Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
The Marqués de Valdueza quietly makes even more culinary magic with this bright vinegar from Western Spain
In the context of salads, I’ve started to see vinegar as the counter-rhythm to its far more focused-on culinary partner, olive oil. More often than not, the oil gets the attention and the vinegar helps bring its flavors alive in the salad bowl.
One of the things I’ve learned about leadership and marketing is that the product or company that is “first” to market will likely hold a solid advantage over those who show up later on. Even if the quality of a later arrival is better, the first entry will have already been embedded in people’s brains in a significant way. Balsamic vinegar—almost unknown and unavailable in 1982 here in the U.S.—has become the well-accepted “sweet vinegar of choice.” Over the last thirty years, most everyone in the country has learned to automatically ask for balsamic. There are, however, many other marvelous options. If you appreciate amazing vinegar get to the Deli and grab a bottle of this limited edition acid excellence from western Spain. It is truly something special!
I’ve written a bunch about Marqués de Valdueza’s olive oil. Here’s what Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, the 13th generation to lead the family firm, has to say about the farm’s rare vinegar:
In 2007, I decided to take part of our wine production and reserve it to make the finest vinegar our vineyards are capable of producing. We hired the French enologist, Dr. Dominique Roujou de Boubee, to direct the project and, in that year, we reserved 3000 liters of the juice from our Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah grapes to make vinegar in the traditional, Orléans method, as suggested by Dr. Roujou de Boubee. After an initial fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the vinegar starter was transferred to four-year-old French oak barrels when the alcohol content reached 2%. Aged in the barrel for a minimum of 20 months, we released the first batch of Marqués de Valdueza red wine vinegar in 2012.
Only a few hundred liters of Marqués de Valdueza red wine vinegar are released annually. For this reason, we are able to offer it to only a few of the most prestigious food purveyors in the markets where our products are available. Zingerman’s was one of the first retailers to offer our vinegar in the U.S. and it remains one of the few that always has it available, no matter how small our annual release.The vinegar is a sparkling clean, honey-orange color with an intense and complex aroma of vanilla, fennel, and licorice, rounded with a touch of almond and a citrus finish reminiscent of freshly peeled grapefruit. The 9% acidity makes this the perfect finishing vinegar for a variety of hot and cold dishes. Try a splash in your Boeuf Bourguignon or as an amazing surprise in your favorite gazpacho recipe.
The vinegar is truly exceptional. Something really special for folks who love vinegar. Yes, by all means, buy a nice aged balsamic. But in the spirit of culinary abundance, consider picking up a bottle of this vinegar, too. Try it on local greens, on fresh fruit, and with all the ripe local tomatoes that will soon be showing up. Drizzle a few drops onto a tomato soup (hot or cold). Or soak toasted bread with vinegar and serve it in a salad with good olive oil, almonds, and ripe tomatoes. Try it with anchovies or on a salad with blue cheese and walnuts. Michael Harlan Turkell’s book, Acid Trip, has a nice recipe for a Banyuls vinaigrette made with blackberries—sub in this vinegar from Western Spain for wonderful salad dressing, and add in some ripe plums. Sometimes I drink a sip to brighten my day when I’m feeling down. Even thinking about it here is making me smile. A small taste of culinary excellence that you will likely remember for a long time to come!