Port Tasting @ Cockburn Winery – Porto, Portugal

While I was in Portugal with my family over the Christmas Break at the start of the year we stopped in at Cockburn’s Winery in Porto for a spot of port tasting and a winery tour before we left the city. The winery is located at the top of a hill that is quite steep – but one well worth walking back along to see some stunning views of the city on the other side of the river as you work your way back to the bridge.

The tour price included a tasting and was only a few Euros per person. We began with a guided tour of their winery and cellar facilities, followed by a short video on the winery and the family that run it before ending with a tasting of their Ruby and Tawny ports. It was quite impressive to see so many tanks and barrels filled with port, especially for someone like me who had never really given port the time of day prior to my trip to Porto. I have to say after my time in Porto I was wrong about port and it definitely has a time and place to be enjoyed along with all other wines!

Both ports were delicious. I had a slight preference for the Ruby due to it begin the lighter of the two however I am sure that was biased by my novice palate being that this was my first port tasting. I would happily drink either one again with some cheese and perhaps even as a spritzer on a hot summers day by the Duoro River should I ever return to Porto, something I do hope will happen again in my lifetime as it was a wonderful city to visit. Should you want read more about my time in Porto you can do so at my travel blog EuropeTravelandTeach. I would happily recommend this winery as a stop while in Porto.

Address: R. Serpa Pinto 346, 4400-307 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Restaurante ConTenedor – Seville, Spain

While in Seville over my Christmas break with my family we went to  Restaurante ConTenedor (Facebook link here). The restaurant came highly recommended from the lady running reception where we were staying while in Seville. We arrived ‘early’ by Spanish standards to an empty restaurant, by the time we left a few hours later after 9pm the place was packed and it was quite clearly a favourite with the locals.

We started with a mixed meat, cheese and bread platter along with a local wine while we decided what to order from the daily menu. The wine we selected came at the recommendation of the waitress. We ordered a Spanish red, it was a light to medium bodied red that was a little young but still held it’s own. It paired well across all of our dishes being just rich enough to pair with my ragu while not too heavy for the other lighter dishes.

I ended up selecting the fresh pasta with beef ragu, which was a very rich and tasty dish that I struggled to finish but did so in the end as I did not want to waste a single bite. My sister the Lamb with peaches and a pumpkin puree, by the end of the meal the plate was almost clean and receiving rave reviews of how the flavours worked perfectly together given the interesting combination. Mum ordered the Duck dish and enjoyed it, initially the duck was a little too rare for her liking but the kitchen was happy to cook it for a little longer to bring it to medium-well for her and with that sorted she had no complaints. Dad order the Calimari and black rice dish, he too enjoyed it but preferred some of our dishes more having ordered this dish out of curiosity and intrigue rather than a great love of the ingredients and combination of them.

For desert I bowed out feeling quite full from the starter and the very rich pasta dish. My sister ordered the apple cheesecake, which I sampled a bite and wished I had enough space to order myself a slice as it was heavenly! Mum had the chocolate fondant which was recommended to us by the lady at reception, and with good reason as the bite of it that I had made me even more envious that I had filled up so much with the previous course. Dad went for a light yoghurt to end the meal as he was feeling quite full himself. The restaurant was also lovely in that they comp all tea and coffee ordered with desert, a nice touch that we appreciated as this can often lead to an expensive final course if you order a few with desert and chatting after the meal.

Further reviews of Restaurante ConTenedor can be found on trip advisor here.

What have I been drinking recently?

I was looking back over my most recent posts and realised that even though this blog started to chart my development and interest in wine that it had drifted away from that. So here is a post to make up for that sad little fact! Over the past 3 or so months I have been quietly sipping my way through a range of drinks and here are some of the highlights!

Wine:

Dom Perignon 2003 vintage

Dom Perignon 2003 vintage

I cracked this bottle of champagne on my last night in Perth when I was having a farewell dinner with family and friends. It was a very lovely tipple to have and received positive comments from everyone on the night. After holding on to this bottle for a little over a year this was the perfect occasion to crack it open, surrounded by good friends and family!

