Food and wine has the ability to make you travel without leaving the comfort of your home. This is why I became a wine writer and food enthusiast. It is all about living the passion and reliving past fond memories
I lived in Spain for two years and became madly in love with their food and wine. After more than 15 years of leaving the country, I still get palpitations when I have a Spanish wine with a piece of tortilla Espanola, tomato with bread, jamon or octopus
Great food and a glass of wine
Every day that nostalgia that permeates my heart is relieved with great food and a glass of wine. Scientists suggest that when we associate food with happy memories, the effects are profound, impacting how good we think foods taste as well as how good those foods make us feel.
It was a spiritual homecoming my recent wine press trip to Spain and France. Besides an enriching wine learning experience about Garnacha/Grenache, I was lucky to quickly reconnect with Spanish gastronomy.
First Taste of a Spanish Summer: Garnacha rose and Salmorejo
Spain is the second largest rose producer in the world after Italy and consumes roughly about 10% of their domestic production. The Spanish consumption is highly seasonal and occurs predominantly during the summer season.
In my mind, the idea of an Spanish summer is represented by copious quantities of rose wine and tomato based dishes.
The arid lands of Spain’s historic Kingdom of Aragon are currently producing some of the world ́s best rosé wines. The protagonist grape is Grenache noir, which traditionally has been the variety used to make these wines. Garnacha rose from Aragon has a deeper shade of red than its Provence counterpart but with spicier and more savoury red berry flavours
The rosados ( roses) from Aragon
The rosados ( roses) from Aragon taste great with the repertoire of tomato based dishes of southern Spain. In general when pairing wine with tomato based dishes, think crisp, summer wines such as rosé. For instance, something very Spanish is to pair a Garnacha rosado from Aragon with pan con tomate ( bread with tomato). Pan Con Tomate is the Spanish version of bruschetta and an excellent way to enjoy summer tomatoes!. Crisp and chewy bread topped with grated tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and salt. In fact it is so good and versatile with rosado wine that in almost every winery stop in Aragon, it was served alongside savoury slices of Jamon Iberico
What is Salmorejo
This lead me to the dish in question, Salmorejo. This is a classic soup made primarily with tomatoes and bread. It is similar to Gazpacho but richer and more savoury because it is topped with hard boiled eggs and jamon iberico. Originating from the South of Spain, this cold tomato soup is ideal for warm summer evening suppers and quite versatile for entertaining as well
My first activity of the Garnacha press trip was a cooking workshop in La Zarola school in Zaragoza, Aragon’s capital city. It was a great opportunity to revisit and relearn a small repertoire of classical Spanish dishes combined with a tasting of some of the finest wines from Bodegas San Valero group in the historical appellation of Carinena. San Valero is the cooperative of Carinena associated with Gran Ducay in the appellation of Cava. The coop boasts more than 700 members covering some 3500 ha of vineyard land. In Quebec, they are imported by Robert Peides.
Cariñena is situated on the high plains of the ancient Kingdom of Aragon in northern Spain. The soil is poor, with little organic matter, made up of red limestone and lots of stones. The climate is continental, with hot summers and very cold winters; low rainfall is the norm. Cariñena is the Ali Baba cave version of some of the oldest Garnacha vineyards in Spain. Although the appellation is famous for its red wines, the roses are worthy of attention as well. The rosados from Carinena have their own unique personalities with beautiful brightmatice cherry colours, deep fruity aromas and savoury spicy- earthy nuances.
La Zarola cooking school
At La Zarola cooking school, I experienced one of the best wine pairings ever in my modest wine career. A rich and velvety Salmorejo soup was just stunning with the Garnacha Particular Rosado 2018 from Bodegas San Valero. The freshness of the wine was a welcoming sensation to balance the soulful and luscious texture of the soup in the palate. Particular was also a great handler with the umami flavours of the soup. The sweet cherry and high toned floral notes of the wine merged exquisitely well with the pungent meaty vegetable tones of the Salmorejo. Definitely, this is a culinary experience that I am looking forward to recreate in my home during the summer
If you are looking to experience this culinary experience at home, please take a look at the recipe from the famous Spanish chef Jose Andres:
(https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/salmorejo). This recipe is almost identical to the version of La Zarola with the exception that Jose adds a splash of Sherry Vinegar.
Although the particular rosado is not available in the Quebec market for the moment, a good alternative is the Coto de Hayas from nearby Campo de Borja appellation as well. In a later column, I will discuss this appellation wines. Tasting notes below:
Bodegas Aragonesas Coto de Hayas 2017 ( SAQ# 12699701 $10.80)
Fruit and floral with delicate nuances of bitter orange peel, lavender and cherry-plum sorbet. Delicate and quite refreshing on the palate with a round texture and long finale. Great quality for such a modest price.
Feature image: Plaza Nuestra Señora del Pilar