Food, Fun and Fizz – a stage for artisan producers

Firstly congratulations to all who managed to get themselves a ticket for our sold-out inaugural Tasting Scotland ‘Food, Fun & Fizz’ event in conjunction with Cork and Bottle on Thursday 22nd November in Glasgow. Sorry to everyone else who had their sights set on the best value ticket in town, but who we couldn’t quite squeeze into the Tasting Room at The Good Spirits Co.

We described the event as being the first of what is sure to be a fabulously different wine & dine event. Friends, family or colleagues came together and enjoyed a perfectly executed blend of pop-up tapas restaurant, traditional wine tasting & some gourmet ‘look what’s on your doorstep’ education. We are delighted that the feedback has been resoundingly positive.

We can’t wait to release tickets for the next event! Join us and be amazed at how we can merge a celebration of Burn’s night with Valentine’s Day, on Wednesday 30th January.

We promised a run down on the suppliers from Thursday night’s event so here is the complete list.

The websites provide details on where to buy the products we tasted and others in their range. We hope you will give consideration to these producers when shopping or designing a menu for a special occasion. Farmers markets often give the most direct access to the producer.

 

Fizz: Syn Cuvée Blanc – McLaren Vale, Australia

The Smoked Salmon Taste Trail

Hot and cold cured salmon canapés

Artisan food producer: Rob Gower, Dunkeld Smoked Salmon*

Products tasted: Farmed Smoked Salmon, Gravadlax, Hot Smoked Salmon

www.dunkeldsmokedsalmon.com

 

Artisan food producer: The Scottish Handmade Oatcake Co.,

Products tasted: Perthshire Oatcakes Traditional (Cocktail)

www.perthshireoatcakes.co.uk

Wines

Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Federspiel – Austria

Raats Unoaked Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

The Taste Test

Artisan food producer: Mark Bush, Summer Harvest**, Madderty, Perth

Products tasted: Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, Raspberry / Apple & Walnut / Bramble & Juniper Dressings.

www.summerharvestoils.co.uk

 

Artisan food producer: Tapa Bakehouse, Glasgow

Products tasted: Organic sourdough bread

www.tapabakehouse.com

 

The Rare & Native ‘Irn Bru’ Pig

Pork Rillette

Artisan food producer: Arlene & Thomson McKenzie, Nethergate Larder*, Stewarton

Products tasted: Tamworth Pork Belly

Their butcher shop No 1 Avenue Larder, Stewarton, Ayrshire.

Wines

Luis Cañas Barrel Fermented Rioja Blanco, Spain

Luis Cañas Rioja – 5 months barrel maturation, Spain

 

The Smoky Soup of Scotland

Cullen Skink

Artisan food producer: Sourced by Stuart Taylor, Pisces Fishmongers & Poulterers*, Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire

Products tasted: ‘Haddies’ (Smoked Haddock)

Their fish shop 193 Main Street, Rutherglen

Wine

Bodegas Argüeso San Leon Manzanilla, Spain

 

The Game Stew is on!

Venison, Chestnut, Bramble & Juniper Stew

Artisan food producer: Mark Gibson, Edenmill Farm*, Blanefield, Glasgow

Products tasted: Venison Shoulder

www.edenmill.co.uk

Wine

Mathilde – Cotes du Rhone, France

 

Little Miss Muffet’s Dairy Box

Cheese platter

Artisan food producer: Ann Dorward, Dunlop Dairy*, Stewarton

Products tasted: Dunlop (Hard Cow’s Cheese), Bonnet (Hard Goat’s cheese)

www.dunlopdairy.co.uk

Wine

Andrew Quady Starboard Batch 88, California

 

A wee bit of fudge

Artisan food producer: Joyce Brady, The Wee Fudge Company*, Glasgow

Products tasted: White Chocolate & Sicilian Lemon oil, Belgian milk chocolate & Valencian orange oil, Belgian milk chocolate, stem ginger and mixed spice

www.weefudge.co.uk

Wine

Familia Zuccardi Tardía Torrontes, Argentina

 

Vegetarian Dishes

Artisan food producer: Eileen Wilkinson, Petrie Fine Foods, Fenwick, Ayrshire.

Products tasted Vegetable Haggis, Mediterranean Vegetable Loaf

www.ayrshirefoodnetwork.co.uk

 

Wines were supplied by the Cross Stobs Bottle Shop* with exception of the Manzanilla, which came from the Good Spirits Co*.

We’d like to thank the producers and suppliers who part sponsored* or fully sponsored** their relevant inclusion in ‘Food, Fun & Fizz’ – The Inaugural One.

We look forward to seeing you at the next one at the same place on Wednesday 30th January 2013.

Brenda & Pieter.