Moet and Chandon 2002 vintage

Moet and Chandon 2002 vintage

I opened this bottle of wine that I received for my 21st when I was having brunch with some girlfriends from university. I really enjoyed this champagne, it was smooth and perfect of sipping on while eating pastries, fresh fruit and other nibbles. I would happily have another bottle of this in the future!

Lambrusco sparkling

Lambrusco sparkling

This was a cheap bottle of bubbles from Marks & Spencer was what I ended up picking up with a friend to celebrate landing my first teaching contract in the UK. It was a sweet sparkling wine that was easy to drink and a cheap celebration until I received my first pay check.

Villa Maria 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

Villa Maria 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

I was feeling a little homesick a few weeks ago and ended up picking this up from my local corner wine store. Villa Maria is my favourite of the bigger wine brands from the Marlborough region.

Chianti 2010

Chianti 2010

I was in the mood for a red one night and popped into my local Tesco. I saw this Chianti on special and decided to give it a try. I was not overly impressed with this wine and it is not one that I will likely try again in the future.

Isla Negra Rose and Echo Falls White Zinfandel Rose

Isla Negra Rose and Echo Falls White Zinfandel Rose

When my new housemates moved into my flat we decided to get to know each other over a few bottles of wine on our first weekend living together. A quick run to my local Tesco with the instruction of Rose and I selected these two, one sweet (Echo Falls) and the one dry (Isla Negra). The Echo Falls was quite enjoyed all round, it was not overly sweet but just sweet enough be enjoyed by myself and my housemates who prefer sweeter wines. The Isla Negra was also a nice wine but dryer and more acidic than the Echo Falls. Overall the Echo Falls was the winner of the night.

Villa Maria 2012 Rose

Villa Maria 2012 Rose

While I was still in my Rose fad I picked this one up one evening to try. I was quite impressed with the wine and it had a refreshing finish to it. I will pick this one up again for sure!

Trivento 'Tribu', 2013, Malbec

Trivento ‘Tribu’, 2013, Malbec

I tried the Tribu Malbec at a wine bar in London, called Gordon’s Wine Bar which was was a funky bar that had lots of seating down a side street that you could use after purchasing your wine from the bar inside the building. The wine was a great drop also, being a Malbec it was a safe and delicious choice.

De Bortolli * Syrah Gamay

De Bortolli Syrah Gamay

Before I left Perth I had one last pizza night with my friend K. This was something we started back in university where we would have Broadway pizza’s and a bottle of wine and unwind from the past semester and exams. This time around I picked out the Shiraz Gamay that I brought back from my trip to the Yarra Valley last year (blog post here). The wine was very nice and I really have enjoyed all the Gamay’s I have had so far.

Other Alcoholic Drinks:

Peach and Apricot Rekorderlig

Peach and Apricot Rekorderlig

I discovered a new Rekorderlig flavour when I arrived in the UK. This one was quite nice, not overly sweet and very easy to drink as all the Rekorderlig ciders are. If this flavour makes it to Australia, give it a try and you will love it!

Woo Woo cocktail

Woo Woo cocktail

My first night out in London was with a friend from back home who had moved over to London before I did. I ended up ordering a pitcher of a cocktail to have while we caught up over the past few months. The Woo Woo consists of Archers peach schnapps, Smirnoff vodka, cranberry juiceand was very easy to drink.

Maracuja Pie cocktail

Maracuja Pie cocktail

This was  a cocktail I had at Breezes on Como called the Maracuja Pie cocktail, which consisted of ‘vanilla vodka, fresh passionfruit, vanilla Galliano, pineapple juice and a crumble dusting.‘ The cocktail was delicious and one that I will have again for sure! You can read the full review of the meal here.

sipping on Fosters

sipping on Fosters

I went out with my flatmates around London one long weekend to wander around the different tourist sites. For lunch we stopped at a pub and my flatmate ordered a pint of Fosters which I felt the need to have a sip of being an Australian. Have to say that I was not sold with Fosters, personally I think there are much better beers out there.

