An asparagus salad affirmed our intent to celebrate Spring by sharing a paella with friends. First brown the rabbit thighs then into the oven. Steam the shell on shrimp, halve the lobster tails we cooked last night then warm them by steaming briefly in the seafood broth.
Remove the lobster turn up the heat and in go the mussels. The buttered and seasoned langoustine are popped under the broiler. The chorizo, artichokes, shrimp go into the tomato base and then the paella rice. Assembly begins.
Now to the wine choices. We had started with champagne blanc de blancs as people arrived then moved to rose champagnes with Fiambrería, an array of Spanish charcuterie, along with a delicious chicken liver pate. We enjoyed a bright vino verde with the salad. Now the paella decision; mostly a seafood paella but with rabbit. Still a delicate flavor but the spicy tomato base; what about that. My solution, old red rioja. Old enough to have softened any tannins and develop suppleness and harmony.
1970 Bodegas LAN Rioja Gran Reserva Viña Lanciano and 1970 C.V.N.E. Rioja Viña Real Reserva served together in that order based on smelling and tasting at opening. The Viña Lanciano had faded to a transparent garnet with an incredibly appealing nose of sandalwood, a long-abandoned farmhouse and sun-dried play dough; right promising. No disappointment in the mouth; a distinguished suppleness with the deep satisfaction of a long-remembered kiss. Dried berries, mostly cranberries.
The C.V.N.E. was much riper, initially southern Rhone-like but quickly unraveled into a sweet fruit compote distinctly prune like in the finish. When I opened the wines, I had been given much higher expectations. Though we went back to it several times this wine basically sat in the glass through dinner.
I think the 1970 Viña Lanciano validated the idea of red wine with paella of this composition. It also supported a phenomenon I am finding all too familiar and frustrating. It was my last bottle yet I have 5 remaining of the one that disappointed. Damn.
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