I have made some very ugly food lately to accompany some very beautiful wine. What can I say? I seek the paradox.
First up, as I stated last time, I felt compelled to let my cellar shopping lead me to a red. The chosen bottle has lain in the top row of my rack for a few years now, and I have studiously avoided it. I won this Bordeaux in an auction and frankly I knew nothing about it, so I have steered clear of it because learning things is hard. Still: I set a goal, and one must at the very least address one’s goals, even if one does not achieve them*. A web perusal didn’t reveal much either: just a few reviews of other vintages on the wine website equivalents of Yelp. Ergo: not particularly helpful or trustworthy. But, on consideration. Bordeaux? OK, yeah. 2009 vintage? Supposedly drinking pretty well right now. Bottled at the chateau? Always a good bet.
*Please do not repeat these words back to me when I complain about my inability to run a fast half-marathon, organize my shoe collection, or give up sugar, because that would be mean.
On the Sunday we opened this bottle, I had just spent two days with nine other crazy people learning how to deliver and coach High Intensity Interval Training programs on an indoor cycle. (NB: Have you heard of Sprint? Lemme tell ya: this program puts the OW in WOW. Good stuff!) We punished out legs and shoved our noggins full of the latest exercise science. By Sunday night, my body was battered and my mind was numb. Luckily, the Jamie of Saturday did the Jamie of Sunday a solid by throwing some hefty hunks of beef chuck into the slow cooker with a good glug of red wine and aromatics. By the time I dragged my sorry butt home on Sunday, the beef was tender (but NOT falling apart; thank you Serious Eats!) and the house smelled delightfully meaty. I roasted some carrots in duck fat, topped them with a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds, and served the mess of it over buttered noodles and sauteed mushrooms. We slathered planks of toast with beef marrow and sea salt because carbs soothe the soul.
The wine matched well! If I trust my tastebuds, Chateau Gabaron is a right bank wine, as it displayed more Merlot characteristics than the left bank Cabernet Sauvignon dominated wines do. It reminded me greatly of a Pomerol, with notes of violets and black currents on the nose. The palate followed suit, with medium tannins and an underscore of minerals. We decanted about an hour before dinner; I think two hours would have served the wine better. Although this wine drank well now, I think it could have cellared well for another three to five years at least. I can assure you, though, that my tired bones and empty belly could not have cared less about its aging potential. This meal, although supremely ugly, nourished me in the best possible way.
Grade: B+. The stew slightly overpowered the wine. A lighter beef or veal dish would have worked better.
For wine #2, I jumped back into my wheelhouse of super-acidic, highly aromatic whites. Several months ago, I bought four bottles of the 2007 von Hövel Spätslese Riesling. We drank one immediately and I swooned. This wine has more structure than the Golden Gate Bridge and enough quirky finesse to walk the runway at Martin Margiela.
It smells of dried green apple, dried apricot, mango, honeysuckle, lime blossom, and over-ripe peach. It also has the delightful Riesling tell-tales of petrol and wet slate. The palate is off-dry, but immediately balanced by high acidity, which brings tension and intelligence to the wine. The palate, driven by dried peaches, apricots, mango and lime zest sets up a gloriously long, distinct finish of minerality. This bottle should really be my profile photo on all social media because I want to grow up to be this wine. At eight years old it shines, but I think I’ll keep the final two bottles in the cellar, as its balance of sugar and acid balance suggest that it will age well for another decade or two.
And to think that I served this sublime wine with chicken wings! Yes: I did. It’s a sad, predictable cliché (as I imagine all clichés are), but I do love spicy Asian food with Riesling, so we ate Korean chicken wings and kimchi pancake for dinner. The pancake suffers horribly in the looks department: it will win no beauty pageant. It might, however, take home the trophy in an arm wrestling contest, as the funky kimchi and the duck fat I used to fry it made this one assertive pancake.
Grade: A-, due to the sheer ugliness of the pancake.
And now for something that deserves a solid A: I am completely besotted with the new Nada Surf album. I must confess that I have a real issue with Nada Surf. I cannot listen to them responsibly. When I hook into a NS song, one listen turns into seven in a row, turns into forty-two, turns into something completely embarrassing (as if forty-two wasn’t enough to blush over). And that’s where we are with this particular song, the first single off the album. I don’t like the video; it’s too twee for me. But, golly, Matthew Caws’s voice! And, the short grey hair is so fetching! Happy listening.