Thursday, June 23, 2011

#201 - Vegetarian Mexican Stew With '06 Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel

For a lazy day that left us indifferent to pretty much anything related to food or wine, a nice little meal evolved out of it:

Food that was quick and easy, meatless and cheap with a wine that had gotten to the point of burning our retinas with its ubiquitous yet blah-inducing nature every time we looked at the shelf for a wine to drink for dinner.

Zinfandel really isn't our bag.  Has a place but it's always been a very specific place and that's been briskety-type meals, the last time in December eating a briskety asado negro, mashed plantains, jalapeño cheddar biscuits and sautéed spinach with an '07 Seghesio zinfandel estate bottling.

Over the last three years, in the Zinfandel world, our love has been given mostly to the Saldo line of the Orin Swift brand, having the 2008 with beef brisket and cornbread and very much liking what it brought to the table.

And the first time I had the Seghesio basic Sonoma bottling about three years ago, it was, for me, the answer to the question, "What's a cheap bottle of wine that will give me an idea what 'balance' in wine means?"  Fantastic stuff when very young.

The Old Vine Sonoma last night, after it got out of its initial Robitussin phase, turned into something more welcome but never jettisoned itself out of the world of 'typical.'

Food:  Vegetarian Mexican Stew over leftover Thomas Keller grits-polenta cakes

Muir Glen roasted tomatoes, onions, ancho peppers, cumin and mexican oregano simmered together down into an extremely pleasant, medium-deep, Mexican stew-like concoction and put over the grits cake from the previous night.

Baby zucchini, broiled with extra virgin olive oil slathered all over it with cilantro and asiago (?) dumped over the entire plate.

Tasted sort of ragù-ish without the meat and the meatlessness was very much wanted (I heartily endorse the Meatless Mondays movement btw, which would be Thursday for us).  A composed, deeper and delicious flavor to everything was the surprise of the night as this meal was simply thrown together after the thought of going out didn't really appeal in the least.  Grits cakes were still tasty and retained their essence of goodness quite nicely.  Hints of Mexico everywhere but tasted, once again, more Californian than anything.  Fresh but tons of developed depth for something so quickly made.  Good, period, actually.  A lime spritz would have taken it into more Mexican territory and that would probably have brought more of a vacillation between bright and deeper but we were happy.

The wine, after the alcohol stepped back, helped out.

Wine:  2006 Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel Sonoma ($27 - Binny's)

A decant might have helped but the cough syrup quality and the HELLO! alcohol blew off rather quickly, turning itself something nice but nothing more than a typical zinfandel, which nonetheless was liked enough, if not particularly wanted again.

Big jumble of wild, darker berry fruit with a homemade jam but not jammy edge.  The sugar, while present, wasn't hugely pronounced, showing more of a pleasing, baseline, zinfandel sugar quality instead being a sugar drink in a glass.  Unidentifiable herbs floated around and some hints of vanilla on occasion.  While the huge alcohol hit blew off, its 15.4-ness still was the loudest talker in the room.

Fine enough, well-made and a lot here to think it will drink well for a couple more years.  Still very much alive but didn't inspire much love by itself.  Sort of standard stuff.

With the food, not too shabby though.

Pairing:  88  California food with California wine.  Big place for that.

Once the wine settled down, its big basket of darker fruit and secondary flavors fell in line with the acid in the food along with a good structure properly showing.  Brought more in flavor and depth to the meal, which, in its basic form, is what a good pairing should do.

Don't know if I can say it ever got out of that 'in its basic form' pairing phase but at times it became almost evocative of something that is tasted tried-and-true, established and good, coming mostly from how zinfandel typically performs well with stewy, slightly spicy flavors.

And for the day, we were fine with just that.

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