Saturday, December 25, 2010

#145 - Christmas Eve Tapas With '98 Heredia Tondonia Reserva

Merry Christmas and all that stuff to all.

Well...a few months ago, I got all cocky and said that there are few things better in this world than a tapas meal served with any Heredia.

When I said that, it was with a delicious 2001 Bosconia, a wine with a long life ahead of it.

I was wrong.

Last night's Heredia never got out of the hangar and probably doesn't have much far to go.

Food: Tapas Spread of...

Serrano Ham
Smoked Paprika Artichoke Spread
Machego marinated in Greek olive oil and rosemary
Asparagus in walnut oil and sherry vinegar
Castelvetrano Green Olives
Marcona Almonds
Spanish-style Tomato Bread

Great combinations made with this meal. The linguiça with manchego together made for something great. Ditto with the tomato bread and the great smoky artichoke spread.

New brand of marcona almonds from Trader Joe's that are better than the old version. More creamy almond essence, less reliance on salt. Castelvetrano olives from Gene's, always good. Tastes like almond soy milk and green olive had a baby. Didn't really touch the dates. The Greek olive oil in the manchego brought an unexpected lemony quality, adding much. Went with pre-packaged Serrano ham from Paulina. Not as good as fresh sliced but still better than most (and better than some sliced). Just tons of deep flavor that went on forever.

We can never go wrong with tapas and haven't. It's what we like.

Wine: 1998 López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva ($35 - WDC)

Grape: Tempranillo (75%), Garnacho (15%), Graciano and Mazuelo (10%)
Vintage (WS): 79 Cold, rainy harvest. Tough wines with structure but little charm

Closed nose right away (kinda smelled like garden garbage in a good sense) but offered little on the first sip so we decanted for an hour (per some internet recommendations). A bit weak, delicate and somewhat tired after decant by itself. Didn't necessarily taste too old, just a touch diluted and middle-aged. Wet tobacco leaf doused with orange blossom water and a hint of spice dominated with very little fruit. What fruit did come forth needed the food to excite it and then it was dried red berries that didn't offer much depth or lasting presence. At times, it was a dead ringer for a watered-down Cubillo. Some welcome iron play on the back-end but the tannins felt tired, making for a hollow, uninspired finish.

Probably in the bottom 20% of Heredias I've had. Still enough substance to jettison it out of mediocre bland wine territory and had some of the typical Heredia notes that we wanted but nothing great here. We've always loved the vitality and explosion that comes from the Bosconia blends over the Tondonias for the most part, which makes me think we should have revisited the 2001 Bosconia drank in August with tapas for this meal to see how it's progressing. This one, from a bad vintage, didn't offer much. Even the winery talks about how the vintage never allowed the Garnacha to get off the ground.

It did find something resembling decent with some of the food, though.

Pairing: 84 But odd things happened with food typically tough to pair

A dud with many of the elements and bullied around with the linguiça and Serrano ham (on Serrano, I'm beginning to think that wine served with such delicious ham - a ham that beats any Italian prosciutto in my world - needs a well-structured Spanish one from a hot vintage all its balanced peak. The fruit's needed and the tannins need to be integrated. This isn't the first time a more delicate Spanish offering was destroyed by the unique depth of Serrano for me, tasting like I was licking a rusty barrel filled with manure).

But with the walnut oil and sherry vinegar asparagus and the smoked paprika driven artichoke spread, the Heredia found a stride of sorts. Fruit came forth and something like a pleasing structure with a proper delineation and finish popped up. With both of them. And with asparagus and artichokes, two foods very difficult to pair with wine. Didn't expect such things.

Probably had something to do with the Spanish preparation of the ingredients but it certainly came alive to a degree. Without that interplay, we would have cracked something else.

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