Chenin blancs at Tsuru
My move to Dalston and the opening of Tsuru Sushi in nearby Bishopsgate were purely coincidental but I’m sure glad they happened at the same time. Tsuru has become one of my fav local eateries not only because they do delicious and affordable sushi and katsu curry but also because they have a small but exciting wine list.
Emma Reynolds, one of the partners running Tsuru, thinks that wine can be a great partner for Japanese food and is always on the lookout for new and different wines to put on the list. If it doesn’t work, she just takes it off and tries another. I asked her about sake sales the other day and she said that in Bishopsgate Tsuru, at least, customers were far more interested in wine then sake.
So there are some new wines on the list, this time 3 chenin blancs from the AC Montlouis. Until 1938, Montlouis was part of the Vourvray AC but they saw fit to part ways back then and nowadays in Montlouis a band of young winemakers are taking the grapes of Montlouis and turning them into some very good wine.
The wines of Le Rocher des Violettes are made by the Frenchman Xavier Weisskopf. Originally, Xavier wanted to make wine in Burgundy, having worked in Beaune with Claude Marechal but those old bugbears, lack of money and very pricy French real estate put his Burgundy dreams to bed and he opted for Montlouis. He bought 7 hectares of very old vines and got to work. His wine making techniques border on the biodynamic but he can’t be bothered with all the rigamarole and bureaucratic mischief that goes with being certified so he’s settled for the organic label.
Xavier does wonders with chenin blanc. I was quite impressed with his Le Rocher Des Violettes, Petillan Originel 2007 (£26), a sparkling wine that has no dosage but bottled with about 16g/l of residual sugar. The yeasts are left to ferment but not disgorged so that what’s left is a delicate sparkling wine, the bubbles rolling gently along. I really dug this wine, lovely apples and pears, fruity but surprisingly quite dry. And it was great with the salmon nigiri sushi and cornish crab maki sushi it was paired with, combining incredibly well with the wasabi and soy. I was afraid it would be a washout but nope – damn good.
Tsuru do an 8 hour katsu chicken curry, the curry being very gravy like in consistency but spiced just right. Food like that needs a wine that can stand up to the spice and the Le Rocher Des Violettes, Touche Mitaine 2007 (£22), fits the bill. A dry chenin, it nonetheless still had plenty of almost riesling like characteristics, no toast as it didn’t go through malo but granny smith apples, passionfruit and even a hint of pineapple on the nose and palate, a fresh and precise wine.
The last wine we tried was the Le Rocher Des Violettes, 2009 Moelleux (£31) . I can never pronounce that word properly but I do enjoy those types of wines. It’s more the off dry but not sweet, quite full bodied but still has plenty of zip to it which keeps it from becoming flabby. The grapes come from a tiny plot and are a combination of withering, nobel rot and golden grapes. An interesting combo and one that produces some stunning wine. A hint of the botrytis on the nose and palate, tangerine, quince and a bit candied lemon, delicious. We had this wine with the chicken yakitori and wow! You’d think the sweetness of the yakitori and the wine would clash but in reality they didn’t because of the finely balanced fruit and acidity of the wine. Just enough to carry the yakitori through and leave you refreshed for the next bite.
I hope these wines become mainstays on the list, they certainly do deserve to be there. Check’em out before Emma finds some new and different wines to replace them. Then again, I’d probably like that.