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  • On the road with Les Somerville

    Earlier this year a group of Enotria&Coe Account Managers made the trip to Argentina, to see what all the fuss was really about. While they expected it’d be an eye-opening journey into the heart of the country’s most famed wine regions, they didn’t quite anticipate just how remarkable the food experience would be. To give us a taste of their gastronomic adventure, Enotria&Coe Director of Sales Scotland and NE, Les Somerville, put pen to paper.

    Les

    Food is a huge part of my life, this is clear through my developing waistband. The opportunity to be in Argentina and have a range of exceptional wine and cuisine was a dream come true. Yes, my preconception was Malbec and steak, but my eyes were opened to the regionality of both food and wine. This hit a true crescendo was when we visited the fantastic Espacio Trapiche, ‘Space Trapiche’ restaurant at the Trapiche winery in Mendoza.

    Where this restaurant and Mendoza-born chef Lucas Bustos had our full attention, was when he started the conversation with the wine, and not the food. It was a great experience as he got out a black marker pen and started writing on the massive glass windows that showed the panoramic view of the orchard and farm, where all the fruit and veg cultivated under biodynamic practices is harvested.

    IMG_1004Like any good wine tasting note, Lucas took us through the appearance, nose, structure, and finish. As he went through each stage, he’d ask us what food it made us think of, and what ingredients would complement the flavors, acidity, and weight of the wine. From here we ventured into the bountiful vegetable gardens, and started looking at what we could experiment with. Each group was given a different wine to play with, and as there were three groups one did starter, the other the main course, and finally dessert.

    It was fantastic to watch the groups trying the finished products, as each of the dishes were born from a truly collaborative process. As a lover of fire, I was so impressed with the outdoor cooking areas – all locally sourced felled and dried wood that’s burnt down to its embers. These embers are then moved under a grill plate that can be lowered and risen depending on the heat you want to impart on the cooking.les cooking class

    The style of food has gained a name of ‘mountain-range cuisine’. Everything is locally sourced, in fact the only thing that I could find that wasn’t from Mendoza was the glassware. All the wines were from the Trapiche winery made lovingly by Daniel Pi (head winemaker), the food was all sourced from the land, and the wood from a nearby forestry. Not many meals of this quality have such traceability.

    For a wine lover, using wine as the starting point when creating a menu was fantastic, and something I would love to see more restaurants experimenting with. The simplicity of grilling a carrot that you have pulled from the ground and getting a level of sweetness that matched the Chardonnay we were trying was just sublime. Simple food made with passion and understanding what each part of the dish brings to the table and glass.

    I won’t go through the full menu as the food envy could get dangerous. We might not be able to provide you with the food, but I will look at all of the wines we tried in a different way, and the learning for how I will marry food and wine will be with me forever more.

    Les (at least a stone heavier than when I left…)

  • In the kitchen with Lucas Bustos

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    We chat to Espacio Trapiche Head Chef, Lucas Bustos, to find out more about his passion for everything food and wine.

    How did you get into the food business?

    This is not a family tradition; rather, when I was young I thought it was a very fun profession to have good times, meet new friends, and travel the world.

    Tell us about your food philosophy Espacio Trapiche, and how does wine fit into the equation?

    Wine is the central idea; we take everything from wine. When you plant the vineyard, harvest the grapes, have the wine process under control, then you know the quality of the product you’re offering to your guest. We do the same in the kitchen, but we have a great farm and vegetable garden. Keep everything as local as possible, keep the terroir expression!

    Where do you find the inspiration to create your dishes?

    Most of times, the inspiration comes from the winery itself. I start looking for fragrances and flavors among the place, our market garden, our farm and then I go to the kitchen. There is always a glass of wine in the middle of the process.

    In your experience, what is the key difference between been a chef and a winery chef?

    Passion, I love wine. Incredibly, the best wines often don’t reach the kitchen, and aren’t involved in the cooking, so I choose to cook with and for the wine.

    Costilla de hereford ahumada, pur+¬ de papas espunta y romeroWhat does the wine bring into the food?

    Depth, complexity of flavors, the kitchen with wine has another dimension.

    You have one last meal, what would you be drinking and eating?

    Fish and chardonnay!!!! Turbot and burgundy!!

    What do you love most about your job?

    Wine, friends, creativity, great places, and no routine.

    If you weren't working as a chef, what would your 'Plan B' be?

    Architecture is one thing that I really love in all its ways.

