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Monthly Archives: September 2017

  • RIOJA

    COLUMNIST TRISTAN DARBY OFFERS A QUICK RIOJA 101

    About an hour's drive south of the northern port city of Bilbao is Spain's most famous wine region, Rioja. With around a third of production being exported it's also an important flagship for Spanish wine - especially here in the UK, rioja's largest export market.

    Rioja's wine law permits the production of white, rose and red wine, however, the vast majority of rioja produced is red, made from a blend of at least three grapes and dominated by Spain's famous tempranillo. Rioja is often aged for longer before release than other commercial wines, with the helpful idea that wines are sold to the consumer at the point drinking without the need for further 'cellaring', (though some rioja can continue to evolve for many years after release). Every bottle is then labelled according to its minimum ageing time and style. Wines labelled simply 'Rioja', are released in the first or second year after the harvest, with little or no oak ageing. The inclusion of the words 'Crianza', 'Reserva' or 'Gran Reserva' on the label indicates an incrementally longer time maturing in both barrel and cellar before release - a minimum of two years for Crianza, three for Reserva, and five years for Gran Reserva.

    There's growing interest in rioja's diversity at the moment, including white rioja, which can be oaked or unoaked and uses the same labelling terms as red, but with shorter minimum ageing requirements. White rioja is traditionally a blend of local grapes, but following a law change in 2007 wines can now include chardonnay, sauvignon and verdejo. Sierra Cantabria, Otomán 2015 is a blend of sauvignon blanc with the traditional viura and malvasia grapes and well worth checking out. Fruity and fresh with lemony citrus and stonefruit flavours and a long fine mineral finish. The wine is fermented in French oak which adds a subtle creamy vanilla flavour and a soft silky texture in the mouth. Try it with pork, chicken or grilled fish.

    Have you ever tasted rosé rioja? If not, then a graceful introduction is Ramón Bilbao, Rosado 2016, a delicious dry rosé made from garnacha (a.k.a. grenache) and a small dash of viura added in for extra freshness and fragrance. A delicate pale pink colour, it's pretty and gentle on the nose with red fruit, citrus and flowers. Light and elegant in the mouth with a gentle fruit intensity of melon and orange zest followed by a fresh and fruity finish. Splendidly sippable rosé that's worth every penny.

    For an unusual take on the crianza style of rioja I recommend Ramón Bilbao, Viñedos de Altura 2014. An equal blend of tempranillo and grenache (tempranillo usually dominates red rioja), the wine takes its name from the high-altitude vineyards where the grapes are grown. This is a vibrant and complex rioja. Intensely fruity on the nose - bursting with ripe strawberries and blackcurrants, underscored by sweet tobacco, chocolate, smoky herbs and peppery spice before finishing with a long mouth-watering spiced blackcurrant note. A distinct wine with bags of character, it'll be great with anything from lamb and beef to mature cheese and spicy Spanish stews.

  • Crumbs!

    Chilli Con Vegan, Saffron Rice, Avocado & Lime Salad

    Ingredients
    2 medium onions, finely diced
    4 garlic cloves, grated
    1 medium leek, finely sliced
    3 red chillis, finely sliced
    5 tbsp premium rapeseed oil
    3 heaped tbsp coriander seeds
    3 heaped tbsp cumin seeds
    3 tbsp smoked paprika
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    3 tbsp dried oregano
    6 lime leaves, chopped
    1 whole nutmeg, for grating
    3 tbsp tomato purée
    250g dried green lentils
    2 x 400g tins red kidney beans
    2 x 400g tins black beans
    3 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
    bunch coriander, stalks and leaves seperated and chopped
    1.2 ltrs vegetable stock
    1kg easy cook rice
    good pinch of saffron
    5 limes (zest of all, juice of 3)
    1kg cherry tomatoes, halved
    4 avocados, peeled stoned and sliced
    mixed salad leaves
    sour cream, to serve

    Method
    1. For the chilli, place the onion, garlic, leek and chilli into your largest, heavy-based pan over a medium heat with 3 tbsp rapeseed oil. Fry for about 5 mins, or until softened.
    2. Meanwhile, toast the coriander and cumin seeds together on a medium heat, then grind in a pestle and mortar.
    3. Add the spices, dried herbs and a good grating of nutmeg to the large pan and fry for 2 more mins - if it's a little dry at this point, add a splash of water to help it out. Stir in the tomato purée and cook for a further 2 mins.
    4. Stir in the lentils. Drain, rinse and stir in the beans, followed by the tomatoes, chopped coriander stalks and the stock.
    5. Bring it all to the boil slowly, then reduce to a low heat and let it bubble away for atleast 1 hour, or until thickened and reduced, stirring every 15-20 mins. Season to taste.
    6. For the saffron rice, put the rice in a pan with twice the amount of cold water, add a few strands of saffron and season well. Bring to the boil gently, and simmer until the water is nearly gone and the rice is light and fluffy, with a little bite.
    7. When ready to serve, combine the lime zest and juice with the tomatoes, avocado, coriander leaves, and mixed salad leaves.
    8. Serve the chilli with the rice, and top with the salad and sour cream.

     

    A Grape Match...

    Trapiche Melodias Malbec 2016

    There's a whole stack of spicy flavours going on in this dish, so a soft, spicy red is the way to go. This is a fresher, lighter style of Malbec, full of bright, cherry and plum fruit, with hints of cocoa and vanilla; it's lively enough to cope with the heady combination of chilli, smoked paprika and cinnamon in the mix.

  • The Team's Tasting Selection

    It's that time of the week again when the team at Great Western Wine make a selection of delectable fine wines from around the world for you to taste for FREE. Come on by the Bath shop to sample the below beauties...

     

    Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

     

    Chalmers Nero d'Avola 2013

     

     

     

     

     

    Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula 2016

     

    Skillogalee Basket Pressed Shiraz 2013

     

     

     

    The Bonsai Vine GSM, d'Arenberg 2013

     

     

    Stargazer Riesling 2015

     

     

     

    Chalmers Fiano 2013

3 Item(s)

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