Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ropa Without the Vieja And Elotes With 2008 Villa Creek Mas de Maha

We thought we wanted ropa vieja and yuca fries last week with one of our favorite wines, particularly with said Cuban-y food.

In the end, once we were eating it, we found out we really wanted Mexican street corn and Mas de Maha with a side of ropa vieja.

That result was mainly because, oddly, the spring corn was so good with the queso fresco-herb-spice slather. And because Mariano's hanger steak got its third and last chance. It's barely acceptable. Has no depth! No grizzle! No anima! It's limp, tired beef that has no place in our house no matter how close Mariano's is to our abode now.

With the cumin and oregano from the beef marinade and cinnamon-led red and green pepper-onion-tomato business below it, we got enough in the way of goodness to drive the wine right into its sweet spot, which was all we really wanted.

Because Villa Creek Mas de Maha Paso Robles ($35 - Winery) is love in a bottle. Last year, I mused, as I tend to do, that Mas de Maha might lead the category of "if I could only have one American red for the rest of my life, this might be it." I said that because it would have to be (1) a wine that was fairly cheap, (2) probably a blend to catch the wide range of flavors we typically eat, (3) possess a grace, freshness and lift, and (4) not shirk from its duty with food. Since $25-and-under in the U.S. is a big, bloated mess of 'meh' with some exceptions, the $25 to $35 range is the happy place in the U.S. Not cheap, but not ridiculous either. Mas de Maha fills that bill, with such perfect New World tempranillo freshness supported by grenache, mourvèdre and carignan to give it some guts.

Showed virtually the same as last year. "Fresh upfront, more dirty, darker, deep, licorice-y and olive-y in the middle, with a cinnamon finish that jazzes up all of that without becoming too ridiculous. It's a wine that tastes like it knows what it's doing. Smooth tannins, pop and pour, perfect in every respect for our liking." This isn't ripe or sweet in the least. It's a savory, delicious wonder that takes its time to reveal all its layers. And while it's not the best red wine I've ever had, it IS a red wine I could drink every couple of weeks for the rest of my life and I don't think I'd grow tired of it.

Nice with the corn, but it strutted beautifully with a cinnamon-heavy pepper-onion bite. This was an example of a meal that might have made us angry due to the meat blah-ness, but Mas de Maha and good corn only made us think about the good things happening on the plate and in the glass.

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