Fall is Here: Altos d’ Oliva Gran Reserva paired with Sweet Corn Polenta
This wine and pairing are perfect to kick off the beginning of fall. The wine and the dish are a little richer and warming for the cool evenings to come. I have made this dish many times and when I tasted this wine last week I knew it would make a great pairing.
Altos d’ Oliva Gran Reserva 2005
This Gran Reserva is made from old vines (up to 100 years old), in the region of Catalunya, situated north-east of the Iberian Peninsula in Spain. The vineyards are planted at the highest elevation (400 meters above sea level.), within the D.O. of Catalonia. The dry climate and clay / limestone soil benefit the vineyards and particularly the varietals this wine is made from, 45% Tempranillo, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Grenache.
The wine spends 36 months in American oak adding subtle spice and vanilla notes to this dark burgundy colored wine. Soft aromas of dark and red berries along with plum and sweet tobacco leaf invite you to take a sip. Cherry and cassis flavors commingle with earthy minerality and softened tannins (from 11 years of aging), creating very well balanced wine. There is a bit of pleasant clove like spice in the lingering finish of this medium bodied wine. This Gran Reserva if it were from, Rioja or Ribera del Duero would be two to three times more expensive, yet no better, a steal at $21.99.
Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce
This dish is super satisfying and it is the perfect time of year to make this dish because almost all of the ingredients are locally fresh.
What you will need for the eggplant sauce:
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch diced
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/4cup dry white wine
1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned,
6 ½ tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey, agave or ¼ teaspoon sugar
1tablespoon chopped oregano
How to make the sauce:
Heat up the oil in a large saucepan and fry the eggplant on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until nicely brown. Drain off as much oil as you can and discard it. Add the tomato paste to the pan and stir with the eggplant. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, and salt, sweetener of choice and oregano and cook for 5 minutes to get a deep-flavored sauce. Set aside; warm it up when ready to plate.
What you will need for the Sweet Corn Polenta:
6 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 1/4 cups water
3 tablespoons butter diced
7 ounces feta, crumbled (can also use good Parmigiana instead)
¼ teaspoon salt
Fresh basil to garnish
How to make the Sweet Corn Polenta:
Shuck the corn and chop off the pointed top and stalk. Use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels -- either stand each ear upright on its base and shave downward, or lay each ear on its side on a cutting board to slice off the kernels. You want to have 1 1/4 pounds kernels. Place the kernels in a medium saucepan and barely cover them with the water.
Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer. Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water and into a food processor or blender; reserve the cooking liquid. Process them for quite a few minutes, to break as much of the kernel case as possible. Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry to process.
Now return the corn paste to the pan with the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to mashed potato consistency. (Be aware that if you have a lot of liquid left in the pan, it can take a while to cook down the polenta, and it will sputter. Consider holding back some or all of the liquid. Alternately, if you like the consistency after processing.
Fold in the butter, and cheese, salt and some pepper and warm for 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Plate in a large shadow serving dishes and top with warmed eggplant sauce, garnish, and pour you and your guests a glass of wine.
(This dish makes a great base if you want to add protein duck and pork are well paired) Recipe adapted from Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, as seen on Food52.com
Cheer’s to Fall, The Wine Guys