Life is better on the corner, the place where great wines meet reasonable prices!

Friday, August 30, 2013

On the Road Again: Slovenia and Bordeaux

"Hope" is the thing with feathers — that perches in the soul — and sings the tune without the words — And never stops — at all ~ Emily Dickinson

The last vestiges of summer are about ready to be put in the can and shelved, the Labor Day weekend is upon us, typically signalling the last days of summer. But the dog days of summer persist and persist mightily for many [myself included] and it's days like this I reach for a bottle of rosé from regions like Bordeaux, or even a true orange-wine from Slovenia two regions I'm excited to explore first hand in the not so distant future. 

I know this may sound a bit 'corny' but I like to think of myself as an explorer, when it comes to wine, food and travel. I've always been eager to go to new places, to see, experience and taste new things. As Coco Chanel once said, “life is too short for cut and dried monotony". I couldn't agree more. 

Even if I'm at home on an ho-hum Tuesday evening, popping the cork on a bottle of wine. I often wonder what life is like there, who are the folks that call this place home, who pick the grapes, tends to the vineyard, and what influences came together to produce this wine in this way.

Like the explorers of old, I'm always itching to get out there, to set-sail on purple seas, to find mysterious vine-covered lands, wherever that path may lead me, even to the far flung wine regions of the world. That is where I want to be. 
Bordeaux is the planet's largest source of fine wine, the model for Cabernet Sauvignon- and Merlot-based wines around the globe. Bordeaux wines are considered by many wine connoisseurs to be the world's greatest reds.
I'm wedded to the idea of exploration, some may say it's an obsession. But, my motto when it comes to wine tasting and education is to never stop exploring. That said, I love encouraging other vino-sapiens not to just pop a few corks, but to take boat, plane or train and, visit the places where the wine is made and get to know the folks who have not only made wine their business, but also a lifelong passion.

Wine is not just another commodity to buy and sell, it's not just cocktail to sip at the bar, nor a mere bottle to uncork at your next tailgate event, it's an invitation to exploration. I think its important to not lose sight of that idea.

"Sitting at the crossroads of many an empire and country that has come and gone, Slovenia has been quietly making high-class wines for over two millennia with many of the current wineries founded as far back as the 1500's"
It has become my one man mission; to provide my readers with current, objective, easily readable content and hopefully even some entertainment about the wonderful world of wine, associated travel and foodie adventures.

So I'm spanning the globe, looking and eventually landing on the intersection of where great wines meet reasonable prices. I want to take my readers on the journey with me, have them look behind the label, to take a peek behind the purple-stained curtain, to see things in a new light.

My course has been set, in just a couple of weeks now I'll be off to see Slovenia and Bordeaux for the first time. Having explored a great majority of the wine regions here in the U.S. and a few abroad, like Tuscany, Campania Rioja and Navarra this trip will be a great opportunity for me to broaden my vinous horizons and report back via blog articles, tweets and FB posts. 

I am super excited for this great opportunity and so very grateful for the generous invitations to see these regions first hand. I can't wait to share all the great wines, the foods and hopefully even capture some of the culture. Until next time folks remember as always to sip long and prosper!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Santa Cruz Mountains Uncorked: 2011 Thomas Fogarty, SCM, Pinot Noir

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”  Ernest Hemingway

What can be taken away from this quote by [arguably] one the twentieth century's most influential novelist? I think his message was clear, but here's my impression or take-away. The beauty and depth residing in great glass of wine, at the right time can be like a fresh breeze to the dreary beat of everyday life or hearing a fresh new lyric which gets your toes a tapping, putting a soul loving smile on your face. 

Many folks would argue that it was a combination of beer and wine, which saved civilization from sure doom, before other ways of keeping water sanitized was introduced. So yes indeed I would have to say I heartily concur with Mr. Hemingway, wine is one of the most civilized things in the world. 
"Our 2011 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir beautifully reflects this cold and challenging vintage"
In today's spotlight is the Thomas Fogarty, 2011 Pinot Noir, a wine not current in release, but definitely something to look forward to when it does. I popped the cork on this beauty a few nights ago via #winechat and finished it the bottle the second day thanks to my vacu-vin and still the wine was just as vibrant as the day I opened it for #winechat.
"We age our Pinot Noir in 3 year air dried French Oak, primarily from the center of France and Chatillon,"
Again, another rock-star of the 2011 harvest you should have on your drinking list this year. As soon as you pop the cork, without any decanting or any other fuss this wine is ready to rock. I pulled it out of the cellar at 57 degrees and by the time it warmed to 64-65 it was on full tilt. 

