Wine&Dine: Viña Gravonia & Partridge

If this is the tasting note:
Golden colour, deep honey-like, sweetish smell, in the mouth dry, full-bodied, complex, honey, sourish apricot, mandarin, almond, freshly-cut herbs (the latter to my astonishment), long aftertaste,
what to eat?

Let me first explain a bit more about the wine. This was one of the first wines I tasted during the DWCC (Digital Wine Communications Conference) in Rioja (on which more in a future post). That day’s programme didn’t permit it really, but we had heard so much about them that we sneaked out and drove to Haro, to Bodegas López de Heredia, better known as Tondonia or Heredia. A traditional winery if ever there was one. Think huge wooden barrels, thick layers of fungi on the walls, and temperature control by opening or closing the windows. Their wines are named after the vineyard and should express the character of that terroir and of that terroir only, (and this is unusual) consistently, year after year.

Tfgravoniahey sure take their time. The wines not only spend years in barrels, the harvesting of the grapes for Viña Gravonia Crianza 2004, the subject of the tasting note above, took 33 days, enabling the harvesters to pick only the grapes that are perfectly mature. No rush after that either, as this Crianza of 100% Viura (12,5% vol) has spent four years in barrels and five years in the bottle.

But what to eat with a wine of such complexity? Rest assured: anything goes, according to the information leaflet: “Perfect with all kind of fish, no matter the way cooked. Grilled seafood. Well seasoned white meat. Also very nice with pasta.”

As I feared the wine might overwhelm a humble white fish, I chose the not so white meat of partridge, this being the game season. A traditional recipe is Perdreau aux Choux, for which one needs one old and one young partridge, the older merely to infuse the cabbage with taste. Alas, old partridges are a thing of the past (don’t ask your supplier for an old bird; I did and was nearly kicked out of the shop).

 

Partridge with savoy cabbage ‘Spanish style’

Preheat oven at 175 °C. Rinse, dry and season partridges (one p.p.) and brown them on all sides in a mixture of olive oil and butter. Cover them with vine leaves (partridges are delicate) and put them in the oven for about half an hour. (Note: vine leaves can be salty.)
Cut a (piece of) chorizo into small cubes and fry them in a dry pan till the fat has run out. Put the cubes aside and fry a diced onion in the fat. Add savoy cut in small stripes and fry on low heat. Season to taste. You may add a handful of dried cranberries: good for taste, not so good for the Spanish touch.

Now was this a good match? Bird and wine proved to be a happy combination: almost lively, even if that’s an odd thing to say about a dead bird. Bird and cabbage were good too, rubbing each other’s darker sides. Wine and cabbage didn’t do much for each other.

In the Netherlands some wines of López de Heredia are for sale here.

Leser aus der Schweiz, pass auf: Schnäpchen bei Real wines bis zum 30. November.

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