The Trader Joe’s Experiment (Part II)

So here we are in the second part of the Trader Joe’s experiment. I have had this 2005 Robert Mondavi Private Selection pinot noir sitting in my “cellar” for over a week now. I have been a busy guy and just haven’t got around to it until recently. I also had a seven-dollar albarino from T.J.’s (should I really start abbreviating this place? Do I really want to be that guy?) that had to be drunk…. I mean…analyzed. It was a 2005 as well. We didn’t get to them both in one night. If we did this, it would be a pretty vague account of what happened with a lot of “uh, I think it was white…wait or was it red…oh man.” No, when it’s just the two of us on a school night (my wife is a NYC public school teacher) one will do.
I was on a seasonal roll that day and I had gone a little crazy at the farmer’s market. I sautéed some fresh green and yellow beans in olive oil and added some sesame seeds to toast it all up a bit. I blanched some broccoli and sautéed some sliced red bell peppers in butter for about twenty minutes then poured it over the broccoli. I also heated some sliced zucchini in water and vinegar, and then drained and submerged them in olive oil with an Italian herb mixture. For dessert I peeled some pears, made a honey and mustard butter sauce and just cooked the pears in the sauce for like an hour or so, basting them every once in awhile to coat. In the end I would top them with plain vanilla ice cream and dig in. I was having so much fun it wasn’t until I was almost done and my wife was off the L train on her way home that I realized I had overlooked adding some meat to the menu, like chicken or something. Oh well, it would be four course veggie meal. Literally.
And what better way to enjoy a veggie course than a nice crisp white wine. The pinot would just have to wait for another night when I remembered the chicken. I pulled the albarino out, popped it and poured myself a taste, then swirled. Swirling white wine is a bit different than swirling red. With red I look at how it coats the inner walls of the glass to get an initial check of the depth. With white wine I almost swirl out of habit but it does serve a purpose. All wine needs oxygen to open up. The nose was lean and minerally with a slight hint of fruit. I could tell that there were compromised elements to the wine but nothing too crazy. There was just a hint of aromas being a bit off balance, which made me think it had to open some. White wine opens just like red wine but for me it is in a slightly different way. When I pop a bottle of white it is usually right out of the fridge and nice and cold. I like keeping the bottle out while I drink it letting the wine “warm” up some if you will. As white wine comes slowly to room temperature all the aromas and fruit start to open up and mingle with each other allowing you to get a better grasp on what the wine has to offer. So I figured those compromised elements would smooth out as the bottle sweated away on the counter (away from the heat of the stove).
I took the first sip and was impressed with the fullness of the wine. It had more fruit on the palate than on the nose. The acidity was not forceful, but definitely prominent. This was a good sign that when the aromas came out more, everything would balance out. My wife arrived and it was time to sit back with some good tunes, good food (thankfully I didn’t burn anything) and what was turning out to be good wine.
Everything came into place. By this time the wine was right where it needed to be and it went nicely with the four-course veggie meal I had accidentally prepared. It washed down the red pepper butter sauced broccoli. It played with the toasted sesame seeds in the beans and sat right next to the zucchini in a contrast of flavors that worked well. When it was time for dessert we had saved the last drops of the bottle in our glasses. As we dug into the pears and vanilla ice cream the residual sugars of the albarino came out and mingled with the sweetness of the mustard honey butter sauce. My wife and I came to the conclusion that this wine was a good value (I mean we finished the bottle).
All in all, this is a good seven-dollar wine from Spain. If you’re looking for a low budget night of eating and drinking, whether it be with friends or a significant other, this is a nice, refreshing value. Even though wines from this country can be fairly inexpensive and there are a lot of good deals out there, you still have to be a little choosey. I will be buying a more expensive albarino in the near future to compare. Not too expensive. I am always trying to stay on the low end so everyone will be able to enjoy it. I haven’t had too many white Spanish wines and I want to get an idea of what other producers do with this grape. I can’t remember the name of the producer for this wine and for that I am sorry. I do believe, however, that it is the only one of its kind in the shop. I will get that producer name anyway and give a short shout about it soon. Cheers!

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