SWEET IN­DUL­GENCE PAS­SION FOR PASSITO

Christ­mas is about sweet in­dul­gence - a gath­er­ing of friends and fam­ily to en­joy a fes­tive feast. RE­BECCA MITCHELL rec­om­mends four di­vine pud­ding wines paired with sea­sonal Christ­mas desserts by lo­cal Devon cater­ers

Devon Life - - Gin Guide -

The Ital­ians are pas­sion­ate about wine, which is cen­tral to any feast. Pas­sum was an an­cient recipe for sweet nec­tar or raisin wine made from semi-dried grapes. The knowl­edge spread from Carthage in Tu­nisia to Italy where the passito method is still used to­day for dessert wines such as Vin Santo, Re­cioto della Valpo­li­cella and the ex­quis­ite Moscato Passito di Pan­tel­le­ria from a tiny is­land by this name, off Si­cily.

Here, Mus­cat of Alexan­dria grapes known lo­cally as Zibibbo are dried on straw, on racks or hung up to dry loos­ing 30-40% of their mois­ture con­tent which con­cen­trates the sugar and flavour in the must. The re­sult is am­ber nec­tar with aro­mas of honeyed apri­cots, caramelised al­monds and flavours of tof­fee. One fine ex­am­ple is: ‘Ben Ryé’ Passito di Pan­tel­le­ria by Don­nafu­gata.

1Figgy’s Christ­mas Pud­ding In­dulge with an award-win­ning Figgy pud­ding this Christ­mas, hand­made in Ex­eter by hus­band and wife team, Richie and Jo Evans. These gor­geous Christ­mas pud­dings con­tain rich fruits and spices plus a gen­er­ous tot of tenyear-old Som­er­set Cider Brandy and a dash of Han­lon’s Port Stout.

Hand­made in small batches, pre­sented in a ce­ramic basin and in­di­vid­u­ally wrapped, these ex­quis­ite puds are a must-have on the Christ­mas ta­ble with a sprig of holly and la­dle of flam­ing brandy. Find them at the Ex­eter Christ­mas Mar­ket. Con­tact Figgy’s, Ex­eter (Tel: 01392 459488). fig­gys.co.uk

Dessert wine to ac­com­pany: Skil­lo­galee Liqueur Mus­cat NV (Aus­tralia) Rich, sweet and lux­u­ri­ous - this dark am­ber for­ti­fied Mus­cat has been aged in cask for more than 26 years to de­velop in­tense ran­cio char­ac­ter with nutty, raisined and tof­fee flavours which per­fectly com­ple­ment Christ­mas pud­ding. RRP £33.50 per 750ml bot­tle. Avail­able at Great Western Wine (Tel: 01225 322810).

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Wild Ar­ti­chokes’ Panet­tone Bread and But­ter Pud­ding This is ‘Heaven in a bowl’ cre­ated by award-win­ning chef and food writer, Jane Bax­ter, of Wild Ar­ti­chokes, near Kings­bridge. Jane has a pas­sion for the Puglia re­gion of Italy and finds some of her in­spi­ra­tion there.

She has cre­ated a di­vine bread-and-but­ter pud­ding made with lay­ers of fes­tive Panet­tone coated in a silky rich mix­ture of cream and sugar – it’s time to for­get the waist­line and

just in­dulge in a mo­ment of shear deca­dence. Con­tact Wild Ar­ti­chokes, Kings­bridge: [email protected] wildar­ti­chokes.co.uk .

Dessert wine to ac­com­pany: Ca’ru­gate ‘La Per­lara’ Re­cioto di Soave (Italy) Per­fumed, silky and lus­cious - this golden nec­tar was made us­ing ‘passito’ semi-dried Gar­ganega grapes from the Soave re­gion to cre­ate candied flavours of cit­rus peel, sul­tana, dried fig, nuts and sweet spice - it is an ex­cel­lent match for Panet­tone. RRP £30.50 per 500ml bot­tle. Avail­able at Strictly Wine (Tel: 01235 364536).

3Dart­moor Kitchen - St Cle­ment’s Mar­quise In­spired by the nurs­ery-rhyme ‘or­anges and lemons of the bells of St Cle­ment’s’ chef Chris Chat­field of Dart­moor Kitchen has con­jured up a fes­tive white choco­late, or­ange and cran­berry mar­quise with spiced clemen­tines and candied hazel­nuts for Christ­mas. This creamy fes­tive dessert is in­fused with cit­rus notes and sea­sonal cran­ber­ries to add fresh­ness as a palate-cleanser at the end of a rich Christ­mas meal. Con­tact Dart­moor Kitchen, Ex­eter (Tel: 01392 705199).

Dessert wine to ac­com­pany: ‘Mylitta’ Tokaj No­ble Late Har­vest (Hun­gary) A wine of lovers - ded­i­cated to Maria Zwack the great love of Hungarian poet, En­dre Ady. Maria was grand­mother to the present owner, Iz­abella Zwack, of Dobogó Es­tate in Tokaj - her nick­name was ‘Mylitta’ god­dess of love and fer­til­ity. Pure nec­tar sent from the gods, made from late-har­vested aszú berries fer­mented and short bar­rel-aged. This lighter style of Tokaj has aro­mas of or­ange blos­som and cit­rus flavours of cle­men­tine, candied grape­fruit and fresh apri­cot. RRP £35 per 375ml bot­tle. Avail­able at Glaze­brook House Ho­tel, South Brent (Tel: 01364 73322).

4Posh Nosh - Black For­est Torte Christ­mas just isn’t Christ­mas with­out a taste of choco­late. This dessert must be the epit­ome of shear deca­dence - chef Alan Adlem at Posh Nosh has hand­crafted a sump­tu­ous ‘Black For­est Torte’ lay­ered with rich dark choco­late ganache, dec­o­rated with boozy Kirsch-soaked black cher­ries and a light choco­late sponge, fin­ished with cherry com­pote. Time to loosen the waist-band…! Con­tact Posh Nosh, Top­sham (Tel: 01392 444877).

Dessert wine to ac­com­pany: Im­mortelle Rivesaltes Gre­nat (France) Rich, dark and hand­some - this ‘ vin doux na­turel’ is made by fly­ing wine­maker Liam Steeven­son MW.

Gre­nache Noir grapes are bar­rel-fer­mented for five days and then in­ter­rupted by the ad­di­tion of grape spirit to ar­rest the fer­men­ta­tion, sim­i­lar to Port. Aro­mas of black for­est fruit, dark cherry and kirsch flavours with vel­vet tan­nins, hints of choco­late and cin­na­mon spice.

This unc­tu­ous red dessert wine per­fectly matches Yule­tide choco­late log and pairs bril­liantly with this Black For­est Gateau. RRP £23.80 per 500ml bot­tle. Avail­able at Steeven­son Wines, Tav­i­s­tock (Tel: 01822 616272). sales.steeven­son­wines.co.uk

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