The Spanish version (if there can be such a thing) of Vinocellar.com is called Verema.com. They started some years ago (maybe last century) as a virtual community of "peñas" (tasting gangs) and have gained enormous influence in the world of wine since their beginning.
The guys organize monthly virtual tastings in the fashion of WS TAA and --watch this-- obtain around 100 bottles from the chosen wineries to distribute freely among the members. Since most of these are associated in groups it's fairly easy to ensure that most members will have a chance to try the wine.
One Thursday every month at 9:00 pm in Spain (8:00 pm in Tenerife) we all gather around our PCs and post our TNs at the same time, live. It's great fun and somehow it never ends with that bottle...
Last night I joined David and Carmen for the most horribly decadent wine event I've witnessed. Insuline shots were ready in the fridge and ER phone number was visible on the refrigerator door behind a magnet.
The wine to be sampled was the 2001 vintage of ALVEAR's young PX (you'll remember the 2000 got a whopping 95 points from a certain Bob Whatever?). We’ve been endlessly discussing possible food pairings for this and different brands of chocolate, choco-recipes…etc, and in the course of the past two weeks everything chocolate turned up in the forum. I put forward my passion for Michel Cluizel, and a recipe of small toast with a chocolate square on it, slightly heated, sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil and a touch of coarse salt. Somebody perfected this beyond limits as "Slice of chestnut bread with chocolate spread, arbequina extra virgin olive oil and maldon salt ...all from the oven (in & out)".
It'd be a brutal understatement to say we were merely excited about the possibilities of this event.
Weeks ago, in mid August, David and Carmen had told me they had just bought a bottle of Sánchez Romate PX V.O.S. de Sacristía (20+ years old, 24E for the 50 cl. bottle). That was one of my major debts with my liver so I offered half a NOE and we were all set for a night of excess. It had to be postponed when suddenly Verema turned up with this choice and voilá, everything seemed to fit all too well.
Last night I headed for their home by 7:45 with a half bottle of Noé (V.O.R.S., 30+ years old) and another half of Emilio Hidalgo PX (I assume around 15+ years). Some Michel Cluizel came with me too.
They live just one block from me so I met David right at the icecream shop. The exchange of conspiratorial smiles was dangerous:
So off we went…upstairs and I found he’d been busy with homework at the kitchen... melting Valrhona chocolate…caramelizing apple slices…spreading honey over brown bread truffled with raisins and nuts…whipping cream with blue cheese and slicing Idiazábal…
The tasting was on already at the forum so we joined them and posted our own notes without food, all very academic and more or less restrained… Good news: the wine is on par with previous vintages, none of which I’d rate 95 but that’s another story. When their friends arrived we called the event officially finished and began our thing…
Vanilla (and also yoghourt by the side) icecream with a spoonful of melted superb chocolate over it…and another spoonful of young PX poured over too! Amazing. Horribly tasty in fact…Let the icecream soften a bit while the chocolate solidifies again over it, then pour just a spoonful or two of PX…Serious delicious debauchery…
It was time to move on to the Emilio Hidalgo: Bread slices with honey, caramelized apple and Idiazábal…ummmm…seriously good. The wine: Iodine-blackish, dense, serious, toffee, dates and figs, high alcohol in the 416/15 stems, mouthcoating and velvety, but also distinctively from cooler-climate Jerez: fresh, not cloying, balanced by good acidity. It’s reputed as one of the most complex in its age range, very much like Cardenal Cisneros, and merely 15E for the ¾ bottle! Excellent 91+
We moved on to the chocolate spread with the olive oil and salt. They used this pretty boutique extra virgin (Arbequina, the fruitiest variety) olive oil from Mas d’en Gil (producers of Priorat wines) that’s simply superb, and the finished slices were labeled in this catholic country “Your passport to hell.” Stuffing, but so addictive!!
The Sánchez Romate was opened and OUCH! It had a horrible pungent stink of varnish that took about an hour to whiff off. We discussed returning the bottle to the shop for about an hour…and discovered the smell was gone! Glad we decided to wait the full hour…after all we had chocolates to wait: David and Carmen had bought the entire Cluizel “Hacienda” lineup and the three tablets were arranged on the table, only by then it looked excessive already so we focused on the “Concepcion” which is probably the most pairing-friendly. The Sacristía turned out to be an exquisitely balanced wine, not overtly sweet, just 16% alcohol, with mouthcoating density and excellent solera complexity. Needless to say it went beautifully with the Concepcion. 92+
By then it was getting late and their friends were tired and turning blue with sugar levels, so we hurried through the Noé. There’s little I can add to all we’ve been saying about NOE in the past weeks…
Got home toward 1:00 and drank two glasses of milk before going to bed. Unsurprisingly woke up this morning at 9:00 …hungry…