As it’s the end-of-year, please indulge my reminiscing about some of our events in central London over the last twelve months.
We held a Dinner in January at Tredwells in Covent Garden. This is a restaurant in the Marcus Wareing group, focusing on contemporary British produce, whose Chef Patron is Chantelle Nicholson. The four courses were each matched by appropriate wines,
At a wine tasting led by Paul Mapplebeck, a knowledgeable and interesting speaker, fine red Burgundies were served two-by-two for us to compare, from four areas in Côtes de Beaune and Côtes de Nuits,
In February, by contrast, we had the opportunity to try a wide selection of wines from Moldova, made from both local grapes and those with which we are more familiar. Moldova has the highest per capita production of wine in the world, and has mainly exported to Russia. Now the industry is developing greater quality and widening its export markets. Sooner rather than later, more Moldovan wine will reach the UK.
On Valentine’s Day – quite coincidentally! – we lunched at Roux at the Landau, again for a four-course menu, accompanied by selected wines. The menu here is overseen by Michel Roux Jnr., the Head Chef is Nicolas Pasquier, and Andrew Gravett is Executive Pastry Chef. The cuisine is European, based on French techniques.
A different kind of event was a Sous Vide Masterclass for a group of ten of us, demonstrated by professional Josh at the Toolshed@W2, a shop with a training area near Marble Arch. We learned about sous vide, a technique using precise temperature control and vacuum packaging to cook food in a water bath. This method of cooking is used by top restaurant chefs. Then we had lunch!
In April we tasted a range of champagnes made by the Serge Mathieu champagne house, a leading independent family wine producer in the Côte des Bar, renowned for careful wine making and very good champagne. They use biodynamic, eco-friendly techniques of farming, and keep technologically up to date. All their champagnes are given extra cellar-ageing, which helps to preserve aromas and flavours. The tasting showed the different styles of champagne and consistent high quality very well.
Another wine producer with a high reputation is Gérard Bertrand, known locally as the ‘King of Languedoc’ in Languedoc Roussillon. We were privileged to be tutored for this May tasting by François Pages, the export manager. We began with a Crémant de Limoux and ended with a 1974 Rivesaltes vin doux naturel. Between these two, we also enjoyed eight reds, from different grapes and vintages. All the wines were excellent.
A superb tasting of ten mature Bordeaux wines took place in June, our second tasting recently of wines from the 2005 vintage, regarded as the best so far this century. They were from the following classifications: Margaux, Margaux Premier Cru Classé, Pomerol, Moulis-en-Médoc Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, St-Julien 2ème Cru Classé, Pauillac 4ème Cru Classé, Saint-Estèphe 2ème Cru Classé, Pauillac Premier Cru Classé.
Further mature fine wine tastings followed in July. One was of eight Beerenauslese and Eiswein special sweet white wines: the youngest from 1982, and the oldest from 1971, Wehlener Abtei Beerenauslese, from the Mosel, a star – wonderful sweetness and acidity. The other was of eight red Burgundies from the 1980s.
A more unusual wine tasting in September was of eight white and five red Japanese wines from a variety of grapes and from different producers. Most of them are not available to buy in the UK. We learned that Japanese wine producers are becoming very successful and winning medals at international wine competitions. They use traditional grapes and also grapes they have cultivated themselves.
Back to Europe in October, with a tasting of red Bordeaux from the 1970s, and a tasting of nine good value Portuguese wines for current drinking. The latter illustrated some terrific examples of well-priced wines readily available to buy.
Our AGM in November was held at Corney & Barrow’s headquarters, an elegant converted customs house near Tower Hill. The AGM itself did not take long, and was combined with a walk round tasting of ten impressive Corney & Barrow wines, and finally a dinner with yet more agreeable wines.
What a variety of events, interesting, instructive and above all, enjoyable!