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Tag Archives: food and wine matching

  • Marvellous malbec & Argentinian abundance

    Argentinian wine is on the crest of a wave right now, picking up ever-increasing momentum, with wine drinkers seduced by the rich, brooding charms of its flagship grape, Malbec. Four years ago, Argentina was languishing outside the top 20 wine countries selling into the UK; now it’s on course to crack the top ten barrier, with over 2 million cases of Malbec now sold a year on our shores.

    Argentina also happens to be spectacular, with charisma, beauty and passion oozing through its DNA, from its people to its landscapes. Flying into Mendoza, the country’s wine capital, from Chile, the majesty and imperious glory of the Andes, the longest mountain range in the world, are truly breathtaking. The colossal Aconcagua mountain, which shelters some of the country’s most prized vineyards, in its foothills, is the highest in the western hemisphere, only 6200ft shy of Everest’s peak.

    Mendoza is a vibrant city, full of tree-lined boulevards, and pavement cafes; the surrounding area is home to many of the country’s best wineries. The vineyards themselves sprawl for miles, weaving higher and higher into the foothills of the towering Andes. Sitting outside, on the terrace of a winery, with an empanada and a glass of wine in hand, with the sizzling sounds and aromatic scents of an ‘asado’, on the barbecue, whilst gazing out at the snow-capped peaks, is an experience not to be forgotten.

    And thus it was with Trapiche, one of Argentina’s largest vineyard owners and producers, whom I have been fortunate to visit several times.  Founded in 1883, the winery is housed in an elegant, Florentine-style building, built in 1912. Trapiche was one of the pioneers in the early days of high quality wine production; with over 1000 hectares of vineyards, the winery has impressive scale, but with a total focus on quality, regardless of the price level.

    Malbec is of course the star of the show, and probably the only Argentinian wine that many UK wine drinkers know. It’s highly successful – but the danger is that many people view it as a one trick pony – one style, big, rich, hefty. Yet, there are many nuances and variations in Malbec, as in any grape, depending on how and where it is grown and made.

    Let’s start with Trapiche Melodias Malbec 2015 (was £7.95, now £6.95) – bright, juicy and soft, this is Malbec on it’s lighter, but equally delicious scale. Bursting with perfumed, succulent cherry and ripe plum fruit aromas, it’s a delightful mid-weight red, full of moreish, smooth, berry fruit, with a hint of herbs, but most importantly a bright, lively style; and at 13% alcohol it’s a lot fresher than many of the Malbec blockbusters. This would be great with charcuterie, midweek pasta and cottage pie.

     

    Moving up a gear in intensity and depth is Don David El Esteco Malbec 2014 (was £11.50, now £9.95) from the pioneering El Esteco winery, which has been pushing the boundaries in terms of grape and wine production, exploring high altitude vineyards in the north west frontiers of Argentina, namely the Calchaqui valley, a land of desert scrubland and ravines, which home some of the highest vineyards in the country. Rich and voluptuous, this dark and brooding delight brims with exotic richness, and dense, ripe black fruit, overlaid with layers of spice. Look no further for your perfect steak or roast beef red.

    But there’s more to Argentinian wine than Malbec; two lesser known wines worth discovering  are made from the country’s most prolific red and white grape varieties.

     

    First up, Bonarda, a grape variety which plays second fiddle to Malbec’s leading violin, but is the country’s most prolific grape and one of my favourites in this instance, Trapiche Estacion 1883 Bonarda 2014 (was £11.95, now £10.50). Less macho, more seductively feminine is an inference that comes to mind; scented with violets and super-ripe forest fruits, this is sumptuous, and soft as velvet with a gently spiced and bitter chocolate edge. Great all rounder for chillier days, perfect with rich stews and spicy chilli.

     

    Argentina is less well-known for its whites, yet they can also shine. The country’s leading white grape is Torrontes, with its  spicy, aromatic, honeysuckle and lychee-drenched characteristics, still relatively undiscovered over here. As with all grape varieties, there is a multitude of styles – I was impressed with the fresh, zesty lime peel and citrus tang of Don David El Esteco Torrontes 2016 (was £11.50, now £9.95), with its vibrant, mouthwatering fruit and lively freshness. As we tiptoe towards the balmier days of Spring, this is a perfect mid-season white, equally at home with spicy thai prawn curries and simple tapas and salads.

    If you can find a reason to visit Argentina do – you’ll fall in love with the place, the people.. and the wines.

