Pago de Tharsys; Ecological Wines and New Vintages. VÍ Vid Reports.

Since the Bodega opened its doors in 2002 the aim has always been to produce Ecological wines, respectful of the environment and varieties that they grow in the vineyards surrounding it.PORTADA PAGO DE THARSYS BLOG

Our relationship with the Bodega, one of the first to produce Cava in Requena began in 2010 with our first visit and blog (https://wp.me/p16pqB-3M). In those days Pago de Tharsys was almost unique in having a bodega tour, never mind that it could also be  in the English language!DSC_1275 (2) The Bodega has always been at the forefront of developing enotourism as can be seen from a visit to their website.DSC_1283 (2)

VÍ Vid  has followed these  developments and we have reported on initiatives  such as the DSC_1284introduction of the ‘Cocktail range’ (https://wp.me/p16pqB-xB) the ‘Night Harvest’ which wine-lovers could participate in  (https://wp.me/p7dfvi-82), as well as new wine releases such as the Valencia City range.

The bodega introduced their first Ecologic wine (with the certificate on the back label) with the 2013 vintage of DSC_1385 (2)the Vendimia Nocturna and followed it in 2015 with three cavas -Cava Carlota Suria Brut Naturé, Brut and the Millésime 2015.  The Merlot Crianza 2014, was released in 2018 named ‘Argila’. Now more wines sport the ‘ecologic’ label. Time does not allow regular visits to keep up as much as we would like and we rely on the wine fairs to keep abreast of new releases but yesterday we were privileged to attend an exclusive and comprehensive tasting at the bodega which has put much into perspective. Albertina Torres, from the Bodega´s Enotourism Department took us through many of  the bodegas range of cavas and still wines.

We began with the Carlota Suria Brut Naturé, ecologic, a 100% Macabeo with 15 months ‘en rima’ and 12%ABV. This is pale  yellow in colour, clean, bright with fine persistent bubbles and a good crown. Melon, green apple, citrus notes (grapefruit) and floral notes on the nose, in the mouth the cava is fresh and clean, between fruit and acidity there are notes of bread and this is a wine which will benefit from another year in bottle.IMG-20190210-WA0021

The Carlota Suria Brut organic is also Macabeo with 15 months en rima and 12%ABV. It has more colour than the Brut Naturé and is rounder, more floral and elegant on the nose. In the mouth it retains that roundness, is balanced and has a long elegant finish.

The Brut Garnacha Rosado with its terracotta label is from a family of wines which were quite ‘avant-garde’ when originally introduced. Garnacha is a naturally fruity and expressive variety and this is a ‘rebel’. With 18 months en rima and 11.5%ABV it it is a bright strawberry colour with lIMG-20190210-WA0017ong strings of fast rising fine bubbles, an expressive fruity nose with a mixture of cherry, sweets and other red fruit notes. In the mouth it has a lovely attack, excellent acidity balances the fruit and it has a long dry finish. We loved  the slightly unruly character of this wine and have in mind a pairing with a good fiduea!

The Bodega has a strong reputation for the quality of its top cavas and we were not disappointed by the next four wines.

The Chardonnay Brut 2015 Millésime ecologic has 12%ABV and 24 months en rima.

Fine, persistent bubbles rise through a pale gold, clean and bright liquid and on pouring produces a good mousse. Floral on the nose initially (jasmine) it has a wonderful fruit mix of white stone fruit such as peach and apricot and  notes of patisserie and confectioners cream.

In the mouth it is immediately elegant on entry, creamy with well-integrated bubbles and a good length. A cava with great finesse.

IMG-20190210-WA0024The Millésime 2015 Garnacha Rosé is 12%ABV but quite different to its younger brother we tasted earlier! By contrast this is a pale salmon colour, almost onion skin, clean, bright and with fine persistent bubbles rising to a rosary on the surface. With 24 months en rima it is very clean and fresh on the nose, there are ripe red fruit notes of berries such as red currant, raspberry and  patisserie evident.

In the mouth the sensation is perfect, the fruit, alcohol, acidity and the bubbles are totally integrated, ending with a lovely slightly bitter note in a very long satisfying finish which fill the mouth. Extreme elegance.

We moved next to the Millésime 2016 biologic Chardonnay Brut Naturé which has two months in French oak before 16 months en rima.

This was the first wine with a deep golden colour, it has fine persistent bubbles and patisserie and light oak notes on the nose together with white flowers on a complex mix of fruit such as peach and apricots, and vanilla, cinnamon and hazelnuts.

In the mouth it is voluptuous on entry,  fresher than you might expect from the nose, but has a long full finish with notes of honey.

The last of the Cavas we tasted was the 2014 Reserva  Ecologico Millésime Chardonnay 70% and Macabeo. This has 38 months en rima.

