Riesling at The Modern Pantry, Spring Tasting menu

Spring is just around the corner, now if we could just get the weather to cooperate. In anticipation of warm days and sunny skies, The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell is featuring a riesling paired Spring Tasting menu for the month of March.This is first of what they promise to be a series of wine themed dinners. I think it’s apt to have riesling for Spring as it’s such a refreshing wine with it’s racy body and zippy, zingy acidity, represented by the New World’s offerings to the rich honeyed aromas and ripe stone fruit flavours and minerality of the Old World, riesling rarely let’s me down. It’s also a very versatile food wine and, with recently awarded MBE, Anna Hansen’s cuisine, is the perfect partner to the often spicy, exotic flavours of her food. The wines were chosen by Bill Knott for the restaurant and what was most interesting was that Bill said he chose the wines first and then worked with Anna to find just the right food matches. Usually, it’s the other way around when doing food and wine matching. Bill chose an array of rieslings showcasing it’s versatility from a variety of wine growing regions, from its homeland of Germany to the ends of New Zealand, we were presented with a delightful profile of the grape. An amuse bouche of tempura battered oysters was followed by the first course of Black fried squid paired with a kabinette riesling, the Bernkastler Badstube 2010 from the Mosel was a nice foil to the spicy sweet squid, the wine being slightly spritzy with loads of sweet ripe peach fruit on the palate, salty and sweet…mmmmm. Albert Mann is a great producer from Alsace and biodynamic to boot. His wines are always refined and fresh, the 2009 Albert Mann was pleasingly aromatic, almond blossom notes floating about. A slightly off dry but tasty wine with delicious ripe fruit on the palate. The seared King oyster mushroom, yuzu & tamari and kimchee & manouri pot sticker...

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Europe’s iconic wine families, Primum Familiae Vini comes to London

Feb 15, 12 Europe’s iconic wine families, Primum Familiae Vini comes to London

Posted by in Food and Wine

2012 sure is shaping up to be the year to be in London. So, we’ve got the Olympics, the Para-Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee etc.  But what made it even more special, for me, was this was the year that the Primum Familiae Vini came to town. The PFV picks an international capital city once a year to play host to them. Now this may not sound like a big deal but the PFV also bring their wines with them. And now it gets interesting. What is the PFV you may be asking? They are a group of the leading wine families in the world. By world, I mean Europe and by leading, I mean, the creme de la creme. Marchese Antinori, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Joseph Drouhin, Egon Muller Scharzhof, Hugel & Fils, Champagne Pol Roger, Perrin & Fils, the Symington Family Estates, Tenuta San Guido, Miguel Torres and Vega Sicilia. Their charter states that they can have a maximum of  12 members but currently there are only 11 members of the group. PFV was established in 1992 and is by invitation only. While PVF might seem to be a bunch of old houses clubbing together, the real goal of the group is “a passion for the pursuit of excellence”. Started by Robert Drouhin and Miguel Torres when they were chatting and walking around a vineyard, they realized they had many of the same goals both in traditional winemaking values and business concerns.  It has since grown into a collective where they can share their knowledge and expertise as well as help each other out in the marketplace. While they are here to show their wines to the press and public, they also hold several tastings as well as a gala dinner and auction to raise funds for various local charities. Another major goal of the partnership is to pass on their knowledge to the next generation and many had brought along their progeny to lunch. Etienne Hugel joked that they were hoping for a...

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Tapas and sherry at Barrafina

Jan 21, 12 Tapas and sherry at Barrafina

Posted by in Food and Wine, Spain, wine bars

There’s nothing better then a tasty snack while having a drink with friends. Wandering around Soho after a wine tasting the other day we stopped in at  Barrafina for a couple of tapas and a glass or two of sherry. Barrafina is a typical tapas bar, no tables just a long L-shaped bar lined with barstools and a thin counter that runs along the one wall of the bar where you stand and nosh/drink. One more thing, it’s as bright as any tapas bar in Spain, lit up like the middle of the day in summertime Spain. We ordered a bottle of La Gitana manzanilla (£20) while standing at the counter. If you don’t know sherry, start with a manzanilla. Dry and nutty, with a salty tinge to it, I love manzanilla, you’re not going to find fruit in a manzanilla but it’s a great with olives and almonds, among other things. We had a plate of pimientos de padron as well. All the food is the best quality they can find and you can taste it. Pan con tomate followed,  a juicy, very light tomato puree covering the bread and utterly delicious. We followed that with little chorizo sausages wrapped in thin potato slices, divine, if a little bit greasy, so beware when eating. If you sit at the bar, you have to order something a bit more substantial and there are plenty of specials, including a raw seafood bar. The night we were there we had the special of  fresh pollack in a tomato salsa, the pollack was delicate and fresh, the chunky tomato sauce full of garlic slivers. The wine list is not very long but there are plenty of good choices and John, our bartender/waiter let us try a couple of different red wines before we settled on Grand Recosind Crianza 2005 (£28). A blend of garnacha, cabernet and carinena from the Costa Brava, savoury but still having red fruit on the finish, supple tannins rolling over my tongue. We...

