Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cracking Crabs with Cava

After hauling in a huge load of crab legs, the Wine Armada sensed a challenge. We figured crab and Cava would make a great combination, but which one of Spain’s sparklers would work best?

We began our journey with Miquel Pons Brut Nature. No dosage during fermentation, makes this drier than most Cavas, but creating an intensity of flavor we all enjoyed. In fact, we thought this wine resembled Champagne more than any Cava we had previously tasted.

Montsarra Cava Brut was next on deck and dazzled us with a complex array of flavors. This more traditional Cava had a great balance of aromatics, flavor and a squeaky clean finish.

We concluded our journey with a bottle of Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava. This mothership of Spanish sparkling wine was a creamy, elegant symphony of citrus and minerals, with a finish that sailed on and on. Full of flavor, yet light on it’s feet.

As expected all paired quite well with the fresh steamed crab, occasionally dipped in melted butter. But the the true shining beacon of the evening was the Miquel Pons. Something about the fine texture of the wine, it’s lack of residual sugar, and citrus peel notes, made a magical merger with the crab.

Let us know when you put crab and Cava on your menu and what results from your expedition.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pairing Paella

Paella - the dish that launched a thousand interpretations. This culinary diversity makes for a wine pairing challenge. Fortunately, the Wine Armada, armed with tasting experience in both Paella and Spanish vino, has risen to this occasion presented by a friend’s dinner invitation. The words “we’ll cook, if you bring the wine,” is music to our ears.

We christened our journey with one of the “Kings of Cava”, Segura Viudas Brut Reserva. While simple, inexpensive cavas are always crowd pleasers, this bubbly adds new found depth, and richness, to the palate for only a few dollars more. It was absolutely delicious on it’s own, but catapulted our first course of balsamic-drizzled tomatoes, and steamed mussels, to new gastronomic levels.

A series of wines were then opened, and ready for their orders, when the Paella was served. First out of the dock was a rare find, Montecillo Blanco. While I thought the 2007 vintage was possibly past its prime, others on board were extremely pleased. Even a few “I drink mostly-red wine" crew members were captured by the classy restraint, and minerality, of this White Rioja.

The 2010 Bodegas Borsao 'Campo de Borja' Garnacha Rosado was next in line and the fresh strawberry/red raspberry aromas quickly seduced everyone. More of the same red berry flavors pleased the palate with a clean, refreshing finish. The quality of this rose' made it quite obvious why this segment of the wine market has seen such explosive growth recently.

The classic Paella pairing of red Rioja was next, with two diverse styles ready to test the waters. The 2009 Montebuena Rioja was the youngster of the pair, offering a beautiful blend of red cherry, great acidity and a long, pure aftertaste. The 2006 Bodegas Lan Rioja Crianza was deeper and darker, with black cherry, leather and spice notes, but more astringent tannins than one would expect from a five-year old wine.

This particular Paella was perfectly prepared, containing more seafood and chicken, with a smaller quantity of chorizo. This meal continued to confirm I am a huge fan of white Rioja (Viura) with this style of Paella. The Montecillo Blanco's subtly, and minerality, was in glorious harmony with the ingredients in the dish. The Montebuena Rioja was a second-place finisher, with great fruit, and impeccable balance, that would satisfy the “red wine only” audience.

While the other wines were also quite good, they fell to the rear of the fleet with this particular Paella. The Rosado being too fruit-forward, and would be a better match with barbeque chicken or cheese enchiladas. The big, bold structure of the Rioja Crianza would best be served with steak hot off the grill or pot roast.

Let the Armada know your Paella wine pairing preference, and what discoveries you've made in the wide world of Spanish wine and cuisine.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Set Your Course for 3500 Winehaus

A big, 21-gun salute for Marco, of A. Bommarito Wines, for conducting the January 25, Spanish wine tasting event at 3500 Winehaus in South St. Louis. This destination was not previously on the Wine Armada charts, but we have now implemented a course correction, with plans on returning as soon as possible. The cozy confines, and congenial crowd, combined with a unique wine line-up that made for a successful journey through the various regions of Spain.

Beginning with a luscious, well-balanced Cava Reserva, continuing through a wide array of whites and reds, we ended with a muscular garnacha/syrah blend from the increasingly popular Madrid DO. The following is the full wine menu we experienced, along with an enticing array of Spanish cheeses, local deli meats, olives and bread supplied by our 3500 Winehaus hosts.

Gran Gesta NV Cava Brut Reserva

Penascal Sauvignon Blanc

Agrícola Castellana Inspiracion Pampano Rueda

Bodegas Legado Muñoz, Tempranillo

Altanza Dominio de Heredia Rioja

Merum Old Vines Grenache - Syrah

All these wonderful wines are available for purchase at 3500 Winehaus. If winter squalls cause your crew to seek shelter, this classy little port of call may be just what you need to right your ship.