Bodega Las Mercedes: A VÍ Vid Visit and Report.

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From Pigar we rejoined the A3 and headed for Villagordo del Cabriel. This is the furthest town West from Valencia, almost the highest on the plateau and the last before you leave DO Utiel-Requena and cross into Castilla la Mancha.DSC_0104

It was here that the Oria de Rueda family chose to build one of their four houses ( and bodegas) using the same architect, (Demetrio Ribes) who designed  Bodegas Torre Oria with its similar house, Sebiran, ( of which only the old bodega remains, ) and Finca Casa Nueva where for years Galician Bodega Mas de Bazan made the wines.

Las Mercedes is ‘at the limit’ of the DO, in the Parque Natural de Las Hoces de Cabriel, this is the name Jose (Pepe) Leon has chosen for his project. The Oria family are long gone having divested themselves of their bodega interests and Pepe is the owner of the house, bodega and vineyards of 3. 5 hectares of 80-year-old vines grown on soils with underlying chalk, clay and sand. The yield is just 1 kg of grapes per vine.

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We visited on a bright sunny afternoon and as we drove down the drive, the house emerged from behind a stand of pine trees, square, within a walled garden.

You enter via the old chapel, now a tasting room, on the ground floor and the house above and behind whilst a door opens onto the bodega which is a typical and traditional 19th century building. The grapes enter through a door in the side of the building, are sorted, passed through the destemmer and fed by gravity into the deposit below. Gravity was very much the way of doing the movement of wine and the clarification with ceramic ‘trullos’ or tanks below.

 

 

 

 

Like so many other bodegas the original tanks have been opened up and one holds the 2016 in bottles, the other two the 2017 and 2018 respectively in barricas. Interestingly in the ceiling of these old trullos crytals sparkle in the right light.

 

Upstairs the old house (1896) has been renovated and prepared for enotourism  with single, twin and double rooms ready for visitors. There is ample space for entertaining and outside there is a pool and garden for barbecues.

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However, ‘Las Mercedes’ holds one major surprise that the other Oria de Rueda properties do not have!

Behind the property across the field is another old building, from here you can see the reservoir and the hills and forests which surround the bodega and where there are many walking tracks to be followed opening up the possibilities for tourism in an area where there is also white water rafting and kayaking in nearby Venta del Moro.

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The real surprise however is underneath this building!

 

Here is  a much much older bodega. Not in use, here is a potential museum and events venue. The bodega is below the gravel and chalk bedrock, entered by steep stairs down to a series of niches and tunnels. There also are remnants of old tinajas in which the original wines would  have been made.

 

 

Many of the tinajas are broken and the ancient tunnel is sealed off but it is believed they could extend some  distance, maybe the 2 km to the town itself. Who knows what surprises may lie  down there! Currently Pepe is allowing the perfectly temperatured niches to be used by friends to store their own wines.

Nowadays there is just the one wine produced, Las Mercedes del Cabriel, ‘Bobal al Limite’, which is a pure Bobal,  2016 with 18 months in French oak and a further 6 in bottle. We have tasted it three times since the beginning of October, in London, at the Bobal press day in Utiel and in Requena at Foro Bobal ( where we had the pleasure of tasting it with Pepe).

The wine has a very deep black cherry colour with purple edge and flashes, long slow legs. On the nose there are red and black currant fruits, blue flowers, spices (clove, cinnamon, vanilla), liquorice,mountain herbs, balsamic notes.

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In the mouth it is fresh on entry, round, with mature tannins. It has a long finish full of Bobal characteristics. Above all it is a wine to keep with at least 10 years more ahead of it.

On the downside there were only 2000 bottles produced and about half remain at 20€, (per bottle, tax included).

Fortunately there are two further vintages in oak undergoing their ageing process and if you don’t get to taste the 2016 we are certain it will be worth the wait to taste the 2017 when it is released!

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Bodegas Pigar, VÍ Vid re-visits and Reports on Progress and new Wines.

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It was exactly one year since we had visited Juan Piqueras in his ‘garage’ bodega in Campo Arcis (https://wp.me/p7dfvi-1r5) . A year which has seen this new Bodega consolidate and Juan gaining recognition in the local community ( he was for example a panelist in one of the ‘Foro Bobal’ round tables last year) his wines gaining a toehold in London with a small distributor and the Bobal being included in the London event for professionals organised by Sarah Jane Evans MW last October.

