Spanish wine from California with canned Riga Sprats fish

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.


Eric said…
One of the things I like that Bill Nanson does over at Burgundy Report when reviewing a wine is at the end of his review he puts yes or no after "rebuy" which basically says whether he would buy the wine. I think this is what most people really want to know--would the reviewer shell out $XX for the wine.

At $30-$45 is this a Rebuy (or Buy)? How 'bout at $20?
Iron Chevsky said…
Eric, good point. The "Tejada T" wine was a gift. Personally, I am not a huge Spanish wine person, and I don't eat Spanish food that often, even though I love it. Checking wine-searcher, I see it sells for ~$30. I think that's the upper end of what I'd pay for it. It tasted more complex than a $15 Spanish red. Given the "interesting" factor of it being from California Lake County, I think this is a solid non-wine-snob gift wine, and a cool wine to have a couple of bottles of in the cellar, especially for those who enjoy Spanish wines. I think at $15-20, this would have been a very good value. But even at $30, I wouldn't be embarrassed to recommend it.
enochchoi said…
Truly delish! But your comments are too polite , I think I'd only pay in the $20s
Eric said…
Tejada T Lake County $30

Rebuy - Yes

IronC ;)
Iron Chevsky said…
Eric, "rebuy" suggests that I bought it in the first place. You can ask me - would I pay $30 for this wine. No. But part of it is my prejudice against Spanish wines, where I think the sweet-spot price point is $15.
Do Bianchi said…
dude, I love this post but I LOVE that you wrote "No Russian Jew should ever be without one!"

I LOVE canned fish... I guess it's genetic?

maybe it's what makes us such good linguists? great post...
Cava Wine said…
" 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."

I haven't tried this wine yet but, your characterization of Californian wines I think is spot on....I'll give that Tejada wine a shot if I can get it sometime. Nice Post.

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