Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fettuccine and Chanterelles With Amontillado

A favorite mushroom in season right now is chanterelle (girolle). Chanterelles, like porcini, command a high price when out of season, about $30 to $40 a pound. But right now they could be had for the irresistible price of $7 to $10 a pound.

I wasted no time picking up a bagful of chanterelles on sale for $9.99 a pound. My only thought afterwards was how to cook it. There are dozens of ways for sure, many of them with wine, as chanterelle has an affinity with wine. A recipe in the Sunday paper gave me an idea: fettuccine with chanterelles. I'm not fond of creamy pasta but the clincher was it calls for a dollop or so of Amontillado. I quickly envisioned enjoying the chanterelle pasta with a glass of Amontillado. Yey.

Amontillado is basically a Fino Sherry that has aged oxidatively--its color is amber and the flavor is nutty and strong, with alcohol upwards of 17 percent. Old Amontillado is even darker, nuttier, and more alcoholic. I find old Amontillado overwhelming to pair with any dish. For me a young Amontillado, or better yet, a Fino-Amontillado, pairs best with food. But that's just me.

A Fino-Amontillado is not an official category, thus you'll find no designation on the label. But trust me it's out there. It is a Fino that is aged longer, right to the point when the biological aging with the flor stops, thus the oxidative aging begins. I love this kind of tweener Sherry.

Equipo Navazos made a Fino-Amontillado in its "La Bota de Fino (Amontillado) No. 24" from a solera in Montilla-Moriles. The best Fino-Amontillado Sherry that I've tasted is Alexander Jules Amontillado 6/26. Alex Russan, the proprietor and shipper of Alexander Jules Sherries, creates this Amontillado from the solera of Bodegas Argüeso in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, thus, technically it was a Manzanilla. The solera from where this Amontillado was extracted consists of 26 barrels. Alex Russan made a selection of just 6 barrels for the Alexander Jules Amontillado producing a mere 1,300 500ml bottles.

With an average age of 10 years, the Alexander Jules Amontillado has a youthful style, a Fino-Amontillado. A beautiful feminine character; soft, but complex, with a hint of floral on the nose and the pungent salinity of a Manzanilla evident in the intense finish. Perfect with the chanterelle pasta.

Jerez Amontillado "6/26", Alexander Jules NV 500ml $37.00 (order)

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