"What really sets 2011 apart was the incredibly low yields, the smallest ever in most vineyards."
On the nose a wonderful perfume [elegant] of dried strawberries, rich earth, raspberry and pronounced cola aromas. After the first splash down, I found this immediately appealing and approachable wine. You’ll find very generous, round tannins, nicely woven into the wines fabric. A real Pinot Noir lovers wine; soft but lush, presenting a raft of baking spices, cinnamon and sandalwood flavors, with a healthy splash of raspberry cola and strawberry pie filling leading to the plush finish. 

I found the acidity to be bright and crisp, and refreshing gently carrying abundant but nicely textured fruit. A complex wine, which I believe over delivers for the the price point. If this wine will be your first [as it was for me] experience with Thomas Fogarty or the wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains, a bottle of their Pinot Noir will indeed be a great introduction. 

This wine clocked in with a reasonable 12.9% ABV, grown at [various] elevations of 400-2400 feet in Shale and Sandstone soils and aged just 10 months in 3rd year French oak barrels. When you see the bottle, [see above] you may be a bit surprised to find it's sporting its throwback label from 1981 to celebrate their 30th anniversary. This vintage is reportedly going to sell for $36 in the tasting room and, of course wine club members will have first dibs. 

As for my score, that is if you keep score? Some folks get real squeamish about the whole "score" thing, but for those of you who'd like to know the score, I gave this wine 93 points. This is a wine which has earned my highly coveted, "drink now and drink often" designation.

So to the entire team at Thomas Fogarty, I say to you all "bravo-bravo" this wine is a real winner.  Until next time folks as always please remember, life is short [so don't settle for commodity wines] so please continue to sip long and prosper cheers!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wine of the Week: 2011 Elk Cove Vineyards, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

“Give me wine to wash me clean of the weather-stains of cares”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Welcome to Monday and another wine of the week. In today's spotlight is the 2011 Elk Cove Vineyards, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. A wine I encountered during #winechat a couple weeks ago, sent as a sample for the review process. Have you heard it said, "clones matter" a phrase coined/attributed by/to the folks at Willakenzie. But there is a huge truth in those words, because they do matter. 

This Elk Cove Pinot is planted to Pommard and Dijon clones. It's also said gravity is a bitch, but through the gentle handling of their gravity flow system, they keep gravity in check and the wines seem to reflect it.

For many winemakers, there was a huge collective sigh of relief when the harvest that 2011 was over. Unfortunately for vino-sapiens, that mean wines of restraint were going to be far more common, than normal. The picking season was pushed back much further, than most expected, making for one of latest harvest in Oregon winemaking history. 

It meant that there was not going to be the same level of ripeness that many vintners experienced in 2009. That said, despite the cooler vintage some of the best producers [Elk Cove included] were still able to produce wines of amazing complexity, delicacy and substance. 
"The 2011 vintage benefited from good fruit set and a cool summer with a long and perfect harvest season." ~ Elk Cove Vineyards
The silver lining, despite the lack of overall sunshine in 2011, according to the folks at Elk Grove, "the good news is that birds were not quite as hungry in 2011 as they were in 2010" thus allowing for a near 'normal' harvest [weight wise]. 
“the late and cool vintage really highlight why we choose to grow grapes on the viticultural edge" ~ Adam Campbell
For those bargain hunters in the audience this wine is one great one to grab. A great example of a relatively inexpensive Pinot Noir, which over delivers for its price point. I've seen this wine selling some place as low as $19 and as high as $26. No matter how you slice it, dollars to donuts this one of the very best bottles of 2011 Oregon Pinot you'll find in this price point. 

My score on this wine is 90 points, making it a no-brainer. A splash in the glass brings up a nice plume of, raspberry jam spread across warm toast, black tea bags and bit of barn yard. The palate has a smooth and dreamy texture, the round mouth-feel begs for a second sip, but is light with bright cranberries, toasted strawberry, dark cherries delight and deftly balanced. In the mix, medium to light tannins and a tame streak of acidity helps hold it altogether. Soon as you pop the cork, this wine comes dressed to impress, no fuss and no muss. Until next time folks remember life is short, so sip long and prosper cheers!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bordeaux Uncorked: 1999 Chateau Quinault L'Enclos, St Emilion Grand Cru

"The language of friendship is not words, but meanings." - Henry David Thoreau

In today’s wine review spotlight, a fun review written by guest contributor Andy McCallion. He is also a contributor to the Cellartracker, where you can find other wines he has reviewed. You can also find Andy, taking the wine world by storm on twitter; you can catch up with him there at Bruised Grape.