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His wines are exported to Northern Europe and if you can find them here expect to pay upward of 15€ a bottle.

Last year Juan was experimenting with ‘Orange’ wine, a sparkling wine from an obscure local variety ‘Royale’  and wines fermented in terracotta tinajas.

When we visited last week the number of tinajas had grown, the sparkling wines were being palleted (and now there are three ‘Ancestral’ wines from Royale, Moscatel and Chardonnay) and we were promised developments in some of the wines we had tasted last year.DSC_0078

The garage seemed somewhat fuller and there were indeed further tinajas and deposits. The courtyard of the family house was full and dotted around were the latest harvest of mushrooms, membrillos and olives in brine! Another of the bedrooms has been converted into a bottle store.

We commenced our tasting with the Burgundy style ‘black Chardonnay’ . This is not a black wine. It is a wine made in a traditional style where the fruit is macerated for a long time to extract all the colour and flavour from the skins. This gives the wine a higher acidity after fermentation and it undergoes a  second malolactic fermentation, unusual generally in white wines. Fresh on the nose it is a good yellow colour but still cloudy coming straight from the deposit. This  has a great future , with pineapple, cream, and good apple acidity  to balance!

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‘Orange’ Tardana.

The second wine we tasted was a Tardana from a tinaja, an ‘orange’  wine, still cloudy and with  the most aromatic nose. With four months macerating on the  skins the wine has very good acidity, a touch of stalkiness , fruit and is fresh. Can’t wait to try this when it is bottled!

We tried two further Tardana wines

The first wine was from stainless steel deposit. Less aromatic on the nose it had excellent acidity and a marked stalkiness and very good varietal characteristics.It will be a wine to keep for a couple of years before drinking.

The second was from a different tinaja. Quite different to the first and second wines the clay had had a marked affect on the wine which had a clear marker from the tierra. It is wines such as these which are informing Juan of the possibilities of using tinajas and how the variety performs in these vessels.

The ‘orange’ Chardonnay had a little less colour than the Tardana but was lovely in the mouth, already round and full, with good length.

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Tasting the Moscatel

The family have a plot of Tardana in the valley near Las Pilillas, the first commercial bodega on the Iberian peninsular dating back 2700 years.

The Moscatel had been fermenting in glass bombons, and is pale gold,  really expressive on the nose with apricot, peach and white stone fruit. The vines are scattered around their vineyards.

Another Chardonnay  was a new ‘Ancestral’  wine, with a lively  mousse,  persistent fine bubbles, fresh and truly spectacular. Juan did an excellent job disgorging the wine and a short video appears on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Vivideventos as does a video of the next wine.

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This was a 2011 Chardonnay, ‘traditional method’ a beautiful old gold colour showing natural oxidation, lively fine persistent bubbles with a super correct nose baked apple, honey and creamy in the mouth with a long round full finish. This was a hobby wine, made before the bodega was conceived.

Some of the young Bobal we had tried a year previously has moved to a bombon and is currently under ‘Velo de Flor’. This is the way fino sherry is made. The natural yeast having used up all the sugar in the must, rises to the top of the wine and forming a blanket which stops oxidation, at the same time ‘feeding’ and enriching the alcohol, acidity and the natural glycerine in the wine.

 

 

This is still therefore very fresh, with deep ripe fruit, a point of sweetness and all the characteristics of the variety that you would expect.

The Bobal dulce is made to a traditional recipe with part of the must being boiled, then added back to the natural juice and the fermentation stopped with orujo giving a final wine of 18%ABV. It is full of chocolate, tobacco, the wrapper inside a cigarette box, cedar, just incredible.

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Finally we tried an ‘arrop’ which is made from fresh fruit stewed in Bobal must, fig and  water melon among others.This traditional sweet is perfect on a cold day!

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As usual Juan made this a ‘super educational’ as well as a fun visit, an opportunity to keep in touch with his ‘experiments’  and assess the comparison between differing styles of wine. Thank you Juan!

 

 

 

 

1er Concurso Gastronómico de Citricos: VÍ Vid reports from Palmera.

