Monday, February 6, 2012

#250 - Oxtail Ropa Vieja Over Rice With '08 Villa Creek Mas De Maha

Super Bowl dinner.

I'd like to thank NBC for delivering a broadcast so much less LOUD than anything FOX has ever done.  And no dancing robot.  Life is better without dancing gladiator robots (though the trumpets before the trophy ceremony was a bit much).

I'd like to not thank NBC for being less loud because I rather enjoy hating on the Super Bowl.  Haters always be hatin'.  And I'm a hater.  I admit it. It's just so much spectacle for spectacle's sake.

Cassoulet with pink wine used to be Super Bowl tradition.  It's a riff on ropa vieja with Villa Creek Mas de Maha now.  Last year was ropa without the vieja and a 2006 Mas de Maha.  This year, it's oxtail ropa vieja with our second drinking of the 2008.

Food:  Oxtail ropa vieja over white rice and an arugula salad


Traditional ropa vieja ingredients - pepper medley, garlic, tomatoes, oregano, cloves, bay, etc. and more cinnamon this time, which turned out to be a great thing with the wine.  Korean pepper paste added to turn it Cubany-Korean...or Korean-Cubany.

Oxtail marinated in tangerine juice used this round.  With oxtail, the goods are in the bones and fat.  Browned up with onions, thrown into the stewy goodness and let braise together for hours, the shock came in how light the meal came off.

The stewy richness was present but it was highlighted more by how the spices led the way with the brightness of the peppers serving as a great supporting cast.  The oxtail meat, fat and bones brought a better, more complex element than the typical short rib fat party, which is the reason why we've went with flank and shirt steak so much in the past.  Might have a winner here.  Cheaper and more authentic.

All served over cumin-scented white rice with pomegranate seeds sprinkled over everything.  Arugula with red wine vinegar, olive oil and pomegranate seeds to finish.

Surprisingly light meal with deeper flecks of spicy, fatty hits here and there.

Delicious stuff made more delicious with the wine.  1+1=3.

Wine:  2008 Villa Creek Mas de Maha Paso Robles ($35 - Winery)

Grapes:  60% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Carignan
Vintage (WS):  96-99 - Paso Robles - A tough start ended with glorious wines statewide, rivaling 2007 for complexity, depth and finesse

This drinking confirms our first drinking of the 2008 with Boulud fennel balls back in September.  It's fancy boy wine.

Tight upon first open.  Triple decant moved things along quickly.  A purply sparkle in the glass with a nose of roasting meat, herbs, licorice and blackberries.  Not massive in the least.  Medium-bodied and could (again) almost be called Old World in its edge.  Virtually no California-ness in the least.  No syrupy core.  We found some of that in the 2006 later in our drinkings of that wine, when the tempranillo's lift started to fade a bit (only to see it return with a glorious vengeance later).

Juicy, lively, darker cherry and blackberry fruit with secondary flavors of licorice, herbs, cinnamon leading the way from the backseat.  Touch of plum.  A Rhône-ish background finish but the tempranillo drove the bus again with its acid lift and tannin.  In our first drinking of the 2008, I thought Villa Creek had been getting into Portuguese wines of late as a tinta roriz expression seemed to be present.  This time, sangiovese was the comparison.  If given blind, I'd have thought I was given a fancy Chianti.  More dark cherry notes and an brighter acid wrapped around tiny hints of baking spices was a driver.  Then it transferred the baton to a Rhône finish of olives and herbs.  So complex, so original, so delicious.  Just pops so beautifully.

We fell in love with Mas de Maha with the 2006.  The 2008 is a grown-up version of it.  Feels like a huge step forward in complexity, restraint and wine-making.  Best of both worlds again, Old and New.  Long life here and it's getting to the point where comparisons to other regions won't be happening.  This is becoming Paso Robles to us.  No comparisons.  Nice thing, that.  Who knew?

Pairing:  93  Lovely, lovely, lovely stuff

The cinnamon abundance in the ropa vieja was the Rosetta Stone.  It took everything in the food and in the wine and created a point on which all the other flavors could revolve around.  Each bite was better with wine.  Each drink was better with a bite of food.

Cubany food and Mas de Maha again.  It's as foolproof as it gets.

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