 

Wine list Food, Fun and Fizz

Last night saw the first of what is to become a series of food and wine matching evenings with Tasting Scotland. 30 enthusiastic food and wine lovers got together at the the Good Spirits Co tasting room in Glasgow to get the low down on Scottish food and match it to some tasty wines. I’m going to devote a bigger post to this soon but I’ve had a few requests for the wine list, so without further ado, here it is. All wines are available through Cross Stobs Wine with exception of the Manzanilla which can be obtained from the Good Spirits Co. Alternatively drop me a note and I’ll help you source what I can.

The next event is in the planning and will be on January 30th next year. Might there be a Scottish theme to the wine?

 

Fizz

Syn Cuvée Blanc – McLaren Vale, Australia £10.95

 

The Smoked Salmon Taste Trail

Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Federspiel – Austria £8.85 (reduced price)

Raats Unoaked Chenin Blanc – Stellenbosch, South Africa £9.90

 

The Rare & Native ‘Irn Bru’ Pig

Luis Cañas Barrel Fermented Rioja Blanco, Spain (white) £9.95

Luis Cañas Rioja – 5 months barrel maturation, Spain (red) £9.95

 

The Smoky Soup of Scotland

Bodegas Argüeso San Leon Manzanilla, Spain £13

 

The Game Stew is on

Mathilde – Cotes du Rhone, France £10.50

 

Little Miss Muffet’s Dairy Box

Andrew Quady Starboard Batch 88, California £15

 

A wee bit of fudge

Familia Zuccardi Tardía Torrontes, Argentina £8.95

 

Serendipity and Long Lost Friends

According to Wikipedia, Serendipity means a ‘happy accident’ or ‘pleasant surprise’. I think it’s about being in the right place at the right time or under the right circumstances and good things will come to you. Wine can be a pleasant surprise and I’m sure there are plenty of winemakers who have stories about a wine that turned out to be a happy accident. Prior to visiting Turkey for the EWBC I had already tasted a few Turkish wines and realised they could make some pretty decent stuff. But having been immersed (not quite literally) in the wines of Turkey for a few days the country has proven itself to be a very pleasant surprise.

Fresh air and dry Muscat at Urlice

After a few intense days of workshops, speeches and tasting countless wines, many with unpronounceable names, we were let off our leashes and released into the wilds of Izmir’s countryside. It was refreshing to feel the wind in your hair and the first winery we visited gave me an instant holiday feel. It is a small, but perfectly formed boutique winery and the owners couldn’t have been more welcoming. It’s the kind of place you feel at home immediately. Reha and Bilge Bengisu Öğünlü are a Turkish couple who lived in America for a while before deciding to settle back in Turkey and make wine. Reha’s twitter bio reads “wine, vineyards, guitars, windsurfing, cooking, slowfood, travelling” and he comes across as thoughtful and well-travelled. The kind of guy Billy Connolly would call ‘windswept and interesting’.

Our first taste is of a local version of Muscat. It is fresh, dry and racy and just what we need to wake us up. None of us had much sleep I suspect, as the visit comes hot on the heels of a sumptuous gala dinner and party the previous night. Spittoons are nowhere to be seen so needs must, but it’s no punishment, particularly as the sun is out and we are amongst the vines.

The winery itself is tiny and we cram ourselves in-between the fermentation tanks and into the small barrel cellar. It’s a romantic place, dimly lit, with barely enough room for a dozen or so barrels and lined on either side with bottle bins filled with the maturing wines. I think this is the kind of place most people have in mind when they think about a lifestyle business, a romantic notion of winemaking, away from the stresses and strains of life. The ‘when we win the lottery’ kind of place. The whole production is around 1000 cases with still a little room to grow.

Urlice Reserve Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon

Inside we taste more wines, a range of red wines made from international varieties. Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon in particular. Urlice is a member of the ‘Slow Food’ movement and grape growing techniques hark back to ancient times without recourse to chemicals. Reha’s vineyards are not certified organic though. It isn’t about the marketing for him, he sees it more as a way of life rather than a label to stick on a bottle. The wines are actually very accomplished. They certainly aren’t shy. Structured wines with quite a bit of tannin means they show best with some hearty food and they have put on quite a spread for us. I particularly liked their Cabernet Sauvignon / Syrah Reserve, which has a wonderful richness to it.

Serendipity has another surprise in store for us. Macit, who is our guide for the day, was meant to take a trip out to Ephesus but was moved onto our outing at the last minute. Fortunately he likes wine so he’s quite happy. When we arrive at Urlice, Macit and Reha look at each other stunned as they recognise each other. They were old friends who lived across from one another in Izmir more than 30 years ago and haven’t seen each other in all that time. It was serendipity that brought them together. Or maybe it was the wine.