    By Angela Mount - Bath Magazine

  • Tried & Tested: Peking duck summer rolls & J.Lohr Wildflower, Valdiguie

    Cravings for a delicious takeaway style treat but want to stay healthy for summer?

    This week I tried and tested a lighter version of the classic Peking duck wraps using plenty of refreshing ingredients, and rice paper over the usual flower coated pancakes; creating more of a summer roll style dish as an alternative.  With the duck being a slightly heavier meat than the chicken you'd usually come across in a summer roll, I thought I'd try a red wine match, as it can never hurt to have a few summer appropriate reds on hand for a change from the white and sparkling we often lean towards in the warmer weather.

    I chose the J.Lohr, Wildflower, Valdiguie, 2014 which, after having been a little chilled in the fridge for just a little before opening, was full of juicy berry flavours (perfect for drinking on its own during the very welcome heatwave we've been having)!

    The wine worked well with elements of the dish, the freshness of the cucumber, spring onion and rice paper wraps, along with the slightly richer element of the duck were nicely balanced by the sweet, fruitiness of the wine.  The hoi sin sauce was a little too thick and sweet for such a light and fruity wine, so I'd perhaps opt for a lighter dressing, keeping the main focus the crunchy and refreshing greens in this light summer snack.

    Food and wine match with J.Lohr wildflower valdiguie

    I went with what I know for this recipe; simple ingredients all thrown together, wrapped up (the tricky bit), and sliced into bite-size pieces.

    To make enough for 2 people as a main, or a few more as party finger food, all you need is: 1/2 peking shredded duck (available in most supermarkets), rice paper, a handful of coriander, 2 spring onions and 1/2 cucumer (sliced to about 10cm in length - just under the length of your rice paper), and Hoisin sauce.  You can make this yourself (see BBC recipe here), but it often comes with the shredded duck.

    The rice paper rolls are the most fiddly but (best to follow individual pack instructions), but as long as you don't over fill your rolls, you can wrap up all of the ingredients quite securely.  Can be served per person as a full roll, but look great sliced up and served as summer garden party miniatures too.

    By Olivia Moore

  • 60 Seconds with Richard Bertinet by Angela Mount

    Top ingredient you can’t live without

    Flour - it forms the basis of all my breads

    Food & wine match that most impressed you

    A classic I’m afraid - seafood - preferably crab - with a great and very chilled muscadet

    Favourite dish of yours... 

    This is like choosing between your children!  With summer coming up and a trip to the South of France in the offing how about my Tarte Tropezienne and Vin d’Orange.

    This is a traditional tarte in and around St Tropez. My friend Thierry Pezzuli, who runs a bakery in nearby Les Arcs sur Argens, makes great big tartes, and when we are there on holiday, he always brings one when he comes around for an aperitif. This recipe is inspired by his version.

    It isn’t a classic tart as we think of them in the UK; it is more like a Victoria sponge, but made with a light, sweet dough. Although it will keep for a couple of days in the fridge, it is best eaten fresh at room temperature with a glass of rosé or, or even better, Vin d’Orange, the local tipple.

    Tarte-Tropzienne-recipe - Richard Bertinet

    The dough is difficult to make in small quantities, so I suggest you either freeze half of the dough for another time, or use it to make tiny doughnuts. The easiest way to make it is using a food mixer, otherwise you need to follow my special stretch-and-fold technique for dough.

    Method

    - Warm the milk for the ferment until just tepid then pour into the bowl of a food mixer. Crumble the yeast into the flour, add to the milk and whisk until you have a mixture like a thick porridge. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave for a minimum of 2 hours at room temperature.

    - Add all the dough ingredients to the ferment and mix for 3–4 minutes on a slow speed, then about 10 minutes at medium speed until the dough comes away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.

    - Lightly flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Fold it over on itself a few times then form it into a tight ball. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for at least an hour in a draught-free place.

    - Divide into two balls. Freeze one at this point, or use it for doughnuts. Roll the remaining ball into a circle, roughly 23cm in diameter and about 5mm thick.

    - You can either lay the dough straight onto a non-stick baking tray, or if you want a neater edge, place a ring, about 23cm and lightly buttered and floured, on top of the tray, and lift the circle of dough into it. Cover again with a clean tea towel and leave to prove for 1 hour.

    - Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5, and ideally put a baking stone or upturned baking tray on the middle shelf to heat up – when you place your tray of dough on it, this will help to direct the heat quickly to the base of the tart.

