TWIB Notes: This Week In Bottles

TWIB Notes: This Week In Bottles

TWIB Notes - a round-up of wine pairings that harkens back to the half-hour show before the Saturday afternoon national baseball game on TV. Insert Mel Allen's voice when reading these. It makes it more interesting. And if I recall correctly, Tony Perez was always the answer to "This Week's Quiz." Or Fred Lynn.

TWIB Notes is my lazy time. My time to chronicle all of this week's pairings in a short (-er) post instead of blathering on about a singular pairing for 1,300 words. That's my goal here today: four pairings under 1,300 words.

Get's get started.

Meal: Michael Symon chicken with salsa verde and an asparagus and edamame salad with 2011 Orballo Albariño Rías Baixas ($19 - Binny's) & 2009 Patient Cottat Vieilles Vignes Sancerre ($22 - Binny's)

Michael Symon chicken is Better Chicken. Learn it, know it, love it. We do. Recipe here. Served at Lolita. It's fancy-ass chicken made more down and dirty fancy with the anchovied-up salsa verde. Modified salsa verde this time, as this chunky goodness is adaptable: added basil, used 6-8 white anchovies in place of regular, used one serrano and two thai green chiles instead of pepper flakes. Chicken this time roasted on a bed of raw leek greens tossed with extra virgin olive oil. Leftover asparagus and edamame salad on the side. Some dinners are just fine, some are surprisingly great, but some get you excited days before you even eat it because you know it's going to be something that feels rather special. It's just chicken and salsa verde, except when it's not. It's fancy-special because it has no pretense and very little real kitchen work. It's just a slap-down on the table of wonderful and utterly balanced food in which to go to town.

And it's even better with good wine. The Sancerre was acceptable enough, offering all the Sancerre-ness anybody would want. Pretty layers, nice sparkle, this meal is good with Sancerre and we've liked it muchly in the past. But one sip of the 2011 Orballo and we were done. Orballo has always been a favorite but this vintage has something more, something bordering on Rías Baixas perfect. Sea shells all over the place. Aggressive and upfront to start but struts gracefully to an expansion of finer minerals and leafy fruit in a great way. Very precise stuff. Razor-sharp with perfect acid. Both of us took a sip and said, "What the hell is that?!" It made us think about our next vacation and what Vigo, Spain might be about. Best Orballo we've had and probably the best albariño yet. Just kept giving by itself and especially with the food.

(Word count - 429)

Meal: Skirt steak and green sriracha sauce with Portuguese punched potatoes and 2009 Owen Roe Ex Umbris Syrah ($25 - Binny's)

Recipe here, a Susan Feniger offering that tasted like Napa picnic food. Similar meal had last June. It's a meal that demands something California/New World blend-y to stand up to the bigness of the grub (this one a blend of syrah from multiple vineyards, each offering a different style). Except this didn't come off as big as expected. The green sriracha sauce was greeny-fresh and packed with surprises. Substituted lime zest for kaffir lime leaves, as Golden Pacific (and everyone else) was mysteriously out of them. Chive leaf stalks instead of regular chives, making the sauce more raw in an "I'm eating a garden right now!" way. Portuguese punched potatoes from The New Portuguese Table. Salted and half-smashed potatoes drizzled with garlic oil and golden garlic chips. Delicious and easy-peasy. Arugula salad with sherry vinegar, olive oil and pomegranate seeds to finish. Tasted like Thailand, Argentina and Portugal had a baby with an impression of lightness, if at the top end of acceptably salty.

The Ex Umbris completed the happiness of this meal though. Best showing is a long while for this wine. Haven't had it in what seems too long. We kinda jumped off the larger wine wagon of late. This one might bring us back as it hit a great place. Tons of root beer-y sassafras with plummy fruit, licorice, smoky ash, touch of iron and a lift that made us pause and remember exactly why we've liked this. No Cinnamon Toast Crunch note this time, more a settled and perfect hit of oaky-smoky-spicy notes. It's dirty and honest wine, never trying to hide any of its gluttonous goods. Needs food and this food worked in spades. Perfect linkage with the licorice in the wine and the licorice notes in the Thai basil and mint and cilantro play-along with such things. This exploded together nicely. Even the grizzly notes in the wine took down the salt in the food admirably. Good stuff.

(Word count - 827)

Meal: Semiramis with NV Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé ($18 - Binny's)

Hummus, fattoush, falafel, dolmas, pita, maamoul. Best hummus on the planet and always a tasty spread that's been a cheap Lebanese love affair for probably eight years now. One change. The maamoul cookies have changed. Always loved them and they're required with the place's Arabic coffee. Best coda to a great, cheap feast out there. Makes it feel expensive. The cookies are now F&*($#! Great. It's silly how Good they are. Best spicy date paste on the planet and a walnut NUTTINESS that's spectacular.

The Lucien Albrecht (100% pinot noir) is just pink bubbles under $20 that's not crap. Tough market, that. So many are so...not fine. Good enough minimum fineness here that's never going to blow you away. Less strawberry donuts on the nose this time. More strawberries that have been rolled in compost dirt. Solid bubbles, proper underlying bitterness with a nod to something slightly herbal. This one, though, does happy business with food for under $20. It cast a wide net, capturing a Goya product feast a few years ago, and did the same here. Just nothing went off the rails in terms of pairing. Every bite and sip brought a basic "That's nice."

(Word count - 964)


Reuben sandwiches and Alexia sweet potato fries with 2011 Ponzi Pinot Blanc ($12 - WDC)

Solid sandwiches. Technically proper pairing. Nothing memorable.

987! Under 1000 words! Goals are important in life.


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