Thursday, July 17, 2014

Brandade, Crostini & Tomato Salad With 2013 Laurent Miquel Albariño & 2012 Perfum de vi Blanc

Read Matt Kramer's piece in Wine Spectator on the dogma from both sides of the 'natural' wine debate. We couldn't agree more, as is the case with most everything that comes from Matt Kramer.

Last night's meal checked off all of the boxes in terms of goodness. Substantial without being gut-busting? Check. Fresh and clean? Check. Twenty different flavors that mingled well together? Check. Wines that played right into those flavors? Check.

This was utterly satisfying food. Some of the best this year. But if we'd eaten this without wine, it would have been a meal that fell into the category of mere consumption, instead of the long, lazy, slow, indulging event that it became.

Plus, some people say they could eat bacon every day. I could eat fish in some form and drink albariño with it every day of my life and never tire of it. That's my bacon.

Should have taken a picture, cuz this was pretty food. Jacques Pépin Brandade de Morue au Gratin, substituting celery root for potatoes, rice milk for milk, and white balsamic for lemon juice. House favorite. This one shed its dairy-and-potato heft that sometimes wanders into heaviness, becoming something quite lifty and light. Charred bread to dip. Tomato salad - one of the best things I've eaten this year - of campari and yellow grape tomatoes, lightly charred garlic scapes, celery leaves, red chile and fresh oregano. One ounce leftover Dante sheep cheese shredded on top, mixed, and then put over arugula dressed with lemon zest, extra virgin olive oil and white balsamic.

Top-10 meal this year. Spectacular brandade and a tomato salad that brought the new and new with a side of new. The way the sheep cheese and fresh oregano mingled with the tomatoes was a perfect bite of food. All of it together felt oh-so vacationy. We're counting the days until vacationy turns into  vacation. Please get here. Please.

Speaking of new...French albariño. We saw that, we bought that, and we're buying more. Because it's Good. Because it kept changing with different bites of food, and because it had all the rocky mineral edge, zip and broadness that comes from great albariño. 2013 Laurent Miquel Albariño ($20 - Lush), was the first planting of albariño in the Languedoc back in 2010 (great write-up on that here). This is the first vintage, I believe. Started out more simple, showing lime salt and minerals, only to settle in to everything that makes albariño so damn good. Peachy, gaseous, and long in the middle, framed by delicate citrus notes, with dark rocky minerals defining every sip all the way down, with tons of layers and oodles of different expressions. I said, "Geesh! That's good!" probably ten times. We found typical albariño pairing happiness with the salt cod, playing with the fish-garlic business in ways that evoke Iberian vacations. But with the tomato salad, something strange happened. It became so vast, yet delicate and brooding, smoky and kind of...Chablis-like. Quite electric. Complete surprise and completely delicious. We'll be following this one.

2012 Raventos i Blanc Perfum de vi Blanc Penedès ($12 - Binny's). While the albariño kept changing by itself and with food, the Perfum de vi Blanc, a house fav since probably the 2004 vintage, is typically a 60/40 macabeo/muscat blend. The 2012, however, includes for the first time that we know of, 21% chardonnay, which turned it into a entirely different beast. None of the aggressive floral and fancy fruit salad notes here. The chardonnay rounds it out and takes it down a notch. This isn't a bad thing. It still possesses its white flower, orange blossom and rose petal notes, just in a different, more toned-down form. Why the chardonnay? Might be more versatile with food. The macabeo/muscat blend had a smaller food box, tasting more like a pre-dinner wine to excite the tongue, but it was a entrée box we played in all the time, particularly with some spice. Previous vintages fell into perfect balance with a touch of zing and bought all the pleasure one could ask for if the food was expressly catered to its edge. Yet we liked this new expression. Nothing is lost and it feels more versatile with less catered-to food. We can be more gardeny and less specific with this blend, which is a nice thing. This picked up the fresh oregano in the tomato salad and ran with it, turning quite serious, amping up the rose petal notes and even bringing a figgy number.

Great food. Great pairing. One of the best meals this year.

No comments:

Post a Comment