On July 2nd I posted an article extolling the virtues of drinking a properly aged bottle of wine. In fairness I feel it is necessary to also discuss an occasional disappointment, which I experienced a few nights ago.
I have not written yet about my new baby. Not another child but a Traeger Executive Elite Grill/Smoker I purchased from Grills Plus More, one of my neighbors at the Lakeland store. I have been reading about this grill for years and I finally saved up enough shekels to buy one about a month ago. What makes this grill so special? It does not operate on gas or charcoal it burns extruded wood pellets, fed into a fire box by a computer controlled auger. For a smoke and Q fan like myself it is the Rolls Royce of smokers. The picture is of my maiden effort. (In case you are wondering, two racks of ribs, a chicken, a pork shoulder and two tri-tip steaks.)
Last Sunday I fired the bad boy up and smoked a beef brisket. This is my first effort with brisket but after reading an article in Cook’s Illustrated I was well prepared. The dry rub was a combination of brown sugar, kosher salt and a secret blend of herbs and spices. I keep this a secret because some day I hope to support myself by competing in BBQ contests. A couple of basting’s and eight hours later it was done; a heavenly combination of crispy crust, tender meat and smoky goodness. I was also working on the perfect BBQ bean recipe so the table was set. Now what to drink with the combination? I went into the cellar and found a 2001 Castano Solanera from the Spanish region of Yecla.
This wine is predominantly Mourvedre (70%) with the balance being Cabernet
Sauvignon. Unlike most of the wines from this region the wine was aged in French oak for a year, of which a fifth of the barrels were new. In it’s youth it was a bit overripe and porty but Robert Parker rewarded the wine with a big score, 93 points. If memory serves me right the wine sold for around $13 so that is a pretty good point to price ratio. The cork was clean and while decanting I noted the color was still deep purple/black with only a hint of garnet at the rim. The wine was throwing a lot of sediment but mostly in the form of thick tartaric acid crystals with only a little pigmentation. I poured a quick taste to make sure the wine was not spoiled and it was as I remembered; a grapey, somewhat one dimensional wine but time would tell.
After letting the meat rest thirty minutes I started to carve. Tender slabs of crusty brisket rolled off my knife to the joy of my whole family who were all hanging around the cutting board waiting for a Scooby snack. After I dispatched everyone with a hint of things to come I reached for my wine glass. Thirty minutes later the porty, alcoholic character had receded but little else was coming from the glass. I poured more wine into the glass and what I had was a straightforward, easy drinking fruit bomb. There was certainly nothing wrong with the wine but it did not rise to any heights beyond quaffer category.
Over the next hour and a half I drank most of the bottle and it never achieved another layer of complexity. At it’s best the wine was packed with blackberry and blueberry flavors, a little vanilla and some undertones of dark chocolate. That may sound complex but those are the same basic flavors the wine displayed five years ago. Where was the faintly truffled quality of aged Mourvedre? What about some cassis and herbal notes from the Cabernet? For the price I am not disappointed but I expected so much more.