"Olives! Olives everywhere!"
"That's...sparkling wine acid!"
"Grapefruit. Geesh! Grape. Fruit."
"Like grilled grapefruit."
"Tons of it."
"My God. There's so much acid and it's freakin' awesome!"
"All acid and still balanced at tens years old!"
"Didn't get this the last time."
"Is that chinotto? Some sort of weirdly delicious bitter peel."
"It wouldn't be a white wine if I drank it blind but...maybe an orange wine?"
"Yeah...there's dark cherry at its very narrow core but..."
"And olives. So many black olives!"
"This might be my favorite wine ever. Probably not but it might be. It's up there."
"It's real close. So strangely delicious!"
No winemaker definitively knows how a wine is going to show ten years after putting it in the bottle, but I bet Two Hands didn't expect this. Maybe they did. I don't know. I've never made wine. But I bet they'd be/are pleased with something like this personality. I wonder if they had a 2004 taste like this? because this was so beautifully strange (I can't believe I'm leaving that pun in), it would be sad if others in this world didn't also experience it.
Because this was as original as it gets in our wine world.
Food: Flap meat, pumpkin-blue cheese arancini and kale salad
Freezer flap meat, stored since last July, originally had with Rock Wall Tannat, a delicious meal. How this meat held up so well, I do not know. Seared medium-rare in bacon fat, rubbed simply with salt, pepper and smoke seasoning, so nothing would get in the way of the wine. Essentially a meat garnish at 5 oz. each. Nothing freezer-lost in the least in terms of flavor. This was delicious flap meat garnish.
Pumpkin and Rogue Smokey Blue Cheese arancini, from an Australian recipe (Mrs. Ney kept it in the food-wine family), substituting blue cheese for feta and rosemary for sage. Light, with guts. The blue cheese never became a bully, because Rogue makes cheese with subtlety and restraint that goes great with wines of this sort. Big success.
Dipping/topping sauce for the arancini made from freezer pepper purée (pasilla, mulato, ancho), mixed with evoo, balsamic, worcestershire, mustard and roasted garlic. This was key to balancing out the wine and finding different stories for it to tell.
Kale salad to finish, topped with parsley and pomegranate seeds.
Happy food all around and a great platform for the wine to strut its stuff.
Wine: 2004 Two Hands Beautiful Stranger Amarone Shiraz ($75 with shipping from the winery)
Our first drinking of the 2004 and the story behind getting six bottles of the Beautiful Stranger from the winery is here. We had one of the 2006's but I didn't do a write-up, as it was during a hiatus from this weird little blog. The 2006 was much bigger (17% alcohol), and much younger compared to the 2004 and their comparative two-year vintage gap. This is 14% and more traditionally in the Amarone style, according to the winemaker.
What it tasted like is all above. We were shocked by the acid. Just shocked. Smoked citrus acid, it was everywhere, and we loved every second of it. Concentrated without ever being tight or tense. Opened it about an hour before dinner and capped it immediately, loving the OLIVE! nose and initial taste and wanting to keep it there. Filtered through a strainer into the glasses at the table.
Before this gets too long and I devolve into (even more) stories about when I was ten, I'll just say this was one of the most exciting, original, weird, pretty, strangely light and thought-provoking wines we've ever had.
And it's yet another example of an Australian wine that tells certain people that love broad generalizations in this world to shut up about Australian wines being without nuance. Stop it. You're just embarrassing yourselves.
Pairing: Everyday. All day. 365 days a year.
This was food with guts that stopped right at the door where it would get in the way of the wine.
It never opened that door, allowing the wine to explode with everything it had and slap us in the face with its greatness.
Maybe a touch more complete with a purée-vinaigrette on arancini bite, but with a push-up bra quality on the backend. Less long on the finish but more concentrated and intense, settling down the acid just a touch. More grilled grapefruit with the flap meat. Solid with the kale - a shock, particularly after being open for two-plus hours.
We savored every sip, so the one bottle lasted to the very end of the meal, a rarity for us.
In the end, we'll remember this one. For a long time.
[30 April 2014: Mrs. Ney says this very well may be her favorite wine of all time.]
[18 Nov 2014: See above.]