As it says, literally on the box; “Fine, artisan, village wines. Traditional, Organic and Sustainable Viticulture”. I think this sums up the wines of Ribera del Duero wine producer, Quinta Milu pretty well. Add ‘robust’, ‘tasty’ and ‘great value’ in there too, and you get the idea even more. Continue reading “Quinta Milu, does what it says on the box.”
As the second trading year of Perfect Friday Wine draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on those top Perfect Friday Wine finds of 2015.
This year, to mention a few, plenty of new wines have made ‘the list’. From new countries, specifically, Portugal, Spain and Argentina, wines we thought should be red but also come in white, new regions, wine producers and grape varieties that we may not have heard of before.
As well as the newcomers to ‘the list’, there are also a few that haven’t yet made it to the PFW portfolio, but never forget that I’m always on the look out of ways to bring you great wine and that I don’t just list any old plonk. Every now and then, a wine will jump off the tasting bench at me. Sometimes, I am able to get that wine then and there, other times, it takes a little more work, and a little bit more time. What is sure though is that PFW has only just scratched the surface. There are many more countries, grape varieties and wine producers out there waiting for us to discover and enjoy – wine can never get boring from where I’m sat.
So as I wish you all a very Happy New Year, here’s a little selection of those TOP WINE FINDS of 2015 that DID make it to ‘the list’ (order your case here)… as for those that didn’t (yet), watch this space and may 2016 be full of many more fabulous wines!
1) Clip Loureiro Vinho Verde 2014 £10.50
Added to ‘the list’ as a reaction to ‘Picpoul de Pinet-gate’, when, shock horror, the Villa Blanche Picpoul vintage ran out. Instead of replacing with a sub-standard Picpoul, I thought I’d give you something a bit different, like this Loureiro* from Minho in Portugal. A true star addition , which is deliciously light and minerally with an intriguingly refreshing spritz. Great with shellfish and here to stay.
2) Las Orcas, Decenio Rioja Blanco 2014 £10.75
I’ve always avoided still wines made from Macabeo* (one of the Cava grapes), but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It turns out that Macabeo is otherwise known as Viura*, which is often the variety found in white Rioja. This quickly became my best selling white of the summer due to the crunch of crisp green apple and zesty grip. It also comes from one of my favourite spots in the heart of Spain‘s Rioja, from 80 year old vineyards surrounding the tiny rocky outcrop of the village La Guardia. Yummy with pork and tapas.
3)Porvenir Laborum Torrontes 2012 £16
Ooh, this was a ‘will they or won’t they like it’ wine for me. I’ve been on the hunt for a decent Torrontes* for a while and wanted to show you a really excellent version, not one of the cheaper, more dilute versions, but a top drawer number – and I did it! Introduced at the October Tasting, it was a resounding success, loved by red wine drinking chaps and white wine loving lasses across the board! From the ‘best’ area in Argentina for Torrontes, the Cafayate Valley in Salta Province, the colour is almost green, the body is extrordinary and the concentrated floral, pineapple & spice flavours are balanced perfectly, resulting in a big bang effect in the mouth, perfect with scallops and creamy chicken dishes.
1) Rafael Cambra El Bonne Homme 2013 £10.50
Subject to a bit of an argument at the March Norden Farm Spanish and Portugal Tasting as to which was best; was it the Bonne Homme from Valencia or the Carchelo from Jumilla – both similar Monastrell/ Cab Sauv* blends from neighbouring regions in the South East of Spain. The big and in your face Valencian seems to have taken the edge (although I think there’s room for both, the Carchelo being that little more refined). Deep cocoa, smoke, leather, buckets of blackberry, cherry and tannin, great with paella and v good value.
2) Alvaro Castro Dao Tinto 2011 £13.25
One of those mid-taste moments where I look up from my tasting notes into the eyes of the wine maker, spit and exclaim an exagerrated “O-M-G”!! My naive expectation of this one was a big, blockbusting red in the Douro style – nope, not a hint. This is a refined, elegant, cool and collected red – much like the very talented and lady wine maker Maria Castro. Made from native Portuguese grapes Touriga-Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Alfrocheiro*, this wine is medium bodied, different and fabulous – fresh with savoury fruits and soft tannins – one for you Pinot Noir fans.
