by Kaitlin Brooks, Level I Sommelier/wine specialist .
When Chef Oz set the bottle of 2014 Mestizaje Bobal in front of me this past week across the concrete counter-top of Cueva Bar, I immediately made the connection between the paisley-style print of the label and the paisley-like curtain separating the small kitchen from the rest of the restaurant. This was the first of many connections between this bottle of red wine and the story of Cueva Bar.
The wine is Bobal, which is a grape varietal indigenous to parts of Spain, namely in Valencia. It is rarely seen playing a major role in exported Spanish wines today, despite being one of the most widely planted grapes in Spain. The name Bobal comes from the word Bovale, or bull, because the shapes of the grape clusters resemble the shape of a bulls head. It has historically been used to make bulk wines because the vines are hardy and the fruit production is high. This particular winery, Mustiguillo Vineyards & Winery, boasts of being considered among the top 100 wineries in the world and utilizes 100% organic viticulture. Winemaker Toni Sarrion has taken on the challenge of turning this workhorse grape varietal, into an elegant and approachable novelty.
In the amber glow of lights at Cueva, this rich wine tastes of deep red fruits: cranberry, pomegranate, and ripe cherry. A bright lifted acidity meets with smoky, cedar, leather, and meaty qualities— making it an easy wine to pair with a meal (perhaps tapas) or enjoy a glass by itself. This wine also sets itself apart from much of the Spanish wine world as the winemaker has chosen to use French oak for aging the wine rather than the traditional American oak, which gives the wine an overall mouthwatering softness.
I inquire about the meaning of the name Mestiizaje and Oz explains to me that in Spanish, the term means blending, “like breeding,” he says. The name is an ode to the fact that this wine is a blend of many different varietals—Bobal comprising 75% of the cuvee with lesser amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, and Tempranillo.
On this evening Oz has prepared a special dish that similarly blends many different flavors together in the true Cueva Bar style of Latin Fusion food. The dish, called Patatas & Chocos, is a sauté of crispy potatoes, tomatoes, roasted garlic chips, green olives, and diced pimento peppers, topped with tender calamari steak, fresh cilantro and a splash of olive oil over the top. The dish is flavorful and eclectic, with ingredients purchased earlier today and tossed together with the panache of someone who enjoys what they do in the kitchen. The red tomatoes stand up to the acidity in the wine, and the olives give the dish a salty freshness—matching seamlessly with the Bobal blend that Wine Advocate deemed a “tasty and drinkable Mediterranean red.”
The rich history and resurgence of this little-known Spanish varietal along with its ability to pair well with an eclectic assortment of foods make it the perfect accompaniment to the adventurous and celebrated culinary experience of Cueva Bar. If you haven’t yet had the chance to join for a meal at Cueva Bar, this is the perfect opportunity to experience a new way of eating paired with an off-the-beaten-path wine varietal that should not be missed.
Katilin Brooks is a currently pursuing her Sommelier certification.
You can find Kaitlin at Cueva Bar every Sunday.
on Instagram @winemostly and @kaitnb
Coming soon to a blogosphere near you at winemostly.com
About the publisher/editor/author.
Chef Oz was born and raised in Mexico. After moving with his wife and son to San Diego in 2009 he pursued his dream of owning a business. Together with his wife, they share their abilities, and vision with the world through Cueva Bar, Oz's and Jo's first restaurant.
2123 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
© 2017 Cueva Bar. All rights reserved.
© 2017 Cueva Bar. All rights reserved.