What could be better than a gentle stroll down by the river Thames walking past HMS Belfast, Tower of London and passing under the shadow of Tower Bridge? how about throwing in a dash of Spanish wine, food, music and dance.
That’s what my wife Agnes, myself and a small group of friends did when we attended the brilliant ‘Tapas Fantasticas 2014’ hosted by ‘Wines of Rioja’.
It’s a festival of Spanish culture, and lifestyle in which wine and food feature heavily, now into its seventh year the event just seems to get better and better.
We arrived on a pretty dull day, with the weathermen promising us some sunshine as the afternoon goes by but just as we entered the gates of the event the inevitable happened and it started to rain so plan B was executed, we went to see if we could get in on any of the Workshops and get out of the rain, luckily we managed to get into a cooking and wine matching workshop. The program included Spanish Chef Jose Pizarro cooking some Scallops in a Cauliflower Puree and Chorizo Croquettes and Wine Expert Susy Atkins plying us with two rather large glasses of White Rioja and Rosado with the white being particularly good. The demo lasted for around 45 minutes and a very good show it was too, with the added bonus of the rain stopping, always nice when a plan comes together.
Before too much wine was consumed we decided to eat and all chose different dishes from the vast array of food stalls around. Agnes and I sampled a very nice plate of Pork belly, some Patatas Bravas cooked with Chorizo, Ham, cod croquettes and Paella.
With traditional music being played live in the background, we proceeded on our quest for wine. There were over 40 stalls featuring wines from all over Rioja, some larger producers but also the lesser known smaller family run bodegas, all of them eager to serve you tasting samples or wine by the glass. I was really impressed with wines from the Bodegas Las Orcas, their Decenio range was excellent and the White Viura was a big favourite with our group, including me but I really did like their reds. Others we enjoyed were Marques de la Concordia, Marques de Vargas, Finca Egomei (expensive and elegant), Marques de Reinosa and that’s only a few of many great tastings.
Finished off the day with another workshop this time wines picked by Suzy Atkins in which we again tasted 5 fabulous wines, Viura, Rose, Crianza, Reserva and finally a Gran Reserva 2001.