    - Brush the top of the dough with the beaten egg. Scatter with flaked almonds. Place the baking tray on top of your baking stone or upturned tray in the oven for about 20–25 minutes until dark golden brown on the top. If you lift an edge of the base with a palette knife, it should be light brown and firm underneath.

    - Take out of the oven, lift off the ring if using, and leave the tarte to cool on a rack. Mix the orange flower essence into the crème légère and when the tarte is cool, slice in half horizontally and sandwich with the cream. Dust the almonds with icing sugar.

    Vin d’Orange

    This cool drink recipe comes courtesy of La Fontaine d’Ampus, a lovely restaurant in a courtyard in the pretty little hillside village of Ampus, France, near my wife Jo’s family holiday home in Provence. It is brilliant on a summer’s evening with a wedge of Tarte Tropezienne. In France you can buy ‘l’alcool pour fruit’ in the supermarket, but I suggest you use vodka. You do need space for a big tupperware box in the bottom of the fridge (or you could halve the quantity) – and you need patience, as you have to wait 40 days for it to be ready!

    Quarter 8 oranges and 2 lemons, leaving the skin on. Put in a large tupperware box (that has a lid) along with 5 litres of rosé wine, 1 litre vodka, 850g sugar, a bayleaf,  3 cloves and a stick of cinnamon. Put on the lid and leave in the bottom of the fridge for 40 days, then filter, bottle and keep chilled.

    Favourite dish of someone else’s...

    I first met Florence Knight when she came to do a stage with me many years ago.  We recently ate at Polpetto her restaurant in London and between a group of us ate the entire menu.   Her palate is amazing and some of the dishes we ate that day have to rank right up there, particularly an amazing pork chop and a roasted beetroot puree

    Who is your food hero? Where did you get your inspiration?

    Lionel Poilane was always a hero of mine - everything in his books always made such sense to me when I was learning my trade.  More generally in the food business I have always greatly admired Robin Hudson one of the founders of the Hotel du Vin chain and who is now responsible for The Pig near Bath.

    Greatest achievement

    I think having my first book Dough published rates right up there.  To see what you do in print for the first time is an incredible feeling.  However I hope that the greatest is yet to come.

    What do you enjoy about the Bath food scene?

    The number of independents has to be Bath’s greatest strength.  Whether it is great pubs, quirky cafes or smart restaurants there are so many good places to eat (and drink) now.

    Favourite restaurants in London?

    Too many to name them all.  I love Polpetto, anything Angela Hartnett or Mark Hix do is amazing and we ate at the pop up Vintage Salt last week - that was great.  I also can’t wait to eat at Nathan Outlaw’s revamped restaurant.

    Key tip for bread making

    Show the dough who’s boss!

    What wine is in your fridge and in your wine rack right now

    Lots of Provencal rose.  Once the sun comes out this is it for me.  At the moment we are drinking  Domaine Saint Esprit, a little known wine from near Flayosc that is owned by friends of ours Richard and Helene Croce Spinelli  that we have to bring back when we visit as no one yet imports it.

    What are your top red and white from the Great Western Wine selection at the moment?

    I love the Chablis Defaix with both seafood and fish. It has an incredibly clean and fresh taste, with depth of flavour and real style. It's great with my favourite seafood, but also delicious with any fish with a butter or cream sauce.

    As it's Summer, I'm after a lighter style, fruity red wine, that I can enjoy chilled. Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes works perfectly – it's packed with juicy, strawberry fruit, it's what good Beaujolais is all about, and it's great with both meat and fish dishes, especially fish such as monkfish.

    Desert island meal

    Seafood, home made mayonnaise and some of my sourdough followed by a sharp lemon tart.

    Desert island wines

    A case of ice cold Cotes de Provence Rose please and some fizzy water so I don’t get too dehydrated drinking all the wine in the sun shine!

    Will you be visiting any food/wine regions this summer?

    My wife’s family have a house in Provence so we tend to go down there every year and this one is no exception.  It is up in the hills above a small market town, among the vineyards and pretty idyllic really.   I am looking forward to a blissful couple of weeks of rose, swimming and sunshine.

    So what's your record on the Saturday kitchen omelette challenge?!

    17.22 seconds but I wouldn’t eat the omelette!

    What do you do when you're not teaching or cooking?

