Wednesday, September 14, 2011

#222 - Duck, Farro, Oranges & Green Olives With '02 Heredia Bosconia

As López de Heredia typically releases their reds eight to nine years after the vintage, we've recently had a bit of an Oreo cookie experience in terms of superlative Heredia goodness.

Serving as the cream, it was the 2001 Bosconia that blew us away two Augusts ago, served with patatas bravas, linguiça and Iberico ham, Idiazabal cheese and arugula.

Serving as one chocolate cookie, the 2000 Bosconia was helped along immensely by the lavender lamb, piquillo marmalade, pistachio fregola and asparagus but showed a dark, brooding nature and those signature tea tannins wrapped in cinnamon and hints of orange peel that make Heredia so good.

Last night's meal was the other chocolate cookie layer.  It's the 2001 that stands out in my mind as something so wondrously more broad in scope, depth, length and satisfaction.  So pretty, so evocative.

2002 was an extremely difficult vintage in Rioja with bombardments of frost early in the growing season and a rainy June.  Bosconia was spared much of the damage but yields were down significantly across the board, according to their website.

The result, as per usual with Heredia, is a wine that's all Heredia, hitting all the typical, deliciously joyous notes, even if it's not jumping out of the glass and sailing on forever.

But what it brought to the star of the night, the food, was more than we thought.

Food:  Duck, farro, oranges and green olives

Duck's been M.I.A. in our house for some reason recently.  Last time, in February, we switched up the blood orange and black olive tuna prep with duck and it was a dud.  But Christmas duck and farro will go down as one of the top 20 meals of my life, most likely.

We like duck, duck's good, we need more duck.  And this meal is why.

From the Pintxos cookbook, duck coated in herbes de provence, substituting Metaxa brandy for Grand Marnier, cerignola olives for arbequina/manzanillo.

Duck cooked medium rare.  An orange juice, Metaxa, sherry vinegar and sugar reduction made and then homemade (big difference here - we could taste it) chicken stock added, then continued reducing, followed by the addition of the Cerignola green olives.  Butter to finish and orange segments added at the end.  The sauce was the key.  Tasted of a place and of a place we haven't had yet.

Sauce drizzled over the duck with leftover sauce served in a ramekin on the side.

Spectacular.  Period.

Farro cooked with walnuts, shallot, cumin, thyme; cooked in chicken stock.  Perfectly cooked farro.  A wetter version that really released the chicken stock and herbal nutty goodness.  The farro flavor almost served as a vehicle for the other flavors instead of announced itself in a louder way, which played into the delicious and unique sauce so beautifully and made the meal come off much lighter than anticipated.  Great purity of flavor with this recipe.  A Basque take on duck à l'orange.

Mâche with extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar to finish.

Glad to see you again, duck.  See you soon.

Wine:  2002 López de Heredia Bosconia Reserva ($35 - Binny's)

Grapes:  Tempranillo (80%), Garnacho (15%), Mazuelo and Graciano
Vintage (WS):  84  Drink  Cool summer, rainy harvest, low yields. Best wines are ripe and concentrated

To demonstrate the difficulty of the vintage, the 2001 Bosconia saw a release of 55,000 bottles.  The 2002 only yielded 30,000 bottles.

But they got the Heredia magic into the bottle here.  One hour decant and opened up marginally more throughout the 1 1/2 hour meal.

It's a bit shorter, more plummy and a less unique Heredia tea tannin quality but this one plays up two angles that I don't think I've ever experienced with Heredia this early: fresher fruit and more cinnamon.

Not fresher fruit due to the earliest possible drinking from release, more like fresher fruit right away on the palate.  Heredia usually enters informed entirely by its aromatics.  There's a symbiosis to it.  It becomes one of those moments where everything stops and and one relishes in the clarity, honesty and integrity that reveals itself from the nose to the mouth.  It's that Heredia moment.

