From our kitchen: lobster ravioli

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Photograph: Joe Woodhouse
In response to a reader’s request, this month our Head Chef Stewart Turner offers up a lavish dish. His lobster ravioli might demand a little more time in the kitchen, but they’re well worth the effort – and not nearly as complicated as you might think

After our last recipe post, a reader requested the recipe for a lobster dish that she had at one of our lunches a few years ago. With such great comments about our food, how could I not oblige: so here it is. I hope it’s a tasty as you remember.

There are quite a few components to this dish, so – if you don’t fancy going the whole hog – you can just make the bisque and warm the diced lobster meat in a little butter.

We use live lobsters, that are quickly dispatched and then the tails and claws separated. These are then cooked in boiling water with a little mirepoix for about five minutes and then shelled. The head is chopped, and the shells from the tail and claws kept for the bisque; but you can use cooked lobster if you prefer.

If you don’t fancy making your own pasta (which can be quite a laborious process), you can use wonton or gyoza wrappers, which come pre-rolled, instead.

Lobster ravioli with bisque creamServes 6

Lobster filling

  • 2 lobsters – meat removed and diced, shells chopped
  • 200g salmon fillet
  • 1 egg white
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 tomatoes – skinned, deseeded and diced
  • 1 shallot – peeled and finely chopped
  • 1tsbp chives – chopped
  • 1 lemon – zest
  • 5 basil leaves – finely sliced

In a food processor, blitz the salmon with the egg white to a smooth purée. Pass the salmon mousse though a fine sieve and place in a large mixing bowl. Slowly beat in the cream and season with salt and pepper, then chill well. While the salmon is chilling, sweat the diced shallot in a little olive oil until soft and allow to cool. Fold the lobster, shallot, diced tomatoes, herbs and lemon zest into the salmon mousse. Pop it in the fridge while you make the pasta.

Pasta

  • 500g 00 pasta flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 2 free range egg yolks
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt
  • A handful or two of semolina

For the dough, sift the flour and salt into a food processor. Whisk the eggs and yolks together with the olive oil. Add the eggs to the flour and blitz to a smooth dough. if the mix looks a little dry, add a tablespoon of water. Remove from the processor and knead for a few minutes, until you have a smooth dough that is slightly springy. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least an hour.

Split the dough in two. Return one half to the fridge. Lightly dust the other half of the dough with pasta flour. Flatten with a rolling pin to the width of your pasta machine. Feed the dough through the machine on the widest setting and then keep feeding it through, reducing the thickness each time until it is fed through on the second to last setting. Cut the pasta into even sized squares. Place a spoonful of the lobster filling in the centre of a square and, using a little water to seal it, lay another square over the top, making sure not to trap any air. Cut the ravioli out with a fluted cutter. Place on a tray lined with semolina. Repeat with the rest of the pasta. Once you’ve made them all, place in the fridge uncovered while you make the bisque.

Bisque

  • Lobster shells – chopped
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot – diced
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 1 stick of celery – diced
  • 1 garlic clove – crushed
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tomatoes – chopped
  • 1tbsp tomato purée
  • 100ml white wine
  • 50ml Brandy  
  • 500ml fish stock
  • 100ml double cream
  • 50g butter – diced
  • 1 lemon – juice only

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the lobster shells in a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Roast until browned, about 10 minutes.

While the shells are roasting, heat a good splash of oil in a large saucepan. Fry the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, thyme and bay until they just start to brown, then add the tomatoes and purée. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, then add the wine. Reduce by half. Once the shells are cooked, add them to the vegetables. Deglaze the tray with the Brandy and pour into the saucepan. Add the fish stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan, discarding the shells and vegetables. Bring to the boil and reduce by half, then add the cream, return to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Season to taste and whisk in the diced butter. Finish with the lemon juice. Keep warm until you’re ready to serve up.

To finish

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook the ravioli in the boiling water for about three to four minutes, depending on their size. remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

To serve, divide the ravioli between warmed bowls and spoon over the bisque. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.

