NUMBER SIXTY -FOUR
Pag. 103, 104
Dancing the Demon
``The Tacama winery of the Ica valley, on the banks of Pachacutec's Achirana, has been in existence since 1889. Remarkably, through all the vicissitudes of Peruvian economic and political life in recent years, Tacama has managed to steadily raise the quality of its wines to the point that it has a successful export program to such sophisticated and cut-throat markets as England and France, and indeed, has won international recognition for its wines in serious competition abroad.
Nevertheless, I was candidly skeptical on tasting the blend of Cabernet and Malbec that Tacama sells one year old as its Gran Tinto Reserva Especial – and advises to ``serve chilled"- that this could be any more than awful. After all, with just about any Cab that young, sírvase fresco translates to ``ice this sucker down if you value your gullet."
I was amazed, then, that this wine was fresh, fruity, and thoroughly enjoyable. I served it blind to guests, none of whom could guess its constituent varietals. The closest that anyone could get was that it was like a well-made Beaujolais, but, from its lack of characteristic Gamay nose, was clearly not. This bottles disappeared in no seconds flat. Highly unusual and very good.
In fact, in researching the point I discovered that three of Tacama's wines, the previous year's edition of the red that I had just drunk, its major still white wine, the Blanco de Blancos- a fruity, crisp blend of Chenin Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, and its top–of-the-line sparkler, the Brut Gran Reserva, were each awarded the Prix D'Excellence by forty of the world's top tasters at last year's Vinalies Internationales in Paris.
Indeed, Tacama's sparkling white wines, are, I find, perhaps the most successful of all. Bear in mind in this regard that here in the US there is a flood of fizzy wine from just about everywhere in the world. Most of it is labeled Brut, which seems to be a synonym for ``acidic." A very little of it is labeled Demi-sec, which is, apparently, a sobriquet for ``syrupy." Tacama's Brut sparkler, however, is elegant and crisp with a nice toasty nose. Its Semiseco is fruity, full-flavored and finishes clean. Both are a real credit to their producer.
I assume that with guerilla warfare in Peru now coming under control, inflation down to 15%, and growing internal and external confidence in the prospects for the future, that for Tacama the only way to go is up. And when you figure into the equation that none of these wines will cost you more than a couple of bucks retail, in Peru, I am sure you will agree that it is a shame that Tacama has no immediate plans to export to the US.
Now, for those of you inclined to mourn the lost recipe that had Kipling rhapsodizing over tropical sunsets and cherubs' wings, let me leave you with a little cocktail formula of my own invention that you may want to try the next time you find yourself in Lima. I call it ``The Demon" after one of its principal ingredients, a Tacama pisco sold under the brand name Demonio de Los Andes – the nickname of the cruel Peruvian conquistador, Don Francisco de Carvajal.
You leave a bottle of Demonio and four Vino Espumosos flutes in the freezer overnight. You slip a bottle of Tacama semiseco and some sugar syrup into the fridge at the same time. The following evening, half an hour before serving, move the bubbly to the freezer. Countdown. Open the freezer. Take out two of the glasses. Take out the bottles. Close the freezer. Open the bottles. Pour a teaspoonful of sugar syrup into each of the two flutes. Add a shot of supercooled pisco. Top up with Arctic cold shampoo. Hand a glass to your companion in crime. Don't let the drinks get warm. Look in the freezer. Oh goody! Two more cold glasses. Make a couple more. Demonic possession begins like this."