February Tasting in Gloucester:
Rare Wines with Rare Mutton and even Rarer Cheese from the Yorkshire Dales
We have promised to start scouring for the eclectic taste found in rare primitive sheep breeds while unearthing ancient vines and rare wines from the Balkans and beyond.
The DryJanuary is over and Vaskovino’s next wine tasting event is on Saturday, 8th February in Gloucester from 7pm. Email us for address details.
This time we are tasting wines from Bulgaria, following our trip there in early January, when we visited a couple of distinguished producers, Yamantiev’s and Brestovitsa. We very much enjoyed our time with them and hope you will enjoy their wines as much as we did. This time we will be showing you their new vintages and wines. You will look at Brestovitsa Mavrud 2012; Pamid 2018; Misket 2018 and Rubin 2017 as well as Yamantievs Pinot Grigio 2018, Kaba Gayda White 2018 and Marble Land Red 2017. Phoenix Wines from Cirencester will bring a couple of wines to spice up the Bulgarian wine selection.
We will be also tasting our primitive breed mutton, (if you haven’t done that, this is your rare chance), the Boreray, from Holly Farm in Norfolk. We are delighted that Suzannah, will also attend and agreed to tell us more about her sheep. I hope her to throw some clues why they taste so delicious. We are now working on our Boreray dedicated website where we will be able to introduce you to all of them soon. A little history of that breed is given below to wet your appetite.
The Boreray breed is the descendants of the domestic sheep which were kept by the St Kildans (from the archipelago of St Kilda islands north west of Scotland). The breed originated in the late 19th century from a cross between the Blackface and the old Scottish tan-faced breed. When the inhabitants evacuated the island of Hirta in 1930, all their domestic stock were evacuated with them. Any stock left on the island were killed, but a replacement flock of domestic sheep had been forgotten on the neighbouring very small island of Boreray. As you can see below it is just a rock in the Atlantic ocean and only the fittest survive.
These sheep were left to live feral on the island, see picture above, since 1930. Four decades later in the 1970s a small group was taken off the island by helicopter and now those found on the mainland of Great Britain are descendants of that small group.
Being faced with extinction the Boreray sheep are registered with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) and are classified as vulnerable on the RBST watch list.
To put it into perspective there are about 800 registered Boreray ewes on the UK mainland, where all other breeds make up about 14.7 million. This is what we call rare!
Both sexes are horned, don’t try to stroke or catch them as they are not Dolly the Sheep.
Ewes are never killed for meat, only the males that are not to be kept for reproductive purposes. The Rams have long spiral horns and are best avoided. In Suzanna''s flock they have 'cute' names like 'Frenzy', 'Flint' and 'Dare' (the devil), see below.
The author has had the misfortune of meeting with their granite-hard foreheads and can assure you that they mean business.
To round the tasting off we are also tasting cheeses from Botton Village in Yorkshire, hidden as you may have guessed at the bottom of one of the dales. The Dairy is huddled in the heart of the National Park in Danby Dale near Whitby where we stumbled upon them as if led by destiny. The cheeses are made on site by dedicated master Cheese-makers.
There must be something in the air and the grass in these hidden valleys where the hustle and bustle of modern life has not yet arrived. The cheeses taste different. It maybe due to the local breeds, Ayshire and the Dairy Shorthorn (another rare breed) cattle which seems to gorge themselves on local herbs while crisscrossing the steep hills.
Tranquillity prevails here and it is a surprise that the cheeses actually offer an explosion of flavours. I can continue to wax lirical here how delicious and different this whole trip was but it will never be enough. You need to come and taste it yourself. The price is only £20 per head. You can contact us at email@example.com to book your place. Limited places still available. We regret that we can only house 12 at our sessions, so hurry and book your place soon.