What to drink: If you’re going all out, it might as well be Champagne. We’d go with a Blanc de Blancs – our own-label example from Le Mesnil would do the trick nicely, a perfect balance of brioche-like richness and crisp acidity. Good white Burgundy would be excellent, but something like Crittenden’s cool-climate Chardonnay from Mornington – with its zip, creamy complexity and pristine fruit – or, for a more decadent choice, Leeuwin’s iconic Art Series Chardonnay, would be our choice.

Browse all our Head Chef’s recipes here

Category: Food & Wine

Guerrilla Garnacha

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One of the old vines at Domaines Lupier

Domaines Lupier is not like most Navarra wine producers. Elisa Úcar and Enrique Basarte champion the region’s old vines – proving just how extraordinary Garnacha can be. Here Lucy Bland shares a little more about their remarkable project

Husband and wife team, Elisa Úcar and Enrique Basarte of Domaines Lupier really do embody the expression “dynamic duo”. To this day they are two of the most inspirational people that I have met. Their old-vine Garnacha project in Navarra is pretty special. In fact, “project” doesn’t really do Domaines Lupier justice. It is nothing short of a labour of love and, most importantly for Elisa and Enrique, it is a way of life. In 2006 they both gave up comfortable jobs in the wine industry and took out a loan to pursue their dream of rescuing abandoned, old bush-vines in Navarra – and we are very glad that they did.

Navarra is often best known for fruity rosados and international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Enrique and Elisa’s focus, however, is old-vine Garnacha. Interestingly there is no official definition of an “old vine”, although certain wine-producing areas have come up with their own classifications. The Old Vine Charter of Australia’s Barossa Valley, for example, states that an “old vine” must be a minimum of 35 years old. Domaines Lupier’s oldest plot (of 27) was planted in 1903, so it’s safe to say that we think their vines should certainly be considered old! The vines that cover their 17 hectares have an average age of 80 years between them, which is rather unusual for Navarra, or most wine regions really.

“Labour of love” is no understatement; older bush vines like these require a great deal of manual labour and expertise. Enrique and Elisa work incredibly hard, both in the vineyard and in the winery.  Old vines are also much less productive with age, but what they do produce can be of exceptional quality.

There are not many Garnacha bush vines of this age left in Navarra given the low commercial viability. Indeed, there are many that think Enrique and Elisa are, for want of a better word, bonkers for doing what they do. It is not an easy life. One would expect Domaines Lupier’s pricing to be much higher given how much work goes into these wines. Their average yield is somewhere between 14 and 20hl/ha. To put this in context, the maximum yield for Grand Cru Chablis is 54hl/ha. Domaines Lupier’s incredibly low yields result in a very high level of concentration and complexity in their two wines, El Terroir and La Dama, which consequently have a great ability to age in bottle, their tannins softening further over time. I’ve got a bottle of La Dama 2012 at home that I’ll be keeping as long as I can resist it.

Elisa Úcar and Enrique Basarte in our London Shop

Between them, it seems Enrique and Elisa have worked all over Spain, but they particularly chose the tiny, remote village of San Martín de Unx and its surrounding vineyards for their solo project. They feel that the “mountain viticulture”, farming vines at an altitude of 600 to 750 metres, preserves freshness in the wines, further aided by the limestone soils. Their existence really is one in harmony with nature.

Each year is different from the last and that’s something they embrace whole-heartedly. They have such respect for their vines and believe that they continue to learn from them, discovering more of their personality each vintage. They are certified organic and work biodynamically; their intention is minimal intervention and maximum sustainability.

They also firmly believe that a wine can and should convey a sense of place, or terroir. I certainly see that in their wines, having now visited. When I smell those lifted wild herb notes mixed in with the deep fruity core, I am immediately transported back to the steep, rugged vineyards, dotted with wild herb plants and “eternal life” chamomile.