    Espacio Trapiche’s star dishes:

    • Ravioli
    • Rib of slow cooked beef, potatoes and vegetables
    • Filet with vegetables harvested from the garden
    • Pork cooked for eight hours, with mashed corn and glazed potatoes
  • St Patrick’s Day delights

    St Patrick’s Day – the day for celebrating the Emerald Isle with green clothes, green parties, green drinks…

    Green drinks are not for the faint hearted – oft coming sugary-sweet or somewhat raw, and almost neon in colour but they are out in abundance on March 17th – although Ireland has given us more to drink than just something viridescent.

     

    Irish Buck

    Irish Buck

    A simple twist on a classic Moscow Mule.

    50ml Irish Whiskey | 10ml fresh squeezed lime juice | Ginger Ale

    Served over ice in a tumbler, topped with ginger ale, and garnished with lime wedges.

     

    Miss Moonshine

    Something with a little fire at it’s heart.

    50ml Poitin | 20ml Lillet Blanc | 10ml Suze d’Autrefois | 10ml St germain | 10ml Rosemary Syrup | 3 dashes Angostura Bitters

    Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled coupe/cocktail glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and twist of lemon.

     

    Last Word

    An Focal Deireanach (The Last Word)

    One of the few great cocktails to come out of immediately pre-Prohibition America, created by a Vaudeville (that’s stand up to you and I) star in Detroit, given an Irish twist to embrace the light green hue of the drink.

    30ml Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin | 20ml Green Chartreuse | 20ml Maraschino | 20ml Lime Juice | 3 sprigs thyme

    Shake hard with ice and fine strain into a chilled coupe/cocktail glass. Garnish with a thyme sprig.

     

    Feeney’s-Salted-Caramel-Milkshake

    Feeney’s Salted Caramel Milkshake

    This devilishly decadent shake is just the ticket for those with a hankering for something on the sweeter side.

    30ml Feeney’s Irish Cream | 20ml The Dubliner Honeycomb Liqueur | 1-2 ½ scoops of vanilla ice cream (sweet double cream or fresh whole milk) | A pinch of sea salt

    Blend all the ingredients and serve in a milk bottle over crushed ice. 

     

    For the sore head the morning after an Irish Coffee always awakens the senses, but use slightly cooled coffee to remove the bitterness; or for those more adventurous infuse, poitin with rosemary sprigs and fresh red chillies to use as the base for a Bloody Mary with a difference.

  • The tasting event of the year

    saatchi-galleryFor one day only, Enotria&Coe is taking over the Saatchi Gallery for our Annual Tasting, held on Wednesday 29th March.

    Customers will be treated to an unrivalled selection of premium wines, spirits and Champagnes under one roof and an opportunity to revisit, reinvigorate and re-energise their lists from an exciting portfolio that continues to evolve and grow under the leadership of Enotria&Coe’s Buying and Retail Director, Jon Pepper MW. 

    This year, we'll be pouring hundreds of wines from our portfolio, and are delighted that over 100 producers from around the world will be flying in from all corners of the globe, eager to share their knowledge and passion for their wines and estates.

    We're dedicating an entire gallery to fabulous fizz from around the world, allowing visitors to explore a hugely comprehensive selection of sparklers, and to top it all off, there will be over 55 stellar spirits brand owners on hand to showcase the breadth and depth of the UK’s leading range of spirits and liqueurs, and to provide inspiration for the very best spirits and cocktail lists.

    CEO Troy Christensen said: “Customers have fed back to us that they want a portfolio tasting, our producer partners are incredibly keen to meet customers and prospects alike, and so we’re delighted to bring our expertise and passion together to host an event of this scale in the country’s capital. The team has been working behind the scenes, ahead of what’s set to be our biggest, most boundary-pushing flagship event to date.”

    He continued, “The UK market is facing perilous times, as financial and political volatility challenges even the best operators. Yet it is clear that those establishments who engage consumers through the effective activation of premium wine and spirits will be the winners. We are excited to support our customers and suppliers in building these strategies, and our annual tasting is a hugely important part of that process.”

    With hundreds of producers packing out nine galleries across two floors of Saatchi Gallery, this is also the perfect opportunity to meet the makers behind what is undoubtedly one of the UK’s most comprehensive drinks portfolios.

    This year, we'll also be launching a raft of exciting new producers that have recently joined the Enotria&Coe stable: two Rioja producers –Ramón Bilbao and Sierra Cantabria – and from Argentina, the country’s first South Atlantic Ocean producer, Costa Y Pampa, will be showcasing their wines for the first time on UK shores.

    Interested? Well now's the time to register; simply click here to get your ticket. 

