Champagne Castelnau Brut Réserve

Raise a Glass: I discover Ramón Bilbao wine making and whizz up a daiquiri

The Raise a Glass feature is published every week …  I continue my lockdown “look backs” with this one from the beginning of June. I was thrilled to join a video chat with winemaker Sara Bañuelos from Ramón Bilbao and I also made my first raspberry daiquiri. 


I’m so pleased to see June arrive, as that’s an excuse to drink refreshing wines if ever I saw one.

We’ve been blessed with lovely weather recently which has been a bonus in my lockdown lifestyle (and yours too, I guess).

This is what I’ve been up to in the days since I was last here.

It’s all about the cocktails

My DIY cocktail education isn’t mind-blowing but I’m getting there.

I bought some raspberries for breakfast but their destiny was altered one sunny afternoon. They didn’t see breakfast at all.

The reason? A raspberry daiquiri.

My first raspberry daiquiri. How exciting!

This is what happened. One  – I found my old blender which crushes ice so enthusiastically – and Two – into it I added a good handful of raspberries, a thrash of crushed ice, 50ml white rum (I used Bacardi), 25ml lime juice and 10ml sugar syrup.

I whizzed it up and strained it into a glass (as those little raspberry pips spoil the smooth effect). Then I popped a slice of lime on top.

I’ve never had so much fun discovering this life of cocktails; aka locktails or lockdowners.

Now it’s all about the wine

That afternoon, pink continued as a theme. I enjoyed a salad with salmon and poured a glass of Tesco Finest Côte de Provence Rosé (£9).

Earlier my tastebuds had tingled with raspberries, now strawberries nudged into my senses.

The wine is a typical Provence style, a delicate light pink, dry with those strawberry notes together with redcurrants, stone fruits and a little zest of lemon.

The sun was shining, I was happy that lockdown day.

Another afternoon I enjoyed a video call with Sara Bañuelos from Ramón Bilbao and Rodolfo Bastida, chief winemaker at Ramón Bilbao.

That day it was all about the signature notes of Sara’s verdejo and sauvignon blanc wines from Rueda in Spain.

I love listening to winemakers. Grapes are nurtured in the vineyards but the longer journey of flavours those grapes then travel is down to a winemaker.

Sara Bañuelos Ramón Bilbao winemaker
Sara Bañuelos on the Zoom call with the vineyards of Rueda in the background

I sipped Ramón Bilbao Sauvignon Blanc 2018 and Ramón Bilbao Verdejo 2018 (both £11.95 online at Great Western Wine).

The sauvignon is a blend of three wine fermentation styles and the result is a zappy wine with tropical fruits and herbal, green notes.

The verdejo is a delight and one of my favourite Spanish grape varieties.

It has a note of white peach, a hover of a herb garden and a good acidity.

The flavours of both wines decide to stay with you a very long time.

The Ramón Bilbao Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of  three wines fermented in stainless steel, concrete and foudre (a large wooden vat).
We had a sneak DIY preview of the 2019 vintage by being able to combine samples of all three fermentation styles
Now it’s all about the bubbles

Finally, you may have causes to celebrate in June, not least Father’s Day which isn’t far around the corner (the 21st). Champagne Castelnau Brut Réserve NV (from around £30 to £36) is delicious.

You can find it online, including The Wine Society. www.wine-hub.co.uk and www.tastinghouse.co.uk.

The champagne has a wonderful nose of brioche, toasted pineapple and apple compote.

The flavours of fruits shiver in the mouth, there’s a richness and depth which lingers for a very long time indeed.

The champagne would add the finishing touches to any special day. Perhaps when you’re finally able to see your friends and family.


First published in UK regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales –  Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle  – Teesside Gazette – Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

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