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Palmera, a small town on the N322 near to Oliva played host to the first competition  using citrus fruits as the protagonist in a high level gastronomy event held there on 28 November.

Home to the Todoli Citrus Foundation, a garden and more dedicated to production and promotion of the citrus fruits in many exotic varieties the competition´s aim was to promote both the foundation and the use of its  products in the highest level of cookery.

A bright sunny morning, the relentless rains which flooded local neighbouring Tavernes having finally receded, the chefs were balloted for their ‘turn´at 10.00 sharp and `cooking´ commenced immediately

We say cooking for a reason! This is the first such competition to use citrus fruit to such a level and also be freestyle in its nature. Many of the competitions have a prescriptive list of ingredients but there was no such brake here. Competitors could do what they wanted ……and did!

 

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16 restaurants from Gandia, Oliva, Gata de Gorgos, Miramar, Denia, Cullera, Villalonga, Huesca, Tavernes de la Valldigna and El Palmar participated.

The jury was high-powered as well, counting on Vicent Todoli as President, Maria José San Roman ( Monastrell, Alicante) Javier Andres,( Colonial Group, Valencia) Manel Alonso ( Casa Manolo) and Toni Padian ( Ricard Camarena, Valencia).

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Ballot for turns, cocas de Oliva, Jury, Citrus Fruit and marmalades and prizes.

But such is the nature of such competitions that much of the cookery is done as preparation at home before arriving at the venue. Thus many of the garnishes , emulsions , jellies and other elements which accompanied the main ingredients arrived pre-prepared in their Tupperware boxes and bottles which rather reduced the spectacle to an ‘assembly job’ with little real cookery going on compared with the traditional concursos .

 

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That  is not to undervalue the final results, Maria José and Javier both described this competition as being at the ‘highest level of gastronomy’ and being unique in its nature although some criticism was reserved for those restaurants who had not had taken the opportunity to visit the foundation.

Throughout the competition Moli de Pico and in particular Pepe Cotaina, produced a steady supply of Cocas de Oliva from their ovens.

The Prizes were awarded as follows:-,

First Prize , Main Course: Bruno Ruiz , Aticcook, Denia.

First Prize, Postres: Chez Mamie (Gandia) and Peix i Brases, (Denia) .

Second and third prizes were not awarded in either class which must be a bit disappointing for the other competitors who had prepared and attended the competition in their own time.

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Showcooking at Marina Restaurante. A VÍ Vid report.

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Once again this year we have been invited to feel, live and taste the soul of the Marina Beach Club! We really look forward to that! They promised us a burst of laughter, the best views of Las Arenas beach and great moments of cooking with friends!

Their brilliant plan…. a “showcooking” by Juan Carlos Galbis, the greatest Rice Master  in the city of Valencia, with us as his cook´s assistants making a Valencian paella for “our lunch”… Well, not a bad idea given that we are not chefs, neither experts in this matter but… we wanted to learn and we were hungry for his knowledge!20181108_132743

Meanwhile, to whet our appetite, we were invited to taste the “amuse bouches” of their executive chef Sebastien Gros.20181108_141036

Last, but not least, we got to eat our masterpiece.

Marina Restaurant, a circular restaurant with spacious Windows overlooking Las Arenas Playa, is a charming space for those who love to eat outdoors. Its terrace extends to the sea, with spectacular views of the beach.

The proximity to the sea and the marine district of Cabanyal mark the Mediterranean essence of their gastronomic offer, which also includes a good selection of Valencian wines 20181108_143714among other references from the rest of the national and international winemaking panorama.  We were offered “Buenos días” a DO Rueda Verdejo, fruity, fresh, very well-balanced and with a good acidity. Antonio Calero, their manager, explained to us they have bought the whole production for the next 10 years. So, if you want to taste it, you have to go to Marina Restaurant, it’s well worth it!