But that moment is usually never wrapped in its fruit presence.  It's usually that 'something else' that only Heredia offers.  A smoky plum with background dark-ish cherry, all sprinkled with a cinnamon-paprika blend led the way here with a mid-palate of cinnamon all the way, finishing with a slight roasted game quality.  Not blunt, not obvious, just more "present."  More orange peel presence than typical as well, echoing Cubillo more than Bosconia in our world.  Shorter finish than other vintages.  Less broad in scope as well.  Smaller package all around but Heredia tannin and acid serving admirably as a nice frame.

With all that said, we liked it and liked it muchly.  It had enough of everything we wanted.  After missing an opportunity with the corked 2001 a few days ago, this had much of what we yearned for, if in a smaller package.  Sort of came off like a transitional episode of your favorite TV show where you got to enjoy everything you like about your favorite show but, in the end, it more moved the story arc forward than revealing anything new and juicy.

Good stuff though, and I'd drink it by the gallon.

Pairing:  92  Not perfect but goshdarn good

It was in the weight of the food and the wine.  Nearly perfect match.

Once that was established, it was in the play with the cumin and the secondary flavors in the wine.  Delicious with the farro.  Strained a bit to get going with duck but eventually got there in very serviceable ways.

Overall, great food and Heredia wine.  It's what we Like.

Note:  A Winner, Winner, Shrimp Dinner with beet salad the night before, served with a 2005 Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familia Cava ($16 - Binny's).

Shrimp tossed in black garlic and extra virgin olive oil, sautéed in garlic oil, bay leaves and chile de arbol.  Quality frozen shrimp is back on the market and we welcome its return.  Great shrimp here, not the Shrimp On Fire from July, fantastic shrimp with a delicious black garlic quality and beautiful oil infused with all of The Flavors to dip baguette into.

Roasted beet salad with dill, scallions, cumin-scented oil and white balsamic vinegar with mint sprinkled over everything, including the shrimp.  Bit of a Sea and Earth play.  The freshness of the beets, especially with the dill presence, brought a great counterpoint to the shrimp-garlic-oil goodness.

We fell in love with this Cava at Purple Pig and hunted it down.  Our first experience with it at home was somewhat of a disappointment, coming off more simple and less funky with Bill Kim chicken thighs.  I liked as a basic Cava but didn't love it, thinking it might be bottle variation or simply liking the wine at Purple Pig more because of the atmosphere/moment.

It was back to the goods with this drinking, more like the Purple Pig experience than the chicken thigh one.  Funky basement and almost a fermented cider quality this time with beautiful acid and lifty bubbles propping up the funk more than the fruit, which is what we desire more than anything with Cava.

Having this experience of the Juvé y Camps at the table with black garlic shrimp made for something wonderfully tasty.  As with most good bubbly, it can complement nearly anything.  So versatile and so playful.  No exception here.  We loved it.

The 2010 Groth Sauvignon Blanc ($17 - Binny's; 5% Semillon), the winner of an Asimov New York Times California sauvignon blanc tasting a couple of months ago, was a winner probably because it doesn't taste so much like a California white.

Served with turkey, avocado, pea shoot and onion sandwiches, it comes off like a Pouilly Fumé with its floral, funky, grassy notes and less obvious fruit, which were admirable and fine, even tasty but we don't need it again.

Some of that probably comes from wanting the delicacy of Sancerre over Pouilly Fumé's richness.  Good but I enjoyed the Elizabeth Spenser stuff more than this Groth for its crispness and ease of slurping in the California SB realm.


  1. Great blog Christo.
    I looked everywhere for contact details. I want to ask you how you got your menu at the top of the page, its the best example I have seen on blogger of a good drop down menu.
    If you programmed it yourself and can help then I would be forever in your debt, if not no problems and best wishes.

  2. I never check my comments because I rarely get one. If I'd known, I would have responded but thanks for the 'tude. Go to post #225 and look in the comments.