Tag Archives: Allium Restaurant

  • Tasting with Trimbach

    Great Western Wine recently hosted a sell-out evening with Julien Trimbach at the Allium restaurant. Angela Mount went along to report...


    A tasting of Trimbach wines is not a bad way to spend an evening at the best of times, but teemed with not only some rare gems from old vintages, but also the exquisite cuisine of new Allium Restaurant chef, Rupert Taylor, it became a must do event in Bath’s social calendar.

    Trimbach is one of the most revered wine producers in Alsace.  Established in 1626, and with the young and urbane Julien Trimbach, the 13th generation of the family, hosting this spectacular evening, guests, many of whom have followed and enjoyed Trimbach wines for years, were in for a treat.

    Alsace, nestled in the foothills of the Vosges mountains, forms a long, narrow strip between northern France and Germany, and has a chequered history, having changed nationality several times between the two countries over the centuries and wars.  Trimbach are based in Ribeauville, a chocolate-box pretty town, with characteristic timber-fronted houses and steep flat clay tile roofs, in the heart of the vineyard region.  Using mainly Germanic grape varieties, Alsace has created a worldwide reputation for extraordinary wines with Riesling at its heart, but in a totally unique way.

    It’s always fun to break the rules; instead of a customary glass of fizz on arrival, we were greeted with a chilled Trimbach Pinot Noir Reserve 2015, which surprised some and delighted many.  Pale ruby red in colour, fresh, bright and lively, this gentle, light red was packed with crunchy pomegranate and raspberry fruit, with a wild herb edge.  With its northern location, Alsace doesn’t produce much red wine, but the cool climate-loving Pinot Noir does perform well here, albeit producing far lighter styles than neighbouring and more southernly Burgundy.  Spot on with Chef Taylor’s irresistible canapes of tomato and smoked aubergine, sumptuous foie gras mousse spiced up with saffron and pink peppercorns, together with a tangy citrus cured morsel of salmon with ponzu jelly.

    Onto dinner; first up was a beautifully presented plate of plump, caramelised and pan-fried scallops, meltingly tender, with their luxurious, sweet texture; these were nestled on an intense creamy puree of cauliflower, and served alongside perfectly roasted and singed cauliflower florets, and a bright, tangy verjus to balance. Tom King, Great Western Wine’s Fine Wine Manager had worked closely with Chef Taylor to showcase the very best of Trimbach’s wines, and cleverly picked a grape variety, whose ripeness and more voluptuous style, would marry the indulgence and sweetness of the starter. Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve 2014 combined aromas of tuberoses and nutmeg, with a deliciously fresh, dry palate, with vibrant citrus to the fore, tinged with a hint of acacia honey.  This was served alongside Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve Personelle 2013, a masterpiece in the balance of richness and acidity, opulent and intense.

    The main event was inevitably going to be Riesling, accounting for over 50% of Trimbach’s production.  As Julien told us “Riesling is in our blood, it’s our heritage”. We were treated to a hedonistic quartet of Rieslings, with over 30 years between the youngest and oldest. Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2014 is but a baby, grown on the chalky, quartz and sandstone Gres des Vosges stone.  2014 was a fabulous vintage in Alsace and this little gem showed its promise, all nervy and fresh with candied lemon peel aromas and zippy acidity. If you have of this vintage, snuggle it up, and don’t touch till it’s at least a toddler, as it will blossom into a beautiful teenager and beyond.

    Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile 2008 is Trimbach’s signature wine, produced from two grand crus vineyards, with vines averaging 45 years in age. This is an extraordinary wine from a vintage which produced wines of purity and precision.  This wine, despite its 9 years, is still in its youthful, nervy thoroughbred stage.  Intense, rich, creamy and incredibly complex, it has a gorgeous richness of fruit, interwoven with grapefruit peel, Manuka honey and a smattering of citrusy sumac.

