As white wine made its appearance at the villa very late this year, I bought a bottle of Spanish white last week from M&S. Despite being a behemoth of a store, the branch at London Colney had a very limited selection. So I plumped for the Cuatro Rayas 2007 Rueda, made from Verdejo for £5.39.
It transported me right back to Olivella. Grapefruit on the nose and lemon rind and gooseberries on the palate (like a new world Sauvignon Blanc without the grass) it was a fantastic partner to the oven-baked cod, basil and parmesan we had that night for dinner. I went back for more this afternoon, but they didn't have it at Muswell Hill! Drink it now people, if you can find it.
Still hankering for more white, I bought a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Sainsburys later in the week. I hate to admit it, but I was seduced by the label. First of all it had a picture of a bird - a brightly coloured illustration of the love-child of a puffin, a parrot and a flamingo called the pukeko. Secondly, it had a "carboNZero" icon on the label - and I am a complete sucker for the environmental responsibility of food and wine (though this might seem like an oxymoron for a wine that comes all the way from NZ). So the Sanctuary 2008 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough couldn't fly into my shopping basket quicker.
I have a poor track record of selecting wines on the basis they have an attractive label. Thankfully on this occasion my selection criteria came good. It has lemon cheesecake on the nose and more lemon, ripe kiwi fruit and golden delicious on the palate. Mr DB and I drank it on Friday night, eating picnic food at Somerset House. Even out of a plastic bottle (no glass allowed, so the wine had to be decanted), chilled, it was the perfect partner to soft cheese, smoked salmon and Twiglets. I will be buying more.
As for its green credentials, I checked. The carboNZero programme is a international certification scheme to help businesses measure, monitor and reduce their carbon footprint. Yay! Now we can drink and help the planet. Just make sure you recycle the bottles.
Another year at Villa Karin in Olivella was enjoyed by all. Despite the humidity and the mosquitoes (who were oddly rarely seen, but frequently felt post feasting) we spent a week eating, drinking, lounging, reading and catching up on the gossip.
With such a hectic timetable of activities, who'd have thought Miss J and Mr P would have time to get engaged. But they did! And little Miss SE got water wings and swam and Miss LM reigned her subjects with an iron paw from her favourite lap, provided by Mr DB.
So what wine did we drink. Well here's a run down of my top 7...
1) Tinto de Verano
So not strictly just wine, because we bought it in 1.5l plastic bottles and it contains La Casera (sort of like a less sweet lemonade). But this was the drink of choice by the pool, on hot, humid days. With loads of ice, slices of lemon and a cheeky slosh of vodka.
2) Estola Gran Reserva, 1999
Mr J bought two bottles of this and it was the most expensive wine of the holiday - a bank breaking €10 a bottle. On the nose it smelt of vinyl, but it tasted smooth, leathery, blackcurranty and it was delicious with the veggie chilli, bean dip and porcupine hummous* on the last night. Worth every penny. Or Euro cent.
3) Arribeño, Cosecha 2008, Tinto
Favoured by Miss SJ for its fruity, jammy character, this young, easy-drinking red from Ribero del Duero was a brilliant to serve before food.
4) Coto de Imaz, Rioja Reserva 2004
One of the staple Riojas of the holiday, oh what fun was had watching Miss SJ's face when she took a mouthful of this one, thinking it was the Arribeño! Although it had coconut on the bouquet (due to ageing in American oak), it was earthy with a hint of fruit on the palate. This one was a winner for most of meals - versatile enough to partner with feta or manchego, burgers or pizza. A bit on the pricey side for us at €7.80!
5) Comportillo, Rioja crianza (red and white)
The red was a bargain at €1.75 and provided us all with another great Rioja. A mix of 90% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha giving dark fruit with a touch of tobacco. Unfortunately we only discovered the white on Friday as Miss SJ was craving a white instead. So we parted with an extra 10 euro cents for it. Mr P said that if he had a restaurant he would serve it as his house white: light, grassy and tart. Great as an apertif and would be fab with grilled hake.
6) La Guita, Manzanilla
Two bottles of this were greedily drunk by a few of us. At €5.10, it made a brilliant aperitif, lovely with almonds. And salami. And Olives. Yum.
7) Anna de Codoniu, Brut Cava
Mr P says this is only available to the Spanish market. Shame on you Spain! Or should that be, how clever, how artful! We drank this to celebrate Mr P and Miss J's engagement. It was light, citrus-sy and I wish I could have drank more. Only I was driving. Boo!
* not really made of porcupines