Benjamin Romeo’s wines of Rioja

The wines of Rioja are very well known in the UK. Largely known for being rich, heavily oaked wines, the regions has recently been infused with new blood and these young winemakers are now making more modern and fresh wines.  Benjamin Romeo is one of those forward looking winemakers and his assistant winemaker, Allende Perez-Medrano (no relation) was in London recently to showcase his wines. I had a chat with her and we had a quick tasting of a wine Benjamin makes in honour of his father, the La Vina Andres Benjamin Romeo, 2002. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Chatting with Manuel Louzada, Numanthia winemaker

When the subject of Spanish wine comes up, the wines of Rioja are usually what springs to mind and although tempranillo is the red grape of Spain. There is a lot more to Spain then Rioja. I had the chance to speak to Spanish winemaker, Manuel Louzada of Numathia vineyards recently. Numanthia is in the Toro DOC region of Spain. The DOC is in the northwest of Spain and specializes in tinta de toro, an offshoot of tempranillo. Manuel however, takes a different approach to his wine and is hoping to create balanced, elegant, but not heavily oaked wines. Manuel and I sat down after lunch one day and had a chat about the Toro region, the tinta de toro grape and how he makes his wines. Oh, and we had a little tasting as well of his Numanthia and Termanthia wines…. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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What a pretty bottle -Elyssia, Spanish sparkling rose

Denise, would you like to come round to mine on Saturday for dinner? I can never resist a dinner invitation, especially if it’s from a good friend and so I found myself, on time for once, on the doorstep of my friend Luiz’ house with a bottle of the new Freixenet rosado sparkling wine, the Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut in hand. Freixenet, the Spanish cava usually found in it’s iconic black bottle with gold lettering is now launching a sparkling rosado wine. Freixenet has long been a big player in the cava stakes, being part of the Codorniu group, it has a wealth of expertise, state of the art wineries and plenty of marketing muscle behind it to launch a rosado sparkling on the market. The Elyssia is a blend of 85% pinot noir and 15% trepat which is a varietal native to Catalonia, it is often used in cava blends to give a uniquely Catalonian spin to the wines. We decided to have the Elyssia as an aperitif. When I pulled out the box, there were lots of oohs and ahhs, they definitely have not skimped on the marketing. The box it comes in is very smart, a soft pink with a defining silver stripe running down the middle, it looked like a very expensive champagne box. The bottle is also well posh, clear and in the shape of traditional champagne bottles, it looked very pretty sitting on the table. So how did it taste? Well, it was fine as an aperitif. I didn’t really find much in the way of defining characteristics. It was a pleasant little bit of sparkle to the evening but I thought it should have been a bit more flavourful. Seeing as it’s a pinot noir brut, I was expecting lots of red berries and red fruits on the nose and palate but didn’t really find much on either. A pleasant sparkly, not offensive in any way. I’ve had other Rosado cavas from Spain and this one, well...

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Spanish roses for an Indian summer

Indian summer. Why do they call it Indian summer? Summers in India are hot as hell, not to mention wet, it being monsoon season and all. I did a bit of research (ok, looked on Wikipedia) and among the various meanings, this one seemed just as good as any of the others: …the term originated from raids on European colonies by Indian war parties; these raids usually ended in autumn, hence the extension to summer-like weather in the fall as an Indian summer…. That seems to be just as believable as any of the other definitions. So Indian summer not only means it’s still nice and sunny but that means that it’s still rosé weather! It’s no longer hot (not that it ever really got hot this summer) nor have the icy fingers of winter crept down my collar so what better wine to drink then a fresh and fruit driven yet dry rosé. I like rosés because they are so versatile as I’ve said many times and the rosés of Rioja tick all the boxes for a truly delightful drinking experience. Rioja is a big producer of  rosés and they are made up primarily of grenache and tempranillo, both varietals which produce dark red wines so it’s no surprise that Riojan rosés are usually quite dark in colour. I had 4 sent to me to try and they all had the roughly the same characteristics. Dry yet with a fabulous red fruit character, they are perfect food wines, matching with everything from tapas to BBQ. The Campo Viejo Tempranillo rosé is made from 100% tempranillo and is a fresh and funky rosé with plenty of bright red fruits on the nose and palate but no residual sugar. It’s closed with a screwcap so it’s a handle bottle to take along to the park and perfect with snacks. Marques de Vitoria rosé is another 100% tempranill and is a dry and fresh wine, light body but plenty of strawberry and red currant rolling around...

