No tennis for me this morning. I tore my Achilles tendon playing soccer. My neighbor Enoch, an urgent care doctor, stopped by last night to check on me. Rona had just picked up her sis from the airport - everyone converged on Domaine du Chevsky around 11pm.
Limping around, I improvised, and pulled out a bottle of 2005 Tejada - a local California wine (from Lake County, north of Calistoga and Healdsburg) given to me by Allen, a tennis compadre whose friend makes this wine. Cool bottle. I was thinking I needed something full bodied, warm and ripe, since it gets pretty cold in Palo Alto at night, even in the 80-degree-by-day summer. We were going to sip, rather than eat, so an interesting new world red felt right.
The owners are from Spain, the wine is made from Garnacha and Temperanillo. Often with California's warm climate and parkerization tendencies, domestic wines tend to be over-ripe, alcoholic, and lacking character. Frankly, I was sort of counting on that. Remarkably not this wine. From the get-go, the nose was barn-yardy (a good sign!) and pâté-like. The wine tasted very Spanish to me - excellent acidity, medium body, some nice layers of bitter cherry flavors, a touch of spice, I would not have guessed new world. Who knows - maybe Lake County is the new home of Spanish varietals! (except they are probably the only family growing these grapes there?!) This was not a sippy kind of wine. I needed food.
The wine begged for tapa-like funky protein. Salumi, pork pâté?... I didn't have... A light bulb went off - out of the cupboard I pulled out a can of Riga Sprats - voila! - a Russian classic, sold in all Euro/Russian stores, quite a delicacy. No Russian Jew should ever be without one! Sardine-like but much more smoked, canned in oil, this thing is delicious with a generous squeeze of lemon (fresh from my tree). Maybe not a super-intuitive match, but I was quite proud of my sommelier muscle, as this turned out a cool combo. The acidity in the wine went nicely with the lemon, the barnyardiness - with the smoky pâté-like fishiness, the red cut nicely through the oil base. Sometimes a red can make fish taste metallic - but hello(!) this was tin-can fish, get it?
Ooh what an excellent midnight snack. The man with the limp was quite proud, the crowd pleased, the bottle and the can happily empty.