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Spanish Secrets: Taking A Leek

…Roast beef smothered in chopped leek gravy, accompanied by herbed potatoes and bronzed roasted parsnips. We ended the meal with fresh Spanish strawberries, lightly sugared and generously daubed with extra thick cream…

Craig Briggs’s glowing descriptions of the food and wine in his new homeland, Galicia, are guaranteed to awaken the most jaded taste buds.

For more of Craig’s vivid descriptions of his new life please click on Spanish Secrets in the menu on this page.

Last year some friends bought a small vineyard on the steep valley slopes of the river Sil, in an area called Amandi. A generous offer to taste their first vintage was enthusiastically greeted with a resounding, “Yes please”!

Amandi is one of five regions which make up the denominacion de origin of the Ribeira Sacra (Sacred Riverbank). The D.O. covers a relatively small geographic area and is characterised by steep valleys and stunning scenery. Terraced vineyards rise from the banks of the river Sil to over 1,000 metres above sea level.

A tour of the area’s bodegas (wineries) has become a firm favourite with visiting family and friends. Not surprisingly, it’s also one our favourite excursions. The drive from our house to the river gorge takes us through the village of Sober, our parish council, and along narrow, winding lanes. Scattered along the route are tiny hamlets and more importantly numerous small bodegas.

We usually stop at two or three for a refreshing sample and a tasty tapa of cured ham or local cheese accompanied by a wedge of crusty bread. At the summit of the river canyon is the village of Doade. Dominating this village are two large bodegas. They were built quite recently to take advantage of the area’s increasing popularity. The welcome here is no less hospitable than the smaller family run places, although the wine prices reflect the level of investment.

The main grape variety is Mencia, a small dark grape which produces a deep cherry-red wine. Complimenting this are the white varieties of Godello and Albariño. Due to the zone’s small size, most of the its wine is consumed locally, much to the frustration of visitors who are fortunate enough to sample these delicious varieties.

I was eager to compare our wine with one produced from the fruits of such an esteemed wine making region. At our next meeting we were presented with two carrier bags of goodies. The unmistakable clink of bottles rang out as I grasped the first. Inside were two, one litre bottles of homemade wine. The second bag looked equally heavy. Inside was a feast of fresh parsnips and leeks, uprooted that morning from their allotment.

That evening we delighted in sampling our gifts. Roast beef smothered in chopped leek gravy, accompanied by herbed potatoes and bronzed roasted parsnips. We ended the meal with fresh Spanish strawberries, lightly sugared and generously daubed with extra thick cream.

Our evening feast was complimented by the prestigious Amandi wine, an excellent vintage for a first attempt. The predominance of white Godello vines in their vineyard gives their wine a pale colour and a clean, simple and uncomplicated taste. It provided quite a contrast to my wine, which is blended using four grape varieties. It’s colour is only slightly deeper but the fusion of flavours and smooth tannins give it a rich character.

However, they are completely identical in one respect. Both are very easy to drink. The following morning’s headache testified to that.

email address
craigandmel@msn.com

Copyright © 2007 Craig Briggs


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