Habano & Wine, Reality or Wishful Thinking
COMBINING HABANOS AND TORRES FAMILY WINES IN A PAIRING CAN BE A UNIQUE PLEASANT EXPERIENCE THAT WE INVITE YOU TO UNRAVEL
Talking about food and wine, and even more when it comes to two premium products, is always exciting. Today, we are going to pair the emblematic Habano with some red wines of great value and proven quality. We will be unveiling both products in a sublime way and then take them to a pairing that has thousands of similarities and coincidences, an enveloping climax, which always piques curiosity and, in many cases, stirs amazement.
We will begin by describing both vitolas of Habanos, masterpieces of craftsmanship by a tradition of perfection. First, and following a chronological order of strength and taste range, we will review a vitola of the H. Upmann brand, a fabulous relic founded by the Upmann brothers of which incredible stories abound, including the putout of a recent book that collects all their legacy. H. Upmann Mágnum 54 (ring gauge 54 x 120 mm long) is mild-to-medium strength, although it grows with the thirds of smoking, causing a pleasant and energetic final sensation; a taste range that begins with notes of dry grass, cutoff hay and augments to the point of acquiring notes of dried fruit, with a creamy background, where some noble wood shows up, coupled with a flash of white pepper and a full-bodied bond highlighted by its expression of subtle aromas and tastes.
The second vitola is a gem of the Trinidad brand, Vigia (ring gauge 54 and 110 mm long). When I think of Trinidad, my mind reels back to one of the most pleasant and unique places of Cuba: its streets, the Tower of Manaca, the Valley of the Mills, my friend El Bolo and the sublime vitolas named after it. The organoleptic pattern of this is a perfect blend of medium strength and a range of taste that starts with floral tones, nut and vanilla flower, only to reach an extreme complexity in its final third, where notes of cocoa, wood and light earthy tones are combined, with a wide mouth and scent that speak of a great Habano.
After having outlined both vitolas, it is necessary to touch on that vital matter linked to the origin of the products. And if these are sheltered under a Protected Appellation of Origin (DOP), it just can't get any better. Let's talk about the magic terroir of Vuelta Abajo and its Habano DOP, one of a kind in the world of tobacco, hence its capital importance and its status as a leader in the world of dark tobacco. When we refer to an extra-class agricultural product, we have the obligation to explain the concept of in its two variants: "physical terroir" and "microbiotic terroir".
The first is no doubt the basic support on which the tobacco plant grows and develops, where the variables of soil (with its composition, age and elevation), climate (with all its components of winds, rains, proximity of water basins, sunlight hours, ocean currents, etc.), the variety of dark tobacco in question, and the people who work on them, leaving their mark on each and every furrow, on each curing house, on each rolling and on each illusion that's turned into a splendid smoke, play major roles of their own.
The Habano DOP and its "terroir" of Vuelta Abajo have unique and unrepeatable details, swaying from its granitic quartzite
soil lixiviated with concretions to its trade winds that blow 365 days a year, together with the Caribbean Sea current and the unique Gulf of Mexico undercurrent, which not only baptize and exert influence on this magical terroir, but also help irrigate winemaking territories, such as Galicia and Bordeaux. These Cuban genetic varieties, with their abrasive power, exquisite flavor, one-and-only aroma and the hardworking planters that visit each plant at least 150 times during the growing season, is what the "physical terroir" is all about.
Let us now enter the microbiotic field. Without this, we would not have differences among agricultural crops from the same species. Microbiotics is made up of all the tiny and imperceptible microorganisms that are both in the fields, in the prime plantations where tobacco is grown, and in the other processes: selection, first fermentation (for us active enzymatic transformations), through which the tobacco leaf passes from the curing phase to the third fermentation and acquire its color oxidations. To all this, let us add the wisdom of the "Master Blenders" and the cigar rollers who leave their mark on each vitola. In all these moments, the unique microorganisms of each place are acting, leaving their stamp on each leaf in a different way.
WHEN IT COMES TO WINES…
Two great wines have been selected, each with different characteristics, but with the same craftiness and professional elaboration. We have always called the Torres family "pioneers and revolutionizers", since they have been the first to become aware of the many variables that have an impact on modern wine, from climate change to the selection of the right "terroir", thus transforming the good way of making original and different wines, from Chile to California. However, we will focus on these two incredible "terroirs" in the province of Catalonia. It is good to note that both are wines with little human intervention, children of organic vineyards treated with great social awareness, to give birth to these great and different products.
