Bring a course… And wines to match
I love eating good food and I love drinking good wine. But there’s one thing that is better than both of these things; and that’s enjoying them with good friends. We’re lucky enough to have a group of friends who enjoy food and wine as much as we do and this evening had been planned since last October and the texting and preparation has been intense.
Meet Dave & Karen, our hosts, and Joel & Laura… And The Fish!
The structure of the evening was simple. Once the kids were put to bed, each of the boys prepared a course and selected some wine to go with it. I had the honour of leading off with the starter, Dave got the main course as the host, and Joel provided the pud. This is a great way of giving everyone an input and making the food and wine central to the occasion. Here’s the line up of wines…
Before kicking off the food I wanted to start the evening on a high so we cracked open a bottle of Chassagne Montrachet from M&S. The rest of the gang had dabbled with Chardonnay but never had their eyes opened to the real potential and complexity of this grand old grape. It went down very well.
Maison de Tastelune Chassagne Montrachet 2008, Burgundy (M&S £30.00)
One if my favourite wines from last year, it has aromas of white peaches, honeysuckle, almonds and a dart of vanilla oak. I really could smell this wine for hours! Clean and fresh with a little bit of weight, peachy, spicy and long. Lovely texture excellent weight – it reminds me of eating a Peach Melba… without the raspberry sauce! Love it. 92 points
So bring on the food. I wanted to make something that didn’t need cooking on the night and also something that would give me the opportunity to go for an interesting wine match. Hugh F-W was my inspiration and I made duck and pork rillettes. They cooked in duck fat for 8 hours the previous Sunday and have been maturing in the fridge for a week. 2/3 meat to 1/3 fat requires a wine to cut through so I went or a Pinot Grus from Alsace and it seemed to go down very well… To my great relief!
Dopff au Moulin Pinot Grus Reserve 2009, Alsace, France (£14.99 Wine & The Vine)
Very pleasant and fruity nose of pears, limes and just a touch of mineral, wet stones. The taste is very appealing with a rich mouthful of pears and citrus hitting the palate first and then some warming ginger spice and and a very delicious and fresh off-dry finish. Very nice indeed and cut through the rillettes beautifully. 89 points
Dave’s main course was a beautiful conception. Roast leg of lamb, roasted aubergines and onions in tomato and chilli sauce, with a Welsh onion & potato cake. It was stunning but not without drama as the oven switched itself off halfway through cooking! Joel seemed to find the very amusing and I think he was secretly hoping for a takeaway kebab! All ended up well and the combination of sweet and savoury flavours was exquisite. Dave went wine shopping in Waitrose and selected a Cabernet blend from McLaren Vale and a Malbec from Mendoza. The Cabernet was delicious but the Malbec left us feeling a bit flat.
Wirra Wirra Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot 2010 (£12.89 Waitrose)
Lots of concentrated black currant fruit and menthol on the nose, with just a kick of black spice. The concentrated brambly black fruit hits the palate with real energy, with a fresh eucalyptus streak and velvety chocolatey, spicy and generous finish. The alcohol us a bit raw and you can taste the 14.5% but really very good. 89 points
Finca Fluchman Reserve Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina (£8.99 Waitrose)
Blueberries, plums and crushed strawberries provide a very appealing smell but unfortunately it is all overtaken by warm, even hot alcohol on the palate. It’s a bit like burnt rubber and white pepper and its just all out of balance. Shame as the nose promised so much. 82 points
How do you follow up a dish like that Joel? Well I’ll tell you how, with an amazing Chocolate, Hazelnut and Salted Caramel tart. They really are all of my favourite words on one plate. Laura did tell us that the salted caramel took three goes to get right… If only he’d taken Laura’s advice earlier… Don’t stir the sugar Joel, and use a different pan! Wow! It was worth it. The pastry was so short and the filling so rich and just so damn delicious. Oh, and the Tokaji was a great companion…
Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 2008, Hungary (£19.99 Majestic)
Beautiful nose if honey, apricot and marmalade. Notes of cantaloupe melon join the show in the mouth and the flavour is rich, concentrated and marvellously intense. The sweetness just seems to linger and linger and the finish is smooth and so elegant. Great stuff. 92 points
A great meal and some good wines… But that wasn’t the end. As I’d been going on so much about Burgundy on the blog recently, I thought I’d treat the gang to a Grand Cru. Imagine my disappointment when the Clos du Vougeot was lean and stalky. Gutted!
Domaine Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2004, Burgundy (£45.00 The Wine Society)
This promised so much in the nose. Cherries, raspberries, wild strawberries, lots of leathery texture and hints of truffle and violets… But the palate was lean and stalky, very drying and just so out if balance. There must have been a fault here as no amount if time in bottle was going to right these wrongs. No score
The final act of the night was provided by Joel and Laura, who brought along 3 bottles of very old wine from Laura’s late-grandfather’s cellar. 2 of the wines were from 1973, a Bordeaux and a Beaune red, but unfortunately they ended up in the sink as none of us are too fond of vintage vinegar! The third bottle, however, was intriguing and pretty damn delicious:
Albert Bichot Domaine du Clos Frantin, Gevrey Chambertin 1982, Burgundy
The wine is certainly past its best but I was absolutely blown away by the freshness. There was lots of sweet red fruit and a touch of soy and anise and some very, very fine tannins. I was really quite taken aback by the wine’s prettiness, finesse and elegance. 88 points
And then it was bedtime. A great evening with wonderful food, interesting wine and exceptional company. The next one’s at our place. I can’t wait…