The stunning shellfish broth with west coast scallops, prawns and mussels set the night off with guests loving the match of the Rueda Bianco 2016. This modest wine is from the high-altitude Rueda region and made using 100% Verdejo "vurr-day-ho" Appreciation needs to be given in the fineness taken in the harvesting and vinification of this wine. This grape can have a tendency towards producing whites with an oxidized or sherry-like quality. Yet this example has a freshness and light quality that is beautifully highlighted with lemon and citrus notes with zesty acidity. Its match to the shellfish broth was outstanding, with the fresh scallops and prawn becoming accentuated with the citrus quality of the wine and light cream broth showing this great acidity, refreshing the palate with each sip.
We stayed in the Rueda region with our second wine and showing the Verdejo varietal again in the Finca Montico 2015. What sets this wine apart from the last is its terroir, harvest and vinification process. From the highest peaks of Rio Duero, it’s soil quality is stony and gritty enabling excellent drainage. This means yields from these 20-year old vines are low and often manually picked. Grapes are not destemmed at harvest, they are chilled and given light pressing. All these steps decrease that risk of oxidized quality, helping keep the aromatic intensity. The small amounts of liquid produced rest on lees for at least 4 months and are stirred once a week over this period to increase body, smoothness and complexity. The next dish was a fine match of ceviche of sea bream, tempura of squid and chorizo crumb, to help highlight the beautiful qualities of this wine. The fennel and herbal notes of this wine created a sublime backbone to the citrus cured sea bream. Brian’s addition of tempura squid added a delectable texture to the soft raw bream and addition of chorizo crumb added heat and dimension, complementing the complex notes of white blossom, peach and pear flavours.
It was unanimous that the Fillet of roe deer was a firm highlight of the evening, served with roast and puree parsnip and matched the Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva 2012. This wine encompasses all the qualities that Rioja Reserva should display – a benchmark in quality so to speak. Made using 90% Tempranillo and adding 7% Graciano and 3% Mazuelo to bring crisp lively colour. It’s clay and limestone soils make the beds that lead to small yield vines, producing grapes of pristine quality with good acid and fine tannin – attributes that allow the wine to mature with oak treatment. Depending on the vintage, this wine will spend at least 24 months on American oak and 12 months bottle maturation. Liquorice, cinnamon and black pepper qualities of this deliciously juicy red were fantastic with the lean fillet of roe deer served in a rich berry led jus. The oak component of this wine adds to the complexity and helps ripe fruit flavours come through giving the perfect dimension to this course. The excellent tannin backbone helps slice through creamy dauphinoise with creamed and roast parsnip adding fabulous texture to the entire dish.
Brian's last course featured a selection of premium cheese from the region. We featured Manchego, Luna Negra and la Parel cheeses all served with a stunning tomato relish lovingly prepared by Brian and his team. Finca Torrea 2010 featured alongside. Predominantly Tempranillo features again, the classic grape of the chalky clay and limestone soils of the Alavesa region. It produces gorgeous wine with hues of violet and black cherry. This particular wine is hand harvest and destemmed before light pressing. Maturation occurs for 18 months on French Oak followed on with bottle time. It's elegant on the palate with good structure and roundness from oak, yet remains fresh with a charming fruity finish. The perfect jammy end with this cheese course.
Find out more here about our January Wine Dinner with Argentine great Susana Balbo.
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