WBW #53 – Breakfast Wine

2003_Alvear CrianzaBreakfast wine?  Great challenge up at El Bloggo Torcido for Wine Blogging Wednesday #53 from the folks over at Twisted Oak Winery, especially for me since I typically do not eat what one would consider a real breakfast – just a cup a joe with a banana on the go for my morning commute into the heart of Boston.   What’s more, I’m not much of a cook, short order or otherwise.  I have a tendency to burn food – eggs, steak, burgs, roast, toast.  However, there are a few dishes I do well,  and one happens to be a breakfast food – grits.   For this challenge, I’ll be serving up a mess of southern style cheese grits with garlic, hickory smoked bacon and biscuits with white gravy, lightly peppered.

But wine and cheese grits?  My first inclination was to go with a Pinot Noir just because I’d be frying up some bacon, but this just didn’t seem adventurous enough and avoided the question – what to pair with grits? Plus I have had my fill so to speak of Pinot Noir during the Holidays.  I was also thinking a crisp white, maybe an unoaked Chardonnay to cut through all the heavy dairy I churn into the grits – cheddar cheese, sour cream, butter and milk.   I decided to hold off until I got to my local wine shop.  After a few recommendations and samplings courtesy of the nice folks at the Wine Gallery, I narrowed my choices down to two –  a Chardonnay and a Spanish Tempranillo. Ultimately, I went with the red because of the name of the estate – Palacio Quemado – Burned Palace.  Sounds like my kitchen when I’m in it.  The wine is a 2003 Crianza produced by Alvear made from 100% Tempraillo grapes grown in the Ribera del Guadiana, a wine producing area which is part of the Extremadura region of Western Spain.  At $11.39, I was tempted to buy a case, but I had to stay on task and the question remained, will it go with baked cheese grits laced with garlic?

I unscrewed the cork but in doing so, destroyed it – I can never get a good center action going and stripped the thing right down the side.  I manged to extract it, but the cork practically crumbled in my hand.  Off to another great start!  You’ll have to read my WBW #52 entry to understand the reference.

Spice and earth on the nose…and a little cork too – my bad.   Medium-bodied – more weight than I expected from a Tempranillo.  A palate pleasing clean cherry tart with a dash of pepper on the finish.

From the winemaker:

Dark cherry colour, clean and brilliant, it’s aroma is intense, with hints of ripe fruit and mineral backbone.  Good varietal expression, where the wood is present, yet well integrated.  Tasty and yummy in the mouth, with fine notes of toast and liquorice.  Well structured and balanced, with a good finish and great ageing potential.

I did not find the nose intense, nor did brilliant come to mind to describe any aspect of the wine, but I’ll not quibble with the meat of the winemaker’s notes.  Balance, structure, clean, fresh fruit, spice from the oak, longish finish – it’s all there.

Now for the real test:  breakfast.   Fortunately, the wine’s acidity helped cut through the creaminess of the grits and combined beautifully with the cheddar to reveal freshly picked cherries.  The smokiness of the bacon brought out the earthy quality I sensed on the nose.   This red is indeed nicely balanced.  However, the peppered white gravy and biscuits buried the wine like an avalanche.   If you must have biscuits and white gravy for breakfast, better stick with OJ or try a Chardonnay!

With garlic infused southern style baked cheddar cheese grits, this 2003 Palacio Quemado red is definitely a hit!