3) Emilio Valerio Laderas de Montejurra 2012 £12.50
Ooh, splendid. This Garnacha, Merlot, Cab Sauv* blend from Rioja’s neighbour Navarra in Spain (think Pamplona country), earned me the testamonial “Thanks for offering us some really interesting wines, that nobody in the world of supermarkets or wine merchants appear to want to do….Well done you!” . One of Mr PFW’s favourites and jolly nice with lots of fruity blackberries and blackcurrant and eucalyptus. A great example of what they’re doing next door to those more famous regions. Great value, organically made, well balanced and fabulous with game.
…and without further ado, I sign out for 2015 – thank you for your continued support this year. Watch this space for new exciting wines in 2016!
Fancy trying a mixed case of the Top Wine Finds 2015 for yourself? All of the wines mentioned above will be available from 6th January, giving the wine trade a chance to awaken. Order your Top Wine Finds 2015 case here.
Crumbed Pork Medallions and Catalonian Cariñena (Carignan from Montsant DO).
Of course, food and wine matching isn’t the be all and end all of culinary enjoyment (a non-red wine drinking friend of mine takes her steak with Sauvignon Blanc, and why not!), I know how my readers like a good food and wine pairing, so, rather than me suggest vague food to go with the Perfect Friday Wines, I thought I’d spin it around a bit and match my wines to go with some proper recipes.
Although my Spaghetti Bolognese recipe obviously rocks the house, I thought you might like something a bit more exciting than that – plus, the next post, where I make the leftovers into a lasagne, might become a bit samey. Then, I felt a bit mainstream using one of my trusty Jamie Oliver recipes and a bit boring sharing something that I’ve picked up on BBCGoodFood.com, so I thought I’d ask someone who knows what they’re doing to help out.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve met and got to know many interesting local business folk around and about the Maidenhead area – who’d have thought we’d have so many of them! One of the most relevant to my line of work, being THE official food blogger for the Maidenhead Advertiser, Cookham based, Lara Cory (a celebrity!!). Lara also writes her own blog at Feeding Time Blog, and I thought we’d make the perfect pairing, Lara’s summed up both of our passion for eating, drinking and sharing, very well:
“We love food and we love wine and we’re going to help you enjoy the best of both.”
Lara not only accepted my challenge for a seasonal produce recipe that I could perhaps tie in with English Wine Week, but much to my delight, I shortly got a call from Lara somewhere deep in the Berkshire countryside, sourcing some local free range pork from a nearby Farm Shop (Ferny Grove Farm, which I must visit myself!) – the girl means business!
The next thing I know, quicker than I can prepare a cheese board, Lara’s been in the kitchen and come up with this very delicious recipe for Sage Crumbed Pork Medallions.
Now, originally, I’d had that pork lined up for an English Bacchus, but the mere suggestion of sage, herbaciousness and ‘spring-like’, lead me to mentally open and pour myself a glass of the Cellar El Masroig Sola Fred Tinto, in the time it takes me to unwrap a slab of Manchego.
So why the Sola Fred? Well, not only is it one of my favourite sub-£10 wines at the moment (I am LOVING Spanish wines at the mo), but it is savoury and fresh and fruity (think red cherries), with some bright acidity – spot on with pork. Generally where Pork is concerned, I really like an appley, structured white (Pouilly Fume is my ultimate pork white) or a tasty red that’s not too heavy, so a Pinot Noir or a Carignan are perfect. It was the herbs though that lead me to the Sola Fred, pulling me towards a red wine over white and something more savoury than the Casa Silva Pinot Noir or the Calmel and Joseph Vieux Carignan. There’s also the fact that of course, the spaniards are pork mad, so this softly tannic Carignan (Cariñena or Mazuelo in Spanish) with a splash of juicy Garnacha from Catalonia’s Montsant is bang on. If you haven’t tried it yet and you’re a wine drinker looking for a good deal, I urge you to try (or order as part of a pre-selected mixed case). Montsant is bang smack next to, infact it surrounds, Priorat, famous for producing some of Spain’s best and most illustrious wines. Although the soil is a tad different in Montsant (Priorat has this unique slatey soil called Llicorella) and the climate is evers0-marginally cooler, the yields are still low and the quality of the wines, made from the same grape varieties, remains high, with the added benefit of being a little easier to drink young.