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Nopi- thinking outside the (winelist) box

Dec 16, 11 Nopi- thinking outside the (winelist) box

Posted by in Chile, Food and Wine, restaurants

“Giro d’Italia” “Going Natural” “And Gamay for All” “Black Gold” “Without Words” “The Outsiders” “Sake” Those are not descriptors one would usually see as headings for a wine list but Nopi’s wine list is not exactly a “by the numbers, tick all the boxes” wine list. The list reflects the diversity of the wine world, the sommeliers searching for wines that reflect a sense of place (terroir)  as well as being little known or off the beaten track. They also have a section of organic and biodynamic wines but that is from the point of view that they are excellent, well made wines, not a gimmick for the list. I was recently invited to a wine and food matching luncheon to see what exactly was going on with the list wine consultant Gal Zohar and Sommelier Honami Matsumoto have put together for Nopi’s Middle-Eastern/Asian cuisine. Gal and Honami had the enviable job of matching the wines with our lunch. As the philosophy behind Nopi is all about small plates, we had 10 plates each matched with one (or sometimes two) corresponding wine(s). The very first dish was a burrata with pink grapefruit paired with a subtle Slovenian riesling, the Verus 2010 was a revelation. Having a similar profile to Australian riesling from the Clare Valley but toning down the acidity, not so much of a palate cleanser but still very fresh and pure. A wonderful discovery. A Garda classico , the 2010 from Selva Capuzza was next. I visited the Garda region in Italy last year and ever since, whenever I see a Garda wine, I know I’m in for a treat and it’s great to see this lighter style of Italian red getting some recognition. The next wine really made me sit up and take notice an 85% white carignan, yes, that’s right, white carignan. Wow! How exciting, a new grape. I could see that this list was made for wine geeks. However, the wine (Domaine Ledogar, Blanc 10, 2010 Corbieres, France) was...

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Coq d’Argent – Now enomatically enhanced (and Roederer Wine List of the Year, 2011)

Dec 12, 11 Coq d’Argent – Now enomatically enhanced (and Roederer Wine List of the Year, 2011)

Posted by in Food and Wine, restaurants

When food and wine matching are done right, there’s nothing better. Although I am the Winesleuth, I find that wine with food is almost always better and I relish the opportunity when such occasions present themselves. Recently, I found myself a guest of The Winechap at Coq d’Argent in the City to not only sample the cuisine but also the award winning wine list along with a handful of wine cognescenti. Coq d’Argent was awarded the Louis Roederer Wine List of the Year  2011 not long ago and they have installed enomatic machines so even if you can’t afford a whole bottle of 1996 Ch. Montrose, it is available for you to sample. There are four reds and four whites available in 25ml (perfect for a tasting sample), 100ml, 125ml and 175ml. Speaking of the 1996 St. Estephe Ch. Montrose (£32/125ml), it was paired with a fillet of beef with sauteed mushrooms, truffle and pan fried foie gras. I love foie gras, even though I know those geese suffer, I can’t help myself. The Montrose was a beautiful wine, soft and velvety, drinking very well at the moment and but a quick survey around the table and we found the St. Emilion Troplong Mondon Grand Cru 1995 (£30/125m), which was also served with the beef, was a better match, having tannins that were a bit more pronounced, leather, graphite and cigar box, fabulous with the strong flavours of the dish. Domaine Weinbach was one of the first Alsatian wines I ever tried and loved and the the 2009 Cuvee Laurence pinot gris (£14/125 ml) was a pleasure to drink, an expressive wine with a rush of acidity, round and full in the mouth. Paired with the starter of foie gras, it was a fantastic match, which was a bit surprising as I would have expected a Sauternes with foie but the pinot gris was very good indeed. A Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Clavoillon Domaine Leflaive 2008  (£20/125ml) served alongside almond crusted rainbow trout fillets was...

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