Monthly Archives: June 2011

Poolside Sipping

Shattered after an early morning start (2.30am!), our first night spent in Spain was a night in watching The Apprentice with an easy- to- cook meal and a bottle of wine priced at just €3.69 from the local supermarket..

The bottle in question, a white Antonio Barbadillo Castillo San Diego 2010, is bursting with ripe peachy flavours and has a creamy, buttery finish. This wine is the perfect aperitif before any meal, and is delightful sipped from a glass by the pool in the scorching Spanish sunshine.

We had this white alongside a dinner of spicy, garlicky prawn pasta which was pleasant, however the low acidity of the wine meant that rather than cutting through the chilli (as a Chardonnay might), it exaggerated it. That pasta packed a punch!

Perhaps not the best food/ wine match but I’ll certainly be stocking up on some bottles for easy drinking throughout our holiday! I’m even drinking a glass as I type.

¡Salud!

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Goodbye detox, hello Rioja!

I lasted 4 days and the detox officially ended with a bang over the weekend… Friday’s dinner of steak with a delicious glass of Campo Viejo Reserva Rioja on the side, bursting with sharp redcurrants and cinnamon spice started it!

Then came Rioja Tapas Fantasticas; granted, I was working, but the weekend officially put me in the mood for my Spanish holiday and effectively ended what was a rather miserable, hungry week! A weekend spent sampling a variety of tapas dishes (the montaditos from More than Tapas were amazing!), looking on jealously as literally thousands of people sampled wine from the 28 wineries that were pitched up, with the sun lighting up Tower Bridge like a Lego build… what more could you ask for?

As luck would have it, bottle 2 of our 6 rosés from Tesco turned out to be this delightful Faustino Rivero Ulecia Rosado 2010…

Enticing on the nose with refreshing, dry and fruity flavours, this rosé, made from the garnacha grape in the Riojan area of Arnedo, topped off a tiring but excellent weekend!

My verdict on the detox experience? While the shorts fit, I think I would rather put in 6 months of hard graft at the gym than put myself through last week again.

Tomorrow I shall be drinking milky coffees for breakfast, sipping wine/ cocktails on the terrace and stuffing my face with Spanish food. The pool will be my exercise!

Hasta luego!

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Detox

The title of this post explains why I haven’t written much lately; rather than drinking wine, I’ve been abstaining from it…

Last weekend, in preparation for my holiday to Lake Viñuela in Spain at the end of this month, I began digging out all my summer clothes and planning outfits. It was going pretty well until I tried on my denim shorts, which were more than a little too tight for comfort. Without the time, money, or inclination to buy a whole new summer wardrobe, I decided to go on a detox (the exact time scale is yet to be determined).

This detox involves no caffeine, dairy, meat or alcohol (sigh). So far I’ve made it three days and surprisingly the thing I’m missing most is a nice cuppa- peppermint tea just doesn’t hit the spot! Soya milk on my morning weetabix is actually rather tasty and, although I was practically pawing at the chilli con carne my parents had for dinner last night, I don’t feel tired or lethargic at all (yes I know it has only been three days).

Not wanting to make it too easy for me, as we speak my mum is enjoying a nice cold glass of white wine while I nurse a nice cold glass of water! I’m pretty sure by the weekend I’ll give in, but hopefully by that point the shorts will fit, my skin will be gleaming and I’ll feel fab (here’s hoping) and ready to indulge in some Spanish food and wine.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Taste of London

Given that (standard) tickets cost £23.50 each for this event, my boyfriend Luke and I did feel a bit ripped off on Saturday night, when we paid a visit to Regents Park in the pouring rain (no fault of the event organiser I know), only to discover limited facilities for those who do not wish to purchase crowns (the non- refundable currency accepted instead of pounds at Taste events).

After 30 minutes or so of walking around, our boots squelching uncomfortably, we were considering calling it a day, and going to find a nice pub for some (reasonably priced) drinks and dinner. That was until we discovered two features that perked up our evening a little bit…

The first was the Estrella beer and tapas masterclass, where we were each given a free beer and a tapas dish (we enjoyed the chicory with blue cheese and walnut mousse), while leading Tapas chef Omar Allibhoy gave us a short talk on how Estrella Damm compliments many Spanish tapas dishes. While I wouldn’t exactly have called it a ‘masterclass’, with a refreshing cold beer in hand, some tasty food, and a dry perch, it was pretty enjoyable.

The second feature we stumbled across was the S. Pellegrino Trilogy Masterclass. Surprisingly this was not fully booked; unlike the first come first served wine tastings and cookery demonstrations (I guess people are not as interested in free water). This 30- minute masterclass consisted of Wine & Water Matching with Andreas Larson. We were presented with 3 different wines; one white, one red and one tawny port, to sample alongside 3 bite- sized morsels of crab, parmesan, and chocolate tart (not altogether I hasten to add).

