Thursday, 13 July 2017

Summer with Gin Mare Med Roof Tops

Gin Mare

Gin Mare hails from Catalonia based outside the town of Vilanova near Barcelona. They are producing a gin, unlike any other. It's a rather savoury gin, full of aromatic herbs. Rosemary, thyme, olive, and basil are included in the botanical line up as well as citrus, cardamom, coriander and juniper berries.

Gin Mare is a top quality handcrafted Mediterranean Gin distilled in small batches in Florentine Copper Pot Stills.  Gin Mare distinguishes itself from London Dry gin in that the essential botanicals used are from the Mediterranean, thus giving it it's the only Designation of Origin in the world.  The botanicals utilised are from Italy, Greece, Turkey and Spain; Arbequina Olive, Thyme, Rosemary, and Basil are the main ones in every blend. They are also known for their single distillation process and subsequent blending of the eight separate distillates.
Gin Mare
Last year I had the pleasure to attend their Gin Mare Med Rooftops  London 2016 edition, and I wasn't disappointed!  What a show they put on! The roof top was inspired by the Mediterranean vibe of Gin Mare. In the spirit of a sun-soaked and relaxing day in Southern Europe, the beautifully decorated venue offered a place to escape and explore the unique tastes, textures, sounds and botanicals of Gin Mare.

This July, on Thursday 20th & Friday 21st, Gin Mare will host another exciting rooftop experience for gin lovers and those acquainted with the brand.  The upmarket pop-up will be situated overlooking the river Thames, with stunning panoramic views of the city of London.   While admiring the scenic sights and quaffing delicious gin cocktails,  seasonal canapes will be served including plump oysters dressed with no other than Gin Mare, of course! Let me tell you they were divine last year! 
Gin Mare and Oysters
Expect another show stopper of an event with cocktails featuring fresh mango, the Perfect Martini paired with a strawberry garnish, a cooling Frozemary cocktail, or a revitalising Basil Smash. Each of the cocktails will highlight the flavours and ingredients of the four Mediterranean countries where the gin’s botanicals are grown. 
Gin Mare

An occasion not to be missed! 
For more info and for a chance to win tickets register here

If you can't make to the roof top you can enjoy Gin Mare at home!

Available from selected Waitrose, Oddbins, Harvey Nichols, and Whole Foods outlets.  RRP £34-£41.00.

Online: and

You can also find it being enjoyed in some of the most discerning bars in London.

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Getting to know Lugana and Valpolicella wines

Lugana & Valpolicella at Savoy Grill London

Onwards with my wine education, I was recently introduced to the Italian wines of Lugana and Valpolicella over dinner at the iconic Savoy Grill in London.

Lugana wines are relatively unknown in this country, but the Consorzio Lugana D.O.C. is making an effort to raise their profile here in the UK.  I was invited to a delicious meal at The Savoy Grill to get to know about Lugana and Valpolicella by UK Sommelier Association.

Lugana is located in northern Italy, in and around the territory of lower Lake Garda. It's a gorgeous place, I've seen pictures, with vineyards ringing the lake and the Italian Swiss Alps in the background. They mainly produce white wines made with the Turbiana grape, which is a variant of Trebbiano. The wine is classified into five designations, 'basic', the Superior, Riserva, Vendemmia Tardiva and Spumante.

The 'basic' Lugana D.O.C. makes up 90% of the production and gives wines that have an intense and delicate bouquet with notes of almonds, white flowers and citrus. On the palate, it is dry, fresh and refined.

Lugana & Valpolicella at Savoy Grill London

At the Savoy Grill, our first course was Fresh Crab Avocado Salad with crème fraîche and was paired with various Lugana whites. I found the wines to be smooth and elegant, a far cry from your usual Pinot Grigio.

Our next few courses were matched with wines from the Valpolicella DOC. Valpolicella is also located in and around Lake Garda as well as having proximity to Verona and Venice.

