Supper Club: Ring of Fire
13 September 2017
“We went for simple, seasonal food that wouldn’t overpower the drink – next time, we’ll work the other way, theming the evening around the food, with me finding matches for Becci’s dishes"
As the volcanic wine trend explodes (ahem), this Supper Club explores the vinos that have all the wine geeks talking...
Words by Jessica Carter
Photos by Nicci Peet
Last year, the Masters of Wine held a seminar on volcanic vino. The theme went on to be the focus of the London Wine Fair, and has continued to gain traction both as a drinking trend and a hot topic of discussion.
It was also the inspiration for the offerings at the first pop-up event from brand new Bristolian venture, Fuga . Behind it are two mates – wine and beer buyer Madeline Andrews and events pro Becci Nicolle – who both have some real kitchen skill to bring to the table, alongside a ton of experience in their respective industries.
“The volcanic trend started in Sicily, where Mount Etna is,” Madeline says. “There were studies carried out on the soil, to see how it affected the wines.
“Volcanic soils are not very fertile at all, so the root of the vine has to dig deeper into the ground to get nutrients – this makes the resulting grape more complex. It also means the vines have lower yields, which in turn sees the fruit they do produce grow to be more concentrated.
“Vines grown in these soils are also high in iron – this is one of the only nutrients that can actually penetrate the grape. Really, minerals from the soil don’t make it into the grapes, but iron does.”
As most of the world’s volcanoes (95 percent, no less) are arranged around the ‘Ring of Fire’ in the Pacific Basin, there were wines from Chile, New Zealand and California on the liquid line up, as you might expect, but also examples from Italy, Hungary, Greece and Germany, which have had varying degrees of volcanic in infuence.
This first supper club was held at Floating Harbour Studios, in a converted early 20th century Dutch barge, moored on Welsh Back in Bristol. With a super set of green credentials, the boat collects rainwater, uses solar power, and has an eco-sanitation system.
Guests came in couples and groups; some were there for the wine geekery, some just to share food and drink with mates, but everyone sat together in this intimate venue on two communal tables. The menus came equipped with information on each wine, and Madeline and Becci were both on hand to introduce each sip and small plate, which were carefully matched.
“As I had a very specific idea about the wines I wanted, Becci created the menu around them,” Madeline tells us. “We went for simple, seasonal food that wouldn’t overpower the drink. Next time, we’ll work the other way, theming the evening around the food, with me finding matches for Becci’s dishes.”
The guests began with glasses of Hungarian and Greek wines, the drinks’ acidity making them great partners to the heritage tomatoes that Becci served with mozzarella, Greek basil and a drizzle of coldpressed rapeseed oil. Next came a couple of Italian vinos; richer than the last, they stood up well to the confit fennel, oil and butter in the hake en papillote. Sirloin with pearl barley, red grapes and parsley was paired with reds light enough to let the fresh avours shine through, while the roasted figs (served with prosciutto and Cheddar) had arguably the match of the night with a Zinfandel from Napa – the fig bringing forth the wine’s jammy character.
So, what’s next for Fuga? More events, certainly (maybe even another before the year is out) and, who knows – perhaps even their very own wine bar in the future? In any case, if this first event is anything to go by, we reckon this collaboration can only get hotter. Ahem.