Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#229 - Pancetta Lamb, Pea Purée & Potatoes With '06 Ken Wright

Let's get link-happy.

We've mostly eaten our lamb in a supporting cast sense this year, using it as a protein to complement an interesting recipe here (Turkish beany surprise) and/or to try an ignored grape/style there (cabernet franc/Amarone).

We've had it out in the world this year (-ish) at Taxim (sausage form) and Blackbird (saddle form/rack form) and didn't have it out at Bacchus, unfortunately.

Or, when lamb was made to be the star of a meal, something like a potato-kale cake, fregola and carrot purée or, well, Turkish beany surprise, came along and stole its thunder.

Back to the lamb basics last night:  Lamb made to complement the lamb, support the lamb and star the lamb with flavors leaning more toward clean American.

When that happens, it's pinot noir.  Tried and true, always delicious and tastes like Home, tradition, holiday, friendship and Love ("To every season, turn, turn, turn...").

Food:  Pancetta-wrapped lamb, pea purée, pomegranate seeds and roasted potatoes with mâche salad

Medium-rare TJ's rack o' lamb, crusted with pistachio, thyme, rosemary, olive oil and pepper, wrapped in pancetta. A Ferran Adriá recipe from Food & Wine.  Doing a quick scan back on this here blog, I think it's been about a year since Mrs. Ney went lamb-centric flavors focusing entirely on the lamb, with a nearly identical prep last October served with saffron risotto and Ponzi, and six months before that, served (and served greatly) with Angela Pinot Noir (and clafoutis(!)).  North African and Spanish preparations excelled with lamb in the recent past but we love those flavors so much that they tend to dominate the impression of the meal.  This meal was about the lamb (have I mentioned that?) and golly, we did love it so much.

Pea purée underneath to complement the lamb, as it does so well.  Long and happy friends, there.  Pomegranate seeds ('tis the season), parsley and mint sprinkled over everything.

Roasted potatoes with mayo for dipping because it's what we like.

Mâche salad with balsamic and pomegranate seeds to finish.

Tasted like a greatest food hits album from three years ago in the best possible way.  Old buddies, old shoes, favorite pair of jeans, an old blanket, like everything you want and like from the past.

Tasted like a memory.

Wine:  2006 Ken Wright Pinot Noir Canary Hill Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills ($45 - Binny's)

I think we at one time or another have covered nearly all of the Ken Wright vineyards in one vintage or another.  What we've come to realize is that Abbott Claim rules the roost for our tongues.  That's the one we are going to collect and more diligently follow.

The 2006 Canary Hill nonetheless came off like a well-crafted, sporty number drinking very pretty right now.  Out of the cellar and popped 40 minutes before drinking.  Too cold but no need for decanting on initial sip.  Great evolution throughout the meal, changing with every drink, which was the best quality of the wine for us.

A cranberry, berry and blackberry jumble that evoked a sweetness on the nose right away.  The palate showed the same with a tiny hint of cherry cola here and there that got lost in the nose fruits with an added touch of plum.  Or...a darker red/purple fruit mélange with no singular, backbone fruit propping up the rest.  As with the fruit expression, a touch of cinnamon here and a touch of fennel/licorice there, meaty at times, but not much in the way of a striking confidence of chiseled flavors with this one.  THAT SAID, quite good stuff here, leaning towards delicious (almost).

People on the interwebs complain about the low acid.  We didn't feel that.  Only a tiny notch more would have been nice in our view but nothing distracting in the least.  Same with the sweetness.  We got a wine that started out like it was going to be sweet but never, ever got there.  Medium finish, proper tannins doing their thing.

In the end, the joy came in the mostly graceful changes, always offering something better-than-average different.  $38 Oregon pinot noir good.  But money well spent.

Throw in some tea notes and this one would have been a winner for our tongues.

Pairing:  91  Throw in some tea notes in the wine and this one shoots into the 95 territory

The pairing never once wandered into the [pause..."Ahhhh..."] world but did hit many of the points that typically must precede such loveliness.

What we liked most was the fact that every bite and every sip was a nice complement.  Nothing turned weird or harsh and the wine offered a lot of well-made grace and finesse and had enough guts and gusto to transform itself into something different with each sip.

The food had everything to prop up and carry a good $20 Oregon pinot, most likely resulting in the same pairing success but Ken Wright, you make pretty wines.  They're the benchmark for the under $50 Oregon set.

And pomegranate seeds with Oregon pinot love each other.  Always.

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