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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Matching wine at Hashi’s cooking class

Lately, I’ve been doing lots of food and wine matching with Japanese food. I really enjoy the challenge of matching wine with this food. It’s not an easy thing to do, what with all the competing flavours coming at you, from the salty, umami-ish qualities of soy to hot wasabi and sweet soy, the food really can be a melange of flavours, certainly not a straight up Sunday roast, that’s for sure. I love Japanese food, whether it’s sushi or noodles, I never say no. So, when I was invited along to Reiko Hashimoto’s Hashi Cooking class in Wimbledon AND asked to match wines with the menu, I jumped at the chance. My friend Luiz (thelondonfoodie) is a huge fan of Reiko’s classes and thought it would be fun to get me to match some wines. My task was to give the other attendees a list of wines I thought would match and each could choose one to bring one along. First up, my suggested food and wine matches: Beef Tataki with Creamy Sesame Sauce paired with a rosé Gyoza paired with champagne Scallops with Creamy Spicy Sauce on sushi rice (my favourite) paired with sauvignon blanc Cold Noodles with Spicy Aubergine paired with an Italian carmenere I left it fairly open as to which wines to bring only specifying the type of wine. I was curious to see what the others would bring as they were all food bloggers. I brought along a 2008 carmenere from northern Italy, Vigna Dogarina from Campodipietra, Veneto.  I was intrigued by this wine because most carmenere I know comes from Chile so this was going to be a new experience in food AND wine tasting. I’d been told this wine was also known as cabernet franc in Italy and it did certainly have some of those cab franc characteristics. Red chili pepper, paprika, talcum powder even on the nose. It was more of the same on the palate, a quite savoury wine with a definite red chili...

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Palo Alto rose in the park

I like my rosés dry. I know some people like them on the sweet side but for me nothing beats a crisp, dry rosé. Full of bright redcurrant and ripe strawberry, the 2008 Palo Alto shiraz rosé is a great summer quaffer. I’m sitting in the park on a lovely summers eve, just watching the ducks stroll by, sipping on my rosé. It ticks all the boxes and it’s good by itself or with a nice little picnic lunch. Palo Alto is named after the tall lone trees that dot the hillsides of the Maule Valley in Central Chile. According to the website, the trees thrive in dry, rocky, infertile soils so if you see the Palo Alto, it’s a safe bet you’ll find vines growing nearby. the Palo Alto winery only does 3 wines, a red reserve which is a blend of cabernet, carmenere and syrah, a sauvignon blanc and a shiraz rosé. I was sent all three to try out and the rosé was by far my favourite. The Reserve ’08 was pleasant with plenty of blackcurrant and blackberry, nice and soft, a very easy going wine, again probably would be fine on a picnic.  The ’08 sauvignon blanc was another quaffer but I wish it had a bit more substantiality to it. It started off promisingly enough with heady gooseberry and grapefruit on the nose but disappeared fairly quickly off the palate. As I said earlier, the rosé was my favourite and one I would buy if I saw it in the shops. All the wines retail for £7.99 and are available in most of the big supermarkets. And just to make you feel good about buying the wine, Palo Alto has an independent charity linked to the wine to tackle global warming. It’s called Trees for Cities and is a project aimed at supporting tree-planting projects in the UK and around the world. A worthy cause, we can always use more trees. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Are you going to S.F.? If so, don’t bring me back any wine under $20 bucks*

“All the leaves are brown…and the sky is grey. I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day….” Typical cold, drizzly, sun-goes-down-at-4pm-in-London-late November afternoon and I was walking to the Hoxton in Shoreditch for the  Wine Institute of California’s first official bloggers meetup. We were the guinea pigs of the evening. The Wine Institute of California were unleashing their California benchmark wines on us and the UK. “I’d be safe and warm…. If I was in LA…” My English friends ask me all the time why California wines don’t make it over here. Is it because of the cost? Is it because of taxes? Is it because California, like Australia has flooded the market with cheap and cheerful (I’m talking about you white zin) wine? Is it because we don’t export the truly good wines and British consumers don’t have the exposure to well made and enjoyable California wines? “Stopped off at a church, I saw along the way….Well, I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray….” The benchmark wines were on tasting to show that California can do mid-level (£8 – £15) wines. For a native Californian, all the usual suspects were there: Beringer, Gallo, Fetzer, Kendall-Jackson, Bonterra and a few lesser known (on this side of the pond labels) as well. Most of these wines I steer clear of when I’m home. Why? Well, they’re just not very exciting. Middle of the road, safe, predictable, supermarket wines. They could be from Australia, Chile, anywhere in CA. There was nothing special about most of them except that they were from California. Which is a shame as I know that there are plenty of very good mid-priced wines coming out of CA but nothing ever reaches these shores. Is it because of  price? Possibly. A decent bottle of wine costs around $20 in the States but translated here, once you get past shipping, taxes, etc, it’s more like £20 per bottle. $20 will get you a decent, interesting bottle of wine back home but in the UK £20 better be more than a decent wine. “You know...

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Quinta de la Rosa and their take on Portuguese rose

Note from the Winesleuth: I was looking thru my drafts folder,  found this post and realized it was never posted. Why? I don’t know but seeing as I’ m heading to Portugal next week for the European Winebloggers Conference in Lisbon and then the Douro Valley the following week, here is a short post and video featuring a rosé made from varietals usually reserved for port making. The tasting was sometime in Spring ’09 I was invited to the Wine Cellar at the Bluebird on the King’s Road in Chelsea the other night for a winetasting of the well known Portuguese producer Quinta de la Rosa. Portuguese wines get a lot of press in the UK marketplace but they are still in the process of becoming household wines in England. It used to be the custom at one time to present a pipe of port as a christening present. Sadly, that custom seems to have fallen into disuse but at one time it was what many a lucky infant received. Quinta de la Rosa was bought in 1906 as a christening present for Sophia Bergquist’s grandmother, Claire Feuerheerd, guess they didn’t think a pipe was enough. Feuerheerd was the family port company but was sold in the 1930’s. Claire kept La Rosa in the family and continued to run it for many years. In 1988, Sophia and her father Tim, decided to relaunch the ports and began producing top notch ports. In the early 90’s, they were one of the pioneers of still red wine production in the Douro Valley. The quinta is situated on the banks of the Douro valley in the Alto Douro not far from the town of Pinhão, with commanding views of the river. The Douro is best known for their ports but thanks to the efforts of producers like Sophia and her father, quality wines are now being produced and exported. The winemaker of Quinta is Jorge Moreira. He trained under Jerry Looper, a California winemaker, so he has many international...

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