Enrique and Elisa taste the wine from each of their plots blind to decide which will go into El Terroir and which will go into La Dama. The results are almost always the same. They focus on the energy and vibrations they feel. For them, El Terroir, as the name would suggest, embodies a connection with the earth, while La Dama is more ethereal in its energy and is more lifted, pointing towards the sky. It may sound far-fetched to some, but it makes perfect sense to me. Open a bottle of each and see whether you feel it too.Explore the range of Domaines Lupier on bbr.com

Category: Spanish Wine

On the pour: Geisberg Grand Cru Riesling

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Each month we put the spotlight on one of the wines available to taste in our London Shop. Here we take a closer look at an outstanding Grand Cru Riesling from one of Alsace’s most famous producers, Trimbach

2014 Riesling, Geisberg, Grand Cru, Trimbach, Alsace

What is it? Glorious, glorious Riesling: talk to anyone at Berry Bros. & Rudd – or indeed the wine trade – and we’ll wearily explain that we wish we could persuade more people to love this noble grape as much as we do. It comes in many guises – from the crystalline purity and pinpoint balance of the Mosel to the thrilling tautness of the Eden Valley; this outstanding example, however, comes from the picturesque Alsace.

Why’s it different? Trimbach is one of the region’s leading producers, and the only producer to be sold by all of France’s three-Michelin-star restaurants – for good reason. This comes from Geisberg, a Grand Cru vineyard which is partly used to create Trimbach’s legendary Cuvée Frédéric Emile; the rest of the fruit, however, is made into a single-vineyard cuvée. Old vines on steep, terraced slopes produce an extraordinary wine. The 2014 offers a waxy richness, with notes of ripe apricots, verging on tropical fruit, and candied lemon peel, with a kerosene edge. It has a voluptuously oily texture, feeling dry despite the weight of fruit, with a mineral thread and twist of lemon acidity driving the long finish. Uncork it now and watch it evolve in the glass, or hold onto it for a decade or more.

What should I eat with it? Rick Stein’s take on Flammekueche would be an exceedingly appropriate match; however there’s no shortage of dishes that would sing alongside this grand wine. With its textural mouth-feel, it can stand up to the weight of creamy sauces; while the concentration of honeyed fruit would be more than a match for aromatically spiced dishes (although beware of anything too hot).

How much? £5 for a taste, £68.68 for a bottle

Drop into our London Shop at 63 Pall Mall to taste it for yourself.

From 17th to 22nd October, we’ll be filling our Enomatics with wines from Alsace – a brilliant chance to explore the region.

Category: Food & Wine,Miscellaneous

Bordeaux 2016: out of the bottle

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Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac. Photograph: Jason Lowe
The 2016 vintage in Bordeaux was extraordinary – scoring a rare 10 out of 10 in our books. Here, Bordeaux Specialist Philip Moulin reports on an extensive tasting of the vintage – and whether the wines live up to their reputation

Over 40 years ago, a group of buyers from leading UK wine merchants gathered in Southwold, on the Suffolk coast, to taste the most recently bottled vintage of Bordeaux. The Southwold Tasting was to become an annual fixture, hosted for many years by Adnams (of brewing fame). As the wines are tasted blind and include the full spectrum of quality, from Cru Bourgeois to First Growths, it has become known as probably the most in-depth, professional assessment of a Bordeaux vintage in the world. For logistical reasons, the Southwold Tasting is now hosted (quite brilliantly) by Farr Vintners, in their wonderful tasting room, overlooking the Thames in Battersea. The tasting takes place over three days, includes over 250 wines, and – as well as the wine trade members – is attended by wine writers Steven Spurrier, Jancis Robinson and Neal Martin.

This year was our chance to taste the much lauded 2016s – and it’s fair to say they didn’t disappoint. For me the hallmark of a great Bordeaux vintage is that one can buy confidently, across all price points, without fear of coming a cropper. In this respect, 2016 is an unqualified success. These are wines which, from modest Médoc luncheon Clarets, to the rarefied luxury names in Pomerol and St Emilion, all show a delightful, easy-going style, which – for once – is not forced, or “made” in the winery. They feel very much like the product of the vintage conditions, rather than any winemaking style, as if the château owners were comfortable enough with nature to let the wines do their own thing. They are fresh, light-on-their-feet and supple. Tannins and alcohol are held neatly in check, and while there is ripeness and concentration, there are few signs of heaviness. They are approachable (amazingly so in some cases), but they will last very well – and, above all, they will be simply delicious to drink.