Andy is a Belfast (N Ireland)-born geneticist, living in Baltimore with his wife, kids and multiple animals. Discovered his love for wine at graduate school and has been having fun with grape juice ever since. 

By virtue of the wonderful friends with whom I share this passion for the grape, I am frequently exposed to wines and vintages that I would never otherwise have encountered. Yesterday evening was one such opportunity. 

A bottle of 1999 Chateau Quinault L'Enclos, St Emilion Grand Cru was removed from its wine carrier and set gently on the counter. I have enjoyed other vintages of Chateau Quinault but not this one.  

I love trying wines for the first time. I love the anticipation of how it will show, and wondering what will be its characteristics. This wine however came with the caveat that, perhaps, it was on the downward slope. I carefully cut the foil and drew the cork slowly from the bottle. It was in perfect condition. 

Seconds later we were greeted by the sweet tobacco and plum perfume that characterizes so many great Bordeaux. I gingerly decanted, leaving behind the sweet mud of sediment, and poured for everyone.

In the glass it was dark ruby, with little translucence and only slight bricking at the rim. The nose was effusive, floral, dark red fruit with ripe plum, gobs of tobacco and hints of spice/vanilla.  The attack was ripe and the palate broad and open showing layers of dark fruit, tobacco, coffee and vanilla bean. 

The finish was ample, unwilling to linger but edged by a little ripe/earthy tannic grip. One might suggest that the fruit was beginning to show signs of fading but in this wine and style, I found it charming - not over-ripe.  

Chateau Quinault L'Enclos is built in a relatively contemporary style and is almost always accessible young. This was an elegant and highly pleasurable wine to share among good friends.  It was fully integrated and begging to be enjoyed now. 

In the company of other great wines, one may not point it out to be the star but, it was the star last night in our weekly exercise of bringing friends together around the common love of wine. If you need a score to place it in context, I would happily give it 90+ points independent of the wonderful context in which we enjoyed it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wines with Soul: 2003 La Spinetta (Rivetti) Barbaresco Vürsù Vigneto Starderi

“[I]t is the wine that leads me on, the wild wine that sets the wisest man to sing
at the top of his lungs, laugh like a fool – it drives the man to dancing... it even
tempts him to blurt out stories better never told.”  Homer, The Odyssey

You often read here, or perhaps have seen me tweet about wines with soul; the wine pictured above is one which fits nicely in that category. It’s a wine of true terroir, breeding and its obvious great care went into producing this beauty. It's not some 'cooked' laboratory produced [breaking-bad] freak oozing mega purple or any other odd additives found in far too many wines today. 

No folks [IMO] this wine is the real deal. So yes while a wine like this is pricey, it's worth every penny to uncork something which makes you tilt your head back in amazement. Hopefully, while truly appreciating what it takes to make a wine that says, "yes I came from somewhere". 
"The genius of La Spinetta; is that it encompasses a vast array of great wines, all boasting Giorgio Rivetti's inimitably approachable and voluptuous style."
Having had an opportunity to taste a good cross section of the wines he produces I'd have to say I concur with the above statement. But I'd have to say further, that in my opinion, his real strengths lie in Piemonte. The 2003 La Spinetta, Vigneto Starderi, Barbaresco is a wine that is voluptous in style, but its approachability is a matter of time. This is a wine I'd recommend to purchase by the case, drink the first one after ten years in the cellar and then one bottle every five years thereafter. This wine has fantastic structure, tannins and vivid acid plumbed through it abundant fruit. 

A real powerhouse, of finesse and layered like a fine painting just waiting for you discover all of its secrets. If you never experienced these wines before, I'd invite you to do so at your earliest convenience. The [I assume] even more suave and sophisticated Barolo he produces starts well above $130, so by comparison the Barbaresco is a bargain selling for $85 to $100 on a few sites. If you like to get your hands on a few bottles, feel free to check with their distributor or my friends at the Protocol Wine Studio here in San Diego. 
"Similar to its more famous sibling Barolo, Barbaresco is made from 100% Nebbiolo and shares its cult status as one of the finest wines in the world."
It was an interesting lesson in comparing vintages, [2003 vs 2009] same vineyards and similar productions methods were used. The wine is aged entirely in new, medium toasted French oak for about 20 – 22 months before being ready for stainless-steel vats, where the wine hangs out for 3 months before bottling,  and then once more a bit more aging in bottles for another 12 months before release.