The first is a Purgatori, from the Costers dei Segre D.O. (just like the Habano, an agricultural product protected by its appellation of origin), a blend that includes Cariñena, Garnacha and Syrah vines, in rich conjunction with an 18-month aging process in French oak barrels from Nevers, reaching an alcohol content of 14.5%. This is where the similarity stands, as this "terroir" also has unique characteristics. Discovered in 1777, at the Finca del Desterrado, the monks built the Abbey of Monserrat on very deep soils of yellowish
THE TORRES FAMILY TAKES INTO ACCOUNT THE MANY VARIABLES THAT AFFECT WINE, FROM CLIMATE CHANGE TO THE SELECTION OF THE RIGHT "TERROIR”
brown silt (similar in color to some of the soils of Vuelta Abajo), low in organic matter and high in calcium carbonate.
The second wine brings back a pleasant memory, since we were the ones who presented it when it arrived in Cuba, back in 2007; and we always saw its potential and big-wine qualities. It comes from the important DOP of Ca Priorat or Priorato, depending on the language it is read in, a land of enormous wines, a mixture of cariñena, garnacha and syrah grapes; the same blend, but with notable differences given the push of the physical terroir and the above-mentioned microbiotic features. It is a unique soil of schist (licorella stone), dark slate and a mordant aspect, where zones of quartzite are interspersed (similar to Vuelta Abajo). It is poor in volcanic activity, which gives the wine a strong mineral character. There, the plant struggles to beat the soil and is helped by the marked thermal amplitude of the place.
LET'S GO TO THE WEDDING!
Let us plan our pairing, the living expression of a marriage that has no rules or laws, but rather particularities of these fine couples. Now I'd like to stop: the hand-rolled leaves of dark tobacco are so warm and restless -and the Havana cigars even more, perhaps because of its Caribbean origin-, that it admits not only one couple, but two; and divided into the three thirds of smoking, because as the vitola burns, it endures several demanding changes. Life and smoking have shown us that a vitola tastes of something in the first third, of another one in the second -where the combustion cone is virile and powerful- and of a very different one in the last third, in which the concentration of tar is high and heat is way too close to the lips. That's why we recommend a well-structured pairing by thirds, because the vitola asks for it and we have to please it. This is what it is all about, creating a unique and unrepeatable pleasure by means of these anthology alliances.
The three-pronged pairing must be enriched by a leading actor, together with the cigar, and an enhancer to reach complete and lasting pleasure. In that sense, we suggest sparkling wines (aged or matured Rosé or White Champagnes), reds (the choice has to be accurate and not all go), aged, distilled drinks, dark beers and three flavor enhancers, which are luxury companions: coffee (according to variety and roasting), black tea (according to type of fermentation and aging) and chocolate (according to amount of cocoa or the percent of it).
After knowing the details of these unique products empowered by a Protected Appellation of Origin, which provides important legal support and a credible and valid enhancement, let's move on to our pairing.
For the H. Upmann Magnum 54, we propose the Purgatori wine (2013 vintage) in the second third, to help balance the tannic notes of both (dark tobacco has tannins in its composition). The wine will help make the creamy smoke of the H. Upmann cigar far more pleasant.
For the second vitola, Trinidad Vigía, we suggest accompanying it also in the second third with the Salmos red wine (2014 vintage), based on the residual acidity of the Priorat and its enveloping tannins, which will delight the smoke of this succulent Habano.
Without a doubt, we have arrived at very suggestive and adoptive pairings, combining the exclusive Habano in two of its newest and most incredible vitolas from such sought-after brands as H. Upmann and Trinidad, with two singular wines from Spain, both children of unique "terroirs". This is the reason why they achieve tasteful jewels and such suggestive life experiences. We propose this beautiful and pleasant way to reach the total combination: smoke, taste, aroma... You can make comprehensive links where the Habano fights the same wine back all the time, but ours will come out the winner.
We're in business now and the table is served, featuring an ashtray with a colossal Habano and a glass of great red wine. All this much to smoke with, and that is worth the try.
Have a holy and splendid puff!
LET US MOUNT OUR PAIRING,
THE LIVING EXPRESSION OF A MARRIAGE THAT HAS NEITHER RULES NOR LAWS, BUT ONLY THE FEATURES OF THESE FINE COUPLES