I am very excited this month to tell you about an incredible wine from the Spanish island of Tenerife which I recently discovered. It’s one of the most exciting red wines I have tasted this year. It ticks all the boxes for me when it comes to a red wine: delicate fruit expression, mineral and spicy, which makes it a fantastic food wine.
Available at The Hole in Wall, 64 Wines, Green Man Wines, Baggot Street Wines
Suertes de Marqués is a family owned winery who has been producing wine in Valle de la Orotava, in the North of Tenerife island for the last ten years. From the very start, they have opted to use native grape varieties such as Listan Negro which is the variety used to make la Solana.
La Solana is a 1.5 ha single plot of old vines (80 to 150 years old) situated at an average of 400 meters above sea level. The soil is volcanic and it confers to the wine a very unique type of minerality.
Listan Negro is a native grape variety from the Canary Islands and is also found in some parts of mainland Spain. It tends to produce light red wines with some tannins, spicy character and red berry flavours.
This is a fantastic time of year to share with you a recipe featuring one of my favourite meats – Venison or more specifically, Sika Deer. Venison is a lean, tender meat with a fantastic taste. I absolutely love beetroot for its earthy flavour and versatility in the kitchen. This month I have taken inspiration from an Alain Passard recipe where he combines flavours which I absolutely love: beetroot, blackberries and lavender – earthy, fruity and floral – it’s so elegant!
For the slow roasted venison
– 1 Haunch of venison (haunch is a cut from the upper part of the hind leg). If you cannot find haunch then other prime roasting cuts such as fillet will work very well too. Fillet is more expensive but really worth it for a special occasion
– Glug of olive oil
– Fine sea salt
– 2 tablespoons of butter
– Fresh thyme and garlic to taste (optional)
– 1 Small punnet fresh blackberries
– Sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and lemon juice
For the beetroots
– 4 Medium sized beetroots. Any fresh purple beetroots will work. The beetroots I used in this recipe are Crapaudine beetroots, a long slender old variety with a fantastic flavor which I found at a weekly market I love to visit
– A pinch of Maldon salt
– A glug of olive oil
– Freshly ground black pepper
For the lavender dressing
– 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
– 20 ml dark soy sauce
– 15 g of dried lavender flowers
– A dash of balsamic vinegar
– Squeeze of lemon juice
– Freshly ground black pepper
Make the lavender dressing
1. Mix 100 ml extra virgin olive oil, 20 ml dark soy sauce, 15 g of dried lavender flowers in a small bowl. Stir vigorously and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes.
2. Remove the lavender by straining it through a small sieve.
3. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar and a small squeeze of lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning and acidity to taste. The dressing should be in balance and have a lovely delicate lavender flavour in the background.
Prepare the beetroots
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
2. Wash and trim the beetroots. Dry them on a paper towel. No need to peel them.
3. Prepare squares of tin foil large enough to wrap each beetroot in individually.
4. Place a beetroot in the center of each square of tin foil, drizzle with a good glug of olive oil, a generous pinch of Maldon Sea salt flakes and a couple of twists of freshly ground black pepper.
5. Close up the sides of the tin foil so that you have each beetroot tightly wrapped.
6. Place each wrapped beetroot on a baking tray and bake in the oven for approximately 45-80 minutes depending on the size of the beetroots.
7. Check them with a thin skewer. When the skewer passes through the beetroot with ease, they are cooked.
8. Leave them cooling down in the tin foil and then peel them.
Slow roast the haunch of venison
1. Set the oven to 100˚C. Take the venison out of the fridge an hour in advance and cover with a kitchen towel to relax at room temperature.
2. Put a non-stick frying pan on a high heat and add a generous glug of olive oil.
3. Season the venison generously all over with fine sea salt. Ensure all surfaces have been seasoned and pat the salt into the surface of the meat.
4. When the pan starts to smoke, place the venison carefully in the pan. You should hear the surface of the venison start to caramelize in the pan straight away. If you don’t, remove the meat and wait for the pan to reach the appropriate temperature.
5. Once the venison is in the pan and you are confident it is caramelizing properly, leave it undisturbed for about a minute and a half. Rotate it and repeat until the entire surface of the venison has a good roasted color.
6. Place on a cold roasting tray and place in the oven with a couple of tablespoons of butter. If you have some fresh thyme and garlic handy, add them to the roasting tray.
7. Cook the meat until it has reached the desired temperature which you can check with a meat thermometer. I took the meat out of the oven when the centre reached 50˚C and basted it with the butter and meat juices from the roasting pan. Cover immediately with tin foil.
8. Let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Assembling and serving
1. While the meat is resting, slice the blackberries in halves and cut the beetroots into wedges.
2. Put your grill on a high heat. Place the wedges of beetroot and the blackberries on a roasting tray, leaving space on the tray for the meat.
3. When the meat has finished resting, place it on the tray and bring it under the grill to “flash” them all with a blast of heat for approximately 1 minute. The blackberries should have just started to soften.
4. Take the tray out and start to arrange the beetroot wedges and blackberries on the four plates. Spoon over the Lavender dressing. Be creative and have some fun dressing the plates. Here, there is no right or wrong!
5. Slice the venison meat and season the freshly exposed surface of the meat with Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.
6. Spoon any butter and roasting juices from the roasting tray over the meat.
About the Pairing
This wine is medium bodied with a juicy character and silky tannins which complement very well the delicate gamey nature of this meat. The venison season has only started and so it is a fantastic time to try it for the first time because it is at its most tender texture and mildest taste.
Aromatically this wine shows some beautiful notes of red fruit which not only balance the earthy characters of the beetroot present in the dish but also matches the fruitiness brought by the blackberries. It also has quite a lot of floral and peppery nuances which are a great complement to the subtle lavender aromas. I absolutely love the wine and the dish individually and together they work really well.
Since then Julie’s passion for wine has grown immensely. She has been a sommelier for over 12 years. In April 2016, Julie represented the Irish Guild of Sommeliers at the Sommelier World Championship and finished 3rd overall and was the highest placed woman.
Julie is currently working part-time at the Greenhouse restaurant as well as running her own consultancy business called down2wine.ie.