We hope you have a slap up feast between these two! For more food and wine pairings from us Maidenhead duo, you can follow Lara on Twitter @feedingtimeblog (and me, @perfectfriwine) or sign up to receive notifications of either blog. Are there any of your favourite recipes that you’d like wine matched? Or perhaps Lara can recommend a recipe for one of your favourite wines? Just, let us know, we love a challenge!
I started writing this post during the solar eclipse back in March. I’m one of those people that gets a bit excited by natural phenonomens like this. I think that the weirdness that the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, yet 400 times further away (of something like that) and therefore the moon is the exact right size to cover up the sun is pretty special. However, it was irrelevant as it of course, it was cloudy here in Maidenhead.
I had visions of biodynamic viticulturists literally hopping about filling those cow horns with whatever they put in them to be buried right on the cusp of the solar eclipse but from my very mild research, it appears, for obvious reasons that in fact a solar eclipse is a big boo boo for all things agricultural if you’re cosmic like that.
I’ll fill you in a bit more on biodynamic wines when I have time to explain the nitty gritty but essentially, Biodynamic wine making considers the charts of the moon and its influence on the vines, amongst other peculiar activities. Organic or Natural wines are a bit different in that they don’t worry about that sort of stuff, but have been made with ecological considerations in mind from vine to bottle, using organic grapes grown without (or with limited) pesticides and fungicides as well as using organic wine making practices in the winery. Confusingly, what constitutes a Certified Organic Wine differ from country to country. For instance, the US restricts the addition of sulphur dioxide to 100mg/l (non-organic 200mg/l) whereas in the EU, sulfite limits differ according to red (100mg/l organic to 150mg/l non-organic) and white wines (150mg/l organic compared to 200mg/l** non-organic).*
More on sulfites* below, but the thing is, wine need sulfites to a certain degree to protect the grapes from prematurely oxidising and without additional sulfites (which occur naturally in wine anyway), can result in a pretty funky tasting wine. I’d go as far as saying that a few years ago, I would’ve struggled to find many natural wines that were lacking that ‘funk’. However, as wine production methods are constantly developing and as producers get cleverer, for instance, picking grapes in the cool of night, the need to add nasties to preserve freshness is reduced and I would say, from my latest experience pertaining to natural wine, the taste of these wines, which is what we all (I) really care about, is actually pretty good.
In January, I was fortunate enough to attend the world’s largest natural wine trade fair, Millesime Bio, in Montpellier, bang smack in the middle of my favourite French wine region, Languedoc-Roussillon. If the size of the event or the enthusiasm around following ethical and more ecological methods to produce wine, were anything to go by, I can only imagine that we’re going to see more and more natural wine being made, particularly in those regions where a nice hot and dry climate keeps mini-beasts and rot to the minimum. Moreover, I think we’re going to start seeing more and more organic wines cropping up in our day to day wine offerings, particularly from those regions like Languedoc-Roussillon where winemaking is innovative and forward thinking, not because it’s specifically organic but because it tastes so good – the vast majority of the wines I tasted, tasted like ‘normal’ wines – not a hint of organic funk.
I’m not one to choose a wine just because it has a certain tick in a box, so, so far, I’m yet to stock any Certified Organic wines, but I don’t think it’ll be far away judging by those fabulous wines I came across in Montpellier. I have however recently chosen a new wine that has, incidentally, been made using biodynamic methods, chosen purely because it tastes so flippin’ good, the Laderas de Montejurra Emilio Valerio 2012. A spanish blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Garnacha, made with grapes grown in the cool foothills of Navarra’s Montejurra, about half way between Rioja’s Logrono and Pamplona, famed for its Running of the Bulls Fiesta. This is a powerful but elegant wine aged in old oak for 13 months, so expect some chewy tannins well weighted against lots of ripe blackberrys and eucalyptus. I love it, and at £12.25 (price correct Apr 2015), it represents marvellous value, biodynamic, organic or not.
*I get asked about Sulfites a lot. If you are concerned about sulfite levels in wine, stick to the red as less SO2 is needed due to the naturally high occurring anti-oxidants in the red fruit (beware other food types that have high sulphur levels too such as some fruit juices and dried fruit). In order to be classed as ‘sulfite free’, a wine must contain 10mg/l or less SO2, anymore than that, the label must state that it contains sulfites. Even a wine with no added sulfites will likely contain some naturally occurring S02. Although organic wines are likely to contain lower levels (and certainly fewer of the other additives), this isn’t always the case as not only can Sulphur be sprayed on the vines to combat mildew, interestingly, the EU organic limits of sulfites are not so restrictive when put into context. e.g. The white non-organic Rioja on the PFW list at the moment, Las Orcas Decenio Blanco, contains 120mg/l of SO2, significantly less than the EU organic limit of 150mg/l. Even Australia’s cheap as chips Yellow Tail claims on its website that its white wines contain around 140mg/l of SO2 which is still less than the EU Organic limit (its red wines are around 70mg/l).