    Either I will be at one of our bakeries (in Bath or Milton Keynes) or at home with family and friends.  Very occasionally I manage to take a day out to go shooting or fishing but the diary is so packed it does’t really happen very often.

     By Angela Mount

    Photographs by Jean Cazals from Patisserie Maison by Richard Bertinet (Ebury Publishing)

    www.bertinet.com

    (recipe card edit by GWW)

  • Tried + Tested: Tomato pan fried chicken with Ken Forrester's Petit Pinotage

    Courgette fries, pan fried chicken thighs in a garlic, tomato and basil sauce with a Petit Pinotage wine match from Ken Forrester.

    On recommendation, I chose a tomato based dish to try out with this Petit Pinotage from Ken Forrester, and after sifting through of a fair few pasta based options I came across an interesting recipe from BBC Good Food.  I adapted the recipe here and there; swapping chicken breasts for thighs as I often find them less inclined to dry out when cooking for a longer period of time, and removing the olives from the dish in an effort to avoid any overpowering flavours taking over the wine.

    The result was quite impressive - and perfect for dinner at this time of year. The fresh, fruitiness of the wine works well for a warm summer's evening for those who like drinking red no matter what the season, with a sweetness that compliments the salty, savoury flavours of this dish.

    See the original recipe here

     Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage wine match

    Ingredients (serves 3)

    2 tbsp olive oil
    6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    1 shallot, thinly sliced
    2 garlic cloves, shredded

    300g ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    300ml chicken stock
    generous handful basil leaves

     

     

     

    Method
    Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, then salt and pepper the chicken and fry, flattest-side down, for 4-5 mins. Turn the chicken over, add the shallots and cook 4-5 mins more. Lift the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the garlic to the pan, then continue cooking until the shallots are soft.

    Tip in the tomatoes with the balsamic vinegar, olives, stock, half the basil and seasoning, then simmer, stirring frequently, for 7-8 mins until pulpy. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan and gently simmer, covered, for 5 mins more, to cook the chicken through. Serve scattered with the rest of the basil.

    For the courgette fries

    Pre-heat the oven to 180C.  Half your courgette and cut in to chip-like fingers.  In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and some flour, and in a separate bowl whisk up an egg.  One by one, dip the courgettes into the egg, followed by the seasoned flour mix and lay on a lightly oiled baking tray. Cook in the oven for around 15 minutes, or until browned at the edges and soft in the middle.

  • A Summery French Cheese Board

    Cheese and wine is not just for after a meal or for a cold winter’s night. As most cheese is better matched with white wines it makes sense to make a meal of it and create a summer cheese board that can be eaten with some crusty bread and a mouthwatering salad.

    Comté and a Jura Savignin

    Comté cheese comes from the region of Jura, eastern France – a beautiful area of mountains, rolling pastures and pristine fresh air. This hard cheese is rich, concentrated and nutty with a savoury, brown butter flavour that develops as it matures. The 36 month aged cheeses have an almost roasted chicken skin flavour and these are brilliant on a cheese board matched with one of the local wines, Domaine de la Renardière Les Terrasses Savignin Arbois Pupillin, Jura 2012. This really is a unique wine full of flinty minerality, walnuts and brown spice, with lip-smacking freshness and a savoury dry texture. It is one of the best wine matches you’re likely to come across – the two were made for each other.

    Brie de Meaux and Champagne

    Brie de Meaux is made just outside Paris, and what do Parisians love? Champagne! Made only 45 minutes away by TGV, Champagne is the ideal accompaniment, particularly those made just from white grapes, Blanc de Blancs. Brie is a creamy soft cheese which can have buttery flavours of mushroom and almond as it ages. The acidity of Champagne works well here, the bubbles caressing the milky texture of the cheese and the hints of nut and brioche matching those in an aged example. Try Jacquart’s Blanc de Blancs 2006 – now almost 10 years old, this wine is rich and complex with hints of brazil nuts and brioche but lots of refreshing lime and apple acidity.

    Goat’s cheese with Sancerre

    France’s most famous French goat’s cheese is made in the Loire Valley - the birthplace of Sauvignon Blanc. Crottin de Chavignon is made in a tiny village of just 200 people and is the perfect partner to the local wine, Sancerre.  The acidity in a good goat’s cheese is the key to why this pairing works – the high natural acidity in Sauvignon Blanc grown on the flinty soils of Sancerre is the ideal accompaniment. Try Domaine des Vieux Pruniers, Sancerre 2013, full of citrus and herby green leaf flavours or a great alternative like the fresh, minty Sauvignon de Touraine, Domaine de Pierre 2014 - also recommended with a bowl of Moules Marinières; see our recipe here.