We began by tasting the dry whites – wines that I have long felt are hugely overlooked and, in many cases, undervalued. Wines from venerable old properties such as La Louvière and Latour-Martillac showed very well at the affordable end of the market, while Château Bouscaut Blanc continues to impress. This consistently shows well and, although not easy to find in the UK, is worth seeking out. Going up the scale, but still remarkable value, was Château de Fieuzal Blanc, where huge investment in the last decade is clearly paying dividends – this came second overall amongst the Pessacs. I enjoyed the raciness and drive of Domaine de Chevalier Blanc this year, and Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc was its usual benchmark self. The surprise winner for the group was the new white wine from Cheval Blanc, Le Petit Cheval Blanc, a striking example of barrel-fermented Sauvignon. Overall, these are wines for fairly early drinking – perfect now, and over the next couple of years, but there was not a bad wine to be seen amongst them.

Moving onto Sauternes and Barsac, notable wines from the region included a lovely example of Suduiraut and of course Château d’Yquem – a colossal wine, which needs years to really unfurl. La Tour Blanche came top of the group’s list, with a fabulous wine of great length and persistence. My own favourite was a beguiling Château Climens: one of my top scorers of the whole tasting, it was graceful, pure and showed huge potential.

Château Climens, Barsac. Photograph: Jason Lowe

Starting on the reds, we moved over to the Right Bank, and began with several flights of wines that, in lesser vintages, can prove a bit of a challenge. In amongst the satellite regions of St Emilion and Pomerol, there lie a lot of small châteaux who have struggled for years to make their presence felt on the export markets. While Robert Parker held sway as the arbiter of vinous taste in the 1990s and early 2000s, many of them felt that the way to be noticed (by Parker and his readers) was to make wines that appealed to his palate – big, fruit-driven, monolithic wines, in which sheer concentration was deemed the qualitative goal, and simple “drinkability” was often forgotten. Happily, we saw far less evidence of this in 2016. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in Château Fombrauge – a small, Grand Cru Classé on the outskirts of St Emilion. Years ago, this was practically a core line at Berry Bros. & Rudd, but in the late 1990s it lost its way somewhat, in the pursuit of hallowed Parker points, and we stopped buying it. It had become dark, thick and jammy, with fierce tannins which were the result of over-extraction in the winery. In 2016, my note read “far better balance here, lovely supple fruit, and real freshness on the long finish”. As well as Fombrauge, highlights from these flights included the traditionally styled Château Fonplegade in St Emilion and the more modern, but equally lovely, Les Cruzelles in Lalande de Pomerol.

Among the more expensive names in St Emilion, Clos Fourtet showed well, in its polished, squeaky-clean way, once again battling it out at the top with the contrasting Tertre Roteboeuf. The latter is an intriguing wine: the owner makes few concessions to the modern, international style, instead the wine is always high-toned, medium-bodied and fantastically drinkable. It divides opinion every year and is so unique that it’s easily picked out in a blind tasting. If you’ve never tried it, this is a wine that should be on your bucket list. Totally different in style to Tertre Rotebeouf was Bélair Monange – a Moueix owned property that is undergoing a major resurgence of late. Polished and concentrated, with great focus and energy, I defy anyone to find fault here.

At the very top of the tree in St Emilion was Château Ausone, followed by what will no doubt turn out to be a legendary vintage of Figeac. All this, and I’ve only just got around to Canon – one of my favourite wines of the tasting – which has such finesse and purity. This sensational array of wines was a privilege to taste. It is hard to choose between them, but gosh… what thrilling stuff!

And so, to the Pomerols. The fact that four of these wines made their way into the top six of the entire tasting says it all. Reading my notes again, I can see that words were starting to fail me. I had Vieux Château Certan in first place… while the group vote went to Lafleur – but how to split them? Both wines of singular brilliance, the former with its dazzling vigour and freshness, the latter for its brooding depth, definition and power. And where does that leave Pétrus in this remarkable vintage? My note reads “… this is regal, it strolls on and on, with effortless charm and grace”.

