Wineweek 40: Xarello on My Mind

Very little has happened this week. Plans have not progressed and I have had very little good food or wine. I haven’t even taken that many nice pictures to share with you (thus the poor number of shots in this weeks post). There is only one true explanation to this lack of enthusiasm, and it is that M has been away on a business trip. We are a team and wine as well as wine related things are best enjoyed when having company. Not saying I cant open a bottle of wine just by myself (last night I did) but I want to save the good ones for sharing.

There is however something I want to share with you this Sunday, and that is my new profound interest in the grape Xarello. We are old friends, Xarello and I. I have been drinking cava (where Xarello is most often present) since I came of age, and my love for the Spanish sparkling has not faltered even after I fell into the ranks of the winecurious. On the contrary, I respect cava even more. Lately (this summer) I have been trying out quite many white wines made with Xarello as the main grape and I must say they have been excellent. My most recent encounter with a Xarello white was on Friday at my favorite wine bar in Stockholm Gaston.

Having breakfast and writing this weeks post
Having breakfast and writing this weeks post
Home alone..enjoying the warm August evening on the balcony.
Home alone..enjoying the warm August evening on the balcony.

Xarello is one of the most grown white grape varieties in Catalonia. Xarello has a thick skin in more ways than one: The grape literally has a thick skin, and it is popular among the growers for being able to tolerate a wide range of climatic conditions. Xarello is also not too fussy about the soil composition, so it produces a solid yield year after year. The juice has an excellent balance of sugars and acids and it is highly regarded for its ability to age well. The taste is textural with lemon-acidity and stonefruit. The nose is fresh, slightly misleading with it’s floral notes. I think the taste profile goes wonderfully together with some more meaty seafood, like crab or scallops, or even some fresh and spicy dishes, like Vietnamese Pho (with lots of koriander, nomnom).

Fresh Xarello white at Gaston wine bar
Fresh Xarello white at Gaston wine bar
A night with wine  is incomplete without some snacks.
A night with wine is incomplete without some snacks.

As we are soon going to Catalonia, I am actually planning to spend a day in Alella, a small town just a few miles north-west from Barcelona. This town is known for its excellent Xarello whites with lime-blossom flavor and aroma. Sounds perfect for summer 2016 doesn’t it? Now I just need to do some reading up to find the right producers to visit. What are your encounters and experiences with Xarello, and do you have any favorites to share with me for my trip?

Short but sweet, that was wineweek 40. Next week I hope we can pick up with our projects. We have planned open tastings for the 3rd and 12th of September, but we need to make a few arrangements first, like reserve the space, send out invitations, make the materials (tasting sheets) and agree on a new delivery window with out freight forwarder. September is closing in, so procrastinating further is not an option. Have a great week you all!

The Best Pork in Town? Lobos Meat and Tapas, London

I am sure it is no surprise, at least to the people who have been following this blog, that I like Spanish cuisine. Spanish tapas to be exact. Not only do I like the bite size Spanish dishes due to them being a great companion with wine, but also due to the great meats coming from the region. Pork, beef, duck, you name it. I love them all, but especially I love a good Iberico ham. During our last trip to London, we visited a new tapas restaurant at London Bridge called Lobos. It was perhaps the best pork-experience of the year and we had some nice wines as well.

Lobos is located next to Borough Market under the London railway. I love it how in London the old railway arches are utilized for shops and restaurants. The spaces are cozy and I don’t really mind the noise of the trains. It is a part of the experience. Lobos is built on two floors and the narrow space is used efficiently. It has a meat market feel, but nothing too trendy. Lobos has just the right kind of simple charm. We were seated upstairs in a comfortable two-seater.

Efficient planning with the space
Efficient planning with the space

The smirk after a few glasses of wine
The smirk after a few glasses of wine

Copper cocktail glasses at the bar
Copper cocktail glasses at the bar
The first thing I noticed, was that the service was very friendly. The second that the wine list was long and reasonably priced. We started of with some Mon Marcel Cava Rosado and Torre del Cava Reserva 2010 (6.25£ per glass each), both nice and fresh aperitifs. The rosado was the way I like it: Catalonian style with deep red color and full taste, not the light style of cava often made for the export market. To accompany the starters, croquetas, migas and arroz con costra; I had a glass of white Rioja and M an unoaked 100% Xarel.lo (both around 6£ per glass).  And as companion to our main, the amazing Iberico pork selection, I chose an Albarino (7£ per glass). That was definitely the best wine I had all night. All the wines were good value for money.

Now back to that pork platter. I think this is my all time favorite pork-dish in the whole of London. Yes, even better than the Secreto Iberico at Jose’s. There were three different types of cuts: fillet, Secreto and Presa. All came wonderfully medium rare. Now I like my meat nice and red, but I was a bit surprised that we were not asked at all how we would like it served. I agree, “almost mooing” is the best, but I also know that is not how everybody wishes their meat. Or at least, perhaps warn that the meat will come out very pink. They also had some other interesting mains: leg of lamb, pork cheeks and ribeye with foie gras. This is definitely the place for a carnivore.

Cava aperitifs
Cava aperitifs

Croquetas
Croquetas

Pork perfection. Fillet, Secreto and Presa beautifully medium rare.
Pork perfection. Fillet, Secreto and Presa beautifully medium rare.
All in all, Lobos is a wonderful addition to the London tapas-scene. A casual place with great food, wine and laughter. The wine list gives a good snapshot of what Catalonia has to offer and prices by glass and by bottle are reasonable. I would love to come here with a party of four to six people and take a tour around the wine list. The pork, well, I already said it, is divine. Lobos is not to be missed if you are in London.

Food Inspiration for Cava

Here in the Nordics, sparkling wine (Champagne, Cava, Prosecco etc) are most commonly enjoyed as an aperitif or similar. Something fresh to start the evening (or day). In Catalonia, Cava is very seldom served without food. It is a companion for all courses, started, main and dessert. I must say, I prefer the Catalonian way. A sparkling wine works great with cheese, cured meats, barbecue and even with bacon and eggs (or as we like to call it, the Richard Julin way, after his recommendation on what to combine champagne with). We recently visited my favorite restaurant here in Stockholm, Matkonsulatet (a previous review here), and sampled some great new dishes that are perfect companions for a nice cold sparkling wine. Matkonsulatet excels at making simple-ish dishes from good ingredients. Everything is top notch, even the olive oil is something I could just drink straight from the bottle. Here are some pics and descriptions. So next time you pop open a bottle of sparkling wine pair it with some of these babies. Or if you don’t have energy to cook, just pop down to Matkonsulatet for a bite.