Friday, January 1, 2010

It's Going be Hard to Tapas

Wine: Three Palms Merlot
Winemaker: Sterling Vineyards
Vintage: 2001
Grape: Merlot
Region: Napa Valley, California

We are ringing in the new decade with a standout food and wine extravaganza. A selection of tapas: sauteed garlic mushrooms, broiled eggplant dip, fresh salmon in mojo sauce, and baby potatoes with aioli paired with a very special California merlot. Honestly, our heads told us to crack a Spanish wine with this meal, but our hearts told us otherwise. We had this Three Palms waiting in the downstairs wedding vault and we just couldn't help ourselves. Chalk this up to one more reason to follow your heart. This wine is perfectly balanced. I'm not finding that any one thing is jumping out and dominating. It is just smooth, smooth, smooth. A hint of leather lounging before a deep plum background. The pairing with the rich tapas (all with a hint of citrus) was a real delight and perhaps a stroke of genius.

It's purely coincidence that our last review was a 2001 Napa Merlot as well. But it does provide a convenient platform for compare and contrast. In both cases, when they were first opened, they smelled better than they tasted. In my mind, this has become a sure sign that they need more time to open. And, open they both did. They also shared a heavy body and definite plum. Probably the biggest contrast would be the more defined tannin structure on the Provenance. This is neither good or bad. Just something to note.

Wrap up thoughts: Sous chefing a tapas meal is real challenge. So many dishes, ingredients, chopping, pureeing, blending, slicing, etc. The chef rocked, of course. But the sous chef (that would be me) should not be ignored tonight. Oh, and a special shout out to Gary and Barb- the original chef and sous chef for the excellent wine gift!

Happy new year, indeed.

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