For three nights only – and one Sunday lunch – only, you can take a trip to Spain via Quay Street when Casa Campo Viejo comes to town.
Launching in Manchester before it travels to London and other UK cities, this pop-up experience introduces guests to the delights of the Rioja region with an immersive evening at The Loft.
The event – created in partnership with Eat With – includes a bespoke five-course dinner paired with Campo Viejo wines and an escorted wine blending session. We went along to find out more.
The Loft, designed and operated by drinks brand Pernod Ricard UK, is a bright and airy space perfect for learning more about our favourite booze.
Following a glass of sangria, the evening started with an introduction by wine ambassador Maria Huete to reveal the craftsmanship that goes into every bottle of Campo Viejo, makers of the world’s number one brand of Rioja.
“We in Spain do things quite differently when it comes to food and drink,” said Maria.
“Eating and drinking are social activities, paired with rich conversation. We don’t grab food and run. We sit, talk, enjoy and break bread together.
“Being generous with each other and taking time to share these experiences is deeply ingrained in our culture. The Casa Campo Viejo event, which honours our home and our roots, will bring this heritage to life in a contemporary and exciting way, and welcome guests to experience our generous and warm way of life.”
Then it was time to don a lab coat, before tasting the three grape varieties which make up Campo Viejo Reserva: temperanillo, the main element at 85% with rich flavours of ripe red cherries and strawberries followed by sweet vanilla and spice; Graciano, which makes up 10% and has high acidity, more tannins and aromas of licorice and spice; and Mazuelo, of which there is just 5%.
Mazuelo, also known as known as Carignan Noir, produces wines with abundant tannins, high acidity and stable colour, which makes it a good complement to Tempranillo for wines to be aged for long periods.
Once we’d tried the three varieties, it was time to blend our own bottle to take home. This was enormous fun, measuring and experimenting with different proportions until we found the blend we liked the best.
It wasn’t especially easy trying to convert the percentages into the exact quantities needed to make up our bottles – maths was never my strong point, or maybe it was just that the wine was starting to take effect – but staff helped us along the way.
Wines blended and labelled, we were seated around a communal table to enjoy a bespoke menu created by renowned Spanish chef Xabi Bonilla, paired with a range of Campo Viejo wines.
“I was born in San Sebastian in the Basque Country, a land of great chefs,” said Xabi. “I soon realized that cooking was my passion, and I began studying cuisine at the age of 18.”
Xabi has worked alongside some of Spain’s best chefs, including stints at El racó d’en Freixa and Casa Marcial, both of which have two Michelin stars.
The five-course banquet started with a perfectly gooey Spanish tortilla with sourdough tomato bread and a glass of Garnacha packed with fruity flavours of strawberry, raspberry, cherry and blackberry, enhanced with floral notes of violet and lilac.
Then came crisp potato ravioli with earthy mushroom and heady black truffle, matched with fresh and fruity Blanco Viura-Temperanillo.
Succulent codfish from the Basque country with piperrada (a stew of roast peppers) and nutty romesco sauce was next, followed by tender slow-cooked beef cheek with a glass of Reserva, packed with flavours of cherries, plums and ripe blackberries as well as hints of clove, pepper, vanilla and coconut.
The pudding was a particular highlight – Xabi’s modern interpretation of Crema Catalana, the rich Spanish custard made into a foam and accompanied by fruit “sand”. This was matched with sparkling Cava Brut Reserva.
The meal was superb, and it was great to discover more about what goes on in the wine-making process.
“We are transforming The Loft into a slice of modern Spain featuring not only our favourite Spanish wines but also some very modern and unique expressions of some beloved local dishes,” said The Loft’s venue manager, Victoria Hole.
“Guests will experience first-hand how versatile and expressive all our wines are and be given an insight into the passion and creativity that goes into every single bottle of Campo Viejo, no matter the variety. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our casa.”
Casa Campo Viejo runs from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th June at The Loft. Tickets are £40.