  • In the vineyard with Rodolfo Bastida

    We sat down with Chief Winemaker at Ramón Bilbao, Rodolfo Bastida, to find out what makes him tick.  

    What was your path into winemaking?

    Wine is part of my family, it’s in my blood. My grandfather made wine in Rioja. He had a winery where he’d ferment his own grapes and then sell a quantity in bulk to other wineries. My father sells grapes to other producers in the area. I wanted to study wine because I’m passionate about the hills and the landscape itself, and talking about wine and vineyards is very useful at home. The tradition continues because my brother is a winemaker in the same region, and my wife too. So, naturally when we share a meal together there’s always plenty of wine, and a lot of competition over whose wine we’ll drink to finish the meal.

    So every moment we’re talking about wine. My son too is quite interested – he’s just 12 years old, but whenever we open a bottle of wine we always allow him to try it. But I want him to appreciate and understand the whole winemaking experience, before he thinks about the wine. He comes in the field to go grape picking with us, so he can see the effort that goes into it. I remember so well helping my grandfather press his grapes when I was just four years old. This is really part of our family culture: wine, winemaking, and the vineyards.

    Winemaker_RamonBilbao2

    What do you love about working for Ramón Bilbao?

    I love that when you’re making wines you never stop learning; you’re always developing new ideas. I’m very excited about what our research team has been doing, making very interesting things with natural yeast, and wines in concrete tanks. Now we’re testing how microcosms in the vineyard can help produce characteristics in the wines. There’s a very interesting study from University of California, Davis, that explores the relationship between the flavours and aromas you have in your wine, with the microcosms you have in your soil. For the future I think this is going to be very useful.

    I think in the future we’ll be doing similar things to now, but with more information. People often ask, do you think 10, 20 years ago people were making better wines than now? And I always say no, now we’re making better wines than ever before. My grandfather was making decisions only with the knowledge he had in his head, he wasn’t reading and researching, he didn’t know what they were doing in South Africa, or Australia. I think with more culture, and information you can produce better and better wines.

    I’m also very happy with the team we have for managing our different wineries in Spain. For us it’s more important to reflect the personalities in every wine we’re making, and this part comes from understanding every region and championing the terroir.

    Vines1

    What’s your winemaking philosophy?

    The most important thing for me is to put the fresh aspect of each region into our wines. There are plenty of parts of Spain that produce intense wines in terms of colours, and high alcohol. For me, Rioja is ready to make fine and elegant wines. I think things are changing, and there’s more interest in wines that spend long periods in barrels. Consumers are starting to look for these more delicate wines, more than the bombshell powerhouses of years gone by.

    Who are your greatest wine heroes?

    My hero is the grower working out in the vineyard. When you look at his hands, his face, you can see the harsh effect the elements have had on him. I always think of these people who spend their lives working in the fields. This is what inspires me to keep working hard. In Rioja there are lots of villages where they can grow only vineyards – but if one year there’s a frost problem, another year with mildew, they might lose their whole harvest so their family lives with not much. These are the real heroes.

    Why are you proud to call Rioja home?

    Close to the Basque country, Rioja is different to the rest of. The region is very small, but there are a lot of people who pass through the area so when you’re in the street you’ll notice that the people are very open and welcoming. People are always coming and going, so we’re a hospitable folk. We try to make others who are visiting our region comfortable – this is our way of life.

    If you had to pick just three wines to take with you to a desert island, what would they be?

    It depends on the situation. Some days I enjoy a bottle of Crianza because it is very fresh and easy to drink, and you don’t need food. But if you’re cooking a big piece of meat, a bottle of Mirto is fantastic. I also love wines from Ribera del Duero, and Sicilian Nero d’Avola. I love Bordeaux wines, especially from Saint-Émilion. I love the whole culture that you feel in every corner of the city when you’re in Bordeaux – from the chateaux to the whole French qualification system. You can sit down in a simple, inexpensive restaurant, and you’ll be offered a bottle of very prestigious wine, and there’s a whole fanfare around it. In Spain, wine is just part of everyday life, with less ceremony.

    ALTA_RODOLFO BASTIDA_5 MIRADAS_019

    What do you best like to eat with wine?

    I love the pairings we make at the winery; especially the Patatas Riojanas (potatoes with chorizo and red peppers). But I’m also very good at cooking rice, and think I make a nice seafood paella.

    Do you have a nickname when you’re at work?

    Not at the winery, but at home because my father and grandfather both share the same name as me, I am called Rodolfito. Little Rodolfo.

