Pebblebed harvest soup
Devon October 22, 2006 As per Geoff Bowen's Pebblebed
harvest report, the last of the Pebblebed grapes are all now in.
Once picked, they were transported to Juliet White's Yearlstone
winery, crushed and are now slowly fermenting as natural grape sugars
are transformed into alcohol. In Piedmont, Mario
Fontana's deeply coloured classic red wines of Le Langhe - Dolcetto,
Barbera, Nebbiolo and Barolo - continue to slowly ferment. Soon it will
be time to draw off the first jugs of tooth-staining Dolcetto, brought
to the table direct from the cellar below, still foaming and raspingly
acidic, to enjoy with bagna caoda, the pungent anchovy and garlic hot
pot that is a characteristic and delicious autumn food of the region.
Sunday's harvest in Ebford, as harvests are everywhere, was a quite
joyous event. The forecast was dire, with torrential rain and high winds
set to pass through in the morning. A good turnout, however, ensured
that the last of the Seyval grapes were harvested by mid-morning. Then,
just as the last crates were loaded on to John Pyne's horse trailers
for transport to Yearlstone, the heavens opened. Everyone huddled under
the marquee as the rain lashed down. The weather may have been horrid,
but there was a real feeling of satisfaction at a job well done. Harvesting
grapes is hard physical labour, bending down or stretching up to carefully
cut the bunches, carrying the heavy crates down the rows, back up to
start all over again. Yet there are rewards: at the finish, hands sticky
from the sweet grape juice that ran down our arms, Geoff passed around
most welcome tumblers of of Pebblebed white 2005.
normally - Geoff I'm sure would concur - we consider Pebblebed white
to be a light summer wine to enjoy on balmy evenings, perhaps beside
the river. On this day, the weather by contrast was positively wintry
as the rain, driven by the near gale force westerlies, lashed horizontally
into the marquee, drenching and chilling us all. Yet that Pebblebed
white, supped or glugged with gusto and real thirst worked up from labour
and anticipation, enjoyed within the actual vineyard from which it was
produced, tasted as full and delicious and as right for the occasion
as any glass of wine you are ever likely to taste in your life.
finally, this year's much awaited Harvest Feast! Anna, Gail and friends
carried out from the Leaders' house immense, steaming pots of the most
delicious and warming soup, a real, hearty, rib-sticking affair, made
with bacon, Savoy cabbage, beans, leeks, potatoes. It was awesomely
good, piping hot, and it positively demanded a tumbler or two more of
that delicious Pebblebed to wash it down. To finish,
Bill Barnes then turned up with some schiacciata con le uve - a
sort of Tuscan inspired flat pizza-like sourdough bread based topped
with Seyval grapes from the vineyard, baked briefly in a very hot oven.
The chewy, sourdough crust and the sweet, crushed grapes again demanded,
well, what else, yet more Pebblebed white as the perfect accompaniment...
Geoff, brava, Anna, bravo Bill. Let's raise a glass to Geoff and to
all our Vino winemaker friends, Mario of Cascina Fontana, Giuditta of
Loretello, Donatella of Casato Prime Donne, Gianluca of Prosecco Bisol
and others. Your considerable efforts bring great pleasure to us all!
Pebblebed harvest soup
Sunday, Anna made enough soup to feed an army of hungry grape pickers.
This recipe is scaled down to feed just a hungry family or two.
large onions, roughly chopped
4 leeks, cleaned and roughly chopped
8 slices thick cut smoked bacon, diced into cubes
1 large glass Pebblebed white wine
2 tbs tomato puree
1 tin baked beans (!)
1/2 Savoy cabbage
500 g new potatoes
Generous dash of Tabasco sauce
a separate pan, par-boil the new potatoes until just tender.
the onions and leeks in a generous knob of butter. Add the bacon and
cook for five minutes or so. Add a glass of white wine (one for the
pot, one for the cook), stir in well and let bubble for a couple of
minutes. Add tomato puree, baked beans, new potatoes and cabbage and
top up with water so that all the contents are just covered. Bring to
the boil and simmer until the cabbage is well cooked. Add a generous
splosh of Tabasco to give that final Pebblebed kick. Enjoy - either
around the table or, if you really want to be authentic, standing outside
in the pouring rain.