acid and something like soy sauce upfront. The background notes is where it got interesting. Ripe horse poop dropped on a pile of straw at times with a tobacco and leather note on occasion. Large milk chocolate shavings hit, like someone shaved up a Whatcamacallit bar. Almost light, which was a surprise.

We were intrigued by it at first (and interested enough to try another) but that intrigue never progressed to wanting more, especially since it didn't really pop with the food.

Pairing: 91 The Pirramimma fit like a jigsaw puzzle with the stew in many ways

With black pepper as a bridge between the Pirramimma and the lamb stew, both sung together. The wine brought more definition and lift to the San Marzano tomatoes and onions while the stew brought more edge and sharpness to the fruit in the wine, becoming one of those times where the joy of food and wine together is sitting right in front of us in all its delicious enhancement. Even a certain minty note in the wine was resurrected by the pea purée.

The Thackrey didn't get off the ground, though. Turned into a reasonably decent Chianti with the sangiovese really dominating, making it a bit one-dimensional and coming off thin with the lamb.

But thank all that is holy that the '03 Pirramimma seems to have a true-blue second life. Too many bottles in this house to think about that much wasted money.

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