Thinking ahead for red meat and wine pairings

September 3, 2018

Spent Saturday in Philly at Sensorium, a 14-hour music and art event produced by Tweed, son Daniel’s awesome Jamtronic band. It included 23 groups and DJs, three stages, plus food, beer and art displays of many types spread over the grounds of the Ukranian Club. My ears are still ringing, and the sweet aroma of hemp is lingering in my olfactory canal and clothes. Shades of the ‘60s and ‘70s without the angry protestors. Dredged  up the meaning of purple haze, mellow and chill. It’s been a year since Barbara and I indulged in one of these events. We went to a steakhouse about 10:30 p.m., and to extend the allegory, the joint was jammed. It was chosen because they serve a steak platter with four 6-oz., plump chunks of the following types of NY cut beef steak: highly marbled Wagyu; lean, grass-fed Pennsylvania 1855; Pennsylvania Amish, organic corn-raised; and Nebraska 6-week feedlot finished. These appeared to be cut from boneless 2-lb. NY Strips. The thick cut allowed for perfect caramelization and they were à point, medium rare. 

Previously, my children and several pals at Sensorium had asked me the difference among these finishing methods. I was informed of this menu option and had always passed because it was too much meat and ran $140. I decided that with a larger group it was a learning and gastronomic bargain worth trying. In addition, Pennsylvania-grown veggies which are nearly as good as ours, steak tartare, great side dishes and sauces are served. If you’ve never experienced this side by side presentation, when in Philly with a group, roll into Urban Farmer in The Logan at 1 Logan Square just off the Ben Franklin. Be sure to visit the rooftop bar for a grand view of downtown Philly park area also. Urban Farmer has a terrific wine list for red meat eaters. The appetizers and sides are “bigger than your head,” enough for at least two, as our waitress advised. By the way, lest you fret, if I was impaired, it was from earlier atmospheric milieu. Will let you know after a revisit.

Bodega Colomé Auténtico Malbec 2015, $26, from the Calchaqui Valley, Argentina is part of Hess Family Wine Estates, a family-owned, fourth-generation, Swiss producer. These garnered 92 points and No. 18 on the WS 2017 Top 100 list. The Malbec grapes from the region are more thick-skinned due to higher exposure to UV rays, common to high-altitude vineyards. Great care must be taken not to allow too much color and tannin to be extracted when the wine is reintroduced to the matte. Intense bouquet of red berry, cherry and plum with floral and barrel spice nuance.

Look for tobacco and black pepper through the long, clean, tannic finish. I wish I had waited a few years to try the vintage. Will cellar through 2025. I think the 2014 is better at 93 points/$22, no WS kudos. This wine has sharp flavors. WE hates them, constantly awarding mid-80s to their top label the $120 Altura Maxima Cafayate, which Jancis Robinson awarded 16.5 and RP 96. Both labels need aging and seasoned meat, unless you are fans of tannins. 

I’ve been receiving quite a few requests for inexpensive red Bordeaux. Please don’t despair, I haven’t abandoned you. I have been doing the research and expect to dedicate a couple of weeks’ columns to the category. Regular readers know that I truly enjoy the red blends. However, during the summer, contrary to comments in paragraph one above, I try to enjoy the abundance of fresh fish and veggies available locally. Red Bordeaux normally aren’t their best accompaniment. Following is a tickler for Jules: Chateau Belgrave Haut Medoc, 2010/$50, 2015/$40 and 2017/$33. Buy a case of four each if you can afford it. Your wine store pal can probably do this. It may take a while, and the prices I’m quoting are approximations, Jules. 2017 is terrific but needs time: blackberries, cassis and plums on the nose, repeats dark fruit profile on the full-bodied palate. Barrel notes and tannic grip say, “Cellar me” but show great promise, 93 McD. Ready in 2022. The 2010s are drinking great now. Finally, Happy Labor Day!

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