Crabbies Ginger Beer

Crabbies Ginger Beer

Instead of the Fosters however I ended up ordering  ginger beer after being told they were out of the Vasse Felix’s Classic Dry White that I originally ordered. An easy drinking ginger beer that I would have again, it’s no Matso’s but will have to do until I can find someone who stocks in in the UK or return home!

Strongbow cider

Strongbow cider

I was craving cider and ended up picking up a 4-pack of Strongbow cider one Friday night to celebrate the end of the week. Strongbow is a basic cider and not one I tend to gravitate towards unless I need a quick cider fix as it’s not a flavoursome cider but it did the job in this case after a long week at work.

Porn Star Martini and Hollywood cocktails

Porn Star Martini and Hollywood cocktails

The Porn Star Martini cocktail consisted of Mango, passion fruit, orange, lime, Absolut Vanilia and the Hollywood cocktail consisted of Southern Comfort, sweet raspberry, blueberry,  açaí berry. The Porn Star Martini was my favourite on the night and

 

Summer Wrap: Drinks (Part 1)

Summer Wrap is a series of my highlights and favourites from summer. A collection of eating,drinking and dining that captures the sunny warm weather of a Perth summer to a ‘T’. This two part post was the inspiration for this series as I have recently been looking back over this past summer and all the things I have enjoyed doing in and around Perth to do with drinking and dining. This post will be split over two entries as it was getting a little long. This post will be on wine and other drinks with follow-up entry coving my go-to summer drink – cider!

With summer winding down in Australia I have been looking over the past few months for my favourite drinks, places to eat and things to cook during the season. With the warmer weather I found myself gravitating towards and embracing white wine a lot more this summer than I have in the past. I also found the hot summer weather was perfect for drinking a few ciders with friends on the weekend.

Wine

With the warmer weather a dry white wine was my go to. I found myself seeking out dryer white wines, often a Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend or a Riesling. Castelli had a stall at UnWined WA last year and is where I ended up falling in love with their Riesling. If you are looking for a nice riesling and want it to be local I have yet to try a Great Southern reisling that I did not like!

Castelli Whites.

Castelli Whites.

I have also been enjoying a few bottles of bubbly with friends this past summer. Bubbles is a drink that is acceptable at all hours of the day from straight up or in a Mimosa for brunch right through to toasting and celebrating at the end of the night. I am loving Prosecco and Australian bubbles. A local favourite I tried at the start of summer last year was Sitella’s sparkling chenin blanc, this is a great bubbly with a twist! Highly recommend checking this wine out at their cellar door if you are visiting the Swan Valley or keeping an eye out for it on wine lists around Perth.

Sitella Sparkling Chenin Blanc

Sitella Sparkling Chenin Blanc

Lastly for those red wine drinkers who cannot give up their beloved red even in the heat of summer. I have found that chilling my red wines, especially lighter reds such as Pinot Noirs to be very enjoyable. Another option is to swap out your glass of red for a glass of Rose. I tried a lovely 2013 dry Rose called Cajones Muy Grande (a Grenache and Mourvedre blend) from Bakkheia Wines in the Geographe Wine region at a wine showcase last year, it was my favourite wine I tried that night.

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Cocktails

When I was dining out with friends this past summer I found myself often gravitating towards a cocktail with my meal. When ever I am dining out at a beachfront location I always find myself in the mood for a cocktail. At Salt on the Beach just behind the dunes at Port Beach in North Fremantle I stumbled across a delicious and simplistic lychee cocktail. At The Pickled Fig off South Beach in South Fremantle I tried their Earl’s Punch cocktail and enjoyed its refreshing flavour. Lastly if you are in the CBD looking for a cocktail and meal combo you cannot go past Jamie’s Italian and its whole package. I have tried quite a few of the cocktails at Jamie’s and have yet to have a bad thing to say about any of them on their flavour and they are well priced!

Keep an eye out for the second instalment of this post up later this week!

