Christmas Day Dinner Surprise

Continuing our staycation holidays, we awoke on Xmas morning ready to continue our celebrations.  Normally we have oatmeal for breakfast – I mean almost every single morning.  But this time we splurged on a full “American” breakfast with bacon, eggs, whole wheat toast, OJ, and coffee.  Afterward, we went out for a nice long walk because our bodies just weren’t accustomed to all of that … goodness.  It was pleasant out – brisk but not cold – so we ended up making it an unanticipated four miler.  It wasn’t just the weather that kept us walking.  All the holiday lights and decorations were up and on while the streets and sidewalks were almost deserted.  Peaceful and cheerful is how I would describe the overall ambiance.

oenophilogical_xmas2016We had once again decided on an early dinner with the following as our menu.  Leafy green salad, cauliflower au gratin, cranberry sauce, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding.  The cranberry sauce and cauliflower had been made ahead (the day before).  Leafy green salad?  Just some chopping and dicing to be done.  The “new” dish for us – despite both of us having familial ties (however distant) to the British Isles – was the Yorkshire pudding.  We had a recipe but had never even tasted a Yorkshire pudding much less made one.  Those who have made this dish before will tell you that the key to the creation of the dish is the drippings from the roast beast.

Imagine my surprise when my sweetie unwrapped a beautiful, almost no-fat tenderloin of beef to put in the oven.  Tenderloin of beef is a beautiful cut of meat.  It was a very nice surprise on the one hand.  On the other hand, it’s lack of fat meant a lack of drippings.  No drippings, no Yorkshire pudding!  What to do, what to do, what to do?!

oenophilogical_yorkshirepuddingI told you in a prior post that we – especially me – are follow-the-recipe cooks.  But I didn’t want to just give up, so I hit the internet.  I read many articles and posts about Yorkshire pudding and substitutions.  I owe a debt of gratitude to fellow bloggers out there sharing their own experiences with Yorkshire pudding.  They gave me a solution.  Remember our big fatty American breakfast?  We had put the bacon fat into a container to be discarded, but it was still waiting in the fridge.  Hallelujah!

This time we got the meal on the table in a timely manner and enjoyed a Tempranillo from Spain with our Xmas dinner.  It was a very tasty meal, if I do say so myself.

Winemaker:  Manyana
Varietal:  Tempranillo
Vintage:  2015
Appellation:  Cariñena DO, Spain
Price:  $7.99

Notes:  Made by Bodegas San Valero, this was a dark burgundy-colored wine with a bouquet of berries, pine and a hint of mint.  I thought tannins were mild and body was medium.  Flavors I found included very ebullient berries (settling a bit with more oxidation), a touch of wood, some green herbal notes, and a nice finish that seemed to vacillate on my palate between ripe plum and prune.

Advertisements

Pallas Tempranillo 2013

What an interesting label this wine has. It’s a picture of a bunch of rocks.  That’s all – just rocks.  Are they not-so-subtly telling us something about the “tierra” or terroir in the area?  Could be.  This red wine hails from the area known as Castilla – La Mancha and is categorized in the “Vino de la Tierra” classification which is just below Denominación de Origen or DO and above plain old table wine.

The vineyard’s name, also interesting to me, is another name for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom OR a form of the Spanish verb pallar.  Pallar means to extract or glean.  Which is the basis for the vineyard name?  Heck if I know!  Maybe both inasmuch as a person with wisdom is able to extract or glean pertinent information from raw data and make it useful.  Yes, I know I’m a bit of a word geek.  Can’t help myself: I love language.  Of course, I also love wine which is the purpose of this blog.  So I’ll get on with it.

Winemaker:  Pallas by Finca Las Cruces
Wine:  Tempranillo
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain
Price:  $8.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  The color was very dark garnet with tinges of purple.  It had an earthy bouquet with scents of pine, blackberry and quinine.  Medium-bodied, this Tempranillo had good acidity and medium tannins.  At 14% alcohol it was what I consider dry.  On the palate, the flavors I tasted were woodiness aplenty, blackberry, some pepper and quinine.  I thought it had a fairly bitter affect overall, so I would recommend pairing this wine with a meat dish rather than serving it at a cocktail party.

