vineyard

verjus, vinegar and lemon juice

verjus, vinegar and lemon juice 559 397 vidacycle

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When I was thinking about what to make for the tasting dinner I was drawn to look at Alice Water’s book ‘The Art to Simple Food II’, after flicking through the pages to glance at inspiring recipes, verjus jumped out at me in a range of recipes, from dessert all the way to drinks! There were also several of Alice’s recipes that use lemon juice and champagne vinegar – both of these can be substituted with verjus. It was interesting she often coupled it with rhubarb, and I had rhubarb and chard growing in the back gardens so I went for the rhubarb and chard crostini plus the other recipe I liked was the crab salad with tarragon and chicory. Both went down really well and the flavours of our agraz and olive oil really sang through to create a fresh flavour combo! Next time I’m going to try the salad with Manchego cheese instead for a good vegetarian alternative.

Joy

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flavours of changing seasons

flavours of changing seasons 559 397 vidacycle

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We shared our olive oil, agraz and the Tinte wine with our friend Jeremy, a young chef who has done stints at Noma and Dinner both 2 Michelin Star destinations, and is now opening up his own restaurant Ikoyi. He is amazingly creative with flavours and has heard lots about Fundo Meza for many years…so he is the perfect person to explore different dishes using our ingredients. Joy Rose, part of the vidacycle team and culinary crafter, also made some simpler and super delicious concoctions for starters and a salad. Our friend Claudia also took all these great photos.

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Jeremy made crisped chicken thigh, with agraz brown butter emulsion, and cashew tahini in a cabbage taco and a ‘grapes through the seasons’ dessert, both were indescribably good. We all just sat there in silence for a few minutes, stunned and humbled by the wonderful flavours. The whole evening brought out the power of good quality food and the wholehearted wonder in feeling connected to the land.

You can hear more about Joy’s recipes and thoughts here. Jeremy also talked us through the way he approached each dish…

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Grapes through the seasons – cold pear in agraz syrup and hot pear in Tinte wine caramel with thyme crumble (butter and ground almonds toasted with fresh thyme leaves and salt)

The inspiration for the pear dish is the change of seasons, the evolution of the grapes from unripe, tangy and sharp, to sweet, rich and fermented. The hot and cold elements, the chilled verjus (agraz) pears set against the warm pears stewed in mulled Tinte wine caramel is intended to bring out dominant flavours for the two seasons- refreshing, zingy and cool, versus spiced and warming. The thyme crumble gives the dish some crunch, the slight salinity brings out all the other sweetness, and the fresh thyme cuts through everything subtly, cooling it all down and giving the dish a unique hint of savoury.

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Crisped chicken thigh, with agraz brown butter emulsion, and cashew tahini in a cabbage taco

The chicken dish was just for fun, to taste like a taco but with the complex richness of the agraz brown butter emulsion. I liked the idea of “hiding” everything inside the translucent cabbage leaf. You bite into it and underneath there are all these flavours: the rice roasted cashew tahini, the crispy chicken skin and juicy meat, and then the mildly acidic but butterscotch flavour of the sauce, with some sharpness from the capers and fragrance from the fresh parsley. It’s a complete dish and well balanced, also looks pretty cool.

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Jeremy also created this recipe with our Agraz.

raw agraz

raw agraz 559 397 vidacycle

This is our third bottling of Agraz – it still has the same tangy flavours and adds that extra zing to many drinks and dishes. Our agraz, or verjus, is lovingly crafted from our dry farmed, very old Pais vines. We thin the vineyards early in the season to capture the fresh green grape flavours for our agraz. This bottle brings you the raw elegance of our varied soil with nothing added to the organic grapes from vineyard to bottle. Agraz adds a new refreshing edge to dressings or sauces, drinks and many other dishes, like this beetroot salad and pine duck.

You can listen to a short radio recording about our agraz adventures here.

Agraz

If you have previously tried verjus we think you will be pleasantly surprised by the unique flavours of our agraz. We have really embraced harvesting the grapes when they are very green, so contain almost zero sugar. There are two reasons for this: for one we like the extra-bitter quality as it really heightens the flavours of dishes; secondly, due to the sugar levels being so low we do not need to add sulphates to prevent fermentation as there are not enough sugars present for proper fermentation to occur. (We do lightly heat the agraz to pasteurisation temperatures to be extra sure  you don’t end up with any fermentation).

 

first wine

first wine 559 397 vidacycle

Finally our first wine is bottled and ready to be drunk!  TINTE is a natural wine* lovingly crafted from our dry farmed and very old Pais vines. We give you the raw flavours of our varied soil and nature’s yeast with nothing added to the organic grapes from vineyard to bottle. TINTE allows us to share with you the beauty and integrity of the land here at Fundo Meza. You can buy TINTE here.

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We have found TINTE is best drunk chilled before or after dinner. It can also be a nice accompaniment with salads or spicy food…but everyone’s tastes are different so experiment for yourself.
We started making wine a few years ago, the first batches had a few quirks but thanks to some great advice from the local Maule young winemakers club we were able to develop techniques that allow the grape and lands to be fully expressed in TINTE.
This is the beauty of natural wines, they have an integrity to the grape and the land, rich nutritious soils and warm air create an exciting flavourful wine. This also means each year will be a new experience, a new wine. Enjoy!

