Sunday, January 1, 2012

#241 Orange-Green Olive Duck & Farro With A 1970 Heredia Bosconia

A New Year's tradition of sorts continues.

Just saw my first New Year's jogger, running as if he'd never run before, awkward and sloppy, jiggly and panting, so slow that the dog and I could almost keep up, looking like the Nike corporate headquarters puked up all over him, the tags freshly clipped off of all of it.

It's the kind of run that says this run, despite all good intentions, will not be repeated tomorrow.  It's the kind of run that instantly decouples the mind's best-laid, blind hope from reality with a hard smack in the face, telling you everything about what you've done and haven't done over the course of the last year.

Been there, buddy.

Good Luck.

We closed 2011 (Good Riddance. You kinda sucked.) with a magically delicious meal and a wine like no other, a wine older than either of us and a wine currently performing so much better than my New Year's jogger.

It was an aggressive beast worth every freaking cent.

Food:  Orange-green olive duck and farro with mâche salad to finish

Wondrous smells in the house during cooking.  The orange juice and grüner veltliner brandy alone, together in a sauce pan alone was something full of wonder.

From the Pintxos cookbook and very similar to the preparation back in September (that time served with a 2002 Heredia Bosconia), this time substituting grüner veltliner brandy for Metaxa, which was substituted for Grand Marnier.  Medium duck.  An orange juice, GV brandy, sherry vinegar reduction made and then homemade chicken stock added, continued reducing, followed by the addition of Castelvetrano green olives.  Butter to finish and orange segments added at the end.

Just as delicious as in September.  Tastes like entirely new duck, reminiscent of duck à l'orange but very northern Spanish.  Cold weather food with bright and hopeful accents.

Farro cooked in shallots, chestnuts, thyme and chicken stock. Mâche salad to finish.  Duck and farro marks dates/occasions for us.  Has in the past and continues to because it has that holiday taste and aura while pairing so well with wines we find special.

This wine was special.

Wine:  1970 López de Heredia Bosconia Gran Reserva ($220 - Spanish Table)

Grapes:  80% tempranillo, 15% garnacha, 3% graciano, and 2% mazuelo

This bugger had spunk and swagger, bucking right from the get-go!

A pop and pour.  Re-released in 2006, I believe.

I just couldn't get over how aggressive this was.  A strong booze-soaked, chocolate-covered cherry hit right away.  In fact, I'd say this is going through an alcoholic phase right now, at least this bottle was.

The cherry transitioned to raspberry (for Heredia?) rather quickly in the form of leather drenched in raspberry liqueur.  Turned later to a raspberry, kiwi and lime juice blend, oddly, strutting its shocking youth and vigor in the glass quite nicely.  Mrs. Ney thought it shut down briefly only to bounce right back.  Probably the biggest medium-bodied wine I've ever had with tons of confidence and brawn.  Not much evolution throughout the hour-and-a-half drinking time, defined mostly by an edge of nice tart fruit, alcohol that was more "present" than disjointed and upfront aggression that was never blunt with a pleasing, longish finish.  Surprised mostly by how it retained an acceptable level of balance without feeling like it was straining to do so.  This simply never faded, never revealing its age one bit. Tons of life, nothing really resolving itself here.  

Really quite awesome stuff with very little qualification.  Not much in the way of grace, I would say, nothing like the '64 Tondonia's ballet-type movement.  Didn't have the distinction or nuance of the '78 Bosconia.  Doesn't touch the '68 Tondonia Blanco's unbelievable structure.  This was more like David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews With Hideous Men.  It's not my favorite of his work but it's an essential piece in understanding what he was, how we thought and why he's my favorite writer.  I know much more about what Heredia is because I drank this.

Pairing:  91  After drinking it, we don't know if any other food could have done better in cracking the wine's veneer or hanging onto its reins and scoring higher with this rodeo-type bull

Spanish-driven duck and Heredia served well as a baseline match-up, as it usually does.  That kept everything hemmed in and playing nice.  I thought the olives would show better with an anticipated mushroom/black olive quality that didn't show up but little enhancement came in that department.  Mostly, the pairing joy came from the echoes of acid in the wine coming from the upfront fruit matching up with the orange juice/oranges and the alcohol playing with the brandy business in the sauce.  Those were the elements that brought the biggest bursts of clearly defined and delicious flavors.

In the end, the food took a cue from the wine raised its game to the wine's surprising massiveness.

Bigger food and bigger wine, from a meal we expected to be much more subtle and low-key.

2011 was much bigger in a bad way.

This meal revealed itself to us in the best, big way.

2011. Let's put you to bed now, sweetie.

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