Friday, February 21, 2014

Boar/Pork Belly Rillettes & Guinea Hen Hash With 2009 Quinta do Vallado Tinto Douro


Souped-up hash.

Leftovers made fancy.

With a $20 wine that we thank all that is holy nobody purchases at Binny's, yet some buyer there keeps stocking it year after year.

More for us.

Check that. I'm convinced there's one other customer in the city that's wise enough to know the deliciousness of Portuguese wine. And we jostle with him or her for the city's stock. They sit on the shelf for months after we've procured enough for us, and visit after visit they remained seated, until one day they're gone. And one day, we're going to meet that person. And it's going to be like grabbing the last Cabbage Patch.

There will be a stare-down and there might be a fight.

Food: Boar/Pork Belly Rillettes & Guinea Hen Hash

Leftovers from the week. Wild boar/pork belly rillettes from Monday and guinea hen from Tuesday (best meal of the year, that). Boiled potatoes, onions, red pepper, garlic, olive oil, a little smoked paprika, lots of rosemary, carrots, juice from both meats, parsley, egg for me, saffron mayo for Mrs. Ney (saffron mayo AND egg yolk run would have just been too much).

All of it griddled up on the $30 flat-top that has gotten more work than we ever expected. Bitch to clean, though. Many times I do a good enough job and call it "seasoned."

The rillettes fat got into the potatoes, got into everything, to great effect. The guinea hen maintained its delicious, slightly gamey-fowl taste. Each bite brought something new, with a griddled char on certain bites that linked up with the bush fire notes floating around in one of our favorite wines.

Wine: 2009 Quinta do Vallado Tinto Douro ($20 - Binny's)

Touriga Franca (30%), Touriga Nacional (25%), Tinta Roriz (20%), Sousão (5%) and old vines (20%)

We're biased. We stayed at Vallado in September of 2010 ("Vacation dropper!"), leading to the most calm both of us had been in years. So beautiful, so quiet, so...empty. We could hear ourselves think. And not think, which was very much welcome.

Here's the vast majority of our previous Vallado drinkings. The Reserva Field Blend, at $50, punches so above its price tag, we keep them only "for special."

I've attempted with zero success to get people to drink Douro reds. Again, more for us. Vallado's portfolio plays like a sommelier course on the entire spectrum of Douro reds. The Quadrifolia is a DRY, bare-bones wonder that perfectly exhibits the Douro structure and outline. This entry-level tinto shows how adding only the best stuffing to that can create one of the best $20 wine out there. The Field Blend is just stupid perfection. So perfectly rounded out. Their 100% sousão sits in the top five of the most unique wines I've had. Bloody as all get-out. Their branco is mostly everything that's great about white Portuguese wine. The rosé, only had at the winery tasting, was like grilled lamb juice and strawberries had a baby. The Touriga Nacional was a little too cab-y for me. We haven't had their Adelaide, mainly because at $125, it's a little spendy-spendy when everything else they make delivers so well. Plus, spendy-spendy in that range is reserved for our first Portuguese love, Quinta do Vale Meão. That stuff has become like drinking a memory.

Whew! I've had coffee! Anyway. 2009 in the Douro became a solid enough vintage in the end, producing good, but lighter wines. 2003, 2007 & 2011 are the "buy them recklessly" Douro years, but the expressions of any year still seem new and delicious to us every time we have them.

This one just passed the apex of its roller coaster ride, beginning its careen downward, with one or two good years still left. Oaky upon first pop but blew off quick-like. Swirling dark red fruits surrounded by an herby brush fire. Some background smoked olive and iron. Dry structure, dry in the way only Douro reds are. Like they use the dryness to accent how happily unique and abstruse they are without being pretentious about it. Portuguese people are the least pretentious people I've ever met. This is not the 2007 tinto. That one is still strutting like Kramer in his pimp garb. This one is less so but still offers all the happy-slappy goods in a lighter-toned package.

Douro reds. They're like good Châteauneuf-du-Pape without all the shiny, superfluous stuff. And that's what makes them good.

Pairing: It was good to see you again, buddy!

Here's a meal where the absence of technical, third-order linkages didn't matter. We got what we wanted. Some basic, first-order matching with the Iberian mountain man-like hash and a red wine that played right into that. The rosemary was key.

This was just hash. We made it more so.

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