    If you weren’t working in wine, what would you ‘Plan B’ be?

    Nothing, I can’t imagine anything else. Wine is my whole life.

  • In conversation with Matteo Lunelli

    On Tuesday evening, we were lucky enough to attend a seminar with Ferrari President and CEO, Matteo Lunelli, hosted by the Italian Society of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

    But it wasn’t only a humbling experience for us, but indeed for Matteo too, who, 10 years earlier, walked the halls of LSC as a student (he took a finance course in the summer of 1997).

    Although he is the third-generation of one of Italy’s most prestigious family-run companies, Matteo never took it for granted that he’d one day reside over the estate.

    From moving to New York to work at Goldman Sachs, to the course for Ferrari’s continued success into the future, Matteo spoke candidly about his entrepreneurial experiences, and the fascinating world of wine. Here, we share just a handful of the most interesting insights from the evening.

    Matteo_LSE

    ON changing anything if he were to start from scratch: Nowadays for my son I’d suggest doing some travel, and perhaps an undergraduate outside of Italy – being more international in your background is becoming more and more important.

    ON the strengths and weakness of running a family business: In winemaking, many of the most successful estates are run by families. Especially in our sector, being a family business brings a strong competitive advantage – a family can have a very long-term progression, which is crucial if you want to make great wine. From the day you first plant a vineyard, it can take almost a decade to the time when your vines will begin to produce great grapes. And even then, the wine you’re making might take a few years to mature into a great wine. So this whole cycle can take almost a generation. Being a family business in this industry allows you to work on generational projects, that you’re setting up for the next generation.

    But a family business doesn’t come without risk. This is especially true when the family puts their interests before the interest of the company and the people who work there. In my experience, what makes a successful family business is creating a set of rules and disciplines that define the relationship between the family and business. I’m thankful my father was a big promoter of creating a family constitution.

    Another risk is that if the family doesn’t promote a good management culture inside the business, it’s difficult to attract talented people from outside to come and work with you. As a family, we’re by no means the smartest people out there, so we need to be able to attract those talented people to want to work with us.

    ON the booming trend of Italian sparkling wine, and whether the growth is sustainable: Sparkling wine is growing; it is a very modern wine and is in line with the current lifestyle of people. Wine is about sociality and conviviality. Nowadays people are looking for light and elegant food, and sparkling wine matches perfectly with this. Sparkling wine evokes emotion and happiness – it is a very important wine, which is why it’s grown so much. There is certainly a bright future for sparkling wine.

    The biggest trend I’ve witnessed in the UK market is prosecco. The success is immense – we’re talking about stunning numbers here. Data from 2009 showed that the worldwide trade of sparkling wine was £4.2 billion, and it’s now £6.2 billion – almost 50% growth in the last five years. Internationally, this growth has been dominated by prosecco and Italy. Nowadays the total export of sparkling wine from Italy is 273 million litres, while from France it’s 176 million. But when you compare France to Italy, the export value of Champagne is £3.3 billion, while Italian sparkling sits at £1.2 billion. Italians export nearly more than 60% more than France, but we have just around a third of their value.

    Another important trend I’ve noticed is that an increasing number of customers are opening up to the idea that high-end luxury sparkling wine doesn’t only have to come from France. This doesn’t mean sales of Champagne will decrease, it’s still important. In my opinion, what will change in the next three years is that in restaurants you will find not only high-end sparkling wine from single regions, but you will find premium sparkling wine from the world over.

    If you think about still wines…I love Burgundy and Bordeaux and this is where Europe’s wine culture started, but on the wine lists around London you’ll find many territories for still wines; nobody would ever think about doing a wine list only with Burgundy. So, why would you make a wine list of sparkling only with Champagne.

    ON the contest between traditional winemaking, and what the consumer wants: We never change wines to adapt to the tastes of the customer. Rather, we always try to craft the best wine that we think is the expression of our own territory. In terms of winemaking we tend to be very traditional; however, this doesn’t mean we need to avoid innovation. Even if winemaking is old fashioned, you should still look for innovation in everything. It’s not about looking for one huge change, but rather lots of small steps. Excellence is not an act, but a habit. It’s not about finding one idea that changes your wine, but trying to make every single step better and better. The ability to match tradition and innovation is what sets a successful winery apart from the rest.

    ON the biggest challenges that lie ahead: One of the main challenges is to balance growth, whilst still maintaining quality. It’s important that in the future, we grow only when we find the right grapes that will allow us to continue producing the type of sparkling that we do today.

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