EARTH: Here, 100% Palomino is aged as a fino for 10 years and then aged in solera for a minimum of 30 years for a minimum total aging of 40 years. Bodegas Tradicion Amontillado blends wine selected from all three sherry towns, Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María. The complexity of this wine is staggering. Behind it's intricate webbing is the craftsmanship of blending and age. It blends Ocean, Earth, and Air; the salt from the sea, the rich depth of oxidative aging from the exposure to air, and the mineral rich soil from the earth of the terroir of each bodega. To us, since this wine converges the three towns and the elements we felt it perfectly encapsulated the “Duende” of the region. These dynamic trinities are easily perceived when drinking this wine. Though each town and each element has it’s own unique identity, one cannot exist without the others. They feed each other forming the apex of this trinity. In Jerez, the bodega itself where the wines are aged is a huge component of the sherry’s terroir. Windows are strategically placed eastward and westward to allow the poniente and levante winds to circulate the air and temperature of the bodegas, while water is diligently doled out onto floors and misted into the air to control the humidity.
This course is inspired by the element of Earth and the idea of home and place. Every ingredient in this pairing is grown in the depths of the ground, or on a tree whose roots feed directly from its soil. We chose beef as it is a grazing animal that is nourished from the grass that sprouts from the land. Notes of dark caramel and butterscotch in the Amontillado give way to burnt orange peel. These scents are honored in the bruleed sugar of the soufflé made of carrots, a root vegetable grown within the soil of the Earth represented by the ground walnuts which is a flavor paralleled by the roasted walnuts on the finish of this wine. This is met by the unctuous quality of the Cider and Kaffir Braised Shortribs. We were able to keep the richness and texture of the short ribs but chose to cook them in Vietnamese aromatics and fermented Basque Cider to minimize the gaminess braised meats often have that might distract from all the dynamic qualities of the wine. Vietnamese spices combine home-y baking spices with brighter flavors of lemongrass, lime, kaffir, and fresh ginger allowing for welcome brightness in this dish. The streets of Vietnam are perfumed by the aromas of hardwood charcoal, charred street meat, incense, and coffee which we chose to replicate in the espresso rub. The tartness of the pomegranate reduction cuts through the sweetness of the soufflé and the fattiness of the short rib, while converging with the higher glycerine qualities of the wine. The liveliness of the amontillado combined with this idea of “the home” dictated the choice of these festive flavors to associate the palate with something familiar yet also something special. The wine ends, however, with as much acidity and freshness as it does depth and power. The dish and the wine maintain finesse beneath their richness.