    Camembert with Vouvray

    Normandy’s Camembert is a classic with the local ciders, so why not try a sparkling wine that’s all about the baked apple-scented fruit flavours. Aged Camembert is richer and more pungent that Brie so needs a little more oomph from its wine partner – step forward Chenin Blanc. Didier Champalou’s  honeyed Vouvray Sec 2013 has lovely notes of warm hay and red crunchy apple which work brilliantly, while his sparkling Vouvray Brut NV is cool and refreshing with light bubbles and hints of quince and Bramley - particularly good with baked Camembert.

    Sauternes and Roquefort

    The classic British cheese and wine combo at Christmas is Port and Stilton, but the French prefer the sweet, honeyed, richness and refreshing bite of Sauternes with their blue cheeses. Roquefort’s salty taste and high toned acidity is perfect with the apricot and mushroomy aromas of Sauternes. The sweetness complements the salty tang while the natural acidity in the grapes is the perfect foil for the cheese’s acidity. Try a chilled Clos Dady’s Sauternes 2011 - a great match for blue cheese but equally a wine which can be drunk with your al fresco desserts – perhaps a crème brûlée or tarte tartin?

     

    Cheese and white wine? Let's take this outside...

    By Chris Penwarden

  • Burgundy Dinner at Allium Brasserie

    Last week Great Western Wine held their Burgundy dinner at the fabulous Allium Brasserie in the Abbey Hotel, Bath. GWW’s Fine Wine Manager Tom King and Allium’s Head Chef Chris Staines had devised a food and wine matching menu which showcased fresh, seasonal produce paired with a selection of white and red Burgundies. Master of Wine Jancis Robinson was also in town that night, but this didn’t stop over 60 people booking for the event – 20 more than rival Jancis!

    Tom’s knowledgeable, yet accessible, style chimed with the guests who had come to sample some of the world’s most sought after wines. Tom’s aim was to compare and contrast a snapshot of the region, proving that ‘terroir’ played its part in creating the unique flavours in the wine. He also highlighted the effect of vintage, ageing and climate on the style.

    The night began with a glass or two of Domaine Paquet Saint-Véran 2013 and some delicious nibbles, served in Abbey Hotel’s newly refurbished bar. Saint-Véran is an appellation next to the more famous Pouilly-Fuissé, sharing its soils and style. From further south than any other Burgundy at the tasting, Tom explained how its geographical location in the warmer Mâconnais gave the wine a more rounded, fruity style than the Chablis we were about to try with our meal.

    As Tom pointed out, Burgundy is a big region, with the area of Chablis some 100km from Dijon, a city which marks start of the famous Côte-d'Or, home to the likes of Gevrey-Chambertin, Meursault and Montrachet: travel another 130km and you get to the Mâconnais in the south. With such a large region, and minute changes in soils and climate even within the vineyards themselves, Tom said that his purpose was not to cover every aspect of Burgundy as that would be impossible. Instead he would provide “little pictures of Burgundy” that we could see evolve as they interacted with food.

    Our first wine and food match was Poached Cornish oysters with Watercress and Asian Pear paired with two different wines; a Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2012 from Domaine Louis Michel and a Chassagne-Montrachet 2012 from Domaine Bernard Moreau.

    Head Chef Chris Staines has a background in Michelin-starred fine dining, from heading up Foliage in London’s Mandarin Oriental hotel to working alongside Marco Pierre White at the three starred Oak Room. His attention to detail was evident in the first course – the finely chopped spiced pear bathed in a watercress velouté and punctuated with pearl-like oysters – but his love of Asian food also shone through with the hints of fresh ginger seasoning the dish.

    On its own, the Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2012 was both richer and more minerally than the Saint-Véran. The style was also different than most Chablis you’d be used to – rather than the simple crisp, lemony, briny textures you’d expect, the premier cru was very complex with a salted honeycomb nose, hints of popcorn and touches of lemon and fennel. On further inspection, Tom suggested that you might also detect a whiff of brie rind and the flavours of white strawberry:  It’s a wine which “punches above its weight”, he added.

    Chablis is a classic with oysters and some people say you can detect hints of oyster shell in the wine itself; the shells are certainly present in the soils of the area, once an ocean bed. The wine and the food tasted leaner and more minerally when paired together, bringing out the briny seaside flavours of the oyster.