The 2009: An odd smokey meat aromas, heading toward prune, baked flavors. High toned drying tannins, earthy, florals, dried fruit. A very rustic wine in the moment, still maturing and refining. In the glass; the color is a rustic garnet color toward brick. Not an easily approachable wine in the short term. This wine needs 10 years minimum, before I'd even consider uncorking it, but the potential for greatness is already there. My Score: 91 points.

2003 La Spinetta (Rivetti) Barbaresco Vürsù Vigneto Starderi: The tannins are still present, but much more mild and integrated far back into the background. A strained tobacco color, stains the glass. Tar, tobacco, oxidized prune colors and aromas jump easily from the glass, and smack my senses with delight. After just a few moments in the glass the tannins begin to soften and integrate! Suave, complex and smoky dried fruits, rich earth. 10 years to the day, to perfection. My Score: 94 points. 

A wine of immense structure and stature, this Barbaresco like the Rhino on the label is huge; but oddly at the sweet baked red/black berries coupled with a medium to heavy body wine sporting a silky texture and a long-lasting savory finish that gives and gives. This wine could easily go another 10 years in bottle, I'm sure it'd be far more interesting. Until next folks remember life is short, so sip long and prosper cheers!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wine of the Week: 2012 Scacciadiavoli Grechetto Umbria IGT, Italy

"Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever." – Aristophanes

In a conversation about the wines of Italy, most folks immediately think of Tuscany, the famous wines of Brunello and the lesser known but still very much appreciated Chianti’s. But if the truth was known, Italy is a seemingly bottomless barrel of wine varietals. You could easily spend a lifetime attempting to give them all a swirl and still have a few left; with over 800 different varietals which have been identified.  

And just south of Tuscany is another fantastic growing region, called Umbria. In today’s wine of the week we are going to examine one of my favorite grapes from this region. It is a grape which I think is one of the better grapes Italian winemakers have perfected, it’s called Grechetto Bianco or just Grechetto for short. And it's been in Umbria so long, growing so amazingly well, that has forgotten its roots in Greece. 

I would invite you to check out the Scacciadiavoli website, where you're sure to find many more interesting facts. Like the ominous story behind the name, one which may have you wondering which wines do work best for casting out unwanted spirits?

I know many vino-sapiens gravitate toward Italy’s red wines [who can blame them] but the white wines from Umbria are quite good as well. There are also a few other tasty varietals from this region as well, all are known for their versatility, either being both a food/wine pairing champ or simply for enjoying with friends and family while hanging poolside. 

Now onto the tasting note portion of the review: I found the nose brimming with fruit, brilliant apricots, a whiff of almonds, with some floral notes stirred into the mix. The color is hued in gold, leaning toward straw. After the first slurp, bam, lemon/lime, apricots and white-flowers floating on a canvas of rich, round flavors, but with a nice slap of acidity to keep you coming back for more. My score an easy 87 points and makes a great food wine that easily will pair with a majority of appetizers.

In my opinion, this is quintessential white grape of the Umbria. A wine that sells for about $8 Euros most place is starting to come ashore in the U.S selling in the $15 - $18 range. I highly recommend this wine for everyday drinking and again award it 87 points. So what are you waiting for; grab yourself some of the Umbrian experience for yourself, to see what I'm talking about. Until next time folks, please remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

Full Disclosure: This wine was sent as a sample for the review process. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ever Wonder How Red Wine is Made?

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." - Robert Louis Stevenson

I do love infographics, like the one below. I especially like them for the ability to make something complex and simplify with just a snapshot. Big thanks to Jelle De Roeck who created this infographic and has graciously allowed me to share it here. And thanks for the grapes folks at Wine Folly who had the bright idea to have Jelle design it in the first place [golf clap].

