When you think of Somontano, the picture that springs to mind immediately is of wine, tradition, memories and culture, a picture that goes hand in hand with the perception that this is a privileged land.
But this special territory has also an important culinary heritage, which further enriches its wine history. This is a land of good olive oil, handcrafted bread, fertile market gardens on the banks of clear rivers, and wooded rolling hills through which you can make out the high Pyrenean Mountains and that are home to an array of fauna - rabbits, partridges, wild boar and more - that were so important to our ancestors and are still to those who practise the art of hunting.
No less valuable are the farmyard animals such as the pig - the whole of which after its ritual slaughter is used to make ham, charcuterie and more - and lamb, which provides excellent cutlets and the humble and traditional chiretas (an Aragonese type of haggis)...
This culinary adventure has also involved a passion for spices and a certain awe of things mysterious but frequently dubbed demonic, as was the case with mushrooms and truffles.
At Blecua we host gastronomic gatherings every year, “Days of...wine and truffles”, where leading chefs, foodies, restaurateurs, journalists, communicators and food and wine experts come together to ‘worship’ the esteemed and enigmatic truffle from Graus, accompanied by our wines.
The choice of the truffle from Graus was easy. Truffles are present in the countryside surrounding our vineyards and are symbolic of the most exquisite cooking and of a tradition lost in the mists of time that helps sustain a population reluctant to leave the land where it was born.
This is why we take our visitors to the truffle fields of the Secastilla Valley (on the border between Somontano and Ribagorza regions) every year to ‘pick’ truffles ‘in situ’ and discover the secrets of the ‘little world’ that surrounds the mysterious truffle.
To create the gastronomic delights referred to earlier, however, experienced hands are required; hands used to working with such delicate, idiosyncratic things as truffles.
The first Days of Wine and Truffles took place on February 26th and 27th 2001, led by chef Daniel Hébet from the Hotel La Mirande in Avignon and with the collaboration of Carmelo Bosque from La Taberna de Lillas Pastia and Fernando Abadías from Restaurante Las Torres, both Michelin starred restaurants in Huesca.
The second gathering was on January 28th and 29th 2002, and we requested the presence of the great chef Carmen Ruscalleda who, after fourteen years of hard work at Restaurante Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar (Barcelona), has achieved a deservedly high reputation and very good ratings. Carmen and her great team delighted us with a delicious menu where truffles were presented in nine different ways. Simply unforgettable.
The third gathering was held on February 3rd and 4th 2003 and we involved an exceptional chef considered by critics to be one of the 30 best chefs in the world, Andoni Luis Adúriz from Mugaritz Restaurant in Rentería. He created, as only he knows how, a stunning menu that combined the most classic dishes from his repertoire, such as poached eggs, foie, suckling lamb and torrijas (fritters) perfectly with others based on truffles.
The fourth Days of Wine and Truffles took place on January 19th and 20th 2004. On this occasion the group was led by the brilliant chef Santi Santamaría, owner of "El Racó de Can Fabes" located in Sant Celoni (Barcelona) who currently has three Michelin stars. From the truffle surprise to the unforgettable pork cheek with "perigueux" sauce, the woodcock with a leek crust, the cheeses and the petit fours, the menu was a festival of dishes that were matched perfectly by the Viñas del Vero wines: VdV Gewürztraminer, VdV Clarión, VdV Gran Vos 2000 and, lastly, a Magnum of Blecua 1998, a legendary vintage in Somontano.
The 5th gathering was held on 7th and 8th of February and the invited chef on this occasion was Manolo de la Ossa, renowned owner of "Las Rejas" restaurant in Las Pedroñeras (Cuenca) in the Spanish region of "la Mancha". The guests enjoyed a veritable banquet, from the aperitifs (game 'morcilla' (black pudding) with truffle, essence of partridge with truffle, stuffed 'galianos viudos' and 'garlic ash' soup with roast truffle) to the main courses. The latter comprised lemon juice with truffle, eggs with potato and wood-roasted truffle, game stew with foie-gras and truffle and hare with cocoa, cinnamon and sage. The dessert was a ewe's milk and truffle sponge with truffle syrup, chocolate and saffron. The wines that accompanied the meal were VdV Chardonnay Colección 2002, Secastilla 2003 and Blecua 2001.