    Over 100km away from Chablis, the Burgundies of Montrachet and beyond are richer and more full bodied, like Domaine Bernard Moreau Chassagne Montrachet 2012. This is a world away in style, with butter and orange notes on the nose with hints of caramel, almond and cooked lemon on the palate. The Chassagne might not have been the obvious choice with the oysters but the Japanese-style construction of the dish matched well with the wine’s richer flavours, heightening some tropical fruit nuances and hints of smoke. Although Tom preferred the leaner, saline qualities of the first match, the Chassagne was crowned the overall winner by the guests.

    The second dish was Roast Breast of Landes Duck with Lettuce Purée, Fresh Garden Peas and Roasted Figs, paired again with two different wines, but this time from the same year and producer: Domaine Harmand Geoffroy’s Gevrey Chambertin En Jouise 2011 and Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St Jacques 2011.

    Although Tom thinks that Burgundy is all “hints and suggestions” he said that the 2011 vintage has a distinct herbal, tobacco character. In terms of “suggestions”, Burgundy wine tasting notes often sound implausible for a drink made out of grapes – cheese, bacon, oyster shell and ladybird (?!) are all to be found.

    It should come as no surprise then that the Gevrey Chambertin En Jouise had hints of smoky bacon, savoury almonds and cheese rind, as well as some of the more usual fragrances of vanilla spice, red cherry and green tobacco. I was amazed at the nutty aroma from the wine – like a fine Montgomery cheddar served with a dry Madeira.

    The Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St Jacques was utterly different - more mineral in texture and aroma, with fine acidity – it seemed incredible that the wine was made by the same winemakers, in the same area, in the same year. Although I found the En Jouise more appealing at first, I soon realised that the more bashful Lavaux St Jacques was opening up, showing unbelievable levels of fragrance and refinement. Both wines had intensity, but the Lavaux had a finesse and florality that marked it as the premier cru.

    But, everything changed with the food – although the Lavaux St Jacques was the perfect match for the duck and sweet pea, the addition of the roasted fig challenged the wine a little too much. The En Jouise , a premier cru in everything but name, became deeply cherryish with hints of old dusty cupboards and earth, the concentrated, savoury sweetness of the fig transforming the pairing.

    Rather than a pudding (no sweet wines in Burgundy), Chris and Tom stuck to cheese for the last pairing of the night. Two Burgundian cheeses were presented with a white and a red, to see which wine went with which cheese.  Tom pointed out that contrary to popular belief white wine is often best for matching with cheese. He explained that white wines have less structural components than reds so have a wider choice of partners.

    The two Burgundies were from older vintages - Domaine Jobard-Morey Meursault Poruzot 1er Cru 2006 and Domaine Laurent Roumier Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2003. The white Meursault came from a warm vintage and during its ageing process had developed complex flavours of saffron, iron ore, apricot and almond. At almost 9 years old, it was a great match for the truffley cheese, Brillat Savarin aux Truffes.

    The red Clos Vougeot Grand Cru was from a very hot year, 2003, and this made it less obvious that it was an older vintage. Tom thought its fruit profile was almost New Zealand in character; rich velvety and less ‘old world’ than you’d expect. The fruitiness was a nice foil for the funky, smelly Ami du Chambertin cheese – his time the cheesy whiff was from the cheese rather than the wine.

    This was a really enjoyable night, my first GWW event, and a very memorable one at that. The night was brilliant value too – the wine itself would have cost more that the price of the ticket, let alone the delicious food created by Chris Staines.

    So, get yourself booked on one of GWW’s future events before they sell out – it’s a great way to learn about wine and lots of fun too.

    By Chris Penwarden

    Read the Crumbs Magazine review here

  • Mediterranean Lamb and a nice little Chianti

    Mediterranean lamb and Chianti Classico

    Lamb – you don’t get much more ‘Easter’ than that, do you? But rather than serve with the traditional Sunday roast accompaniments, I find that an old fashioned ratatouille is the perfect match at this time of year. In fact, you can quite happily serve this all through summer – just butterfly a whole leg of lamb and throw it on the barbeque – it’s amazing.

    The Mediterranean flavours of rosemary/garlic-infused lamb work brilliantly with the robust flavours of the chargrilled vegetables, (more) garlic, and fragrant thyme of the ratatouille. The tomatoes are a lovely foil for the rich flavours of the meat, providing an uplifting freshness and zing to the dish.