Why TINTE tastes like it does:
Our 100 year old Pais vines are dry farmed (we never water them) and soak up the strong sun and elements in Chile, which ensures the strong unique flavours of the grapes.
Our small farm is certified organic but our approach is beyond organic,we practise something closer to natural agriculture and don’t do anything to the vines other than gently prune them and thin them in early Summer (to make the agraz).
When the grapes have turned red we hand-harvest them, press them and store the juice in a mixture of small steel tanks and old oak barrels. The unique pinky orange colour of our wine is formed at this point because we don’t add back in the red skins for the fermentation. The natural yeast on the grapes starts the fermentation and we allow the grapes to ferment fully over about 9 months in one long cycle. This is truly a natural wine, no artificial yeast or sulphates are use to start/stop the fermentation process…the grapes are in charge.

Tinte

*natural wine means the wine was made on a small-scale using very traditional methods with minimum intervention, really allowing the flavour of the land to determine the characteristics of the wine. We rely on natural yeasts on the grapes and in the air and don’t add any sulphates (although some natural wines do contain sulphates). Rather than the idea of a ‘conventional red or white wine’, natural wines are exciting because of their wide variety of colours, flavours – each bottle a new experience, the true tastes of a particular place on our planet, unlike any other.

TINTE bottling

TINTE bottling 559 397 vidacycle

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We just bottled some of the 2014 TINTE wine. It’s a natural wine with a delicious and distinctive flavour lovingly crafted from our dry farmed and very old Pais vines. We add no pesticides, fertilisers or even water to the vines – they get everything from the soil below and skies above. Once the grapes have been harvested they are put in the wooden press and then the juice is kept in barrels until fermentation stops and the wine is ready, again we add nothing but just listen to the natural rhythm of the process. TINTE really gives you the raw flavours of our varied soil and nature’s yeast.

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As you can see from the pictures below even the bottling process is low-key and done with great care so that each bottle is filled with the tastes of Fundo Meza.IMG_2822

agraz experiments

agraz experiments 150 150 vidacycle

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We harvested some of the low-hanging grapes early again this  year to make a small batch of Agraz. This time we wanted to experiment, so we picked the grapes earlier (mid-January) so they were a bit smaller and had less sugar (maybe none?) than last time. We wanted to see if it was possible to bottle the Agraz without pasteurising it, and if so how long would it keep for. You can see the 25L canisters we filled with the very raw bitter grape juice. Watch this space for the results….

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Precision pouring techniques getting the Agraz into the storage canisters from the buckets.

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Cleaning the press before we throw all the grapes in!

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pine duck

pine duck 150 150 vidacycle

Here is a verjus recipe from one of our most adventurous testers, Jeremy, who is very excited about the flavours our verjus brings out. He has trained with the best chefs at restaurants around London, he worked at Noma for a while and is now a chef at Dinner, Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred dining experience. We asked him to keep things relatively simple, so he came up with this delicious duck recipe with a verjus sauce. Let us know what you think…

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Duck with pine, verjus, stonecrops and cherry

Wrap the duck in new pine branches and marinate overnight.

Set oven to 160 degrees.
Score the duck skin and place in a cold, dry non stick pan. Turn heat to medium high and continue to roast skin side down until skin is golden brown and crisp. Remove half of the duck fat from pan flip the duck over onto pine branches in the same pan, glazing the crisp skin with some of the fat, place in an oven for 5 to 8 mins.

Take out of the oven and rest in a warm area for 10 to 15 mins.

For the verjus sauce:
Reduce 100ml verjus with 1 teaspoon honey, a few drops of balsamic vinegar, and the pulped flesh of 2 cherries. The consistency should be a thick glaze.

Split the sauce with same volume duck fat from the pan, then season.

Once the duck has rested, carve the breast in half, square off each side, glazing the flesh with the pan juices. Sprinkle fresh chopped pine shoots mixed with salt on the duck flesh side.

Grill a few baby kale leaves and serve with duck.

Arrange stonecrop seasoned with olive oil and salt over the duck with some slices of cherry.

hanging grapes

hanging grapes 150 150 vidacycle

grapes

The  parrón (pergola) is heavy with all the ripe grapes ready to be plucked off and eaten. There are multiple different varieties planted along the walkway – many of which are delicious eating grapes.

raw beetroot

raw beetroot 150 150 vidacycle

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First up in our Agraz series is a raw beetroot salad. Quantities are not exact because this is the kind of taste experience that is very personal, so we encourage you to follow our guidelines and then stray far and wide as your tastebuds tell you – enjoy…this has an incredibly delicious and fresh taste.

Raw beetroot salad

2 raw beets grated
3 units olive oil to 2 units agraz
dollop of honey
a few fresh mint leaves finely chopped
salt & pepper

agraz master

agraz master 150 150 vidacycle

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We made quite a bit of Agraz from the green grape harvest in early Summer last year. We have been doing some in depth taste testing trying many different flavours together – and we will post the combinations we loved the most over the next few months to give an idea of how to use Agraz. First one will be our beetroot salad

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