The restaurant menu combines modern and avant-garde cuisine with local cuisine and traditional Valencian dishes: vegetables from the garden, dry and sweet rice, fish from the local fish markets…

Juan Carlos Galbis welcomed us with everything ready! A big paella saucepan was placed in the middle of the salon with all the ingredients on the table for cooking “our” paella.                                                                   He shared with us some really useful tricks, such as how to smoke the rosemary, adding to the rice the smell and taste of a paella made over wood although it was really gas.  Interesting! We will do it next time at home….. we´ll see what happens…. fingers crossed!!20181108_133528

Galbis used Dacsa Albufera, a hybrid cross between Senia and Bomba varieties.  Certified by the Designation of Origin Rice from Valencia which guarantees its origin and quality, Marina Beach and Dacsa have sign an exclusivity agreement to use Dacsa rices for all their dishes.

20181108_132921Juan Carlos also tought us how to use the “pimentón” (sweet paprika) properly to express all its properties…. But that master class we will share with you another time…

Meanwhile Sebastien Gros prepared for us some of their “yummy” appetizers, we 20181108_141239started with Iberian ham and Pan de  Cristal”  (a type of bread with a crispy crust and soft, honeycombed interior), followed  by  Mediterranean sea bass ceviche with passion fruit seasoning and Valencian orange “slush”.

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                                                                                                                                              Tuna fish tartare with wakame seaweed and soya and mustard mayonnaise came next to delight our palates. After that delightful dish we went to his steak tartar with mustard ice-cream, I don’t have words to explain the sensation of that first taste!!!                  Wonderful!20181108_150130

Once “our” paella was ready we sat at our tables and a new wine came “Frore de Carme”  sólo albariño, Doble lias, matched with Mar y Montaña by Marina Beach (sweetbreads and red prawns).

 

Finally, the paella was served filling the atmosphere with the same thought… Did we do it well? Were we a good students?

 

Well, actually, it was Juan Carlos Galbis who cooked it, but for us it was something special to be able to participate in the event.20181108_152835

I have to say that we ate everything! No food was leftover. The paella was accompanied by “Finca Terrerazo” 2015, a great red wine “Vino de Pago” made by Bodegas Mustiguillo,  headed up by Toni Sarrión  . 20181108_161150A fine wine and a special one too, 100% Bobal. Intensity, density, maturity, warmth, freshness and finesse are the first and foremost features outlining the profile of this quality wine. Its colour in the glass is absolutely lovely, a vivacious shade of dark black cherry with thick legs slowly making their way downwards.  Finca Terrerazo is also smooth and creamy on the palate, fresh and pleasant, with mineral touches, mature and fruit-driven. A fine wine which indeed we thoroughly enjoyed, matched perfectly with the Marina Restaurant menu, and with those amazing views of the Playa Malvarrosa you are in heaven!

And…… the best way to finish a great meal, their desserts! 20181108_165816 Thanks to Sebastien and Juan Carlos for this unforgettable masterclass!20181108_140349

Tous to host 1st Concurso de Gazpacho this weekend, 11 November. A VÍ Vid Preview.

One of the great pleasures of the Autumn and Winter seasons is the reappearance of one of our favourite dishes – Gazpacho Manchego. Although to our British friends it is seen as a rich dish, with its game and wild mushroom ingredients, it is traditionally a hunters (or shepherds) meal, drawing on the abundant and sustainable populations of rabbits and partridges which thrive in the Valencian countryside and mountains.

Described by Cervantes and called ‘Galianos’, the origin of the dish is either in La Mancha, or the Serrania or Val d’Ayora of Valencia.  Juan Salva Gayá Sastré in a recent blog drew on a source placing it in the mountains of the Turia valley (Serrania). We have seen claims that it belongs to Enguera and when we were first introduced to Gazpacho in Requena we were told it was a local plate with many local recipes!

This is typical of Valencia with recipes having a local variation every 30km and it is undoubtedly true it is served and cooked in different ways depending where you are.

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Tous is a small town in the interior 50km from Valencia near Alberic. It is a new town to the extent that it was ‘moved’ when the huge reservoir which collects water from the Jucar and Escalano rivers was created.  The dam broke in 1982 causing a massive flood known as the ‘Pantanada.’ It has the remains of a castle, the church has the original doorway from the old church now under the waters of the reservoir but the town has a reputation for the gastronomy of the interior and the mountains which include sausages, ‘gachas,”migas,’ macaroons, sweet cakes and orange blossom honey.

