‘Events such as Foodies open up new frontiers to those receptive to change’
Foodies started out as a small festival in Edinburgh eight years ago, but has since grown arms and legs, and now features nine events at venues throughout the UK. Last month saw the bandwagon roll into Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park, where chefs such as Jeff Bland and Tony Singh were joined by MasterChef stars Adam Handling and Russell Grant.
The festival is important because it gives fans the chance to taste food not just by famous chefs, but also from 200 or so artisan producers. It also combines the worlds of food and drink with eight or nine wine and beer masterclasses in the Drinks Theatre.
Aldi was involved in some of those masterclasses and that was encouraging to see – especially because they brought along their quality (but inexpensive) champagne. Undeniably, Veuve Monsigny Philizot & Fils Brut (£12.99 at Aldi but down as low as £9.99 during the summer) fits in well at a premium food event like this. It has remarkable balance, combining touches of both red and green apples – the first softens the wine’s brioche-style backdrop and the second gives it an attractive crisp, zesty, acidic edge.
Similarly impressive is the 2013 Brown Brothers 1889 Sauvignon Blanc (£12.99 at Henderson Wines, Cornelius Beers & Wines and Penicuik Wines), which uses grapes from Tasmania, where the cooler climate helps to develop the acidity sauvignon needs to give of its best.
I enjoyed the melon-centred delicacy exhibited here but could also see how the wine’s passion fruit ripeness gave it an extra dimension New Zealand sauvignon cannot always deliver. But that is not at the expense of the zingy, grassy touches that keep it fresh and lively. The wine works especially well with both the excellent lobster sold by The Hebridean Food Co (www.hebrideanfoodcompany.com) and its equally impressive langoustines.
Douglas Stewart and the team at Hebridean appear at Saturday markets around Edinburgh (Portobello, Haddington, Stockbridge and Morningside) and four others across Scotland.
Among the reds, the 2012 Bodegas Campillo “El Niño” Tinto Joven (£10.95 at the five Vino Wines shops round Edinburgh or Inverarity One to One in Glasgow) avoids the problems of the raisin-centred Rioja of yesteryear. This is one of the younger, fruit-driven modern styles – indeed, “Joven” means young, as in the English word “juvenile”. Its cherry-centred fruit component was bright, ripe and aromatic, and integrated in a very measured way with the wine’s gentle, toasty and well-balanced vanilla backdrop.
After finding a successful food match for the sauvignon, I tested a series of reds against the delights brought to the event by the Juicy Meat Co from Kincraig Farm near Kelso. This El Niño ticked the most boxes. It was fully at home with their beautifully tender beef, but the wine’s fruit-driven character also worked brilliantly with the barbecued pork and the sauce that accompanied it.
Meanwhile, back in the drinks theatre a sherry tasting was under way. Its star, for me, was the brilliant Cayetano del Pino Palo Cortado Solera (£14.95 from The Wine Society). It has all the usual nutty delicacy and dryness, but embellishes it with an orange-centred citrus freshness and complexity. This bottle would convert even the most die-hard sherry sceptic, which is another good illustration of the way events such as Foodies Festivals open up new frontiers for those even mildly receptive to change.
2014 Trapiche Vineyards Pinot Noir Mendoza, Argentina
A perfect start point for pinot virgins, this has typical red cherry fruit, lively raspberry acidity, and concluding hints of nutmeg and chocolate. For sure there is only limited texture, but with youth and price on its side, there is so much to enjoy about this wine.
£4.99 – instead of £6.49 until 16 September – at the Co-op
2013 The Society’s Chilean Sauvignon Blanc Leyda Valley, Chile, 12.5 per cent
Cool-climate sauvignon from Chile keeps getting better as illustrated by the grassy gooseberry flavour on display here and the wine’s zingy, lemon-centred acidity. Yet more such delights will be at the Society’s Glasgow Tasting of Chile wines on 16 September – try not to miss it.
£6.95 at The Wine Society