The best documentary I have seen in a long time......

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Another one for your christmas table........

Otra Vida Malbec-Mendoza-Argentina.

I've tried this wine a lot over the years and always though it to be, mmm....ok I suppose. I've recently tried the 2010 vintage and can tell you that at £6.49 it's an absolute must. As you will know £6 is not a lot to pay for a bottle of wine these days but finding one that you feel offers value ain't that easy. This wine is packed with complexity and showing signs of development that come with a carefully handled and matured wine. A punchy nose that comes across quite meaty (roast beef, leather, almost bretty) and powerful but allows bright red berry fruits of plum, red currant to shine through, as well as high notes of violet, a dead give away to this variety. Developing notes of warn leather, medicinal spice indicate some form of oak treatment weather barrel or staves  but either way impressive for a bottle at this price.

Unlike some new world Malbec, this one remains quite bright and fruity without being too dense and chewy. That's not to say it's thin in any way. It will pair perfectly to roast beef or a nice bit of steak, you could also venture a little more towards game. Venison, rabbit, pheasant, would be a just match! I may even suggest it wouldn't be too heavy for your turkey if that's what you prefer.

Widely available, you might try Tesco if you are struggling to track it down.


Monday, 12 December 2011

Moueix anyone?

Moueix anyone?

The Monday night Tesco shop was a blast tonight, I had plenty of time on my hands so I plugged in some quality tunes to my eardrums (Big L, not for the faint of heart I might add) took my sweet time and wandered the aisles. No surprise that when I fell upon the BWS aisle I slowed right down to a crawl in order to see what delights they had in stock pre-Christmas. Lots to choose from this year. Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon making a return appearance, always a winner. Roda Rioja, Legaris Ribera del Duero, both top rival wines from Spain. Tesco Finest Hermitage at £20 looks like a Billy bargain and on closer inspection revealed it was made by cooperative la Tain, a winery worth visiting just on the outskirts of the Tain l’Hermitage where you look straight from the tasting room window up on to the cascading terrace of vines that is the hill of hermitage (l’hermite). And so I wandered and wondered at these impressive wines until I found a fine wine section (fine wine section in tesco?). Impressive stuff too, not least tonight’s tipple that I was tempted by. A 2004 Saint Emilion Grand Cru not a ’08 or ’07, no. Something with a bit of age on it. Impressive! I was struck by the bold italics MOUEIX front and centre on the bottle. Surely not the same Moueix that in 1946 acquired the legendary Chateau Petrus and went on to promote it to the world renowned status and pedigree it is today. (You can by a bottle in Vesuvio Wine Bar, Darlington for £1400, and that’s cheep) The wine? Fauzinat l’Hermitage (no relation to the afore mentioned) absolutely stunning. I’m sat here tasting while I write this blog and can not believe how good it is. As soon as I pulled the cork I could smell those brambles and plums, I didn’t let it breathe at all. It didn’t seem to need it, it is after all 8 years of age. Complexity is there too, leather, cocoa, cigar box, pencil lead all coming through. Really the best thing about it though……. £14.99. I’d get down to Tesco if I were you.

Friday, 2 December 2011

It's been a long time.........

So , July was my last post, eek.......

I'm back now though after a few months of pursuing other interests, it seems that bicycles are quite big at the moment. Check out my new blog if you are in to that kind of thing.

Back to the topic of wine though, my new site is up and running and with it comes a new business venture for myself. Go check it out. The new site hosts my newly formed Wine Academy and I'm hoping it's going to be a huge success in 2012.

The Academy will provide both informal tutored wine courses and professional courses. The option to come for one night events or over a course of weeks is available. Courses will be hosted at Darlington Arts Centre in the Garden Bar and I am looking forward to meeting budding wine cadets and talking to you all about wine.

The title page of will also be used as a notice board for associated ventures and events. The aim of this to promote oenology in the northeast.

I'll be back soon with some more info and an update of whats going on.