The sixth gathering took place on February 6th and 7th 2006 with famous chef Fermín Puig from Drolma restaurant in Barcelona (at the Majestic Hotel). This year the menu consisted of traditional truffle recipes recovered by chef Puig: truffle salad, bread soup with truffle, wild pheasant and spring chicken cannelloni.... A whole array of dishes in perfect harmony with a medley of different vintages of Viñas del Vero white wines selected by prestigious sommelier Cristina Rodríguez: VdV Clarión 1997, VdV Gewürztraminer 1995, VdV Chardonnay Colección 2002, and finally, Blecua 1998.
The chef for the seventh Days of Wine and Truffles, which were held on 5th and 6th February 2007, was Joan Roca, chef proprietor of the prestigious "Celler de Can Roca" in Girona. This famous chef's dishes were a treat, reflecting his particular approach to the world of flavour and an innovative style of cooking that has gained him global recognition. He served a grilled truffle soufflé, quail's eggs with truffle, anchovy with truffle and Merlot… The accompanying wines served at this special event were whites from different early vintages superbly matched by gifted sommelier Alfonso Gutierrez, including Viñas del Vero Gewürztraminer Colección 2004, VdV Chardonnay Colección 2004, VdV Clarión 2004 and finally the majestic Blecua 2001.
The eighth gathering took place over 7th and 8th February 2011 with Italian Carlo Cracco, a ground-breaking chef who is famous for delivering dishes full of contrasts and for his skills with truffles, in charge of the menus. This was the second time that a chef of international standing had taken over our kitchens and his food, from the aperitifs to the pudding, was stunning. He served focaccine (mini focaccia) with black truffle, black truffle in a salt crust, plain dried vegetables, smoked chestnut cream, lentils and passion fruit, quail's eggs marinated in bergamot, cream of Jerusalem artichoke with black truffle, fusilla with black truffle shavings and pearls of caviar with lemon, golden veal sweetbreads, purée of cauliflower infused with sage and black truffle and a mascarpone cloud with Bronte pistachios, crystallised dates and black truffle. The dishes were paired with Viñas del Vero Gewürztraminer Colección 2010, Viñas del Vero Clarión 2009 and Blecua 2008 served in Jeroboams ¡!!!!!! The sommeliers officiating were both from Aragón: Raul Ygual from Yaim restaurant in Teruel and Jesús Solanas of Aragonia Paradis restaurant in Zaragoza.
On 6th February this year we held the ninth Days of Wine and Truffles with a very young chef, Paco Morales, in the kitchen. He is a rising star of the culinary world and was recently a huge success at Madrid Fusión 2012. He delivered a menu that was a delight for the senses: cod with pil-pil sauce and truffle, shrimps stuffed with garlic, ibérico consommé with truffle flavoured potato, creamy rice with chicken, young pigeon and truffle, oysters with truffle essence, raw ewe's milk and acidulated herb pesto, salad of goat's cheese in the guise of truffles dressed with mustard vinaigrette, mushrooms with crystallised sea bass and truffle, roast loin of deer with white chicory cooked in sweet, aniseed and bitter spices flavoured with truffle, crispy chocolate cream, biscuit and chocolate caviar. As for the wines Viñas del Vero Chardonnay and Tío Pepe were served with the aperitifs and were followed by Viñas del Vero Clarión 2009 and 2010 then Blecua 2004 and 2005.
The tenth edition of our truffle- and wine-centred gathering was graced by an exceptional chef: Oscar Velasco, from Madrid’s Sant Celoni restaurant, who created an unforgettable lunch. As appetizers he served a scallop tartare with carrot, orange and truffle purée, Llavaneras peas with onion and truffle broth and a squab and leek terrine with truffle accompanied by Viñas del Vero Chardonnay Colección 2012. The first course was a luscious truffle cannelloni with caramelized onion, which was followed by a shellfish consommé flavoured with lemon grass accompanied by delicious potatoes stuffed with duck and rocket. Next came fillet of sea bass with artichoke, hazelnut purée and truffle and finally an impressive hare ‘a la royal’ with apple purée and red cabbage. A cheese board was served before the pudding, which consisted of a delicate pear and rum soup with cinnamon ice cream, olive oil sponge and creamed cheese, apple and truffle.
The wines selected for the occasion and served and described by sommelier José Joaquín Cortés, winner of the Nariz de Oro, 2012 included: Viñas del Vero Clarión 2008 Magnum, Viñas del Vero Clarión 2011, Blecua 2004 Magnum, Blecua 2007 and Viñas del Vero Gewürztraminer Colección 2001.