Fairtrade supper and wines

Fairtrade fortnight is here and as a fair minded person, The Winesleuth is going to be doing her best to find out more about the Fair Trade wine business. I got a taste of it a few weeks ago at the Friday Food Club‘s inspired Fairtrade Dinner, making an entire meal with Fairtrade inspired menu. Lee Behan is the fellow behind Friday Food club and it’s him who you will find most likely in the kitchen, although FFC does occasionally have guest chefs at the helm. For this special FFC Fairtrade Dinner, Lee had teamed up with the Modern Pantry‘s Anna Hansen to cook up a Fairtrade meal with a Modern Pantry spin to it. Lee and Anna served up a delicious starter of Spiced Burford Brown Hen Scotch Egg with yuzu tomato chutney, green pea curry and chilled curry paste. A very tasty, spicy scotch egg tempered by the sweetness of the yuzu tomato chutney. Of course Fairtrade wines were in abundance and we had a South African Sauvigon Blanc, the 2010 Percheron from Stellenbosch paired with the egg. The wine was ok but I found it to be a bit too nettle-y and it had a rather stark finish to it. Others around the table enjoyed it but I thought it was a little bit too acidic and had a bitter lemon finish, not quite balanced, almost but not quite. The wine that I did like was the red that was served with the main of Loin of Venison served with chestnut and nutmeg puree, pomegranate & rhubarb jelly and slow roast grape jus. The Los Unidos 2010 Fairtrade Carmenere/Cabernet Franc from the Central Valley of Chile. A robust red, slightly confected on the nose but showing good structure and plenty of red and black fruits on the palate. It was a good wine to with the venison, the tannins not too harsh, and the wine finishing on a spicy note. I quite enjoyed it, the only thing I found disagreeable was...

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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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Cloudy Bay Crab Shack, coming to Parsons Green

Summertime. Time to head outdoors and enjoy whatever sun we can get here in London. Cloudy Bay is getting into the spirit of the season and featuring a touring crab shack in the UK. They’ve teamed up with Chef Tom Aikens to bring sustainable seafood to the people. I was one of a few lucky wine and food bloggers invited to Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea to match Tom’s especially created dishes with Cloudy Bay wines. Tom had come up with 8 different seafood dishes which we had to narrow down to the top 4 and match them with Cloudy Bay’s range. It wasn’t easy as all the dishes were delicious, although there was a bone of contention as to the merits of the salmon with chili lime peanut crumb. It was good but nowhere near as good as the spiced crab cakes with tomato salsa and guacamole. That had me reminiscing about the Maryland crabcakes I enjoyed when I lived in the States. The crabcake was matched with Cloudy Bay’s 08 Chardonnay and it was a lovely match. The chard was not too heavily oaked, the tropical fruit highlighted as well as the spiced notes which married well with the crab cakes. One of my favourite Cloudy Bay wines is the 2006 Te koko sauvignon blanc. I do adore this wine. Fermented with wild yeasts and left by itself for anywhere from 3 – 12 months to finish fermentation in open oak barrels, it is a unique wine. I tried this wine a year ago and my has it evolved since then. I enjoyed it then and I still do now but what a different profile. Where as before it was quite buttery and yeasty, now it had acquired a mineral, savoury character with some very creamy notes and lifted white flower notes, most notably jasmine come to mind with a savoury palate and a lemony citrus finish. Matched with the fried paprika squid with lime, a tasty combination, the squid very tender and...

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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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Cloudy Bay, video winetasting at the Bluebird

Cloudy Bay=Sauvignon blanc=New Zealand’s iconic wine. The one that put it on the map.This was all I knew about NZ sauvignon blanc until I moved to London and had opportunity to try it. Cloudy Bay has been so iconic that consumers might not even know how it tastes but buy it on the name alone.  Is it all it’s cracked up to be? Until recently, it was fabulous but their main wine maker, the one who put them on the map left, after being taking over by LVMH (Louis Vuitton Möet Hennessy) So, how is it now? Well, Wine90 (Sarah Newton) and I were at the the Wine Cellar at the Bluebird the other night to try the latest releases which included some surprisin other varietals as well as the usual  sauvignon blanc on show. See what we thought… Tasting notes: Cloudy Bay 2008 Sauvignon Blanc – nettly nose with notes of ripe pineapple and other tropical fruits. Good acidity but quite a rounded mouthful with a long lime finish. I liked it but think it’s a bit overpriced at £21.99 Cloudy Bay 2008 Gewurztraminer  – We both loved this one! Honeysuckle, rose water, and apparently Turkish delight on the nose, a lovely palate of more honeysuckle and orange blossoms. I thought it was an excellent example, lush and well balanced with just enough acidity to stop it from becoming louche and flabby. £26.00 Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2006, released 2009 –  this is their boutique wine, made from a wines that have been fermented using indigenous yeasts. A few barrels were put aside and they let nature run it’s course. The result was this rich, complex, creamy wine with layers of fruit, smoke, butter, and gingery spices, a fabulous wine. £37.00 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2006 – New Zealand is certainly carving out a niche for themselves in the pinot noir stakes. I’ve had a fair amount of NZ PN and Cloudy Bay’s offering is typical New world – loads of smoky bacon and black plums, wood spices lurking in the background. On the palate, lush tannins, but a...

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