Our Christmas tasting always, for me, represents the first day of Christmas. Merrill puts up the lights and festive decorations in time for the occasion, there`s a Christmas spin on the menu and of course there`s Champagne! On this occasion, in my opinion, the highlight and the food-wine match of the evening was the Porcini Risotto with Truffle and Parmesan accompanied by Krug Champagne. It was magic. However, the magic really started right at the beginning, with smoked salmon canapes alongside our aperitif, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs in magnum. Both champagnes were fantastic. Where the Ruinart won the day for its purity and elegance, Krug was King for its richness; accompanied with Tony`s risotto, arguably it trumped the Ruinart by a nose! We also enjoyed the bubbles of Pelorus, New Zealand`s fresh and creamy version of Champagne, which worked well as a palate cleanser after the rich Cloudy Bay Chardonnay and before the Krug. Those of us who tasted it with Tony`s plaice in rich carrot butter (his Irish grandmother`s recipe) will have noted it was the opposite of a match. It clashed. Yet in a way this only served to point out the value of food-wine matching, and it emphasised how well the Cloudy Bay Chardonnay matched with the dish. The richness of the Chardonnay blended in perfectly with the richness of the buttery carrot jus. The local plaice, which was excellent yet in itself quite delicate, will have been a better match with the Pelorus without such a rich jus, no doubt, while the Chardonnay in this case will have overpowered it…. the importance of the sauce in any dish never to be underestimated! Prone, as I am to follow no particular order, i`ll touch now on our first dish, my favourite goat`s cheese Golden Cross, with caramelised red onion and beetroot pilau. No surprise the goat`s cheese went superbly well with the lashings of grapefruit in the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon, this being a text book match, along with the beetroot; wasn`t quite so sure about it matching with the sweeter notes of the pilau (rice or bulgar wheat, I don`t recall), but now i`m being pedantic because both dish and wine were lovely. Now to the reds. The Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir was truly delicious, I thought, with the Loin of Layer Marney venison, blackberry jus. It was such a fruity sauce I wondered if the sweetness wouldn`t be too much. But it wasn`t. It was perfect. Here Tony gambled and won the day. The Cloudy Bay proved to be up to the job. Incidentally – the Malbec, which followed, wasn`t – this was better with the cheeses (and the next evening, on its own, by the fireside – a lovely Malbec). Likewise the Numanthia was a fabulous cheese wine – though an even better match, i`d say, would be a roasted red meat such as beef in a rich meaty gravy. I simply love Numanthia – if you buy one pricey bottle of red you would do well to buy this one. Plus we still have a little of the 2008 – slightly further evolved and slightly cheaper, at £39.99 – less 10% in November to anyone who mentions my blog! Finally, the sweet. To be honest I don`t remember much about that, mmmm…, a little too much wine, perhaps? Except i remember chocolate – and a little lemon posset, which was delicious! And I remember the wine, which was………… the last word on this goes to Stuart Brown who kindly sent the email below. Thanks Stuart – I agree it was a good night and Cloudy Bay`s Late Harvest Riesling 2007 was superb!! Our thanks to Tony Bell and to Moet Hennessy guest speaker Derek Langton, who was informative and had charm in spades!! Cheers Derek.
Guest Speaker: Derek Langton – Host: Anthony Borges – Chef: Tony Bell
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, Magnum £110.00 (aperitif)
Bottle price £53.99
Looks: Golden-yellow, miniscule fine bead Smells: Aromas of citrus fruits and fresh brioche. Tastes: Fresh attack of fruits & minerals, tres elegant (100% Chardonnay)
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013, £23.99
Looks: Bright, golden, green highlights. Smells: Grassy, herbaceous aromas filled out with tropical fruits, and gooseberry, with pretty florals Tastes: The palate it fresh and lively with a bright acid backbone. Flavours abound, with a racy acidity and steely minerality.
Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2012, £23.99
Looks: Bright, golden, green highlights. Smells: Aromas of peaches and cream, with a background of smoky oak Tastes: The palate it fresh and lively with a bright acid backbone. Flavours abound of nectarines & peaches, juicy citrus and grapefruit pith. Good length with delicate texture and a fine mineral thread.
Pelorus, Cloudy Bay £23.99
Looks: Pale yellow, fine bead. Smells: This wine opens with a bright nose of fresh fruit and yeasty notes, like bread dough Tastes: Zesty yet creamy, full-flavoured yet restrained, finishing crisp and fresh.
Looks: Near onion colour Smells: Rich, caramel, honey, flowers Tastes: Full, opulent style, oaky and more caramel.
Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2012, £29.99
Looks: Ruby-crimson colour, star bright. Smells: An amazing nose of violets, thyme and spice. Tastes: On the palate juicy red fruits, strawberries and cherries, and lovely spices of cloves & nutmeg – and a leafy – tobacco note.
Terrazas Malbec 2011, £16.99
Looks: Ruby, purple tinge Smells: Fresh, brambley, of wet blackberry bushes and violets, with traces of prune and spice. Tastes: On the palate fruity, generous, cherry, earthy notes, like a forest floor.
Numanthia, Toro, Spain 2009, £42.99
Looks: Dark, amber reflections. Smells: Sumptuous, complex… aromas of cassis, blackberry, cedar, spice and coffee. Tastes: 100% Tempranillo, Numanthia is a potent and full-bodied red, aged for 20 months in French oak barrels – it serves up rich flavours of blackberry, chocolate and spice, leaving a long and memorable finish.
Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Riesling 2007 (37.5cl) £24.99
Looks: Deep yellow, mustard Smells: The nose is richly perfumed and exotic Tastes: Intensely sweet-tasting yet not at all cloying due to its fresh acidity. Flavours of peach, apricot, honey and limes.
Golden Cross cheese with caramelised red onion and beetroot pilau
Fillet of locally caught plaice, carrot butter
Porcini Risotto with Truffle and Parmesan
Loin of Layer Marney venison, blackberry jus
A dessert palette (a selection of four different tasters)
Email from Stuart Brown:
Dear Anthony, Janet and Tony
Many thanks for a great night again.
I can’t believe this is only our first one of the year!
Anyway, what a fabulous menu with a very generous selection of good quality wines.
The Layer Marney Venison was beautifully cooked and matched the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir superbly and we loved the creamy Lancashire Bomb reserve cheese!
Our Wine of the night = the Cloudy Bay Riesling Dessert wine..forget Sauternes (oo la la!?)…this is a fab all round Dessert wine!
Stuart and family=