    What’s great about this is that the roast new potatoes take the same amount of time as the ratatouille, and don’t even need a par-boil, so it really is a no-brainer.

    Wine match

    Castello di Fonterutoli, Chianti ClassicoI chose a Chianti Classico, Castello di Fonterutoli, Chianti Classico 2012 for this dish and it really worked. The juicy acidity, dark and red fruit flavours and smooth tannins created a match made in heaven. Wine Spectator describes the wine as "harmonious and approachable" with a “silky texture" and "fine length” - I'd have to agree.

    Lamb is quite a fatty meat and needs some acidity to cut through, and this really did the job. The herb and spice layers of this Chianti brought out the rosemary, thyme and bay in the dishes, while hints of orange, rhubarb and plum in this red worked well with the fruitiness of the Mediterranean vegetables.

     

    What you’ll need:

    Bottle of Castello di Fonterutoli, Chianti Classico 2012 and a nice glass

    Lamb - Joint of your choice

    Tip - I cooked a 750g boned leg for around 55mins and then let it rest for around 20mins - this achieved a medium rare joint. As it was quite small (enough for 3 to 4) I’d advise using a thermometer to make sure you don’t overcook the lamb – the BBC cooking guide is quite handy too.

    The best results will always be with a larger bone-in joint, especially for a family-sized group. Plus the bone can be used for stock afterwards, making a great curry (recipe to come!).

    Also...

    - garlic and rosemary
    - glass of white wine / same of water
    - salt and pepper

    Potatoes & ratatouille

     

    For the Ratatouille – makes enough for 4

    This is based on Nigel Slater’s recipe, except I chargrilled / griddled the veggies (again, ideal for a summer BBQ)

    - 1 onion, sliced
    - 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    - 1 aubergine, thickly sliced
    - 1 courgette, thickly sliced
    - 1 red pepper, de-seeded and quartered
    - 3 plum tomatoes, sliced
    - 2 sprigs thyme
    - 1 handful basil leaves

    Potatoes

    - new potatoes
    - garlic – 1 garlic per person, unpeeled
    - fresh bay leaf
    - sprigs rosemary

    Method:

    Put the oven on, pre-heating to 180°C

    Lamb

    Take a sharp knife and make a few incisions into the lamb

    Take a few sprigs of rosemary and a sliced garlic and push these into the holes. Season the lamb all over with plenty of salt and pepper and give it a rub of olive oil.

    Place the lamb into the preheated oven in a high sided roasting tray with a small glass of white wine and a small glass of water poured around the meat. This can be topped up with water from time to time and will form a light jus/gravy at the end.

    When roasted to perfection (see above for cooking times and weights), take out of the oven and allow to rest wrapped in foil on a warmed plate for 20 mins.

    The juices from the pan can be reduced down for a powerful jus/gravy to pour over the meat just before serving.

    Ratatouille 

    While the lamb is in the oven, or just before, sweat the onions in 1 tbsp of olive oil until they are soft, add sliced garlic cloves and, once soft, add to a deep baking dish.

    Griddle the other veg (except tomatoes) until they have grill lines on each side, and layer in the baking dish. Top with the sliced plum tomatoes and season with salt, black pepper and thyme.

    Bake at 180°C for about 45 minutes until soft and tender. Stir gently with a handful of torn basil leaves before serving.

    Potatoes

    You can always do traditional roasties, but as it's spring it’s nice to use some seasonal produce, so I used new potatoes. New potatoes do not need par-boiling so you can throw them into a pan with a tablespoon of hot olive oil whenever you’re ready – just pop them in the oven for 45 mins at 180°C at the same time as the ratatouille. When cooked, squeeze out the cooked garlic from its skin and mix in with the potatoes.

    By Chris Penwarden

  • Chocolate and Wine – The Ultimate Indulgence

    Can wine go with chocolate? Can two indulgent, much-loved products marry? Or is this the marriage made in hell?

    Chocolate and wine – probably two of the items hitting the top of the list of indulgent everyday treats. But can they go together? Get it wrong, and it’s a teeth-screaming disaster on a major scale, jarring every tingling nerve. Get it right, and the world will be a sweeter and better place… a fusion of perfection, indulgence, decadence, and downright lusciousness.  If the match is right, it’s pure hedonistic, abandoned delight.

