Arribes de vettonia Crianza 2007
Arribes de Vettonia Crianza 2007

An unplanned nutrition requirement near Waterloo led to an excellent discovery tonight. Mar i Terra is a cosy yet bustling tapas restaurant buried on a Southwark backstreet.

I can never resist an obscure grape variety, so the Arribes de Vettonia Juan Garcia Crianza 2007 was a must-have choice from an excellent and lovingly annotated wine list. Juan Garcia is indigenous to the Salamanca region, and more specifically the newish Arribes Denominacion de Origin (DO). It’s not dissimilar to another Northern Spanish varietal, Mencia, having quite piercing cherry/bramble fruit, and a nice chocolate edge to the medium full body.

I feared they had overdone the oak (something Spanish producers seem particularly prone to), but once we had the food on the table, the Arribes proved itself to be the perfect food wine. This was no mean feat, given the variety of food we’d ordered – chicken livers in sherry vinegar, grilled sardines, padron peppers, albondegas, arroz a banda and so on. The sharp, herbacious character of Juan Garcia refreshed the palate nicely, and the weight of the oak ensured that it kept pace with the meat dishes.

The tapas were delicious, and it’s nice to see free range chicken and outdoor reared pork on offer – unfortunately quite rare in tapas-world. Only the Crema Catalana disappointed, having the consistency and taste of egg custard – however the glass of Moscatel de la Marina that accompanied it was a grapey, perfumed delight that more than made up.