Despite its greater age it is a pale yellow colour, clean, bright with fine persistent bubbles.

On the nose ripe fruit and a base of white flowers, pan de higo with almonds and patisserie.In the mouth this is beautifully fresh, has an attractive acidity, is very well-balanced and a long elegant finesse in the finish. To keep, this will develop its flavours in bottle.

The final sparkling wine was an espumoso, the Alegria which is a blend of Chardonnay with 14 months en rima and Bronx in the liquor d’ expedition. IMG-20190210-WA0022Pale yellow it has steadily rising fine bubbles and white flowers (jasmine) and ripe papaya on the nose.

In the mouth you note the Bronx, an American variety which the bodega grows for their Dulce, the grapes dried in the sun before the wine is made. It has a sweetness, is grapey with tropical notes and is a fun,  dessert wine which would suit all tastes. As we mentioned before the bodega holds a raffle at harvest time to allow some of their clients and wine lovers to take part in a celebration of the vendimia. We have participated a couple of times, putting lamps on our heads and cutting the grapes before, or after a celebration supper!

The Vendemia Nocturna 2018 Albariño is 13%ABV.

This wine is a very pale yellow, clean and very bright with steely flashes. Very expressive on the nose it is fresh, floral with notes of elderflower. The only Valencian bodega to grow this variety the wine has an incredible attack, lovely acidity balanced by very round fruit, and great acidity. Very round, very long with white stone fruit in a wonderful finish! 9969 bottles only!

Released yesterday with the first bottle being opened for our tasting was the Vendimia Nocturna Rosado Garnacha with 12.5%ABV. (3333 bottles).IMG-20190210-WA0017

This is a very pale rose colour and in common with red varieties need a little longer in bottle to show its best. As it evolved it started to show cherry fruit and in the mouth this was the predominant fruit balanced with a nice acidity and a long finish. This will be a cracker come the summer!

Although the bodega is better known for its cavas they produce a full range of quality white and red wines as well.

The Carlota Suria Chardonnay, Fermentado en Barrica 2018 has 12.5%ABV.

Chardonnay does not need much oak here in Valencia and this has just 2 months with the wine being worked on the lees. It is very pale gold in colour is clean and bright with long legs. On the nose it takes a little while to evolve and has elegant oaky notes of vanilla over tropical fruit. In the mouth it is equally elegant, creamy, velvety with a super long finish.

The Argila Merlot  has 12 months in crianza and then a long bottle ageing. There were just 4105 bottles. Medium bodied with a plum colour and long slow glycerinous legs. On the nose ripe plum and damson fruits, sweet and with hints of clay soils on the nose. (Agilar is the Valencian for Clay) In the mouth this is super rich with very ripe fruit, deep and plummy but with a noticeable element of minerality and slight saltiness from the soils. Elegant with finesse and a dry long finish.

We finished our tasting with Nuestro Bobal, 2015 and 13.5%ABV, This is medium to full-bodied with a slight hint of colour t the edge. On the nose tobacco leaf and licorice, this is a creamy but dry style of Bobal with a long finish.

This was a very educative tasting allowing us to see the style of wines in a fuller context and as such a rare opportunity and is aimed at our next magazine article for the March edition of Valencia 24/7. Our very sincere thanks go to Ana Suria and to Albertina for facilitating a tasting which contained a lot of discussion.

We have no hesitation in recommending the wines of this emblematic bodega which gives very good visits with tasting opportunities, the wines are readily available through different outlets in Valencia and there is an on-line shop as well as availability at the bodega.

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European Sumiller’s Ambassador Visits Valencia, VÍ Vid Reports on the Tasting.

In keeping with their over-arching responsibility for the quality of Sumiller training and examinations and the bringing together of the Provincial associations FASCV, (the Federation of Valencian Sumiller Associations) often hold tastings which  VÍ Vid is very pleased to be able to attend and report on.

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Last week was one of those occasions and brought together Jean-Philippe Sendat (European ambassador to Spain) from the Association of European Sumillers (ASE) and David Remolar Ramos who is current President of FASCV.

The tasting had been organised to introduce the ASE to members of FASCV and was an opportunity for a tutored tasting of five wines from the Valencian Community. The tasting was held in ‘La Cuina de Sabors’ in Vilareal, the restaurant run by David and his partner.

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The ASE is a European Parliament funded body headquartered in Luxembourg. Since their inception thy have grown to be present in 18 countries and Jean-Philippe is Ambassador to Spain.

ASE was created to adapt the profession to the evolution of the wine economy and accepts that the golden days when French wines were ‘simply the best’ are over and that now is the time to adapt to new influences and recognise the rapidly improved quality and new styles of wine from the rest of the world.

