Mont Marcal's Gareth York (right) with Clare and myself and that gorgeous good value Cava!
Pic by Ger McCarthy


When most people go to Curious Wines, they leave with wine, naturally enough. Me? I leave with a recipe, thanks to Gareth York of Mont Marcal Vinicola Penedes (Spain).

But I must admit I did get through quite a bit of tasting before I got to Gareth! All you Curious fans, and there are quite a few of you, will know that the brothers Kane have a massive selection and, in fairness, had dozens of bottles open during their Wine Fair in aid of the Guide Dogs last weekend. And the good news is that they have plenty left to sell between now and Christmas.

I’ve often heard and read the brothers talking up the Ned Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and now I’ve have to join them. It is top class but they’ve got some other cracking SBs from down, under including the Ant Moore and the Kings Favor.

Others whites that impressed on Friday evening were the Chartron & Trebuchet Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay 2010 and the Pellehaut Ampelomeryx 2009.

I’ll leave the Spanish, and Gareth’s stand, ‘til later. Started the reds with a Crane Lane Pinot Noir 2009 (8.49) from California but that was soon outmatched by The Ned 2010 (19.99) and another Kiwi The Kings Wrath 2009 (22.00).

Liked the Gregorina Sangiovese Superiore 2010 on sale at 9.99, even though it was a bit on the cold side, and then moved on to the Spanish.

Well, I had already tasted a pretty good Valdamor Albarino 2008 here at €16.99 and also a nice fruity Mont Marcal Blanco 2010 at a very reasonable €7.99. The Red will cost you the same. These two would be quite acceptable at the Christmas party, or indeed, at any party.

They had two excellent Riojas here. First was the more basic Vallobera Pago Malarina 2008, on sale at €8.99, and then the Vallobera Crianza at €11.99.

It was while we were quaffing the Cava, especially the Mont Marcal Extremarium, that I got really chatting with Gareth who is based in Barcelona with the company.

Gareth is a big fan of Café Paradiso’s Denis Cotter and of US food writer Coleman Andrews. He didn’t know about the US writer’s Irish book but highly recommended his Catalan Cuisine.

Gareth likes to play his music when he is in the kitchen and this recipe is one of his favourites to accompany the Cava. I’m not sure if it comes from the Andrews book. Maybe not.

Basically, you’ll need to toast some good quality bread and use your Iberico ham at room temperature (not straight from the fridge). Iberico ham (“the one with the acorns”) is best but you may use Serrano. You will also need really ripe tomatoes. “If hard, grate them and make a puree to which you add olive oil and salt”.

Then you pile your ham and the purée on to your toast. Pour a glass of Cava, probably your second one, and away you go!