    Matching a main course that isn’t fish, to white wines isn’t always easy, but Rupert Taylor and his brigade stepped up to the mark with a fillet of Rose Veal, glisteningly pink, tender and delicate, served with a creamy sweet langoustine puree, earthily pungent girolles mushrooms and tangy choucroute. A wealth of flavours on a plate, whose different textures and balance of flavours worked seamlessly with the wine.

    Still on Riesling, wizard Tom King then waved his magic wand and brought out two wines from the cellar collection – wines that have been slumbering in the cellars for years, and are now starting to emerge from their chrysalis into rare and stunningly beautiful butterflies.  Riesling Clos Sainte Hune 2008 is Trimbach’s flagship wine, produced on limestone soils, from a single vineyard, and only in the very best of years. As Julien stated ‘if Riesling is in our blood, Sainte Hune is in our heart’. This wine is extraordinary – racy, nervy, taut as a tightly-wound violin string, bursting with a myriad flavours of marmalade, lime and those typical petrolly characteristics, all bound up with outstanding purity and minerality – if you have some, it’s another toddler to leave to develop a while longer.

    Proving the point, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Alsace, and in particular Trimbach makes wines that can last decades, Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile Vendange Tardive 1983, a 34 year old, very rare wine, produced in tiny quantities, from botrytised grapes, which are very rare from this vineyard – the epitome of elegance, redolent of white flowers, roses, rosehips and honey; rich, intense, multi-layered, with marvellous depth – mature, but still with trademark steely acidity coursing through its veins. A rare treat.

    How to follow such a majestic wine?  Chef Taylor finished off the evening with a Peach Bavarois, wobbling in its creamy unctuousness, accompanied by a tangy, perfectly spiced Schezuan pepper and bay leaf ice cream.  Picking up on the delicate, floral notes in the dessert, our final wine was Gewurztraminer Selection des Grains Nobles ‘Hors Choix’ 2007, amber in colour and steeped with rich nectarine, honey and candied fruit flavours – exotic, decadent and supremely balanced.

    Four hundred years on, Trimbach is still proving why its iconic wines are revered all over the world.

  • Trimbach Wine Tasting Dinner

    With Julien Trimbach at the Allium Restaurant, Abbey hotel, Bath


    Last night's tasting dinner with Julien Trimbach was a great success! With a full house of 66 people and a waiting list with over 10 strong.

    The Trimbach family started growing vines in Alsace almost 400 years ago, and we were delighted to welcome Julien Trimbach (13th generation) to present a tasting dinner of his family’s wines. Julien was a big hit. At only 25 years old his charisma and infectious enthusiasm for Trimbach was clear to see for all and he captivated his audience impeccably.

    The highlights included some super impressive wines including a true rarity of the Cuvée Frederic Emile Riesling 1983 that Julien Trimbach himself was very jealous that we had stock of, as even Trimbach do not sell this anymore, and the legendary Clos Sainte Hune – which may be the world’s finest white wine.

    The food by new Allium Head Chef Rupert Taylor was stunning and truly worthy of his impressive CV, which includes Michelin-starred Newbury Manor, two-starred Whatley Manor and Heston Blumenthal’s three-star The Fat Duck at Bray.

    All in all a brilliant night!

  • Lyme Bay Launch at The Allium

    Celebrate English Wine Week by supporting the launch of the Allium's drinks terrace, where a selection of fabulous Lyme Bay fizzes are being served alongside an array of delicious seafood prepared by their new chef. We look forward to seeing you there!

  • An evening with Howard Park at Allium Restaurant

    Great Western Wine and Allium Restaurant run some pretty good wine dinners, and I’ve been lucky enough to attend most of them. However, the prospect of a combination of Chris Staines’ magic culinary touch with the wines from one of the most revered wine producers in Western Australia, Howard Park, was one that grabbed my attention as soon as it was announced, and was heavily highlighted in the diary from an early stage.

