I bought the last two bottles of 1996 Dom Pérignon at the border of Honduras and Nicaragua. Doesn't that seem a little excessive? I got them at a bargain $120 a bottle. And 1996 is one of the best vintages ever. It is at the same quality level as the 1982.
I was invited to a pig roast in Estelli, Nicaragua, at the Padrón cigar factory. The 70-pound pig had been cooking all day in a special barbecue that resembled a small garbage bin with a compartment underneath for the burning charcoal. And I knew a friend was coming well-stocked with 2002 red Burgundy. So I couldn’t show up empty-handed.
The day had been a long one visiting various cigar factories in Nicaragua and Honduras, mostly for the production of Rocky Patel cigars. So a cool bottle of fabulous Champagne seemed like the perfect way to chill after a long day in the 4x4 saddle on the dusty roads of Central America. Moreover, some Nicaraguans were celebrating the inauguration of the country's new president, Daniel Ortega, but I certainly didn't buy the wine for that ….
I arrived at the Padrón's factory right when the charred pig was being pulled out of the oven. It looked a bit well-done to be honest, but I am no expert on barbecuing pig, despite my family name. The pig had been butterflied and placed in a stainless steel rack to be cooked. The Padróns pulled the pig out and placed it on a large table, and many of the partygoers immediately dug into the meat, grabbing the pieces of crunchy skin. I chilled the fantastic fizz as they crunched away.
About a half-hour later, I was pouring the icy DP, and everyone was in one hell of a good mood. The Champagne was floral and citrusy with wonderful and complex aromas of bread dough and fruit. It was long, fruity and fresh. It showed great class. Jorge Padrón was carving the pig and drinking the fizz. "This is one hell of a glass of Champagne," he cooed. I was equally elated; it was superb. I gave it an unofficial score of 97 points. Perhaps I was influenced by the impressive beast that lay before us for dinner, but it was delicious.
The pieces of pork were served family-style at the large table, with lots of black beans and rice (the Padróns are Cuban, so they prefer black to red beans), boiled yucca and deep-fried plantains. My buddy brought some bottles of 2002 Joseph Matrot Blagny La Pièce sous le Bois. It was a spicy, earthy, decadent young red and went wonderfully with the pork and hearty side dishes. It was much more open than the 2002 Lafarge Volnay that we had drunk a few days before, but it was obviously not as classy. I gave it an unofficial rating of 90 points. The Pinot cut through the rich and juicy meat and made you want to drink and eat more … not a good thing after five days of eating rich food.
Cigars and 18-year-old Flor de Caña rum followed. So did a slightly scary speech by the new president of Nicaragua, as we all watched the television.
So much for my hardship posting in Nicaragua …
What's the strangest place you've ever drunk excellent wine?
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