Christmas Day Suggestions: a selection from our favourite wine-makers
December 6, 2011 1 Comment
Looking for inspiration for Christmas day dinner? Some of our favourite wine-makers have sent us the tradional dishes from their region with, of course, the best wines to drink with them! Our featured producers come from Rioja, Tuscany and Australia. Out of all the wine-makers who sent us in the Christmas traditions, the Hernaiz brothers who own Bodegas La Emperatriz in Rioja, is a Christmas we’d love to join in!
If you love cooking and want to learn some more why not do our cookery course which includes a wine and food matching lesson with award winning sommelier Ian Brosnan.
Rioja, Spain: Bodegas La Emperatriz
Eduardo Hernáiz, the owner of Bodegas La Emperatriz and his brother Victor recount their typical Christmas eve for us.
Christmas time in Spain is about family. In Spain, most people still live within close proximity of each other so it isn’t unusual to celebrate Christmas eve or Noche Buena as we like to call it, with over 20 family members. Before settling down for dinner, I like to meet up with my closest friends at a local bar in Cenicero for a Christmas Champagne toast. After this, around 10:30 pm everyone in the family comes together around the dinner table to eat a traditional home cooked meal. Our Christmas eve dinner begins with a warm and tasty Consume soup followed by Cardo, which is a type of thistle that resembles a green Rubarb. After this, we eat chicken that has been raised our own Finca La Emperatriz estate. It is normally stuffed with a meat, truffle and bread stuffing and baked in the oven until golden brown.
After this we eat Besugo, which is Sea Bream that has been cooked in the oven and then a light olive oil cooked with garlic and spicy dried chilies is drizzled on top. We finish it with Polvorones de Navidad, which are a type of butter cake made with flour, butter and sugar that can be a bit of a powdery mess. We also eat Turron, which is a type of nougat with nuts as well as Marizpan both can be quite sweet and delicious.
Christmas eve dinner is all about family and we tend to stay at the dinner table eating until we can´t eat a morsel more. At this point, usually well into the early hours of the morning, we head to bed, only to eat left overs the next day for Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!
The 2 brothers and their families toast Christmas with the best wines from their estate Bodegas La Emperatriz, Rioja Alta ’Pacela No1′ , along with other wines from their range.
Tuscany, Italy: Cantina di Montalcino
One of our favourite Brunello di Montalcinos comes from Cantina di Montalcino. Made exclusively from Sangiovese it is rich, elegant and spicy with cinnamon, figs, cherries and pepper aromas. Although Tuscany is famous for Chianti, Brunello is the certainly the king of the region: made from the best grapes available and aged in Slovenian oak for 3 years followed by 2 years in bottle before release. 2006 vintage is a open and expressive and has a sumptuous silky texture. The traditional Christmas lunch in Tuscany is a 5 course affair with everything from veal ragu made with home-grown tomatoes, chicken liver pate and roast boar! Giacomo Alari of Cantina di Montalcino is a born and bred Tuscan and below is his typical Christmas dinner menu.
Crostini con Fegato di Pollo – Crostini with Chicken Liver Pate
served with a young Chianti
Maltagliata con Vitello – Ragu of Veal with Maltagliati pasta
served with Chianti Riserva
Capon con Salsa Verde – Chicken with Salsa Verde
Arista con Patate Arrosto - Roast Loin of Pork with Potatoes
served with Brunello di Montalcino
Cantucci con Vin Santo – Almond Biscotti soaked in dessert wine
served with Vin Santo
Bolgheri, Italy: Poggio al Tesoro
Poggio al Tesoro is located in Bolgheri – home of the Super Tuscan. Originally made famous back in the late 1970s with wines such Tignaello and Sassicaia, the area has the ideal soil and climatic conditions to grow international varieties such as Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz as well as the Italian Sangiovese. ‘Sondraia’ is one of our favourites from Poggio al Tesoro and it easily rivals a top French classic: made from the typical Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc it’s plush, warm and full, with velvety, ripe tannins giving structure to the ripe, plummy fruit on the palate. Lovely touch of rosemary and eucalyptus on the finish! The head winemaker, Nicola Biasi (pictured below) recommends Wild Boar Stew with Sondraia and has kimdly given us his family recipe!
2007 Poggio al Tesoro ‘Sondraia’ with Spezzatino di Cinghiale – Wild Boar Stew
800g wild boar (or pork)
500g tomato passata
2 garlic cloves
1 celery stick
2 bay leaves
500ml of red wine, preferably young Chianti
New season Tuscan olive oil
Marinate the meat in the red wine, chopped garlic and vegetables, bay leaf and chilli. After 8 hours, remove the meat and vegetables and conserve the marinating juices. Heat up some olive oil in a pan and sauté the vegetables. Add the meat, season and brown for a few minutes on a high heat. Add a ladle of the marinating liquid and let it reduce down. Turn down the heat, add the tomatoes and cook for about two hours, stirring occasionally so the meat doesn’t stick to the pan. If necessary add some water or more of the remaining liquid. Season and serve hot with a glass of Sondraia.
Adelaide Hills, Australia: Shaw and Smith
Shaw and Smith was founded in 1989 by cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith. Martin Shaw is one of the original flying winemakers and Michael Smith is not just Australia’s first Master of Wine, he is also a Cordon Bleu trained chef!
This Christmas Martin Shaw will be having: Snapper Ceviche with mint, watermelon and fetta salad to accompany 2009 M3 Chardonnay. What a delicious dish to have with 2009 M3: it’s one of the most iconic Chardonnays made in Australia and with it’s cool fruit, restrained use of oak and a depth and elegance that is only comparable to a Puligny Montrachet. This skill in wine making perfectly captures the new approach Australia has taken in the last 10 years. If you are looking for a white wine to have this Christmas, we recommend this!
Thanks to all of our producers for sharing their Christmas traditions with us.
Want some inspiration in the kitchen? Why not do our cookery course? We kick start each lesson with a glass of bubbly and afterwards serve up the dishes alongside a selection of wines whilst award-winning sommelier Ian Brosnan gives a food and wine matching lesson. It’s the perfect Christmas gift for your mom, sister or girlfriend! Please contact email@example.com for more details or call Michelle Lawlor on 01 676 8986 for more details.