Spring has officially sprung and Head Chef, Dan Speak and Cheshire Wine School’s Richard Smith have been working on creating the perfect food and drink match for you to enjoy. 

Here is what Richard had to say about this month’s new dishes.

First up, citrus cured mackerel with rhubarb, black radish and stem ginger

Chef has indeed set me a challenge this month with an amazing set of ingredients for this dish.

Usually, a mackerel wine match is fairly straightforward but adds in the strength of flavour of ginger along with radish, we need something a little different! I’ve suggested these fantastic wines from the list that I’d love you to try.

Bodega Pirineos Seleccion, Gewurztraminer, Somontano, Spain (£26.00)

Somontano is one of the least known wine regions of Spain, situated near the industrial town of Zaragoza, in the north-east of the country. Surrounded by mountains the soils are largely limestone with less extreme temperatures than other regions of Spain.

This is very different to other Gewurztraminers you may have tried before: there’s a more citrus and mineral flavour which is enjoyed by many Spanish varieties and the aromatic are much more subtle than it’s French cousins in Alsace.

Look out for mild tropical fruit flavours which, with the citrus, are perfect for the mackerel and the mild aromatics will enhance the ginger and radish.

Something special: The Four Graces Pinot Blanc, Oregon, USA (£50.00)

There is so much more to American wine that those from California and Oregon produce some truly amazing examples. This Pinot Blanc is unoaked and produced from vines which are now over twenty years old. (the older the vine the more concentrated the juice is)

Winemaker Marc Myers only recently joined Four Graces yet his Pinot Blanc scored an outstanding 91 out of 100 from the Wine Enthusiast.

You’ll find citrus and pineapple on the nose which continues on the palate, working perfectly with the mackerel along with a subtle creaminess and mild aromatic flavour which partners the ginger and radish perfectly.

Braised shin of Welsh beef with creamy mashed potato & a rich oxtail broth

One of my favourite main courses from this season’s menu is shin of been. Cooked to perfection here at 1539 the beef falls off the bone like a velvet glove and this dish deserves something special:

Château Ksara Réserve du Couvent, Bekaa Valley (£31.00)

Château Ksara is The Lebanon’s largest wine producer. The ‘château’ itself looks more like a large bungalow but the winemaking here shares many similarities with its French cousins for The Lebanon is a former protectorate of France and its winemakers mostly learned their craft in Bordeaux, home of the finest wine châteaux in the world.

The Bekaa valley is just 30 miles from Beirut yet enjoys a similar climate to Europe: the mountains protect the vines from the rain and snow. I was lucky to meet Elie Maamari from Ksara several years ago to share my passion for this incredible region and it’s a pleasure to see this wine here at 1539.

Réserve du Couvent was aged in oak barrels for six months and is medium bodied – perfect for a shin of beef. Look out for the vanilla on the nose along with an abundance of jammy fruits. This wine is calling for you to dive in for a taste! Enjoy the berry flavours along with a hint of plum and subtle spice.

Something special: Terrazas De Los Andes “Selection” Malbec (£44.00)

There’s Malbec, then there’s Terrazas de Los Andes ‘Selection’ Malbec!.

I first tried this wine with Olly Smith several years ago in Manchester and became an instant fan. The winery was purchased by Moet et Chandon in 1980, initially with the intention to tear up the Malbec vines that were planted in 1930 to replace them with Pinot Noir to make sparkling wine. Whilst some vines were lost by the 1990s they refocused on still wines and this wine began production in 1997.

It is made from grapes grown at an altitude of over 1,000 metres in Mendoza and is aged in French and American oak for 12 months. Whilst this wine is full-bodied it’s incredibly smooth with flavours of plum and black cherry. What are you waiting for? Enjoy! If you’ve some left after your beef, enjoy it with the cheese trolley. Or of course, ask for a second bottle!

Richard and The Cheshire Wine School are holding a number of fascinating evenings over the next few months, read about them here

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