 

Montebuena Rioja Cuvee KPF 2012

What is a good way to celebrate good news at work?  When I say good news, I mean really good news.  Remember the trip to Montreal I mentioned?  Well, the participants rated the meetings and presenters (of which I was one).  I don’t know if it was that my attempt at dredging up college French was passable or what … but I got good “grades.”  And that makes me very happy.  So I decided to reward myself by tasting my first Rioja ever.  Yes, it’s true!  I know it might have been more fitting to have gone Canadian or French, but it was a serendipitous celebration.  I pulled from the bottles I had on hand, don’t you know!

Winemaker:  Montebuena (by Cosecheros de Labastida)
Wine:  Rioja Cuvee KPF
Varietal:  Tempranillo
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Rioja DOC, Spain
Price:  $8.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This Spanish red was more of an eggplant color with tons of bouquet redolent with barnyard, oak, earth, tangy dark berries and spice.  I really enjoyed the bouquet a lot.  Acidity was fairly high and tannins were also on the high side in this medium-bodied selection.  On the tongue, I thought this inexpensive Rioja was pretty yummy. I tasted rich dark fruit, tea leaf, tar, a hint of pepper, brambly tannins, as well as notes of baked rolls on he long finish.  In describing it, I wouldn’t call it chewy exactly but then I wouldn’t call it not chewy, either.  Is that confusing?  Well, try it and see what I mean.  I think it would be a nice accompaniment to a steak dinner, but there is plenty to enjoy by itself.

Albero Tempranillo Barrica 2010

Yet another Spanish Tempranillo.  This one is made from grapes certified organically grown in the Valencia region and aged in oak barrels (barrica).

Winemaker:  Albero
Wine:  Tempranillo Barrica
Vintage:  2010
Appellation:  Spain, Utiel-Requena (Valencia) DO
Price:  $5.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This selection is made by Spain’s oldest estate bottled winery, dating back to 1335!  To the eye this wine looked inky purple in my glass.  On the nose I found sweet dark fruit and spice.  It was fairly light-bodied with alcohol at 13%.  On the palate I tasted dark fruits, including black currant and some raisin, as well as plenty of olive.  For me the tannins were fairly light, and the finish brought a dash of bitters.  I’m not a big lover of olives except as olive oil, so this won’t become my personal go-to Tempranillo.  Still, it was totally an OK wine.  And I think it will probably do just fine as beverage accompaniment to a pot roast or skirt steak (fajitas are often made from skirt steak, I believe).

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

La Finca Tempranillo 2012

Drinking cheap wine has it’s ups and downs.  There was a time I didn’t think anything below $5 was worth even trying, and I didn’t expect to really love a wine that wasn’t over say $20.  But I know better now.  And I’m surprised again and again at how many very OK wines are below $10 and some even sub $5.  Thus, I gave this Tempranillo from Finca La Celia a try.

Winemaker:  Finca La Celia
Wine:  La Finca Tempranillo
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Mendoza, Argentina
Price:  $3.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  I found this inexpensive Tempranillo very thin-bodied.  It has a pretty garnet color in the glass.  Alcohol is at 13%.  On the nose was dark fruit and menthol.  This wine takes a long time to breathe during which there is very little fruit flavor.  Once I got some oxidation going, it presented dark berry and plum, menthol, very light notes of spice and occasionally brief hints of a porty-raisin taste on the finish.  Despite that, the main thrust to me was the bitter menthol which overwhelmed most of the other flavors quickly and lingered.  Even at this price, I probably won’t buy this one again.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

La Granja 360 Tempranillo 2011

Well, this is my first report from my haul of inexpensive wines from Trader Joe’s the other day.  I’m starting with the least expensive selection I bought.

Winemaker:  Axial, La Granja 360
Wine:  Tempranillo
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Spain, Cariñena DO
Price:  $3.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  The nose on this Spanish Tempranillo has plenty of plum with floral notes.  When it hit my palate, however, I found it very thin.  It was a light-bodied red rather than the medium-bodied I’d anticipated given the varietal.  The plum aromas carry over into the flavors, but the fruit sits in the background not the foreground on this one.  There is a present tea flavor, lots of pepper, notes of rose petals, and the finish brings a hefty dose of bitters.  This is not going down on my list of favorite wines, I must say.  For folks who prefer less fruit flavor to their red wine, though, this might be a selection to consider – especially at this price.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.