Pétrus, Pomerol. Photograph: Jason Lowe

Across the river, and into Pessac-Léognan, there is hardly any let-up, with another consistently excellent line-up of wines. If we accept that Haut-Brion and La Mission both comfortably adopt the top two spots (and their second wines were also superb), we find ourselves with a very close runner-up in Carmes Haut-Brion. Their second strong showing in a row, this is another property with a lot of investment behind it, and the result was plain to see. Pape Clément and Smith Haut Lafitte displayed their typical polish and style, and there was another pleasing performance from Domaine de Chevalier – slightly richer this year in my book, and possibly all the better for it.

Having been one of the standout regions in 2015, the commune of Margaux was a little more hit-and -miss in 2016. I found both Châteaux Margaux and Palmer to be atypically powerful and extrovert this year, but in time their exuberance might resolve into something truly special. Brane-Cantenac was the group’s favourite this year, showing the customary focus and purity of its great Cabernet vineyards. Rauzan-Ségla once again showed beautiful poise and balance – this is such a moreish wine, and the epitome of Margaux charm for me. A final nod to our old favourite, Château Giscours, which I thought was lovely this year, in its typically clipped, neat and stylish way.

St Julien, so often the most evenly matched commune, lived up to that reputation. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted such a perfect flight of wines, when taking into account their price-quality ratio. It was so hard to choose between them, and my notes became rather repetitive. Langoa Barton was easily the best-value wine here: in a line-up of fabulous wines, it more than held its own, at a fraction of the price. In the end, Léoville Poyferré stole the top spot, with Ducru a close second and Léoville Las Cases third, although I feel that Las Cases is probably 30 years away from showing its true potential. For now, the silky charm of Poyferré gets the nod, but what a fascinating taste-off it will make 10 years from now.

Château Calon Ségur, St Estèphe. Photograph: Jason Lowe

For me, the Pauillac flights are the ones I most look forward to. They may not be the best barometer of overall vintage quality (that is usually St Julien), but this is where my heart lies, and where the most classically “Bordeaux” wines are to be found. Mouton led the charge, and not for the first time recently. For me this was a serious (not fancy) Mouton, with huge potential and much in common with the 1986 – a wine for the long haul. Latour was decades too young of course, but with phenomenal depth and concentration. It was not unlike Léoville Las Cases, in a sense – it has so much left to unveil, but needs time to let down its guard. Running them both a close race was probably the finest Grand-Puy-Lacoste ever made. It would be hard to find a better example of Cabernet-driven Pauillac – restrained, powerful and majestic. Setting aside the First Growths, the group put GPL in first place. Pichon Baron and Pichon Lalande came next, and which you would prefer is very much down to personal preference. I found Baron to be a little more elegant than usual, and Comtesse to be more voluptuous, but both were superb examples of Pauillac. Lynch-Bages also deserves a mention – of them all, Lynch was probably the closest in style to Latour – a muscular, monument of a wine, which will be amongst the most long-lived of the vintage.

Finally, the most northerly commune in the Médoc, and historically the most backward – St Estèphe. For the second year in a row, one wine stands out as the best-value wine of the vintage – Château Meyney. For years a rather unheralded address producing solid, unyielding wines of the old school. Selling for a fraction of the price of the Grands Crus Classés, Meyney is clearly doing great things right now – a true vin de garde, but with modern winemaking to add polish and life. This is serious wine, and one that rivals the best of the vintage. Calon Ségur was level pegging with Meyney (and is still fair value), with a lighter Montrose and a beautifully focused Cos just behind. Lafon-Rochet just missed out on a podium spot, and Basil Tesseron is making terrific wine at the moment.

In summary, 2016 is definitely one of the finest vintages of modern times. I would put it ahead of every vintage since 2000, with the possible exception of 2010. My feeling is that the very best wines of 2010 might eclipse the best of 2016, but overall, 2016 is extraordinarily consistent and that, taken as a whole, 2016 just tips it. These are modern Bordeaux wines – perhaps the first of a new “post-Parker generation”, but they share an elegance and a balance that was much more common in wines from a previous generation. They deserve a place in the cellar of any true connoisseur of Bordeaux.

Browse all Bordeaux 2016 on bbr.com

Category: Bordeaux Wine