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

Habanos - - Summary - BY / YAMIR PELLEGRINO PHO­TOS / EX­CE­LEN­CIAS ARCHIVE

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).

PAI­RING TIPS

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

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