The UK is one of the top markets for Valpolicella. It's commonly found in your local supermarket, but there is much more to it than that.

The wines are divided into three separate categories. There is the  Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Ripasso and  Amarone della Valpolicella.  The sweet red wines  are known as Recioto della Valpolicella. The main grapes used for the blend are Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. Each wine is made in a distinct style, and they vary wildly from light and fruity to dark.

The Valpolicella Classico is a blend of the three grapes and is vinified in the usual red wine making method. Ripasso is made by macerating the wine with fermented marc (grape brandy) and dried grapes that have already been used to produce Amarone and/or Recioto. Amarone is made by drying the grapes for up to 3 months before being vinified into wine. Finally, Recioto is a sweet red wine perfect for dessert.

These are gastronomic wines, mostly being strong and robust, they need dishes that can stand up to their intensity.
Lugana & Valpolicella at Savoy Grill London
The second course was Steak Tartar with Caviar, slow cooked egg yolk and Parmesan cheese. It was paired with Valpolicella Classico and the Valpolicella Ripasso. The wines were real powerhouses with a long finish, smooth tannins with balanced acidity and structure.
Lugana & Valpolicella at Savoy Grill London
The main was Venison Wellington with Salt Baked Celeriac and bitter chocolate sauce. It was paired with the Amarone della Valpolicella. The wine has an illusion of sweetness, being full bodied with hints of dried fruits, firm tannins and high acidity. Be careful with them because they are ka-pow!

Savoy Grill London
Black Forest Trifle with pistachio brittle at The Savoy Grill 

Lastly, we had the Recioto della Valpolicella which are the sweet red wines of the region matched with Black Forest Trifle with pistachio brittle. The dark chocolate and sour cherries of the Trifle were reflected brilliantly in the dessert, a fabulous way to end the evening.

Wines Tasted:
Consorzio Lugana
1) Lugana 2016 Bio, Az. Agr. Marangona
2) Lugana 2016, Conchiglia, Az. Agr. Citari
3) Lugana 2016, Az. Agr. Bulgarini
4) Lugana 2016, Vigneti Villabella
5) Lugana 2016, Gruccione, Az. Agr. Nunzio Ghiraldi
6) Lugana 2016, Limne, Az. Agr. Tenuta Roveglia
7) Lugana 2015, Brolettino, Az. Agr. Cà dei Frati
8) Lugana 2015, Fabio Contato, Az. Agr. Cà Maiol
9) Lugana Riserva 2014 Molceo, Az. Agr. Ottella
10) Lugana Superiore 2011 Madonna della Scoperta, Az. Agr. Perla del Garda

Consorzio Valpolicella


1) Az. Agricola Montetondo - Valpolicella DOC Superiore 2014
2) Az. Agricola Meroni - Valpolicella DOC Superiore 2010 "Il Velluto"

Valpolicella Ripasso

3) Corte Merci - Valpolicella DOC Classico Superiore Ripasso 2015
4) Tenuta Santa Maria alla Pieve - Valpolicella DOC Classico Superiore Ripasso 2014
5) Benazzoli - Valpolicella DOC Superiore Ripasso 2013

Amarone della Valpolicella

6) Vigneti di Ettore - Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2013
7) Cantina Valpantena - Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2012 "Torre del Falasco"
8) Crosarola - Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2012
9) Villa Rinaldi - Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2003 "Corpus" (my favourite!)

Recioto delola Valpolicella

10) Villa Crine - Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG 2014 

Thanks to UK Sommelier Association, Consorzio della Valpolicella and  Consorzio Lugana DOC  for the opportunity to savour such delicious and elegant wines.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine: michelin-starred meal at Refectorio

Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio
Abadia Retuerta -  Michelin star Refectorio
Food and service go hand-in-hand at Michelin star restaurant  Refectorio. I had an excellent and elegant dining experience here. The whole of Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine is set up to make you feel super relaxed in exquisite surroundings.

