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Red Hot Chile at The Square Bistro

Matthew Fitzpatrick, Emma Haughian United Wine Merchants and Andres Alvarado, Corporate Export Manager Europe Santa Rita wines

Give it away give it away give it away now; no I’m not about to tell you a story about going to a rock concert and drinking wine from a plastic bottle. Instead I’m going to tell you about the steaming hot wines coming out of Chile and how they are gaining global recognition.

Regular readers of this column, of which I hope there are many (one can only hope), will be more than aware of my obsession with attending and conducting wine tastings. Well every once in a while I get a break from talking when we have a principle from the winery doing all the talking.

Last week we were very fortunate to have Andras Alvarado, export director from Santa Rita Wine Estates, pay us a visit to conduct a tutored Wine & Food Evening at The Square Bistro in Lisburn. Limited to 50 places, this dinner sold out in just one hour, a testimony to the incredible gastronomic experience that Stevie and Christina Higginson are providing for the residents of Lisburn.

The evening got off to an effervescent start with the world’s first Argentine Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc. Dona Paula Sauvage Blanc NV (Wild White), wonderful citrus fruits coming from the white grapefruit with peach and leafy mint character, the perfect way to stimulate your digestive juices, served with Squid Crackers filled with shrimp and savoury blue cheese profiteroles; we’re off to a good start.

Homemade breads with local Abernethy butter are another teaser before the first course of Heritage Potato, sweetcorn and charcoal oil. The most amazing spud I’ve ever tasted in my life (hope my wife’s not reading this). Beautifully shaped quenelle of mashed potato laced with olive oil and covered in Béarnaise Sauce drizzled with charcoal oil (someone call a doctor) served with Santa Rita 120 Chardonnay 2015, the creamy character in the Chardonnay and the mild acidity from the stone fruits, was a perfect match.

Next up was Monkfish with pineapple and Nan Jim; what an explosion of fleshy fish sweet pineapple and heat from the Nan Jim all balanced and somewhat tamed by the aromatic Santa Rita Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013.

Main course was local (Dungannon) Venison, oat crust, blackberries, turnip, purple potato and beetroot puree, (love venison but I always find it’s wild dear, boom boom). For such a complex dish, we had to choose a complex wine, Doña Paula Selección de Bodega Malbec 2008. Dark fruits, spicy and earthy notes combine perfectly with the rich tender venison.

Andras then informed us that he was saving the best until last, Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, the only new world wine to be added to the Decanter Hall of Fame. What an achievement to sit alongside Chateau Margaux and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. It’s universally agreed that Casa Real is the best Chilean Wine in the World. Grapes from Santa Rita’s best vineyards in the Maipo Valley, low yields and 15 months aging in 100% new French oak barrels result in an intense elegant yet powerful wine, notes of oak and blackcurrant, the perfect balance to match with Dorus and St Tola chesses.

No dessert wine in the Santa Rita Wine Estates portfolio so we finished with Stevie’s awesome Banana, Peanut and Malt dessert.

There was a time when matching wines with top-class full flavoured food meant you had to choose something from Europe, normally France or Spain. However, Santa Rita are certainly changing that perception; Chile and Argentina are producing wines that can challenge the best in the world.

If you have been yet yourself down to The Square Bistro Lisburn, it’s anything but square! Try them for yourself!

Quote of the month:

“Great is the fortune of he who possesses a good bottle, a good book, a good friend.” Moliere

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