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Lunching at Malmaison

It is now midnight as I write this and I am still full. There used to be this commercial that ran on American TV for Alka-Seltzer, the tagline was, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”. Despite the fact we didn’t “eat the whole thing”  as a matter of fact, we both took doggy bags home, we did stuff ourselves silly. We had 4 courses, which is not unreasonable, but there were some generous portions at the Brasserie of Malmaison. Malmaison is a boutique luxury hotel smack dab in the middle of Clerkenwell and their brasserie serves up tasty local produce all presented quite beautifully. The main draw for me and the reason I was there, were the bespoke wine flights that the restaurant sommelier, Stuart Fife matches with your dining choices. Stuart is new to Malmaison but he comes from Hotel du Vin in Glasgow and his matches were very well done indeed. While I was waiting for my lunching partner, Vintage Macaroon to arrive, I had a browse round the wine cellar and found some familiar labels, Spy Valley, Springfield Estate, Dinastia Vivanco, d’Arenberg Stump Jump, and Chapel Down, to name a few.  As I suspected, Bibendum Wines is the main supplier for Malmaison and they had some of their best on the list. We left ourselves in Stuart’s capable hands and didn’t regret it one bit. I had a very elderflowery, light and refreshing 2007 Bacchus from Chapel Down. I often find English wines to be a bit thin but Chapel Down make an excellent bacchus and it had enough body and elderflower/citrus flavours to match the trio of smoked blinis (haddock, salmon and mackerel pate) I had to start. The smoked fish was very tasty but I thought the blinis were a bit too soft for me, maybe blinis made of buckwheat would be better? I like the slight chewiness of them. I almost forgot to mention the pre-entree amuse bouche of intensely flavoured crab bisque, which would have...

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Everything’s coming up roses for Project Awesome

Rosé! Olé! That was my mission as part of Project Awesome. Some of you may not be familiar with Project Awesome but in a nutshell, The Wineyard & Deli in Morecombe contacted 6 of us bloggers to match their wines with our recipes. While some bloggers got a bit carried away with the whole clandestine operation and posted frequently, I, on the other hand, chose to take the dark horse route (read: didn’t have time to get around to blogging about it til now) but I finally cooked up something for this project. I was sent a bottle of 2008 Raimat Abadia rosé. Rosés are some of my favourite wines and I am on a tireless campaign to remind people that not all rosés are sickly sweet concoctions from California. The Spanish Raimat is an offshoot of the well known cava producer Codorniu. The Raimat vineyards produce still table wines and are also dedicated to producing wines sustainably. While they are not officially certified organic or biodynamic, they try to use minimal agrochemicals, reduce waste and optimize all available local resources. The Raimat rosé is a  blend of cabernet and tempranillo. A lively rosé, it was fresh, crisp and dry with plenty of red cherry and strawberry notes. Not surprisingly, it was bright cherry red, this was certainly no delicate rosé but rather a robust Spanish wine to stand up to the heat that comes from the plains of Spain.  Now, I just want to remind everyone that I am a wine blogger but I seem to be doing more and more with food so, what to pair with this rosé? I had a load of chicken wings and a friend suggested a honey soy marinade so…. that’s what we had for lunch. The recipe is so easy and the chicken wings came out fabulously. A simple spinach, tomato cucumber salad garnished with sunflower seeds and dressed with aged balsalmic vinegar and virgin olive oil and voila! Lunch was served. What I like about...

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