We were fortunate Friday night to be invited to a Spanish wine dinner at Zorvino Vineyard with visiting winemaker Javier Fernandez Sanz from Bodega Aljibes in Spain.
It was our first time to one of Zorvino's events and it was nice to see that there was a healthy turnout. Most of the other guests were first-timers too, so I guess the word is getting out about Chef Philip Carolan. He pretty much runs a one-man kitchen, yet still finds time to do things like blanche and peel fresh cherry tomatoes to go with the seared skewered beef, and bake 70 mini soufflés. He also grows some of his own greens and herbs on the property which I think is just awesome. I know that's pretty standard in other areas but it's pretty revolutionary in these parts.
Javier was kind enough to fly in all the way from Spain just for this event. I admit I did heard him say something about going to New York on this trip too but, I'm sure New Hampshire was the highlight of his trip.
Javier walked us through his selections starting with the 2007 Viña Aljibes Blanco: An entry-level blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. This wine was very easy-drinking and a nice blend of mineral and fruit. The acidity really sparkled when paired with a calamari salad. This was followed by the Vina Aljibes Rosado 2007 which Javier explained was developed for the Holland clubbing market (apparently, in Holland clubbers drink Rosé at the disco). The criteria for this market is pink and smells nice which it was and did--like strawberry and pineapple.
Next we had the 2004 Aljibes red: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot (33%). I wish I had taken notes. Some found it perhaps too rustic for the average palate but, I thought it was quite graceful with deep dark fruit, layers of chocolate, spice, and tannins that tasted more herbaceous than bitter.
Finally, we had a 2006 Cab Franc paired with our chocolate soufflé and banana... Okay, can we talk about this banana for a second? I was expecting your average mushy poached banana but this thing had a delicate crisp caramelized coating, and was warmed through without being cooked to mush. Oh, and the soufflé..? We're supposed to be listening to Javier talk about this Cab Franc, and it was all I could do to not be distracted by the aroma of melty, bakey chocolate sitting under my nose. Some guests yielded to temptation and devoured all traces of the dessert before Javier had even stopped talking. I felt kind of bad for him--I hope the Chef saved him one so he left knowing that the chocolate was to blame. The Cab Franc was a great pairing with the dessert, by the way. The chocolate brought out a nice bright strawberry flavor in the wine.
All in all, a very pleasant evening with some great food and interesting wines. It was nice to have some Spanish wines introduced by the wine maker himself right here in New England...Not as nice as having them in Spain but, this was a pretty good substitute and the folks at Zorvino are fun. I'm going to keep an eye out for the 2004 Aljibes red blend in the local wine shops so I can try it again.