    I’ve loved Howard Park wines since I first discovered them, when staying with my brother-in-law and his family, in a rather gorgeous Hispanic mansion in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney. I was over on my first buying trip to Australia, and had lots to learn… and I’m still learning.  In those days, Western Australia had yet to really strike a chord in the UK, it was all about Southern Australia and brands.  I was introduced to Leston Cabernet Sauvignon and Howard Park Estate Chardonnay at a barbecue overlooking Sydney Harbour and I've never forgotten their elegance, poise and indisputable style.

    Fast-track forward more years than I care to remember, and I've come to know Jeff and Amy Burch, the passionate and tirelessly enthusiastic owners of Howard Park, and Burch family vineyards. Owners of one of Western Australia’s top wine estates, they own vineyards in both Margaret River, and The Great Southern, and their philosophy is simple – quality, quality, quality – and keep it family-owned.  Established as recently as 1988, they are true pioneers in terms of how they are showcasing the true beauty of Western Australian wines, and creating the very best of wines from their region. They also get a big thumbs up for putting all their wines (yes, reds included) under screw-cap, rather than cork since the year 2000.

    Western Australia is renowned for its elegant, high quality wines, which have a thoroughbred, restrained and complex style, with freshness and poise. The Burch family own vineyards both in the iconic Margaret River and also in the Great Southern region, which lies about 5 hours away, and create award-winning wines in both areas.

    Jeff and Amy purchased the property in Margaret River in 1988, a beautiful piece of land, with a run-down cottage. Development started in 1995 and they made their first vintage in 1996.  With Jeff and Amy at the helm, and their children also involved in the business, they are now the largest family wine business in Western Australia. I love their pioneering spirit, I love their family values, and this is what great family wineries are all about. They have a very simple, but effective philosophy 'Premium wine can only come from excellent fruit, and therefore plant each grape variety in the best location to suit the climate and the soils' said Jeff.  Howard Park wines are only made in very small quantities, and are made with intense care and craftsmanship.

    Howard Park Great Southern RieslingSo what better showcase than at Allium Restaurant, for an evening starring some of their great wines, with the sublime cuisine of Michelin-starred chef Chris Staines.  The newly-revamped Allium Bar was buzzing, and amidst the eclectic décor, and spectacularly back-lit bar, guests were served the first wine of the evening, and one of my absolute favourites, the bright, citrussy, lime-drenched Howard Park Great Southern Riesling 2013.  It’s fresh, it’s bright, and searingly zesty, with a unique mash-up of fresh lime, lime cordial, rose petals, and a hint of fat, luxurious honeysuckle, with a searingly crisp finish – an amazing wine which was spot on with the little salmon tartare canapés.

    Howard Park ChardonnayHoward Park Estate Chardonnay 2012 was the first wine to be served, once guests had taken their seats.  It’s not easy to find the right partner to this award-winning wine, which is restrained, and almost Burgundian in style, with a silky-smooth, aristocratic demeanour – bright, lively, full of succulent, ripe peach fruit, but with a cool, very clean edge, and a nervy freshness. Chris’ salad of charred Atlantic prawns, avocado puree, seaweed and sesame salad, managed to sashay a beautiful dance with this wine .

    One of Chris Staines’ many skills is balancing textures, as well as flavours, and teasing guests with the unusual flavour combinations; smokey, gently-charred prawns wobbled atop a mound of crunchy, spiced vegetables and herbs, with the finest of shredded  carrots, asparagus, beansprouts, and leaves, mingled with a dressing of soy, tamarind and palm sugar, with hints of ginger, and a touch of mango thrown in… and all of this topped with a snap-sharp, crunchy, sweet sesame crisp… and tempered by a creamy avocado and sesame puree. The wine match worked, simply because the elegance, acidity and complexity of the wine was both able to match the riotous, exotic, sweet, sour, hot, salty flavours of the dish, and  it’s freshness also managed to lift the dish to another level. It was delicious – and, having saved a little of the Great Southern Riesling aperitif wine,   I felt that the multi-facetted characteristic of this wine worked even better.