 

Lunch @ Mash Brewing

I was recently invited to the Swan Valley for a friends birthday. The day began with a round of Supa golf before the group  moved on to Mash Brewery for lunch. I opted out of the round of golf due to last minute preparations for my prac and my consistent run of bad luck when it comes to sports. However I could never turn down a meal out with friends and so I met them as they were heading over to the brewery. Mash Brewery were ever so kind to squeeze in our large group at the last minute with no booking on the same day as the Swan Valley’s Octoberfest event! The server we had one the day was a fantastic guy who I didn’t manage to get the name of unfortunately but he impressed the entire group with his friendly and funny attitude all while dealing with an unforeseen table of 20 during the middle of a Saturday lunch.

While looking over the drinks menu I decided on ordering a glass of Sittella’s Sparkling Chenin Blanc ($9.50) as I have been meaning to try this wine for far too long and it turned out to be a very nice drop! Once the wine was sorted I then had to pick a dish to go with it, I ended up choosing the Market Fish of the Day ($32) which was salmon that day and came with potatoes, asparagus and other roasted vegetables. The meal was presented well and the portion was just enough to fill me up. Also worth noting is the speed at which the kitchen turned around our entire tables meals with good presentation was highly commendable!

I really enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere of Mash Brewery. After seeing some of the other dishes that people ordered, especially the pies and steak sandwiches I an convinced that I will have to return to try them. I would happily return on a quieter day to have another meal and a better look at their beers and ciders.
Mash Brewing & Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Regional Heroes Wine Tasting @ 2013 Good Food and Wine Show, Perth

Earlier this year I attended the Good Food and Wine Show in Perth. I only had a few hours at the show so it was a rushed visit but I managed to book tickets to the Regional Heroes Wine Tasting. This tasting consisted of 6 wines from different wine regions across Australia that the presenters felt were good and solid examples of the wine being produced in Australia.

Riesling

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E: pale colour.

N: sweet, fruity, apple, aromatic, lemon, and lime.

P: hint of sweetness, crisp, acidic, lively, lemon, dry, fresh and also a hint of minerality.

Semillon

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E: pale clear lemon.

N: oak, lemon, sweetness – reminded me of a lemon meringue pie.

P: dry, crisp, acidic, with a hint of oak.

Chardonnay

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E: clear pale lemon.

N: soft nose, oak, lemon.

P: good mouth feel, good length, lemon, oak, fruity and a hint of acidic minerality.

Pinot Noir

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E: clear ruby red.

N: oak and berries – cherry in particular.

P: dry, spice, silky tannins, acidic and berries.

Cabernet Sauvignon

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E: vibrant plum coloured wine.

N: berries, oak and spice – I had YUM! down next to this wine.

P: dry, luscious berries, oak, good finish, some grippy tannins and vibrant fruit.

Shiraz

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E: brick red wine.

N: oak, spice, plums, and dark berries.

P: smooth, very dry, balanced, spice, rich and savoury.

Overall it was a lovely wine tasting and I enjoyed being introduced to some staple wine regions in Australia. While I have personal preferences that differ to some of their recommendations I still enjoyed the wines they had presented.

UnWined WA 2013

A few weekends ago I was invited to attended Unwined WA as a guest and invited my friend C to come along with me. I went to Unwined WA last year (blog post here) and loved it so I was exciting to be returning to the event again this year. Unwined WA is a wine show held at Market Square Park in Subiaco over a weekend in October each year to showcase wine and food produce of Western Australia.

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While at Unwined WA I took C around and introduced her to some new wine varietals as well as a few favourite wineries of mine. After a few hours of sampling many of the wines on offer we came to the consensus that Castelli was our favourite winery of the day for across the board quality. We however also enjoyed the Malbec at Talisman Wines and the Rose at Fifth Estate Wines.

I had made the mistake last time of missing the fudge stall so this time around I made sure to not leave before I had tried some. Around the time we were ready for a break from wine tastings we found Gidge Gourmet Fudge, and let me tell you, boy did the double chocolate fudge make for a perfect gooey snack at the show. Loved it and the few pieces that I took home did not last very long either. Lovely range of flavours with something to tickle everyones fancy!

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Gidge Gourmet Fudge.

I enjoyed the show again and it was great to see more stalls at this years event. Looking forward to seeing how the show goes next year!

I would like to say a big thank you to Jessica at CMS Events for providing me with tickets to this years show.