Until then, enjoy another glass of wine. (responsibly)

David :  )

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Mont Tauch

Mont Tauch.
Earlier I promised you all a note on Mont Tauch. In my opinion a symbol of cooperative wine making buried deep in the south of France at the town of Tuchan within Fitou. The wines of Mont Tauch are widely available and very accessible drinking wines. Recently I tried Les Douze, A big bold statement of what this winery is about where each year twelve of the coop’s members competes to have their grapes contribute to the finished blend. A kind of quirky idea when most people assume the wines they drink are either run off in some gigantic factory or made on minute scale by toe treading peasant. But there is an in-between and this is part of it. The wine making on this scale and in this part of the world, like many other European regions is almost insignificant. It doesn’t matter weather grand cellar, garage, converted air hanger or indeed factory because that is not where these wines are made. It is the Vineyard! For without the determination of the farmer/grower to produce the best quality grapes he or she can, the winery and the final bottling is insignificant.
Anyway, I digress. My consumption hasn’t been at all seasonal or well paired lately. So, this next recipe of my own wasn’t originally consumed with the fore mentioned Fitou. Instead I drank a very nice Aglianico which was a bit to fruity and lacking in structure and I  thought to my self, “that Les Douze, Fitou would have been the ‘bees-bollocks’ with this dish”.
Best Beef Stew
1*large onion
2*chunky garlic cloves
1* bay leaf
Olive oil
100g butter
200g black pudding
500g diced beef
Half a bottle of red wine
500ml of best quality beef stock (organic, reduced salt stock cube)
A big bunch of parsley
Start reducing beef stock and red wine. It may take up to one hour to reach correct consistency. It will reduce by half.

Dice and soften onion in a large pan (lid on) with two table spoons of olive oil before adding crushed garlic, bay leaf, pepper corns, small knob of butter and black pudding. After half an hour this should be melting and oozing in texture.

Season your rested beef (should be room temperature before you start cooking it) and brown off in a frying pan and add to pan of onions.

Peel and roughly chop your parsnips and carrots and add to the cooking pot.

Finally pour over your wine and stock reduction, cover with a lid and allow the combined ingredients to cook on a low heat for 2 hours. Stir, taste and season accordingly.

Finally. Your stew should have reached a thick glossy consistency and the beef should be melting. The meal will by its very nature be heavy and heart warming so what we will do is add a bunch of chopped parsley to the stew just to lighten the texture and lift some of those heavy flavours.

Serve with Yorkshire pudding and if you are brave a ring of black pudding. Oh, and don’t forget that Mont Tauch-Fitou-Les Douze. (Available at Majestic)

Laters Taters.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde!
Continuing the thread from Tuesday’s blog I thought I’d give you a recipe for this uber versatile dressing! Have it on Steak, Fish, Salad, Antipasto, or a topping for Crostini. The provenance of Salsa Verde is to be found in the Piemonte region of North West Italy where it too takes on the form of a multi serving condiment where it may lighten the hearty meat stews of the mountainous region or just as easily play a part in pepping up a light zuppe!
Here goes, I welcome all amendments and complaints from the Italian community on the correct assemblage of this recipe. But, this is my interpretation and I think it’s fairly legit.
You will need:
            Bread crumbs, half a stale old bread roll minced up in a food processor
            White wine Vinegar, Good quality! To add flavour not pickle your dish
            Caper berries, Big’ns with the stalks still on in good white wine vinegar, 20
            1 Garlic clove
            Black Pepper,
            4 Anchovy fillets
            A bunch of Parsley, from your herb garden perhaps
            Olive oil

Soak two table spoons of bread crumbs in one table spoon of white wine vinegar and set to one side. Chop up Caper berries in to rough slices, removing their stalks. Do the same for Anchovies and Garlic.

Next, Grind up a tea spoon of Black Pepper corns in to a pestle and mortar (If you don’t have one just use a mixing bowl and pepper grinder. (do not blend or food process) Add capers, Garlic and Anchovies and mush it all up a little leaving a little texture. Then add three to four table spoons of white wine vinegar and your bread crumbs, add these in slowly, if it looks like it’s getting a bit busy and dry in there you’ve over done it! The crumbs are merely to thicken a little. Give it a little mix and then you can add a bunch of finely chopped Parsley. Finally add three to four table spoons of olive oil and stir in well, the mixture should emulsify.

Your final Salsa should be a loose, glossy consistency (a bit like our mint sauce) ready to brighten up many a dish.

And now for the liquid element.

