I am going to talk about a trip we made to the restaurant Sangria, and not the Summery blend of wine and fruit juices of the same name. I guess that is because I am not that keen on adulterated wines, especially something very sweet and also because as of yet, I have not tried one that has tickled my fancy. Perhaps it could be that I am not out dining in really hot weather, as I guess that is why George Carrier invented air conditioning. When Sangria opened up, it was a relatively new concept in our area of Spanish cuisine and small plate offerings, that one could share. Of course my Bride and I tend to always share our meals, so that we can try more different dishes at one setting. If you haven’t had Spanish dishes, they are very different from classical Mexican food, and far different from the Tex-Mex that is more often encountered.
We started off with an assortment of small cold appetizer plates. We had black and green olives marinated in olive oil, an avocado stuffed with chicken, celery, grapes and onions, and Black Bean hummus. We then had some hot appetizers to share. There were mushroom caps stuffed with shrimp, and medallions of beef that had been marinated in oil and pepper. My Bride had grilled Salmon with a Dijon Sauce and I had pork medallions done with Shitake mushrooms, Madeira Wine and cream. We saw some of the plates of Paella being served and decided that there was just too much food for the two of us, if we also ordered that.
Of course we had a bottle of wine. I decided to go “native” and we had a bottle of Bodegas Montecillo Crianza 1998, a Rioja wine. This particular wine is from La Rioja Alta and of course it is mainly Tempranillo with just a dollop of Graciano for some nuance, and all legal to maintain the DOCa designation. Bodegas Montecillo is one of the older wineries, founded in 1874, so they have been doing it for a few years. The bottle of wine was listed as Crianza, which is one step above the basic Rioja designation. This designation requires the wine to be aged in barrels from twelve to eighteen months in oak, and then bottled and cellared for another six months before being available to be sold. In all of the years of drinking Rioja wines, I have never had a bad bottle, so it has always been a safe order for me. I guess that most of the houses and blenders only ship out their better wines here, or perhaps the magic of the moment has always improved the wine, but as I say, I have always been fortunate.