** Some sources state 200mg/l others 210mg/l.
Further Info and references:
I wanted to share my exploits this week with Sherry. Foolishly, a couple of months back, I voiced to the person in charge of the monthly wine tasting group that I attend, that a Sherry tasting would be interesting. I was then, quick as a flash, delegated the task in hand and I have therefore spent a whole lot of time over the last couple of week’s preparing a sherry tasting for the group.
Have I ever been to Jerez? No. Do I drink a lot of sherry? No. Did I truly realise just how complicated the wine making process of Sherry is? No. I thought that it was all about the solera and then it ended there……..boy am I naive.
Anyhow, I spent a few hours (days) researching, finding a selection of wines that covered most of the styles and came up with a useful enough, factual tasting to present to the group and luckily there were some more initiated members who could fill in the gaps for me.
What: Juan Gil 4 Monastrell, Jumilla, Spain
Where Out: Chateau Marmot, Temporary Dining, Anywhere, UK, One glass of the 5 glass £27 wine flight
Where In: Old Butchers Wine Cellar, Berkshire, around £10
Occasion: Tonight, #winewednesday, ‘In’, after a busy and increasingly stressful day in the office. Previously, ‘Out’, at my first pop-up restaurant (see my Chateau Marmot post here – I told you I’d buy it again!).
Food match: Tonight, nothing to note, but this is a big, fruity and tannic wine, so may I suggest something big and beefy, such as those delicious ribs mentioned in my previous post or perfect for steak.
Conclusion: Deep, dark and tannic. Lovely smooth and rounded blackberry fruit.
Bonus point: To counterbalance the jet-lag of the clocks changing back to GMT, and the resulting draggingly long colder days and dark evenings; my mid-week saviour! Happy Hallowe’en!
Added 15-09-2016: Also try, Rafael Cambra El Bon Homme, a Monastrell/ Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Valencia or Calmel and Joseph Terrasses du Larzac, a classic Grenache, Syrah Mourvedre blend from Languedoc in France.
It would be an understatement for me to say that I like Henley Regatta. I love Henley Regatta, even more so when the sun is shining. I have a lot of great memories from over the years, from the times I’ve camped with good friends, having left work in time to pitch up and catch the last couple of races over a Pimms or two, to the few times I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a pass to Stewards’ Enclosure. I also rowed myself for a few years at Maidenhead, so not only can I appreciate a nice stroke action, the stress of a racing start and the pain of a 40 strokes per minute rating, I’ve also been part of the rowing community so tend to know a few friendly faces around and about. All in all it’s a brilliant few days and if you like sitting by the river with a drink, people watching, I can imagine you’d enjoy it too.
This time 3 years ago, I was very heavily pregnant. I now therefore tend to associate Valentine’s Day, apart from the love and adoration of my husband of course (added in there – saved, phew!!), with being overdue, uncomfortable, and waiting. I remember being taken out for lunch by my brother and stepmum and how post-lunch, having some pre-baby maternity leave free time, my brother and I were stumped as to how we could spend a rainy February afternoon. Continue reading “Super Thursday Valentine’s”
A dull January turned into an exciting February with the start of the Six Nations rugby last weekend. As luck would have it, a couple of tickets to the England v Scotland game came our way via a good friend, and the in-laws were kind enough to have the kids, so off we went for a jolly day out to Twickenham to watch England retain the Calcutta Cup.
A rather dull, all work and no play January, has sadly meant little wine drinking or blogging for me since the new year. Any creative fancy of mine has been zapped by evening conference calls with our friends across the pond and the lure of spending the last 30 minutes of my day watching mind numbing telly, such as recordings of Miranda (every girl deserves a little Tom Ellis pick me up after a day’s slog).
I would now like to raise a virtual glass to my neighbourly Scotsmen/ women on this eve of an England v Scotland Six Nations nail biter since a fabulous Burns’ night supper of Cullen Skink and Haggis last Friday.