Monthly Archives: June 2011

El Coto Real Reserva 2004

During my first week at Phipps PR, I came by a bottle of this red Rioja…

Last Sunday evening, after a day spent outside in the rain at a local community event, I was chilled to the bone!

For dinner, my mum had prepared a BBQ spread (obviously to be cooked under the grill rather than on a BBQ, given the weather conditions!) with succulent home made beef and chilli burgers, herby pork sausages and a whole selection of salads (potato, leafy, bean, coleslaw- we had a lot of food!) To accompany this, and to warm myself up, I decided to crack open the Reserva…

With deep blackberry notes in the scent, I was looking forward to the first taste- the rich tannins and lingering finish of this red made it the perfect companion to our meaty (albeit not very sophisticated) dinner. I couldn’t quite place the peppered, earthy flavours of this red at first, until I tucked into the beetroot salad….

Quite a traditional red Rioja, (depending on personal taste of course) this is one to be enjoyed alongside food, rather than for easy drinking.

While slightly higher on the price scale at £14.99 from Booths, The Wine Society and various independent wine merchants, this red Rioja doesn’t pull any punches- a great example of full bodied Spanish red wine!

For more information on all the different types and varieties of Rioja, have a look here.


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Makutu Bay and Chicken Pie

For dinner on Saturday night (yes I stayed in to watch Britain’s Got Talent…) we had a delicious chicken, leek and potato pie. A recipe created by my mum, this dish is quick, easy and cheap to make.

Chicken, leek and potato pie (serves 4)

2 large chicken breasts, cooked, skinned and shredded
4 rashers bacon, chopped into small pieces
3 medium leeks, sliced
200g button mushrooms, sliced
4 medium potatoes, sliced and par boiled
Walnut- sized knob of butter, plus extra for brushing top
1tbsp sunflower oil
2 rounded tbsps plain flour
250ml chicken stock
125ml milk
1tsp wholegrain mustard
Salt and pepper
½ tsp dried thyme
100g grated cheddar

1. Pre-heat oven to 180˚c (170˚c for a fan oven)
2. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter with the sunflower oil
3. Fry the bacon, leeks and mushrooms for 4-5 minutes
4. Add the flour, coating the veg and cook on a lower heat for 2 minutes
5. Pour in the stock and milk, turn up the heat and bring to a simmer, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens
6. Add the mustard and thyme, and season to taste with salt and pepper
7. Stir in the cooked chicken and heat through for a few minutes
8. Pour mixture into a large, round casserole dish and arrange the potatoes in a layer on top
9. Brush with some melted butter and sprinkle with grated cheese
10. Cook in the pre- heated oven for 25-35 minutes, until golden and bubbling
11. Enjoy with green veg of your choice (personally I’m a little bit addicted to broccoli)

Earlier in the day I had picked up a bottle of Makutu Bay Sauvignon Blanc, on offer at Sainsburys for just £4.99 (reduced from £10.99), which we served alongside the meal.

The aroma of this wine was pretty bland and upon tasting, while the bottle promised ‘hints of nectarine and grassy, gooseberry aromas’ as well as ‘a full palate and a lingering finish’, I felt that it was lacking in body and length.

Mostly I got sour pineapple and grapefruit on the palate but in fairness, while I wouldn’t personally recommend it for drinking on its own, alongside our creamy chicken dish it did work well. The neutral flavours of the sauce in the pie balanced out the acidic, tart flavours of the wine nicely.

My verdict; not my favourite Sauvignon Blanc, but if powerful tropical fruit flavours are your thing, or if you’re indulging in a creamy sauce- based dish, this wine is worth the price tag!

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Filed under Matching Wine with Food, Taste Test

Tapas Fantasticas!

Apologies for the lack of blog posts this week; it has been a hectic one! Exams finished on the 25th (yay!), I enjoyed the long bank holiday weekend and then straight into work I went…

While an early morning start (well, pre- 7am!), lots of walking and a packed tube provide one huge culture shock, my first week at Phipps PR, a food and drink PR company whose clients include the likes of Wines from Rioja, Wines of Germany, Cono Sur and Sainsbury’s (amongst many more), where I hear the words ‘Rioja’, ‘wine’ and ‘tapas’ at least 4 times per hour, has been great!

Amongst the perks, my favourite so far has been learning about how much variety actually comes with the label ‘Rioja’. Many people (me included up until a year or so ago) associate the word with Spanish red wine, assuming it’s a grape variety or a winery, but did you know it is actually a region in Spain? Located in the north, this large expanse produces a whole variety of red, white and rosé wines, all of which have passed a number of tests to gain the Denominación de Origen Calificada status.

Fancy trying some for yourself? At the end of this month, London sees Spanish food and wine festival Tapas Fantasticas return for the 4th year running. In the shadow of Tower Bridge, Potters Fields Park will be buzzing with Spanish music and entertainment, wine workshops, cookery demonstrations and of course the opportunity for you to try many different delicious tapas dishes from some of London’s best Spanish restaurants, as well as wines from 33 different Rioja wineries.

Head over to the website for more information and to pre- book wine workshops and walks hosted by Olly Smith and Susy Atkins…

See you there!

In the mean time, I’m off to sample some more Rioja- it’s a hard life!

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