Monday, September 7, 2009

Paella Perfection

Boo and I (and The List as well) lucked out the other night. Awhile back, we realized that we hadn't seen Axel and the English Doc for some time. So, I e-mailed them to see if we might be able to get together for dinner. We managed to decide on a Friday night, but I guess I worried them a bit with a "warning" that I wasn't going to promise anything extravagant since I'd be at work all day. Axel decided to host us instead since he had the day free.

My guess is that he didn't have a whole lot of free time during the day because there was plenty of food that all took a good amount of prep time.

Seeing as how Axel also invited along some other friends, it made for, not only an evening of good food, but also a chance to add a number of wines to The List.

168. NV Segura Viudas Cava Brut Reserva (Spain)

Much of the evening's menu flowed from Spanish tapas food. So, a bit of Spanish bubble seems like a good fit for the evening. Serving sparkling wine along with food seems to becoming more popular even at home dinners. Food and wine writers have long praised the foodworthiness of bubbles and it seems to match particularly well with tapas.

This wine is a perennial favourite of critics and writers as it is made in the traditional methode Champagnoise but is sold for a fraction of the price. For the wine trivia lover in all of us, it's also a blend of three grape varietals that few (short of the bona fide geek) would recognize - Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo.

Space likely won't allow as much information on the remaining wines from the evening, but you could tell that Axel had let his guests know the planned menu in advance. Most of the wines were fine matches for the paella and tapas.

169. 2007 Bene di Batasiolo Barbera d'Alba (DOC Barbera d'Alba - Italy)

I'm finding that Barbera is a bit of "go-to" varietal for me nowadays. It always seems to be quite food-friendly and this was no exception.

170. 2008 Quinta Ferreira Rose (VQA Okanagan)

I was intrigued to see that this Rose was a blend of a number of varietals - Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, Cab Sauv and Cab Franc. I wouldn't normally expect so much blending in a Rose.

171. 2005 Bodegas Zabrin Atteca Old Vines Garnacha (DO Calatayud - Spain)

Tyrant brought this along and it definitely showed why he's on a bit of Spanish wine kick at the moment. Bang for buck. Isn't that music to all our ears? Lovely wine (although it's completely in a New World style and that might not be your bent) and nice marketing job on the packaging. I'll keep my eye open for their wines in the future.

172. 2005 St. Hallett Unearthed Touriga Nacional (Barossa - Australia)

I couldn't find much about this wine online but I briefly read the back label of the bottle that evening. The information proferred stated that every so often the winery finds, or unearths, some blocks of grapes - not normally used for single varietal wines - that scream to be set apart that year. St. Hallett normally uses its Touriga Nacional (one of Portugal's big grapes and a primary ingredient for Port) in one or more of its red blends, but the 2005 vintage saw this separate bottling. I don't think that they've done it again since.

173. NV LaFrenz Liquer Muscat (Okanagan)

The final wine of the evening was another treat brought along by The Tyrant. We have some of this at home as well - one, because it's from LaFrenz and, two, since it's fashioned after the Aussie "stickies" that I love so much.

This is a perennial award winner for the winery and those awards are won at some of the bigger competitions around in these parts. It received a Double Platinum (one of only eight awarded) by Winepress Northwest this year; was given Gold & Best Fortified of Show at the Northwest Wine Summit; and brought home Gold at the 2008 All Canadian Wine Championships.

It was a grand way to sit back after dinner and finish off a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

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