Being true to Piemonte you might try a Gavi, a fruity and aromatic white wine from the region, the best displaying mineral notes and tangy citrus finish. Or, Roero Arneis, again a scented dry white wine justly matched to such a style of cuisine.
Alternatively, let’s go for something else with the word Verde in it. Yes that’s right Vhino Verde! A classic, especially if you’re planning on sea food with your Salsa. Portuguese and found south of the Minho river which forms the frontier to neighbouring Spain. This wine is light with bright acidity to dual it out with your Salsa, the best are made from Alvarinho (Albarino) and if we were to skip across this Minho river border we would find our self in Galicia Spain. More precisely the wine producing region of Rias Baixas. And what do they do best in this neck of the woods? Albarino, more weighty and fleshy then your Vhino Verde and with riper fruit but just as good a match as any of the above.

If you’re off on a shopping spree this weekend, pop in to Waitrose and pick up these little beauties. There is a 25% off 6 deal at the moment so all you need to do is choose yourself two more on top of my four hot recommendations.

Malvira- Roero Arneis                                £10.99           
Arelia Prima-Provence Rose                    £7.99             
Quinta de Azevedo-Vhino Verde              £7.29             
Gavi Araldica                                               £5.99             
A well as these, look out for Mont Tauch Fitou. (More on this next time!)
For the Northern Contingency, your local Waitrose is at Eldon Square, below the entrance to John Lewis from the Northumberland Street entrance.

Happy wining and dining


Tuesday, 21 June 2011


HI and welcome to my splendiferous Vinous and Gastronomous blog page, aiming to share and revel in the wonderful world of Wine and Food.

First up, On the Menu tonight at Chateau Gastro-Vin.

Pan fried Hake with warm salad of roasted beets, blanched tomatoes fennel and herbs. Drizzled with Salsa Verde. Served with a delicious Chateau Fontvert Luberon-reserve rose. Food Is partly inspired by my local market and the salad inspired by Mr Jamie Oliver. Wine, a classic match to any Med' infused dish offered by Oddbins R.I.P.

Simply roast those beets (40-50 minutes) like you would a jacket potato and allow to cool. Once achieved, liberate them from their jackets and place in a serving bowl. Next, Blanche your tomatoes to remove the skin and place with your beets. You should be starting to get a lovely bleeding of colour. Next up is delicately sliced fennel bulb, tossed in to the salad. Allow to mingle and become aquainted prior to serving when you will dress with fresh garden herbs (to your liking, lemon thyme, basil or mint works well) extra virgin olive oil and salt.

Your hake should be filleted in to nice long meaty pieces. simply rub with oil, pepper and salt before frying in a pan fro 8 minutes. If you want to make a difference you will crush a garlic clove, chili, and a sprig of thyme in to the oil to season the pan prior to cooking your fish.

You should know the drill, rest your fish on some paper towel before tentatively arranging along side your salad and enjoying with the most beautiful of people in your life. Yummers! (don't forget that Salsa Verde, buy it if you can't be bothered to make it)

So why does this work? OK, Hake is a meaty fish and deserves some substance in that salad-hence beets to balance texture and weight. all you're doing next is building flavour that complement each other. Bright Acidity of tomatoes cuts through the meaty texture of beets and Hake and creates a foundation for lifted aromatics of herb and a contrast in the form of fennel. Simple! The drizzle of Salsa Verde bridges the void on the plate between fish and salad and pulls flavours together, Anchovies and caper from the fish and parsley and white wine vinegar for tomato and garden herbs respectively.

The final dimension to any meal for me is the lubrication!

Luberon rose.

Simply put, from the South of France. A region that sits between Provence and the Rhone and makes suitably similar wines to its neighbours. This wine is typical in its assemblage of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. White grapes are permitted to by blended with red in this region to produce rose but this particular producer is obviously quality conscious and sided with the respectable method of saignee (bleed from the press). What evolves is a crisp rose wine with enough acidity to rumble with strong acids in the food from tomato and salsa verde. the body carry's a creamy texture that floats over the palate with the firm hake and beets along side. Fruit flavours of strawberry that have been dipped in black pepper herbal spicy notes and citrus pink grapefruit combine with similar nuances in the salad if not adding higher peaks of flavour to the combined dish. An excellent rose but sadly one that you will have to search for as it was purchased from the former off-licence chain Oddbins. In my opinion, ask your local purveyor of fine wines to put you on to a good Provence rose or Luberon if they stock it. perfect for the summer season and even better with a dish like this!


Love David.