#EWBC12 Macit & Reha Urlice Vineyard
Reha and Macit catching up on old times.
Photograph by Winesagasu

 

Getting to the Source

The journey reminded me of my younger days, when catching an overnight train to save on accommodation was a budgetary necessity. After a short and virtually sleepless flight we arrive in Istanbul in what seems like the middle of the night. It may be 5.30am here but at home it is the middle of the night. We pile onto the local bus that takes us right to the water’s edge on the Asian side of the city. After a brief stop for a cup of tea and some toast we venture onto a ferry, we assume will take us across the Bosphorus and into the European part of this sprawling city. Although the weather is more like a dreich summer’s day in Glasgow, the skyline still manages to be beautiful when it finally reveals itself. How incredible must this look when the sun is just coming up.

I am traveling with Richard Ross from Appetise, who developed the Showmappr app and I’m helping him populate the app with the various sessions at the impending conference we’re both attending.

The Appetise Istanbul office

There is still some work to do so after checking into the hotel and breakfast with plenty of coffee we settle into the cosy hotel bar sofas with our laptops to get the job done. Later in the afternoon the rain is still pouring down and although it’s taking away a little of the magic, it doesn’t stop us from exploring the city some more. So far, no wine has passed our lips, that will have to wait until tomorrow evening, in what is the unofficial starting point of the EWBC, the now infamous (so I’ve been told) BYOB dinner. As this is my first EWBC I’m feeling a mix of curiosity and excitement. Excited about meeting so many winelovers, many of which I may have had a chat with on Twitter and sharing some amazing wines and experiences with them. Curious also about the wines of Turkey. Like most people, I don’t necessarily view Turkey as a serious player in the wine market but that is not to say there isn’t some excitement to get here. Part of this morning’s job was getting a bit of background on some of the wineries involved and there is a real appetite to show off how the country can be different. The fact it now has its own generic trade body shows this quest is taken seriously and indigenous grape varieties seem to be what get a lot winemakers out of bed here. I’m hoping to be convinced these can provide something that truly represents the country. The next few days are about exploring the ‘sources’ and I can’t think of a better place to do that than right here in Turkey, a country that goes right back to wine’s source.

 

Changing Face of Australian Wine

When it comes to Australian wine many people will be of the opinion that it’s all much the same. Explosive fruit, a big whack of alcohol and a dollop of oak flavour. And your choice is either white or red. But in the same way that not everyone in Australia is called Sheila or Bruce this would be a wholly unfair stereotyping of the country’s wines.

Thinking back to my first encounter with Australian wines in the late 80s (during tasting classes at the Hotelschool I attended), I remember it was these ‘new world’ wines that were easier to drink and understand than their ‘old world’ counterparts. What I wasn’t prepared for was its chequered history when it comes to wine. Australia’s wine history in my mind dated to the relatively recent export boom that started in the eighties and brought with it a style of wine little seen in Europe until that day. Flavour on steroids and big brands. Regionality wasn’t important, ripe fruit was crucial and could come from anywhere, and oak dominated many of these wines. And I believe that still gives rise to some of the stereotypes that persist today.

The famous Terra Rossa soils in Coonawarra. Image courtesy of Wine Australia.

Attending the ‘A+ Australian Wine – One Day Wine School‘ session allowed me more than a glimpse into what is a fascinating wine country. It was showing off much more variety than I was expecting and shows that regional differences in soil and climate are having a real impact on how the wine tastes. That sense of place, which the French call ‘terroir’ might actually have some bearing on Australia’s wine regions too. It was an eye opener to witness how six Chardonnays from very distinct regions could taste so different. Arguably this had more to do with the varying degrees of oak and the different times at which the grapes were harvested, but climate and soil definitely play their important part here too. Still, it shows a move towards much more diverse styles. Occasionally I even used the words elegant and intricate, not something I had expected.

As we discussed the merits of some of the better known regions it became apparent that variety is to be expected with around 2300 wineries across 64 diverse regions. But in relative terms Australia is a very young wine country. Its early wine years were spent on the production of fortified wines, much of which found a market in Britain in the 30’s. Production only shifted to light wines in the 50’s and 60’s with increased immigration and modern winery technology, such as temperature controlled fermentation and more efficient transport systems. This ultimately fuelled the Australian wine boom in the 80’s and what we now describe as the democratisation of wine by the supermarkets. Accepting this is a coming of age for the industry, more recently we see the new generation being increasingly inquisitive. Many make wine in different continents and are keen to experiment and find a regional voice. Research and development are now instrumental in determining which grapes grow well in which regions. The point is even raised that the best vineyards in Australia may not even have been planted yet. I think that’s a very exciting notion and shows a country full of promise. Yet, it may take a little longer to convince the average wine consumer that Australian wine is more than just big flavours and big brands.