Perhaps Tous is best known for Gazpacho Serranos and this is why it has been chosen to host this first competition which is an attempt to get the dish its rightful place in the canon of Valencian gastronomy.

The basic ingredients are as follows:-

Meat: Mountain rabbit and partridge, pigeon, snails, (if not available free-range chicken and domestic rabbit):

Wild mushrooms: (Lactarious deliciosos -Pleurotus eryngii – Agrocybe aegerita):

Vegetables: red and green pepper, garlic, onion, tomato, ñora;

Spices: ground pepper: pimentón, saffron, cinnamon, clove;

Herbs: Laurel, Pebrella, Rosemary;

Other: salt, water and Valencian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. For the Tortas (or pan cenceña or pan ácimo) which essentially is unleavened thin, flat bread which resembles and has the texture of a dry Carr´s water biscuit.

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Gazpacho Ventürrense.

 

For certain you do not find all the ingredients in every gazpacho. In the Serrania de Turia, Utiel-Requena and the Hoya de Buñol there may be mushrooms, the meat is likely to have been cooked in the stock (then deboned and shredded) and the torta will be broken up and cooked in an ‘honda’. In Venta del Moro, for example, white pepper and clove are used as spices but we have not encountered this elsewhere.

As you cross the A3 Motorway and head South and East the meat is more likely to be chopped, fried first and served on the bone. This is more popular in the La Ribera, and as you move towards the Canal de Navarres, Costera the Vinalopo and Alicante the meat may well be served as a separate plate with the torta whole and presented with the stock rather in the manner of Yorkshire pudding and gravy. In the Alcoía you are more likely to encounter the Valencian herb Pebrella which grows locally.

The tortas are very easy to make. Simply mix 400gm flour with 250ml of water and a pinch of salt until you have a ball, then break off into small balls of dough, roll them out as thin as possible and cook over gas on an iron skillet until dry.

 You can also buy them in any decent supermarket or traditional bakers.

During Sunday´s concurso there will be a showcooking of the preparation of tortas using gluten free flour. 

Up to twenty-six restaurants will be selected to cook a Gazpacho for 15 people in the Plaza España on Sunday morning from a list of ingredients supplied by the organiser. There are three prizes of 500, 300 and 200€ which will be decided by a jury of experts.

VÍ Vid will be there to observe and report on the event and the winners!

 

Gastrónoma-2018 is Launched. VÍ Vid Reports from Veles y Vents.

Gastrónoma-2018, `the most professional yet´was launched at a press conference  lunchtime yesterday ( 29 October) in Valencia´s emblematic Veles y Vents building. The gastronomy event is held in Valencia´s Feria between 11-13 November and is open to Professionals and public alike. Entries can be pre-ordered at http://www.gastronoma.feriavalencia.com

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Alejandro Roda (left) and Carlos Mataix open the presentation with Maje Martinez (bottom left) and Jesus Machi (bottom right)

The President and Director of the organisation Carlos Mataix and Alejandro Roda respectively opened the launch explaining it would be the biggest and most professional for 40 years. More chefs with 40 Michelin stars amongst them, more activities, more cookery demonstrations and more sectors represented.

Some 180 ‘brands’are exhibiting including manufacturers, distributors, machinery and kitchen companies, service industries amongst them.

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Gastrónoma Family.

Gastrónoma will have 12 separate ‘spaces’ including a number of favourites such as ‘Rice Corner’ where Miguel Barrera ( Cal Paradis) will be showing Arrocito de Castellon assisted by the team from Alicante Restaurant ‘Monastrell’. There will be  ‘Cocina Central’ dedicated to the top chefs, ‘PandeVerdad’ dedicated to real bread and overseen by Jesus Machi, former President of the Valencian real bakers Association and where Luca Scarcella will exhibit pizzas as well.

For wine lovers there will be the Wine Tunnel which will be augmented by tastings of wines from Valencia, Castellon, Utiel-Requena and Alicante as well as Portuguese wines, sake, orange wines, sherry and others under the control of Valencian Summiller Associations FASCV and ASVASU plus The Wine Place will be showing wines from their selection of imports.

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Wines from Sponsors Vicente Gandia.

 

There will be a ‘Coffee Forum’ and spaces dedicated to ‘Craft Ales’ , cheeses, cocktails, olives and much , much more.

