Wed 16 Feb 2011
Looking for a hearty, sinewy red wine to sip along with this Pork Chile Verde, its spicy, savory qualities deepened with a dollop of red ancho chile sauce, I opened a bottle of the Bodega Septima Gran Reserva 2008, from Argentina’s Mendoza region. Ah, yes, this worked. Actually, I was eating a bowl of the leftover chili for lunch; the night before, the first serving, we drank beer. The recipe is in the February issue of Bon Appétit, the “new” Bon Appétit relocated to New York from Los Angeles and under completely different editorial staff. Making the dish is one of those kitchen-wreckers, but it turned out great. You do, for example, have to use the processor to make the green sauce (tomatillos, green onions, cilantro, garlic and chicken broth) and then wash the container and so on to make the red sauce (which is toasted dried ancho chilies and toasted garlic with fillips of honey and cinnamon; talk about power and intensity). I’ll probably make this again when cold weather rolls around in the Fall, but I’m looking forward to lighter dishes over the next few months. There exists a great deal of controversy about the spellings of chili and chile, with national and regional variations and a plethora of stylebooks and grammar guides lending weight to their often contradictory favorites. Bon Appétit spelled the dish “chili” but the pepper “chile,” hence the name “Pork Chile Verde” refers to the sauce, not the concoction, as least by their lights. I think.
Bodega Septima Gran Reserva 2008 is a blend of 50 percent malbec grapes, 40 percent cabernet sauvignon and 10 percent tannat, the latter a grape of midnight hue and rough-shod tannins primarily associated with Madiran, in southwest France, but making headway in Uruguay and showing promise in Argentina. The grapes for Septima Gran Reserva ’08 derive from vineyards ranging from 2,800 feet to 3,600 feet above sea level, and you feel the high altitude gravity of gravelly depth in the wine’s robust structure. The wine ages 12 months in used French oak barrels. This opens slowly, with a deep brooding of briers and brambles, earth, forest and walnut shell, gradually unfurling notes of mulberry and plum, red currants and cranberry and intenser hints of bitter chocolate, tar, fruit cake and (yes) dried ancho chile. In the mouth, for all its vigorously dense tannins and graphite-like minerality, the wine is remarkably fresh, clean and lively, spurred by spanking acidity and luscious red and black fruit flavors that yield, over a few minutes, beguiling undercurrents of mint, lavender and potpourri. I kept going back for another sniff, another sip, as the wine developed in the glass and added both the dimension of heft and proportion and the finely etched details of fruit, spices and flowers. Drink now through 2015 to ’18. Alcohol is 14.5 percent. Excellent. About $25.
Bodega Septima is part of the international Codorníu Group; imported by Aveníu Brands, Baltimore, Maryland. A sample for review.