One of the restaurants that we love in New Haven is Barcelona. Great tapas, wonderful wines – who could ask for more? Well – Gretchen, the wine director for all of Barcelona’s restaurants, periodically arranges wine or cocktail dinners. A lot of the times, they’re held at the Barcelona Wine Bars elsewhere in Connecticut, but occasionally we get lucky and they’re held right here at the one in New Haven. Last week, they held a dinner called “Exploring Chilean Wines.”
I went with my friends Ellen and Chris and enjoyed five different wines paired with four courses. The first appetizer course was served with a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Cartagena from San Antonio. I really enjoyed this wine – it seemed like it had a lot of fruit in it (stone fruit? I’m not the best at identifying and naming). And the appetizers were delicious too – cheese empanadas, something akin to bruschetta, and some steak tartar. Small bites, but plentiful. And they were very generous with the wine.
Second course was a scallop ceviche served with a 2007 Chardonnay, Amayna from Leyda. The Chardonnay had been bottle aged for more years than most, so (perhaps oddly) it tasted oaky to me and I don’t love smoky/oaky Chardonnays. The ceviche was interesting as it was really just the raw scallops in a marinade. Not bad, but not my favorite.
Third course – they served a parillada (mixed grill) with pork ribs over a porotos granados (bean stew), red chili chicken with humita, and skirt steak (sorry no picture – the picture did not come out well). The pork ribs and bean stew were savory and succulent – yum! The skirt steak was also really well seasoned. The chicken was fine, but a bit on the dry side. Dinner was served with two reds: 2008 Syrah, Polkura from Colchagua and a 2008 Pinot Noir, Kingston Family from Casablanca. Both nice reds, I preferred the Pinot – but that may be because I don’t like the stronger reds.
Dessert was a plate of alfajores with “papaya con crema” and a bowl of arroz con leche on the side. The alfajores were delicious – two little sugar cookies, sandwiched with dulce de leche in-between and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Little bites of heaven. The papaya con crema, was more like julienned fruit and I thought it tasted like mango. Which was funny, because when the woman next to me asked the server what it was – he said it was mango. I had to jump in and say, “Even though the menu says papaya con crema?” We asked two different servers and it seems that it was indeed mango. The arroz con leche was straightforward, not too sweet, pleasant but nothing amazing. Dessert was served with a 2010 Muscat, Tabali, ‘Late Harvest Botrytis” from Limari. I enjoyed this dessert wine – it had the sweetness you associate with dessert wines, but it was not at all cloying or heavy.
So what’s the net-net? Would I do it again? Absolutely! Great wines, great food for a very reasonable price.