Campo Viejo is our go to Rioja. Its rich flavour is so comforting, the red particularly on winter evenings (plus its stocked in our local tesco and isn’t expensive!). If you buy wine yourself you’re probably familiar with the brand, which has distinctive yellow and orange labels. So, when I saw on facebook that Campo Viejo were hosting a Spanish supper club in Manchester, I jumped at the chance.
This was to be our second supper club of the year and it seemed we were in for a good night. £40 for five courses cooked by Xabi Bonilla, a San-Sebastian native with Michelin-starred kitchen training. This would be accompanied by Campo Viejo wine with each course – which I already knew I liked 😄 However, the night ended up far exceeding my expectations.
**Spoiler alert**: If you’ve found my blog because you’re thinking of attending a Casa Campo Viejo event, my post goes on to detail all the surprises of the night. If you’d rather attend without spoliers stop reading now.
Throughout the evening Maria shared her wine knowledge with us, especially focussing on the Rioja region. After a brief introduction to the evening we were called through to the main room for our first ‘activity’. Cue worried faces. No guest was expecting activities. We all thought we were there for a lovely evening of Spanish food and wine.
As we each entered the room, the waiting staff passed us a white lab coat. It was then the activity became clear – we were blending our very own bottles of Rioja!
Maria explained that unlike many wines, Rioja isn’t a grape variety, but a region. Each bottle of Rioja wine is a blend of various grape varieties. This is also why Rioja can be red (Rioja tinto), white (Rioja blanco) or rosé (Rioja rosado).
Each guest was provided with three bottles of un-blended Campo Viejo Rioja (tempranillo, graciano and mazuelo) and five tasting glasses. Alongside was equipment reminiscent of a school science lesson: a glass beaker, measuring cylinder and funnel.
After tasting each of the provided grape varieties, it was up to each guest to try blending their own creation. We each got a few goes before deciding on our favourite, which we then made a bottle of.
This opening activity was unexpected, but lots of fun. We even got to take our completed bottles home with us. I opted for 25% tempranillo, 60% graciano and 15% mazuelo. Graciano had the highest tannins of the three bottles, which I preferred. Lee went for a more even split of our two favourite grapes, choosing to do 45:45:10. Both taste great.
Following the opening activity, we headed over to the table for dinner. All 30 or so guests were seated around one large table, making this an evening of meeting new friends. Our menu for the evening consisted of classic Spanish dishes alongside more contemporary Spanish cuisine.
We enjoyed a very traditional Spanish tortilla to start, served with sourdough tomato bread. Simple, comforting and tasty. Next up was a mushroom and black truffle potato ravioli, which had a fantastic garlic cream sauce and basil oil. The flavours in this dish were fantastic and complemented by the Viura-Tempranillo accompanying it. My favourite dish of the evening.
The third course was ‘codfish with piperrada and romescu sauce’ – a dish packed with authentic rich Spanish flavours. The rich accompaniments meant this dish had the option of being served with white or red Rioja. It was only due to having consumed so much red during the blending, that myself and Lee both opted for white.
An unexpected interlude
Before the next course we were called back to the tables we’d done our blending at. Only now, each place was set with three black wine glasses, a small strip of paper, a score sheet and some rather hippie-looking circular red and green glasses.
To kick off the exercise we were told to place the strip of paper on our tongue and raise our hand when we tasted the bitterness. Some raised their hands almost instantly. Others didn’t raise their hands at all! This was to demonstrate just how different peoples taste buds are and is why we don’t all have the same favourite wine.
Next up came more tasting. Each of the three glasses was sampled with 1. no glasses, 2. red glasses and 3. green glasses. We rated each glass on how it tasted on our score sheet. Despite guessing early on that the wines were probably all the same, the taste really did seem to change with the different colour lenses. Maria then revealed that the wines were indeed the same; Campo Viejo Reserva.
Back to the meal
Last up was ‘Crema Catalana foam accompanied with fruit “sand”‘. This distinctly traditional dish from Catalonia was given a modern twist by Chef Xabi through making the creama foamy and therefore lighter. Mixed in were berries and ginger biscuit crumbs. Alongside we had a glass of Campo Viejo Cava, which I’m not sure I’ve had before, but going forward I may well enjoy as a prosecco alternative. This dish was a lovely light finish to the evening.
Casa Campo Viejo Supper Club
The Casa Campo Viejo supper clubs are going to be popping up in other UK cities over the coming months. You can find them on eatwith.com when they’re available. If you get the chance to attend I highly recommend it. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for more events at The Loft in Manchester in the hope of attending similar events in the future. In the meantime, we have two unique blends of Campo Viejo Rioja to enjoy 😄
Note: Like all my blog posts, views are my own. I was not invited to write this review or paid to attend the event.