Interestingly, the focus was on the water, something which I for one do not consider in as much depth as the wine accompanying my meal. It was, however, fascinating to discover how a sparkling water with a high mineral content such as the Acqua Panna acts to cleanse the palate after a rich port and dessert combination, while the S. Pellegrino still water retains the crisp acidity of the white wine and salty meat flavours of the crab.

Having indulged in a fair few samples by this point, both Luke and I were feeling a little tipsy (thank goodness for water!)

Despite the poor weather and overpriced entry fee, we did have a good time.

If you missed out on Taste of London, why not pay a visit to Tapas Fantasticas in Potters Field Park this weekend? Entry is free and as well as enjoying Spanish food and wine, we’ll be praying for some Spanish weather too!

www.winesfromrioja.co.uk

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Torres Viña Sol Tempranillo, 2008

If you’re looking for consistently good Spanish wine, then look no further than the Torres range. The one hundred year old family company has a presence in over 140 countries and amongst their many brands is one of my favourites; Vina Sol.

In March I reviewed the white variety, produced from the Parelleda grape, this wine is a fresh, fruity and elegant wine, perfect on its own or alongside light tapas dishes.

When I got home from work a few nights ago, my mum had discovered its red counterpart, Torres Viña Sol Tempranillo, 2008…

This medium bodied, plump red has subtle aniseed flavours in the first taste, and gives way to ripe fruit and vanilla. The silky texture of this wine went excellently with the rich creamy lasagne we had for dinner (not Spanish I know- but still delicious).

Keep an eye out for this one; it’s often on offer in Tesco. Personally, I cannot wait until my Spanish holiday this year, when I’ll be stocking up on bottles of this wine for just a few Euros and pairing it with meat or creamy dishes (Spanish ones of course!)

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Blushing rosé

I’ve always had a bit of a rocky relationship with rosé… on a hot, sunny day, the idea of a cool pink glass of wine is tempting, but I like them dry, and all too often I end up being disappointed by an overly sweet or heady drink.

Despite my disappointment, I still tend to opt for rosé over red wine during the summer months.

Recent figures from Nielson show that demand for ‘the once hugely fashionable pink wine has dropped, with sales by volume falling 2%’. Despite this, taking up a large chunk of the market, blushing wines, which come in slightly cheaper than the average bottle of red or white wine, remain popular.

Often I hear people praising the versatility of rosé, so in a bid to find one I really enjoy, (while on a budget) I decided to go for Tesco’s Drink Pink Mixed Case priced at just £28 (down from £52!), containing these six bottles:

– Palo Alto Shiraz Rosé Reserva 2010, Chile, 13%
– La Capilla Merlot Rosé 2009, Spain, 12%
– Maurel Vedeau Syrah-Grenache Rosé 2009, France, 12.5%
– Roko Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2010, Chile, 12.5%
– Faustino Rivero Rioja Rosado 2009, Spain, 12.5%
– Kumala Eternal Shiraz Rosé 2010, South Africa, 13%

Alongside a light supper of asparagus soup and foccacia bread on Sunday evening, we opened the first of the 6 bottles; the Palo Alto.

Deep pink in colour, at 13% it is hardly surprising this rosé was slightly heady… with pleasant raspberry flavours in the tasting, I was slightly put off by the sweet syrupy scent at first, but a glass alongside some wensleydale with cranberries after our soup was delish!

While, for me, this wasn’t an easy drinking rosé, I would recommend trying it alongside a dish you might usually pair with a light red wine.

Pretty tasty with some prawn skewers and a beef burger at a barbeque I’d say!

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Viognier

This white grape is one which is relatively new to me. A bit of research places it as a ‘rising star’; originating in Northern Rhône, there are now plantings all around the world- in Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, America, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and Japan. Despite this, Viognier is still a wine that is relatively unknown to the everyday consumer, compared to the Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs.

Since sampling Cono Sur’s delicious oaky citrus offering last week, produced in the Colchagua Valley of Chile, I have kept my eyes peeled in the wine aisle for further examples of this elusive wine.

On my way home from work on Friday, I popped into the local Co- op to see what I could find. Amongst their rather extensive variety of wines, was Les Jamelles Viognier Vin de Pays d’Oc, 2009 from the Upper Aude Valley of the South of France, priced at £5.79…

The scent of this wine was aromatic with hints of apricot, but on the palate, it was somewhat oily. The tasting notes on Les Jamelles’ website state that it is ‘very rich, round and syrupy on the palate, but displays good freshness and acidity’, however I found it a little unbalanced; the acidity didn’t quite cut through the oily texture.

While this particular Viognier is not one I’ll be trying again, I am looking forward to sampling some other varieties. I’m yet to get my hands on one from the original homeland of Northern Rhône.

While you might not enjoy every new wine you try, rather than sticking with firm favourites, why not branch out and try something new?

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