Of course as with any process there's bound to be some variation in the approach to how wine is made [produced]. That said, the infographic below gives you the basic idea. So not enough information huh? Still curious to know more? Then click on this link to get a bit more in depth. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bordeaux Uncorked: Chateau Barde-Haut Saint Emilion Grand Cru

"Wine is fury and passion and sweetness and sex all bottled to glorious delight."- Dawn Garcia

Indeed it is, and thanks Chateau Barde-Haut Grand Cru bottling of this nothing short of amazing bottle of wine, I was invited for a what can only be described as a ringside seat to this wines amazing finesse and power. The glorious delight part of the equation entered the ring, via the paltry price of admission, seeing I only paid $40 for this beauty. 

I say paltry because I know this wine could easily sell for so much more than the asking price I paid, but who's complaining? Surely it's not I. Did I have any idea that the wine in this bottle would be this good? Frankly the answer is a flat-out "no"! But I like to think of myself as someone who is "experienced", when it comes to choosing wines blindly [seeing this isn't my first rodeo].

First, I surmised from the front and back label oh "Grand Cru" huh? Bonus, a definite plus. Second, the vintage was 2010, helping to put this wine into the I want to purchase column. And last, reading the back label I saw the word "gravity" in regards to their newly built crush-pad operations. It was at this point I knew it was a slam-dunk. 

Once I got this wine home, rested it in my cellar for a few hours and uncorked it later in the evening, it was everything I expected and more. My only regret is I didn't purchase more of them, but even at $40 each, Mrs. Cuvee may have raised more than just an eyebrow if I had taken more than just the one bottle ["C'est la vie"].

Now unto the tasting note portion of the review. Not much going on in the nose, but rough dried florals, cedar and dried dark fruits. But once this wine made contact with my palate, holy-shite batman game over. Power, finesse and a tangible sexy appeal took me by surprise, dazzling me from the first pour to the very last drop. A harmonious wine with Merlot leading the way and Cabernet Franc bringing the sexy. 

The body of the wine was muscular, but richly robust. As you can see from the label, this wine weighs in at a whopping 14.7%, I say "whopping' because not many wines from Bordeaux veer into that abv range. I'd expect to see this from a 2009 or even the much vaunted 2003, but that said in no way did this wine come off as "hot" or flabby. 

In fact it was quite the contrary, it was lean in all the right places and plush where the yum-factor meets the tasty road.This wine is meticulously sculpted, nice concentration to the dark plum, licorice, rich earth, tobacco, vibrant minerality and still stiff tannins to merit some cellaring, but clearly enough bright acidity and juicy briar temptations to make it approachable in the short term [now]. 

It is a huge wine, cellar potential is good, but drinking now potential is even more tempting. Either way this wine represents a true win/win for the average vino-sapien at large. Especially for anyone who wants an amazing taste of what Bordeaux [Saint Emilion to be precise] has to offer those seeking to adventure outside the comfy confines of domestic conformity. Read that fantastic back label [which by the way for anyone taking note, is how it should be done] and see for yourself why this blind purchase was a slam dunk for me. 

Even though the pictures of the bottle are in artistic black and white, there's nothing black and white about the wine in that bottle. It will "wow" you with each sip and, even the eventual slurp, but one thing you will experience is sadness when you emptied the bottle completely, even laying it on its side to get out that last drop. 

Okay for my score I gave this wine a well deserved 94 points, the price makes it a QPR star in my opinion. And if you needed some other points of view on this same wine, feel free to grab them here. This is also a great place to buy this wine, if you indeed feel moved to do so, but I would not hesitate too long they're going fast. 

Okay folks, until next time remember life is short, continue to sip long and prosper cheers!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wine of the Week: 2010 Umani Ronchi, San Lorenzo Rosso Conero

"In vino veritas," or "There's Truth in Wine,” is referring to the often confessional loquacity of the intoxicated. ~ Pliny the Elder

It was just two weeks ago that I encountered [tasted] the San Lorenzo Rosso Conero and it still has me thinking about it; which is why it's my wine of the week. The price point is an incredible [on average] $15 most places. This wine would do amazingly well by the glass and even better as the Wednesday evening wine of choice. I gave it a solid score of 87 points.

This wine is a smooth operator, one boasting of 100% Montepulciano pure varietal expression, produced from grapes grown in the Marches region of Italy in the Conero DOC [which has a long history of grape growing].

I had tasted this wine at work and assume it was already open from at least the day before, arriving at my location in a wine-tote. That said, once in the glass the aromas jumped from glass, danced and sung a merry tune of invitation, the pure red berry fruit and ripe dark plum sing a happy tune.

