No-Guilt Wednesday Wine: Bodegas Y Viñedos Del Jalon Claraval Seleccion Especial 2006   Leave a comment

This little guy doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  Every Wednesday I will write-up a wine that I feel delivers good value for drinking in the middle of the week.  Aside from quality, my only other criteria is price.  To start, less than $15, but ideally less than $10, for a 750 ml bottle. 

I will also add any recipes that I paired with the wine.  I hope that I will be successful with all of my pairings, but there are never guarantees and I will report on my duds as well.  My ultimate goal for each of these dinners is to end up with the same self-satisfied jaunty grin that my little friend to the left has.  I also hope to leave you with a recipe that you can use to match up with a wine of your choice if you can’t locate the one I recommend.

No-Guilt Wednesday is not about compromising on quality.  It’s about all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank.  And of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Bodegas Y Viñedos Del Jalon Claraval Seleccion Especial 2006 ($10):  Yeah, the name is a mouthful.  But, daaaamn, the wine is too.  Hailing from a wine region worth watching– Calatayud– this wine is made by blending Garnacha (50%), Tempranillo (20%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Syrah (10%).  The bush-vine Garnacha is an average 60 years old, planted on mountainside vineyards of slate and quartzite.  The wine seems initially shy: even decanted, the wine did not start to reveal itself until after the first hour.  Then it released cedar and sweet spice notes and it started to sing.  On the palate, again initially tight, but patience was rewarded and the hidden red and black fruits revealed themselves a little bit at a time.  Truthfully, it was difficult to stop drinking this wine.  So I didn’t.  Bad Sybarite, bad, bad Sybarite!  Rated **1/2 

Regarding Calatayud– Located in the province of Zaragoza in the Ebro River Valley, in the Northeastern quadrant of Spain, Calatayud is overshadowed by some its more famous neighbors including Rioja.  The vineyards are situated on either side of the Jalon a tributary of the the Ebro River.   However, the limestone rich soil of Calatayud is one reason to pay attention to wines coming from this region.  Another reason?  The native varietal known as Garnacha (but perhaps better known as Grenache).  About 2/3 of the total production in Calatayud is of this varietal which is used as a blending grape to provide some oomph to wines.  According to Espavino, the 2003, 2004 and 2005 vintages are considered Very Good, while the 2006 vintage that spawned the very nice Claraval was considered merely Good.  

Cuisine du jour: I must really be looking for trouble trying to make paella in the middle of the week.  Perhaps a lot of trouble given that the last time I tried to make paella (about two years ago) it was a memorable disaster.  The flavors were spot on, but the rice was woefully undercooked. 

The difficulty stems from the fact that I was using the wrong equipment:  Paella is traditionally cooked in a “paellera” – a round flat pan with two handles.  In my prior attempt, I did not use a paellera which owing to its shape (wide and shallow) allows the rice to cook horizontally rather than the more vertical method used to cook rice in a sauce pan or a rice cooker that has higher sides.  The other element of this is that paella is cooked from beginning to end completely uncovered– again, in stark contrast to the vertical method.  This sounded like a good excuse to go out and buy a paellera.  I procured a carbon steel 15-inch  model for about $24 at the local gourmet store.  I’m sure I could have gotten it for a bit less if I had ordered it on-line.  But no time for that.  (FYI, they had two other versions of the paellera, one in copper for $350 and a second enamelled version for about $150!  No need.) 

We invited two of our closest friends over for what I hoped would be a feast. 

In light of my prior paella experience, I spent much time worrying whether I used too much liquid, not enough, too much rice, not enough rice, etc.  So I fiddled with proportions a bit.  But you should not do that.  The key is 3 times as much liquid as rice.  This was not a difficult dish to make– and while my results were good, to be truthful, it will be a while before I master it.  But my guests did not complain– there were hardly any leftovers!

Wednesday Night Paella

A 15 inch paella pan will make enough paella for 5-6 people.


  • 7 & 1/2 cups of chicken stock (water may be substituted)– hell, round-up to 8 cups3 tbsps. EVOO
  • 5 chicken drumsticks with bone and skin removed and cut into coarse pieces
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs also cut into coarse pieces
  • 1 large white onion medium diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper medium diced
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 2  Tbsps. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp saffron (expensive, yes, but essential)
  • 2  & 1/2 cups of long grained rice
  1. Heat up chicken stock till almost to boiling point.
  2. Meanwhile, heat empty paella pan until hot
  3. Add EVOO and when heated, add chicken pieces, season with kosher salt and brown over high heat
  4. Once the meat is browned, push to sides of the pan and add onions, bell pepper, tomatoes and saffron in the center of the pan and cook until onion os softened
  5. Add hot chicken stock (or water), stir and bring to a boil
  6. Check for seasoning and add salt if necessary
  7. Add the rice in a pattern that creates a cross (or for the more secular of us, an “X”) in the pan.  This is important as it will help in the dispersion of the rice throughout the entire paella
  8. Stir the rice in being careful not to stir too vigorously as the liquid can easily pour over the shallow sides of the pan
  9. Cook over high heat (can be done on the grill or stove top over a gas flame)
  10. Periodically reposition  the pan over the flame to ensure that all the rice get exposure to direct heat
  11. Once the liquid had been absorbed, remove the pan from the heat source and loosely cover the paella with a piece of newspaper for about 5-10 minutes which allows the rice at the top of the paella to absorb any residual moisture that would otherwise evaporate

 Serves 5-6

Alternatives additions– this dish would not suffer from the addition of any of the following: minced garlic, petite peas, chorizo, etc. 

Sybarite Sauvage ©

Posted June 16, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

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