The globalization of the wine market brings new challenges and customers who demand more variety and Sumillers need to keep up with these developments whether they be New World Wines or even those from China and emerging markets.

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The profession of Sumiller is not as highly rated in some countries as it is in France where every restaurant worth the name has one. Here in Spain the profession is highly recognised but the reality is that in too many restaurants the economics do not permit the employment of a specialist and all too often the task is delegated to a waiter.

ASE is dedicated to transmitting to future generations the knowledge, techniques and traditions of the culinary arts as well as the proper techniques of serving wines. Today as a result more French sumillers train in other countries and vice-versa and we must not forget Valencia´s own Bruno Murciano who was Sumiller in the Ritz in London for example before returning to make his own wines.

ASE has created a Certificate of European Sumiller to promote this wider knowledge and quality of the profession.

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Jean-Philippe himself (Bordeaux ’75) has been Ambassador since 2012. his philosophy is summed up as ‘To be a good Sumiller you need to have a lot of passion, humility and be capable of continuing to learn. The world of wine in general is continuous learning, wine is our culture and is there to be enjoyed’.

A view with which VÍ Vid whole-heartedly concurs!

During the tasting David and Jean-Philippe worked in tandem, David introducing the wines and Jean-Philippe commenting on them.

The first two were from Victor Bellmunt of Ildum Vinarius in Cabanes, Castellon. Victor has made a name for himself producing sparkling wines in a province with no tradition and which are outside the DO Cava. His Methode Tradicional wines ( Cava in all but name) have won awards in the Proava organised Concurso de Vinos Valencianos for the last three years and this year his new Ancestrale wine was highly commended.

 

 

We started with the Garnacha Ancestrale 2017, which had been a big success in the recent Gastronóma exhibition. It is an unfiltered un-clarified sparkling wine, pale salmon in colour, slightly cloudy with fine persistent bubbles.

On the nose it is grapey, with rose flowers and red currant fruit, well-balanced in the mouth, with  lot of fruit and balancing acidity. Fresh, it would accompany a good fiduea well.

The second was Victor’s Ancestrale from Embolicaire, a local grape variety. This was from 2018 and with 5 months in contact with the lees it had been disgorged that morning. Clean and bright with fine bubbles, also salmon in colour. On the nose green  strawberry, citrus notes and secondary notes of light yoghurt. In the mouth clean and fresh, drier than the Garnacha and probably better as an aperitif with a long dry, slightly peppery finish. There are just 1200 bottles of this available.

Next up was a pure Macabeo from El Mollet, Roques Negres from 2017. (12.5%ABV) With good legs, this white is golden-yellow clean and very bright. It has ripe red apple on the nose with white flowers and is medium intense.

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In the mouth apple, pear, ripe fruit it evolves with tropical fruit notes balanced with a good acidity and a hint of bitterness in a long full finish. Juan Carlos Pavia always manages to produce a good white from this variety whatever the weather throws at them!

The fourth wine came from Alicante province, a pure Moscatel from Pepe Mendoza, Casa Agricola Pureza Moscatel Anforà 2017.

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Pure gold in colour, clean, bright this is from the Pla de Lliber in the Marina Alta. On the nose citrus notes, grapefruit and grapefruit peel, fennel with white stone fruit , apricot. In the mouth very ripe grapefruit notes, lovely acidity, very dry long satisfying slightly salty finish. This is a wine which has had 60 days of maceration then fermentation with the skins and stalks in terracotta , then five further months working on the lees. A stunning wine!

We turned to the Vicente Flors, Monastrell ‘Flors M’ from 2016.

This wine had been decanted as Vicente gives his wines only the lightest of filtering. Medium to full-bodied cherry coloured wine with very long slow legs. From old vines on sand and gravel soils the wine has not undergone a cold stabilization and has a very expressive nose, ripe fruit, red and black, with a malolactic cremosity.

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In the mouth it is a powerful wine with a lot of potential, ripe cherry, figs, damson, plums, well-structured, well-balanced and then a very long finish.

We finished with a Bobal from Utiel-Requena, Finca Terrerazo 2016 from Toni Sarrion. 14%ABV this is a bright purple wine with violet edge, with very long, very slow glycerinous legs, colouring the glass. Very fruity nose very deep red fruits, young and fresh. It has hints of the surrounding countryside, herbs, pines, pin-oak trees, and is very  complex in the mouth, with huge depth but needing a lot more time in bottle before approaching again.

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This was an educational tasting with two professionals who nonetheless speak the language of the student. It was a pleasure to meet Jean-Philippe, albeit briefly, and to spend time with FASCV again. Six interesting wines of very high quality, something the rest of the wine-world needs to understand is normal here in Valencia.

 

 

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.

Tous cartel

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.

IMG_0327
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!