Thursday, November 6, 2014

Taste the Fire – Wine Pairing

Wine Pairing Flavors:
Bourbon and brown sugar marinated pork, that's cooked with a dry rub of spices before being glazed in a rich, smoky tomato-based sauce full of molasses, bourbon and Dijon.

Want the recipe?
Here’s a link back to the Bourbon Barbecued Pork Chops

Want the beer pair?
Check in next Thursday for my beer pairing post.


Las rocas.  The rocks.

Silent witnesses to the slow dance of time.  Baking in the sun.  Freezing in the icy cold.  But are they really silent?  Not to those who know how to listen.

Most passing through this seemingly barren landscape are happy to move on.  But for those who stop and plant their feet down deep among the rocks, they will hear them speak.  And it's a voice full of flavor, the flavor of bent and gnarly vines.  Twisted like old men, as they reach down into the rocks, in their struggle to survive.

What doesn't break you makes you stronger – or so the saying goes.  And if you're a vine, not only stronger, but deeper and richer in flavor, as you struggle with time.

But these shattered rocks in this mountainous region are also key to the vines’ survival.  Holding rainwater for them to drink in the searing summer’s heat and warming them during the harsh and cold winters, these nurturing rocks not only help them live, they allow them to thrive.

So, who are these twisted old figures, these lovers of extremes?  In France and the U.S. they call them Grenache, but here in the dry, southeastern corner of Spain's Aragon region, they're known as Garnacha.
Hearty vines, with low yields and late harvests, these Garnacha vines make the most of their seeming desolation, transferring their robustness to the bottled wines.  While the intense sun at this elevation, helps to create thick skinned grapes with very intense flavors, the rocks contribute spiciness and minerality to one of the highest altitude Grenache grown in Spain.

And they've been doing this dance in this rocky and arid region for a little over 2000 years.  Introduced by the Romans and continuing to the present day, in 1989, the area was awarded its own winegrowing Denominación de Origen – or quality guarantee of origin.  And the D.O. is called Calatayud, and it’s a name that goes back to Moorish Spain.  For this is when Ayud, the Moors’ local governor, built his fortress, called a Qalat, in the place where the town of Calatayud stands today.

Grenache might not have been planted here in the days of the Qalat, but today at the winery, Bodega San Alejandro, it's undoubtably become the star of the show.

The Las Rocas de San Alejandro is 100% Garnacha, and though typically a grape used for blending across the globe, this bodega, a Spanish growers’ cooperative, wanted to showcase their flavors borne of rocks and fiery heat.

Deep ruby in color as its spills into your glass, with a nose and flavors of spicy, peppery dark red fruits, this great value taste (at about $15) of Spanish rocky heat is a flavorsome match with the barbecue’s smoky, earthy tang. 

But, I really must thank John Campbell at Duck Blind Fine Wines for his great recommendation, and for pointing me in Las Rocas’ direction in their Santa Monica shop.

For once barbecue met wine, the wine’s long and warming finish accompanied by the sauce’s bourbon enhanced round heat, amplified the warmth in every mouthful, and added an accent of deeply caramelized flavors encased in a tomatoey earthy spice.

Now, if that isn't a mouthful to read, it was just as much a mouthful bursting with flavor, since barbecue and jammy Grenache have a lot to share.

So, just look at it as a flavor celebration of barbecue and Spanish rocky heat, in this pairing of sundrenched earth and rocks with warming, smoky spice.

And now, here's a peek at the beer pairing that's coming up next – 

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