Maje Martinez explained one such innovation would be a ‘Huerta’  at the centre of the public area showing a traditional Valencian garden plot with seasonal vegetables so that foodies could learn more about the traditional ingredients of the Community.

Gastrónoma is supported by the Valencian Tourism Department and the Diputacións of Castelló and Valencia as well as Ministry of Agriculture in the Valencian Government. Sponsors include Makro, Amstel and Bodegas Vicente Gandia.

Following the presentation ‘Colonial’ group owners of La Succursal provided a buffet  accompanied by cheeses from La Majada Quesos (Felix Pizcueta 15) with beer  by Amstel Oro and Gandia wines.

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Selection from the Buffet.

The Feria is accessible by Metro and there is ample parking with costs guaranteed at a maximum 5€ for the whole day.

 

 

‘La Rioja Gastronómica’ visits Valencia: A VÍ Vid report.

Valencia has been visited by La Rioja this week part of a nationwide gastronomy tour.20181024_192933

‘La Gastronomia de La Rioja’ was the protagonist and VÍ Vid was pleased to be invited to Alto Colon, the Ricard Camarena restaurant over Colon Market to participate on Wednesday 24 October. Organised by SeviNet together with the Riojan Government the event took place on Tuesday and Wednesday with the cooperation of a number of food suppliers and the various IGP and DO’s of the region and clearly was aimed at promoting the rich regional gastronomy.

We were welcomed with a glass of vermut  Martínez Lacuesta whilst the 150 guests assembled which was accompanied with IGP Chorizo Riojano and Queso Camerano DO. The chorizo was a deep red colour, sliced into generous rounds from the traditional horseshoe-shaped sausage, firm in texture with its strong flavours of smoked pimentón de la Vera and garlic. The Camerano cheese with its own DO is from goats fed on local shrubs and bushes and was fresh and semi-cured.

The event was led by journalist José Ribagorda and the gastronomy expert Mikel Zeberio who introduced each part of the experience with a brief discusion on the characteristics of the ingredients involved.

We moved on to the first two dishes, ’ Champiñón Escabechado’  20181024_200103(sliced button mushroom in vinegar) and a ‘Cremoso de Coliflor de Calahorra’.  The cremoso with its varying textures from it own IGP worked particularly well with the Rioja Rosado Tobía, Alma de Tobía fermented in barrel with its strawberry colour, rose-hip syrup nose (jarabe de escaramujo) and good acidity and length in the mouth.20181024_195813

The next two dishes were quite a contrast!

The first was ‘Alegría riojana rellena’ a small red chilli pepper stuffed with minced meat, a real surprise to many of the guests with its intense dry heat! Palates were calmed however with the traditional ‘Alubia de Anguiano’ a stew of the famous red beans with jamon which was rich and satisfying and well-appreciated!

These were served with Tobía Selección de Autor Tinto 2015. This Rioja is a modern style wine and was served cold, but when it had warmed up and opened out it had violets on the nose. A blend of Tempranillo with just 20% of Graciano and Garnacha, it was full in the mouth, jammy with mature raspberry fruit, good volume and length.

The final pair of dishes were a triumph. ‘Ternera de Ternoja con Pimiento Riojano sobre 20181024_205513sofrito tradicional’ was a dish of tender chunks of meat, falling apart with a rich base of flavour, the animals are fed for at least four months on fresh grass in the Logroño district.

20181024_194956The second, ‘Chuletillas de Cordero Chamarito al sarmiento’ were milk-fed baby Lamb chops from the regional Chamarito breed, less than 50 days old at slaughter, cooked over vine cuttings and were the most juicy, flavourful and tender pieces of lamb we have ever tried.

Served with 2015 Reserva Oscar Tobía, a ‘Vino de Autor’ this is Tempranillo with just 7% Graciano. This wine was a perfect match for both although it too needed to warm up first.

The cookery was coordinated by Ventura Martínez (Chef Nino, Delicatto) and served with minimal delays given the number of people present.

We finished a very successful evening with pears from DO Rincón de Soto served with a syrup of red wine and cinnamon.

This important roadshow will be visiting Malaga in November, given an opportunity to attend, do not miss it!

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