These babies have:
Spare ribs. Sticky, blackened, spicy spare ribs, hot with chilli, fragrant with star anise and smoky from the barbecue. I’m glad we can still squeeze some more barbecue Saturdays and Sundays into the summer because I’d forgotten how good these are.
Only, I wasn’t going to pour a dainty Loire red or an earnest Bordeaux with these. You need conviction and raw power in your glass. So I went to Chile for some extreme wine from the Elqui Valley. Extreme? Elqui is so far north in Chile that it’s practically in the Atacama desert. The Atacama isn’t just the driest place on earth; with its huge, clear skies it’s a fantastic place to stargaze. And Elqui, with its cool nights and vineyards that reach up into the Andes (the highest climb to about 2,000m above sea level), is a great place to grow grapes.
I particularly like syrah from the Elqui Valley. We drank Piggy Bank Syrah 2010 Elqui, Chile (£7.99, Waitrose). It has the unmistakable thickness and magnitude you’d expect of a Chilean red but it’s also smeared with the taste of licorice root, smoke (and no that wasn’t just from the barbecue) and black pepper.
This syrah is one of a new range of six Piggy Bank wines that promise to mix vice with virtue: for every bottle sold, 50p is given to charity. Which charity? You get to vote, via mobile phone or facebook between the African conservation charity Tusk, Back Up (which helps those with spinal cord injuries) and JDRF (a diabetes research charity).
We really enjoyed sipping inky syrah as we gnawed at our sticky, dinosaur-like bones (recipe from Supper with Rosie by Rosie Lovell.) There’s something atavistic about both. It seemed entirely appropriate that a four year old boy wearing a dragon outfit was sitting with us at the table. Dragons have very good table manners sometimes. At least, this one did.