Wine and food are integral to each other, so now that we are coming out the other end of 'Dry January', our family have finally had time to think and address some of the things we wanted to do over the Summer and Christmas holidays.
Selecting locally produced products to use in our vineyard tours was very high up our list of things to achieve as it seems foolish to ask people to support our small business if we aren't supporting others ourselves.
Fish, and smoked salmon in particular, are a favourite for white wine pairing. Their saltiness, and sometimes their subtlety, is a joy for the flavours in white wines, so when we spotted that Macneil's award winning smoked foods were produced just 20 minutes from our vineyard, the decision was a no-brainer.
We can’t, however, give customers food that we haven't tried before, so a few nights ago our family conducted a tasting (such a chore, right?) of their range to identify what we would use in the coming year.
To begin with, we tried both variations of their smoked salmon. The classic (£5.99) had the most sublime texture and elegance we had ever experienced in smoked salmon. Not overly intense or salty, the meat-like texture was satisfying and not too overpowering. Delightfully moist, but not too oily or slimy. The Herefordshire cider & apple cured salmon (£6.30) had a much creamier, softer texture, with a pronounced sweetness coming from the apples.
Wine-wise, our Madeleine Angevine 2015 worked brilliantly with the traditionally smoked salmon. The saltiness brought out the sweet fruits in this usually floral-forward wine, whilst its relatively low intensity didn’t overpower the taste of the salmon.
Our Old Vine Kerner 2015 was at home with the Herefordshire cured salmon, however. The richer texture and inherent sweetness needed some higher acidity to cut through the body of the fish, whilst the complimentary sweetness in both products married very nicely.
Next was the hot smoked salmon which again was beautifully elegant and subtle. No overpowering smokiness to hide the fish, and beautifully textured. The smoked trout was equally as pleasant and refined.
The smoked mackerel (Guild Of Fine Food’s 'Golden Fork' 2017) was a game changer. Having grown up with mackerel for school dinners, and having a Finn in the house who knows a thing or two about fish, this mackerel presented before us was something special. Again, the subtlety and finesse of the smoking led the way. Not overly dehydrated. Not salted to within an inch of its life. You could taste the fish above everything; which allowed our wines to step in and create a delicious combination. The fruitiness of the Madeleine was again intensified, but because of the unique, umami characteristic of the mackerel, it also brought forward the rose blossom in the wine.
Finally, we tried their smoked chicken breast. With a lovely firm texture, but still beautifully tender, this product made us imagine gourmet salads in the summer, or possibly the best chicken sandwich you could ever imagine. This time, the Old Vine Kerner and our Foundation 2015 stepped forward. The nutty characteristic of the Kerner played to the savoury side of the chicken, whilst the fruitiness of our foundation added moisture and juiciness to the meat.
Overall, we were really impressed by the quality of Macneil’s smoked fish and meats - another local producer doing great things for our artisan food-rich county. We think that their products will be a fantastic addition to our vineyard tours this season.
For more information, visit Macneil's website.