A youthful wine which is very approachable now, it's made for early and often quaffing. This is a wine to purchase by the case and drink over the course of the year, a mid-week no-brainer to be sure. I love discovering wines like this, they are the uncomplicated, I don't have to think about what to pair with this style of wine, one which lend themselves so effortlessly to many styles and types of food. 

This wine softly grabs you by the palate, whispering "I'm floral, have vibrant minerality, a pinch of cedar, hints of sandalwood, cherry and dark plum dance around my dusty well integrated tannins and I have just the right amount of acidity to keep you coming back for more." 

And you don't have to be intoxicated to see that truthfully this a wine has real soul and substance, one that sells not for a King's ransom, but instead with everyday affordability in mind. So until next time folks remember folks, life is short, so please sip long and prosper cheers!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

About San Diego: Acqua Al 2 Ristorante Vino-Opera

Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.” Bo Bennett

It was that pinch of creativity that brought me to Acqua Al 2 last week, where for the first time I experienced Vino-Opera in person and on purpose. And there was far more than a few pinches of excitement and enthusiasm going around that evening and for the paying customers, an evening completely worth the price of admission. 

I was a invited guest to an amazing evening of Wine, Music and tasty Spanish Cuisine, one which truly delivered the goods. Did I enjoy the music? I'd say I enjoyed it thoroughly, it had me wondering where I could grab some downloads, so I could listen again. Some folks from the audience even got up later, belted out some amazing tunes of their own [mostly in Spanish] and again I was "wowed" . 

I'd say my musical choices are pretty different than most folks my age, while many attempt merge their playlists with current popular culture, I eschew such things. Not because I'm some kind of elitist, I just don't 'get' today's music. Which may be part of the reason that the dynamic-ranged duo of Kasondra Kazanjian and Daniel Hendrick along with the Maestro really wowed me so much the other night or it's just because they're an amazing trio together. I'll choose to to believe the latter. By the way, I took a short, less than one minute video so you could get a better idea about the experience [scroll down]. 

From Left to Right: Daniel Hendrick, Kasondra Kazanjian and the Maestro

Billed as a one of kind 4 course musically inspired dinner, it delivered a one of kind experience that few other restaurants can even come close to offering. They have another upcoming, so make plans now, don't miss it. It was one, that brought back memories of my own visit to Spanish wine country. The wines selected for the pairing were from a modern producer, Vina and Tinto Arroyo Wineries located in the Ribera del Duero.

The first course you see above, Carpaccio de Bacalao con Mayonesa de Pimiento del Piquillo, paired amazing well with the summertime light and crisp 2012 Verdejo, Vina Arroyo from Rueda in Spain. The musical choice of Ay, Ay, Ay, Como fue and Besame Mucho duet was a great way to kick off a festive evening. 

As you can see above when it comes to 'plating' it's a team sport!

Up next in the wine, food and musical pairing choice is one my favorites, the primo course Paella Valenciana. This dish was better than good, wow what a knockout. They paired the dish with a light, dry Tempranillo Rosado which mostly worked with the dish. The musical choices; Solamente una vez, Sabor a mi and Quiero Ser via a duet got me in the groove. 

Moving onto the second course, the Fideua de Bautifarras Mixtas [aka, Spanish noodle /w black and white pork sausages]. I thought I'd died and gone to pork-heaven. This dish paired very nicely with the modern style of the 2009 Crianza, Tinto Arroyo. Jazzing up this combo with the Tango de amor, a splash of Deborah and a flashy duet of Ojos Verdes magical. 

And last but certainly not least the Gran Finale, Carrilllera de Derdo con Pure Rustico de Patata, Foniato y Setas Silveetres or otherwise known as roasted pig-cheek, served alongside rustic/sweet potatoes, wild mushroom and Spanish Rice. As you can see about what amounted to the better wine of the evening was the 2007 Tempranillo Reserva, which was still a bit flashy. Still it has nicely integrated tannins, moderate use of new wood, leather, strawberry and dark plums dancing around a small bit of minerality. 

The musical portion of the evening ended with Jurame, Amor and La Musica, which was the perfect punctuation mark to close out the night. 

And a big round of applause please to Chef/Owner Martin who pulled off an amazing evening in downtown San Diego, bringing some seriously needed real 'soul' to the downtown wine and dine scene. Here you can see Martin below high-fiving Daniel after his own amazing singing performance. To which he said, "and I can cook too" and indeed he can. Thanks again to Acqua Al 2 for the invitation to join them, for what turned out to be an unforgettable wine and dine experience, salud!

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