    Howard Park Miamup ChardonnayNext up was my favourite wine and food match of the night. Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is a perfect example of top notch Western Australian reds at affordable prices. It’s polished, elegant, and oozing class, yet with  a velvety softness and early-drinkability. I loved the purity and intensity of the ripe, perfumed blackcurrant fruit, mingled with hints of eucalypt, ground nutmeg and cedar.  There is also a definite waft of bitter chocolate in this wine, and it’s this component, that Chris very cleverly picked up in the matching dish – Lightly smoked wood pigeon with cauliflower ‘couscous’, cauliflower puree and bitter cacao. If I had to pick one dish, which really defines Chris Staines’ style of cuisine, this would be it – challenging, detailed, and juxtappositions of textures, flavours and colours, with that trademark Asian twist.

    There was a lot of sweetness in this dish, but this merely served to heighten the ripe, bright fruit character of the wine. Meltingly tender slices of pink pigeon breast were served alongside a dreamy, light-as-air little  oriental nem, with softly yielding rice paper pastry, within which nestled an aromatic, masterfully seasoned filling of minced pigeon and duck, spiced with Chilli, lemongrass, star anise and cinnamon .  Minute shreds of crunchy cauliflower and dabs of glistening, bitter chocolate infused sauce finished off this little masterpiece, with the cocoa, serving only to enhance even further the dark, silky richness of the wine.

    To  showcase two of Howard Park’s most prized reds, the final, fitting course was a  Short rib of beef, with shitake mushrooms, grilled broccoli and lightly pickled ginger. Once again, textures, colours, flavours, and that characteristic umami effect were to the fore. Chris Staines’ never goes for the easy option, and some of the intricate spicing and fusion of flavours in this dish may have looked challenging, on paper at least. But Chef worked his now familiar blend of craftsmanship and alchemy, and produced a sumptuous plate of artistry.  Succulent, sticky, oriental -spiced, melt in the mouth, tender beef, was topped with crunchy, charred spring onion shards, and a combination of  al dente broccoli, and  a  creamy puree of the same.  Nestled alongside was a  deliciously rich quenelle of  sweet, earthy, aromatic shitake mushrooms, combined with thai  green curry paste and herbs.

    Onto the wines – both Cabernet Sauvignons, both the same vintage, but oh so different. Western Australia produces world  class Cabernet Sauvignons – the weather is cooler than in most of South Australia, and also benefit from the nearby ocean. This gives the wines an added elegance, balanced with beautifully ripe, fruit intense wines.

    Howard Park Leston Cabernet SauvignonHoward Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is one of the flagship wines of the company. It’s from the Leston vineyard, named after Jeff’s father and mentor. It’s a wine of amazing purity and breeding, still a baby, with many, many years ahead of it.  With glorious, intense aromas of cassis, dark chocolate, mint and cedar, it is enchanting on the nose, and delivers  layers of dark, sweet dark berry flavours, with hints of violets, and a long, balanced finish.  It has all the nerviness of youth,  but the deep, subdued powers of this wine are already evident, and it will simply blossom, and reveal another layer of character and personality year after year. Now’s the time to buy some, and let it slumber gently for a few years.

    Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet SauvignonHoward Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 was an altogether bigger, bolder red, at this stage of its evolution. Named after Jeff’s great grandfather (keeping it in the family), It’s produced from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon fruit from both the Leston Vineyard in Margaret River, and also the Dennis vineyard, in Mount Barker, Great Southern. The  proportions vary, year to year, depending on the vintage and the quality of fruit. This wine has a majestic, brooding intensity and latent power. It’s bold, rich and savoury, with that characteristic blackcurrant and mint character, but with enticing hints of sandalwood, sweet spice, mocha and earthy, exotic truffles.  Still in its infancy, the textures and promise of things to come are all there – powerful, concentrated, with breeding and an aristocratic hauteur.

    Great Western Wine and Allium wine dinners are always special – this one definitely raised the bar on all levels.  Thanks to Jeff and Amy Burch and to Chris Staines and his team for a thoroughly tasty, entertaining and enjoyable evening.

    By Angela Mount

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