    A simple rule; you need to balance the sweetness levels. The sweetness of the wine should always match, or be sweeter than, the type of chocolate dessert. And with chocolate, that’s not always easy.

    As if levels of sweetness weren’t enough, it’s all about the type of chocolate, or chocolate dessert. I took this task very seriously, of course; to bring you my best recommendations I had to go through the pain of research, for the greater glory of perfecting the art of matching chocolate and wine. Several gooey desserts, and many Leonidas chocolates later, I’ve got my favourites, and some well-learnt new ideas.

    At a very basic level, Chocolate can kill many of the more delicate, sweet white wines, from German Riesling, to lively Muscats, simply because it will overpower and dominate. Save these glorious wines for fruit-based desserts.

    Chocolate, quite frankly, is an irresistible, sensuous, gorgeous brute – full on, unashamed, dominant and potentially overpowering.  At the risk of venturing into Fifty Shades territory, it veers from the flirty, playful temptress, which is white chocolate, to the Alpha male; the dark, brooding Montezuma-style chocolate which will beguile your senses, and take control, leaving you irresistible to its charms, albeit in different guises. Add the right wine to this, and it’s an ecstatic ascent to heavenly satisfaction.

    Fontanafredda, Moscato d'Asti 'Moncucco' DOCG

    White chocolate

    So it’s all about which chocolate, or which chocolate dessert… let’s start gently, with white chocolate, which is a relatively easy match, as it contains no cocoa solids; it’s the creamy, rich texture that you need to match.  The frothily light, sweetly grapey, and downright refreshing Fontanafredda Moscato d’Asti Moncucco, is a perfect, romantic, seductive match with strawberries dipped in white chocolate, or will also manage to stand up to the lightest of white chocolate and raspberry-rippled mousse or parfait.

     

    The Stump Jump Sticky Chardonnay, d'Arenberg

    Milk chocolate

    Riesling, and the more citrusy styles of sweet wine, are amongst my favourites, but are easily overpowered by chocolate. However, stick to the less intense milk chocolate, or balance with a fruit flavour, and they will work harmoniously. The soft, fluffy, textured layers of a milk chocolate mousse, cake, or Easter egg would work well with the rich, bold, dried apricot and citrus style of The Stump Jump Sticky 2010, which is made predominantly from Chardonnay.

     

    Peller Icewine Vidal

     

    Orange and chocolate are delightful partners, and this is where the tangerine and candied peel character, and mouthwatering, yet sweet, freshness of Peller Vidal Ice Wine 2013 comes into its own. Made in miniscule quantities from the luscious nectar of frozen grapes, the citrus flavours in both wine and chocolate will lift the entire experience. Sweet Rieslings from Australia would also work here.

     

    Bertani, Recioto Valpolicella DOC

     

    Red fruits, especially raspberries are simply glorious with chocolate, and here I like to ring the changes, and bring in the opulent, plummy, berry fruit flavours of sweet red and amber wines.  Try Bertani Recioto Valpolicella 2011, made from the concentrated juice of semi-dried red grapes, which balanced delightfully with both chocolate and raspberry torte, and, even a more unusual, beetroot and chocolate cake.

     

    Skillogalee Liqueur Muscat

    Dark chocolate

    If your chocolate of choice is darker and richer in cocoa solids, or if you bring honey, caramel or nuts into the equation, the journey of choice would lead to richer, Muscat-style ‘sticky’ wines. Chocolate soufflé with salted caramel was a sublime match made even beyond celestial skies, with the unctuous, brooding, mellifluous gorgeousness of Skillogalee Liqueur Muscat, with its brown sugar, toffee, and candied hazelnut tones. This is also a great bet with oozingly rich, decadent chocolate fondants.

     

    PX, Bella Luna, Jerez

    Port, especially Tawny is always great with intense, pure chocolate truffles.  However, I must share with you one of the most heaven-sent matches of them all, which may just surprise you.  It takes a bold wine to stand up to the sheer intensity and irrestistible, beckoning power of dense, dark chocolate, be it in the form of a truffle, a chocolate nemesis, or a dense gooey, dark chocolate torte – step up the equally dark, brooding and droolingly-glorious La Luna Pedro Ximinez, with its thick, dark, treacly colour, and  luscious, viscous, toffee,  muscovado, mocha and dried apricot fruit richness. Yes, it is a Sherry. And it is about as perfect as you can get with the very best and darkest of chocolate. I need say no more. Try it. Be seduced.

    By Angela Mount

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