Sun 2 Jan 2011
I have often mentioned one of our favorite cold weather dishes, the Cod and Chorizo Stew with Leeks, Potatoes and Tomatoes. We probably make this twice a month during Fall and Winter. It’s a combination of ingredients and effects that never fails, but a couple of nights ago LL added a few fillips that turned it into perfection. To top that, we drank a wine that matched the dish flavor for flavor, spice for spice, a brief triumph of the synergy of comparison and contrast, of purpose and reflection.
Cod and Chorizo Stew is really a simple dish, but this time, because she was using a brand and type of chorizo that we had not bought before, LL added Spanish smoked paprika, which amped up the stew’s richness, smokiness and spicy appeal (and deepened the color of the sauce), and then, in the sort of intuitive flash of genius that makes her such a better cook than I, she quickly peeled a mandarin orange, segmented it and dropped the pieces into the gently simmering pot. Lord have mercy, what a difference these little touches made in the stew! A dish that we had unflaggingly enjoyed now became sublime.
For wine, I opened a bottle of the Colomé Torrontés 2010, from Argentina’s Valle Calchaqui vineyard area in the Salta region, way up northwest by the Bolivian border. Founded in 1831, the winery was acquired by The Hess Collection in 2001. The Colome vineyards occur at an astonishing 6,000 to 10,000 feet above sea-level. Winemaker is Thibaut Delmotte.
The Colomé Torrontés 2010 is lean and spare yet broadly floral and herbal; achingly dry yet juicy, almost luscious. Spiced peach and pear and roasted lemon segue into mango, with banners of jasmine and camellia waving free amid strains of orange rind, leafy fig and dusty apple and pineapple. This all sounds deliriously hedonistic, but the wine preserves an element of almost mysterious reticence, a muscat-like intensity and paradoxical sinewy quality, due to bracing acidity, clean-edged limestone-like minerality and a scintillating note of bitterness on the finish. Made all in stainless steel, from 30- to 60-year-old vines. 13.5 percent alcohol. 2,210 cases imported. I’m a fan of wines made from the torrontés grape, which tend to be simple, direct and refreshing, yet while this version does not overburden itself (or ourselves) with freighted importance, it’s probably the best example I have tasted, and it was close to thrilling with the Cod and Chorizo Stew. Because of its seamless amalgam of complexity and delicate airiness, I’ll go for an Excellent rating. About $15, representing Terrific Value.
Imported by The Hess Collection, Napa, Cal. A sample for review.