Refectorio is set in a long room with a high and gothic featured ceiling. The stone walls are the background to some beautiful antique original paintings.  Even though it is large, there’s so much to see, and yet it doesn’t feel cluttered. The antique furniture sets off the room nicely. There are about ten dining tables; it feels intimate and yet spacious. As you enter the room, the back wall features a stunning fresco, and by the entrance, there is a bookcase displaying an original collection of books dating back the 12th Century.
Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

The service is impeccable, friendly and elegant. The staff is knowledgeable about the food, wine and spa everywhere you go in this property. Customer service is second to none, they learn about your wishes and likes, and when you least expect it, they offer what you like throughout your stay.  That’s what I call service!
Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

My meal at Refectorio was beyond my expectations, perhaps one of the best meals I've had in Spain this year. The menu was matched with some of the Abadia Retuerta's fine wines.

The first time I entered the room my jaw dropped, everything was so amazing. at the dinner I was directed to my table. I travel solo most of the time nowadays, but the staff made me feel at home. Every single dish was explained in detail, and the wines complimented the dishes so well. I had the Abadia Retuerta wines as I was reviewing everything 'Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine'  and the matches were just superb.

The Meal at Refectorio

Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Crunch Toast with an intense  gazpacho water (out of the picture)
Bread with olive oil ice cream spring onion and mint - amazing flavours matched with champagne

Mushroom  cheese  stunning umami flavours
Pickled quail encased in sugary eggshell - soft centre and sweet hard shell tasted so good

Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Cauliflower Soup with smoked trout, the clear soup is made with bones of the trout.  smoky and textured fish was a delight served with Abadia Blanco de Garda wine

Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Leek hazelnut vinaigrette, roasted garlic croquettes, local mushrooms.  This dish was  full of textures, a mix of fresh and earthy umami flavours
Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Local Mushroom pork jowl Abadia pine nuts puree of mushrooms concentrated earthy flavours matched with Abadia Retuerta Touriga Nacional red wine

Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Cod with Iberico tripe sauce and turnip  wine pairing Abadia  Graciano, an intense wine to match the robust sauce. The combination of delicate fish and strong sauce made a exquisite visual appeal as well of element of surprise.  Wine: Abadia Graciano 2013

Tender and  juicy Lamb, mint and kale puree  and coffee matched with Abadia Retuerta Pago Negralada 2014, Tempranillo
Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Bayonne (blue cheese) from Basque Country with whisky
Sheep's cheese encased in a light, crisp case made with sheets cheese and rosemary topped  black olive topping served with Late Harvest Syrah Vendimia Tardia 2014

Rosemary ice cream toffee honey and Abadia pine nuts
Floral tea with homemade chocolate lemon cream and toffee
Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio
I can’t recommend Refectorio enough. Ok, I get that the place is a bit remote, but it’s worth the pilgrimage, believe me!  They have beautiful rooms and a very inviting bar. A stay at the hotel and Spa is also a must. For more on prices  and how to get there: Abadia Retuerta - Refectorio

PS:  A visit to their wine cellar is a must!

How to get there

LeDomaine is located in Spain’s north central province of Castilla y León. It is situated on the banks of the River Duero east of Valladolid in Ribera del Duero region.

Connected by plane to the airports of Valladolid "Villanubla" and Madrid "Barajas".
    By car from the airport of Valladolid to LeDomaine: 40 km.
    By car from the airport of Madrid to LeDomaine: 220 km.

By High-Speed Train from Madrid "Chamartin" Station to Valladolid "Campo Grande" Station: 55 minutes.

By car from Valladolid "Campo Grande" Station to LeDomaine: 30 km.

GPS: 41º 36' 54.95" N, 4º 24' 39" W

Personalised transfer service on request.


47340 Sardon de Duero Valladolid,Spain

Tel: +34 983 680 368


Disclosure: I was a guest at Abadia Retuerta for review purposes, this press trip was organised by Magellan PR . All views are my own.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...