08 February 2008

2003 Argiolas S'elegas

Here's my third wine review from Sardinian producer Argiolas, part of my commitment to the unsung grapes from less publicized corners of the wine world. The 2003 Argiolas S'elegas is from the Nuragus di Cagliari DOC of Sardinia and is made from the Nuragus grape, supposedly brought to the island by the Phoenicians 3,000 years ago and named after the local ancient stone towers. $16. Because of the reliability of this grape it's also known by the name pagadeppidus, which means "to pay debts". Such a nicknaming convention continues today in the form of the popular Mortgage Lifter tomato.

The wine has a deep golden yellow color to it, with an aroma of peaches and jasmine. The flavor profile is crisp on the beginning, with full fruit flavors, trailing off towards a soft and mild finish.

For the meal I was thinking Mexican and used a big 2 lb. fillet of Red Snapper to make pescado a la veracruzana, with a topping made of red bell pepper, red onion, manzanillo olives, capers, and white wine. On the side I've got butter-sautéed cremini mushroom tops, steamed artichoke hearts, and a little salad made of julienned jicama and chopped Campari tomatoes. This was my first time eating or preparing jicama (the big turnip-looking thing above), and I was quite happy with it. The flavor is somewhere between a water chestnut and a Granny Smith Apple.

Moving backwards in the meal, we started out with a wedge salad. I know that iceberg lettuce has fallen out of favor in culinary circles, but a lot of time has passed since this was a staple menu item, making it either refreshingly retro or charmingly nostalgic depending on your point of view. I used a sixth of a head of iceberg for each person, accompanied by sliced Campari tomatoes, a diced boiled egg, a crumbled strip of bacon, and some bleu cheese dressing topped with a bit of cracked black pepper. I was inspired by the great wedge salad at River Oaks I had Thursday afternoon, and felt like having one at home. It was a big hit all around, and goes to show that you don't necessarily have to have a mesclun blend with a pomegranate vinaigrette to feed a group of friends.

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