Friday, February 18, 2011

La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva Tinto `03 (not TJ's) $44.00/$20.00 ****

My 200th Post!  So much has changed in my life since the Christmas Eve when I sat in my dialysis chair and wrote my first review. It s fitting that I started with a Tempranillo. I didn't even know what it was, let alone that it would grow to be one of my favorite varietals.  It is fitting that my 200th be another Tempranillo - but this one was shared with friends, after all, isn't all the BEST wine the wine that you have with friends?

We had dinner in 1974 last night.  Magical, retro, classic Sardi's, an iconic Broadway restaurant that has endured... through the years of Oscar and Hammerstein, through the years of Shrek on Broadway, Sardi's still stands. (and the menu hasn't changed much either! - in a good way

S., K., & I sat at the bar while we waited for JPH and the rest of the party (we were 8).  We checked out coats with the coat check girl; then stepped over to the deceptively large Bar, where they serve shelled peanuts and Ritz Crackers with a cheddar spread to accompany your cocktail.  I knew that we were in for a great night when I spread that first glob of cheese product on to a perfect Ritz Cracker. The redjacketed, fresh faced bartender was knowledgeable and he made me my very first "Side Car"; I liked it.  Because my glass was empty well before her trendy pink Cosmopolitan, K. commented "Did that come with a straw?". S. perused the port selection, selected from one of the three bottles offered and sipped her glass as she caught up on the comings and goings of her sister in law. It was a the perfect way to wait for JPH and the ducklings to arrive.

Soon enough, there they were, chilled from the cold of a NYC winter. We were shown to our table. The room was packed with pre-theater crowd out on a Friday night, with caricatures of countless celebrities covering the cranberry walls. I've written before about my indecisiveness when it comes to restaurant wine lists, and I was very appreciative when JPH selected this `03 Tempranillo.

Our waiter doubled as a sommelier and commented on the lightness and versatility of this wine. He poured the first glass and mistakenly, it was mine.  JPH reassured him, "You were right, she's the wine blogger." I sipped. This was the lightest, most ethereal Tempranillo that I have ever had.  It had distinct layers.  The first sip was light, almost watery, and then there was a heaviness of flavor.  Berries and leather with a bit of a burn.  It was 1974. I was on Broadway at Sardi's.  I was half expecting a white staircase to open and a gaggle of showgirls and tuxedoed dancers to descend into the crowd, but instead, the theatrics were left for our dessert.

I sipped my La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva Tinto as I nibbled on a roll with fresh butter. Then my starter of Corn Chowder arrived.  It was creamy and delicious.The wine was delicious and was perfect for the occasion and the meal. Interesting enough to drink alone, with a few bites of buttered roll, soft enough not to overcome the creaminess of the corn chowder, but substantial enough to hold up to the Mushroom and Pork that were my main course.

S. had the Sardi's Shrimp.  It was garlicky goodness.  JPH was the rebel in the group.  He started with a glass of the Reserva Tinto, and then when his Crab Cakes arrived, he switched to a delicious glass of  Sauvignon Blanc, I'll admit to sipping the Sauvignon Blanc and thinking that it was delicious and thoroughly enjoying it with the dollop of crab cake he placed on my bread plate. But, by then, the sidecar had kicked in and the two glasses of Tempranillo were fighting their way into my blood stream.  The reviewing was over and the sheer pleasure had begun.

We all had starter portions for meals.  I moved on to Cannelloni au Gratin - a combination of Beef and Pork with Porcini Mushrooms rolled in a French Crepe with Supreme Sauce.  It was good that I didn't have my transplant clinic visit for a few days, after this meal, I had a lot of dietary repenting to do.

We ate, we laughed, we played spot the celebrity picture on the wall.  (MEH sat under Mark Hamill... we had to explain that he was Luke Skywalker... for a moment, I felt old.)

By the time dessert came, we were all enjoying our trip to 1974.  Our meals were finished, the empty bottle had been taken away, and soon, our redjacketed career waiter came to our table with Baked Alaska.  A flaming desert fraught with drama, brandy some good old flames. JPH snuck in an amazingly sweet and pineappley glass of Pacific Rim "Vin de Glaciere" Riesling to end the evening with...but that is for my 201st review!

Here it is, our flaming dessert:

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