It's not a huge surprise that on this fabulous July evening of fine wines and food the rain decided to make an appearance, in fact it's almost mandatory that we share our summer with wintry discontent such as the patter and splatter of the clouds. Even so, a few raindrops aren't enough to keep the yelping crowd from cavorting, and sure enough no spirit was dampened amongst the vast gathering of folk at Yelp's Food And Wine Matching Spectacular, hosted by Dock Street Market and Gerry's Wines and Spirits!
The venue on this fine occasion was Dock Street Market; Leeds' finest new speakeasy that boasts an in-house bakery (the Riverside Sourdough Bakery), pool table, gourmet coffee sourced from nearby coffee experts La Bottega Milanese, a retro acrade gaming unit, specialist bar, free wifi and an ever growing delicious menu. As for the co-hosts, Gerry's Wine and Spirits' own manager Holly Flint, champion of all things alcoholic in our fine city, lead the evening with her fantastic insight and knowledge of wines; both the tasting thereof and matching them to food.
As folks ambled into the ambient setting they were gifted a wee glass of bubbly rosé, complete with strawberry halves, before the true libations began. As the event went underway yelpers had enough time for a decent mingle and a chat, whilst the wines for the first course of four tastings were poured. Once folks had gathered in and grabbed a glass a brief introduction to the first foodie sample was given by the wonderful Sarah of Dock Street Market. The first course was a round of bite-sized Smoked Mackerel Pâté, with Horseradish Butter on a Yorkshire Stick, accompanied with the Don Cristobal Torrontes which is available at Gerry's for £8.29.
Whilst everyone sampled and tasted Holly explained to an eager audience some initial notes on how to taste the wine, including the swirling of the glass to let it develop with the air and which glasses suit which wines – such as a tulip glass, which gives a concentrated nose. For the initial wine tasting notes included its light golden colour, complex floral aroma, distinctive tropical flavours and a balanced acidity! As Douglas P noted in his review, "I'm not a serious white wine drinker but the first wine, the Torrontes, was tasty and strong enough for my taste and I could easily drink this on its own!"
The second course was soon to follow and comprised of a Dark Silesian Rye Bread with Yorkshire Blue and Foraged Pickled Samphire, which was accompanied by the Don Cristobal Bonarda, £8.49. For those curious to know what samphire was, Sarah explained that it's a delicious seaweed leaf of the parsley family, which grows in clefts of rock near the sea. The delightful red wine matched perfectly with the Yorkshire Blue, as Holly explained in a little more detail how to pair foods and wines; compliment or contrast being the the key pointers. Since the cheese was so strong, the rich purple colour, intense aromas of currants and tannic yet fruity nature of the wine cut through the Yorkshire Blue beautifully.
For the penultimate tasting came samples of Yorkshire Sourdough with Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade and Yorkshire Chorizo, accompanied by the Tagus Ridge Reserva, £6.99. By this point it seemed folks were rather overcome with excitement, enjoying an extended natter, before the third set of tasting notes began but after a few gentle dings of the service bell everyone settled in to the tasting! Tongues fully tied up with treats, yelpers got to learn that this wine, dark red in colour, had ripe fruits on the nose with a touch of spice, round tannins, a fruity flavour and a long finish. (When swirled in the glass, the drip lines of the wine take a long time to sink back into the glass.) As explained earlier, this pairing was the perfect contrast; the strength in flavour of the chorizo was matched beautifully by the subtlety of the wine.
And for the final sampling came a most delightful Red Grape and Fennel Seed Foccacia bread bite, with the Vouvray demi sec, £7.99. Whilst not specifically a dessert wine this delicious demi-sec, rich and golden in colour, was fruity, slightly honeyed, with a touch of minerality and possessed a lingering sweetness that was amplified with a mouthful of the grape foccacia, minus the fennel. The fennel, being such a strong flavour, posed as a great example as to why certain flavours won't match in, given that the wine was more suited to subtle sweet flavours. April K was certainly left wanting though, as she wrote, "I think that I have to go and pick some up from Gerry's, just to make sure that it was as amazing as I thought!" Those tempted by that accolade should certainly do the same…
Whilst the main event of the night had come to a close, as ever the Leeds yelpers were left wanting more, and so one last surprise was prepared for the after-party crowd; a blind tasting competition! Folks were handed one final glass of red and challenged with guessing the wine, and region, and writing their own tasting notes for the glass. The winners, picked by maestro Holly, were categorised under being most useful, funny and cool. (Obv.) Of course, every entry was a winning entry given the general aptitude for penning a good yarn, but three over all winners stood out! Laura J, for her accuracy, won most useful. Lizzie P, for her hilarity, won most funny but the overall top dog (and newcomer!) was Ben H for his wordsmith mastery and cooldom.
Here's a few snippets to enjoy!
"…coupled with the legs of a well-honed stallion, it provides a character that can't be ignored." – mystery yelper.
"…hitting you with an initial sting, like an inebriated hornet, it quickly smooths out like a sensual ladybird." – mystery yelper.
"…cheeky wine, not too ostentatious, somewhere between the soft Portuguese and the deep dark Argentinian Bernarda. Fairly fruity." – mystery yelper. (Not "family friendly", as I mis-read during the readings!)
"Not to heavy, warmed my heart, marzipan? Slightly tart." – mystery yelper.
"Woody." – mystery yelper.
And the prized winning notes:
Most useful: "There is a hint of liquorice and blackberry with touches of cloves. The aftertaste is woody and a bit like peppercorn." – Laura J
Most funny: "It comes from the earth of Mordor, as its texture is grounded and dark. It's as heavy and bold as a buxom wench, flaunting her wares on the Leeds Riviera." – Lizzie P
Most cool: "Reflecting its ruby glow in a lace clad arm, and from softness thence bombarding you with fruit laden majesty. Deep scented you. Reminiscent of long forgotten pirate caches and long hidden cellars in castles vast. Yet lo! For in the taste Andalucia and the Spanish plain. Bold wine of the hills I name you Dark, Handsome… Plonk." – Ben H
And so, after a lengthy after-party of creative mayhem, even more drinks and plenty of chatter, another fabulous Elite Event of Leeds came to a close. The hugest thanks goes out to all the folks at Dock Street Market, for their delicious food samples and hosting on the night, Holly and Gerry's Spirits and Wines for their delectable wines and outstanding knowledge of tasting and food matching, Matthew Kitchen for his ever-talented photography skills and guest star Kevin Lee for his behind the scenes skills! If you're tempted by anything you've seen and read here, check them out! And of course, thanks goes out to all the fabulous attendees, who make these events so special.
Ta ta for now, and see you on the Yelp-o-sphere. Boom!