Basqueing in Friendship, Food, & Wine

I’ve mentioned my friend and fellow Wine Ranger Heather in previous posts.  She and I have been friends for … let’s just say a long time, OK?  Over the summer we’ve been busy with summer stuff and just hadn’t managed to get together and kibitz like we should.  Luckily, a couple of weeks ago we had the chance to correct that and catch up at a local restaurant named SER.

SER is owned by Josu Zubikarai who hails from the Basque area of Spain.  As their website explains – “Raised in San Sebastian, the Basque Country’s capital city, Josu began his formal training as a chef at age 17, working his way through the ranks in various restaurants, initially in the Basque region, but also moving around and exploring other areas of Spain. He grew up working in his family’s restaurant outside San Sebastian, developing the passion and commitment he brings to SER today.”

Unlike so many of today’s trendy Spanish restaurants, SER is not a tapas restaurant.  Certainly, they have appetizers and some small portion dishes, but they are a Spanish “tavern” where you go to experience a gastronomical journey in a casual, friendly atmosphere.  We sat out on their patio (seen above) and enjoyed ourselves immensely while we ate our way across the menu.  Interested in a wine journey as well as a foodie experience, we tried the following selections from their wine list.

Viña Galana Garnacha 2012
Tierra de Castilla, Spain

We found this Garnacha a very fine red to accompany meat dishes, although we noted that it was somewhat lower in acidity than others we’ve had before.

Domaine de Menard Cuvée Marine
Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Côtes de Gascogne, France

It had a very big bouquet redolent with sweet tropical fruit while on the palate is was quite a dry selection hewing primarily to citrus flavors.

Gañeta Hondarribi Zuri 2014
Getario Txakolina, Spain

This was a light white selection from the Basque region of Spain.  Reminding us of a Grüner Veltliner, it was poured at the table through an aerator from about a foot above the glass.  The nose held lots of lanolin with citrus notes, but the flavors leaned the other direction – mainly grapefruit with touches of lanolin.

Viña Borgia Garnacha 2012

Looking at the front label, one might assume this was another red blend table wine from the old word.  But looking closely at the small print on the back label, you find that this wine is made from 100% Garnacha grapes.  Imported to the U.S. by Jorge Ordoñez, it comes from Borja in “the heart of Aragon” which is known for it’s production of Garnacha wines.

Winemaker:  Viña Borgia by Bodegas Borsao
Varietal:  Garnacha
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Campo de Borja DDO, Spain
Price:  $6.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  I’ve noted a number of reviews from various sources mentioning “hot” flavors in wines.  I can’t say that I’ve really experienced that myself – until now.  This wine was very dark purple in the glass.  On the nose I detected dark cherry, pepper, and a hint of earth.  The body of this selection from Bodegas Borsao was quite light.  Tannins were moderate, and acidity was high.  Alcohol was at 14%.  On the tongue I caught flavors of dark cherry with notes of black raspberry followed quickly by the heat I mentioned.  No doubt attributable to it’s high acidity, the heat was similar to a mild jalapeño (the flesh, no seeds) without the actual flavor of said pepper.  At the close this Garnacha presented a nice dose of black pepper with a dash of bitters and notes of pomegranate pulp and seed.  The finish lingers.  As high as this is in acidity, it will easily cut through when paired with food.  I’d suggest something earthy and/or fatty.  Maybe a nice hearty whole grain pasta with cream sauce (not tomato sauce) or roast lamb.