Hahn Estates Wine Country Tapas in London

Nov 15, 12 Hahn Estates Wine Country Tapas in London

Posted by in California, Food and Wine, restaurants

Although I’m from California, I’m really not all that familiar with the wines of California. Of course, I know your Mondavis and Fetzers but as so many of California’s wines don’t ever make it to the UK’s shores, I am a bit in the dark as to what they are doing over there. So, I was quite pleased to be invited along to Automat American Brasserie in Mayfair for what was billed as a “Wine Country Tapas” tasting with Hahn Estates wines. Wine Country Tapas? Well, why not. I’m a bit tired of Spanish tapas anyway. Turns out the idea behind the tapas is to showcase the local, fresh and sustainable produce of the region and pair it with Hahn Estates wines. They have an Estate Chef, Brian Overhauser, who has created dishes specifically for this culinary program. As we were in London, we got a taster of California cuisine, including seared scallops, wild mushroom risotto and, one of the most interesting dishes – smoked egg yolk and autumn vegetable salad. The winery sells these wine country tapas on site, along with a glass of wine, so that guests can see how food and wine matching works for themselves. But what about the wines? Hahn Estates is located in the Santa Lucia Mountains on the Central Coast of California. If you’re familiar with CA, it’s close to Monterey. One of the main draws for Hahn Estates was the fact that the Santa Lucia range is very much affected by the “Blue Grand Canyon” – a very deep canyon (more than 2 miles deep) just off the coast, the cold water creating a cold wind that is funneled into the appellation. This wind has a huge affect on the grapes, helping to extend the hang time and development of the grapes. The soil of the Santa Lucia Mtn range also had very good drainage which gives added depth and complexity to the pinot noir, especially, that is grown there. Bill Leigon, President of the company, and...

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Murano and Krug Champagne – a seasonally paired menu

Nov 05, 12 Murano and Krug Champagne – a seasonally paired menu

Posted by in Champagne, restaurants

I remember the first time I had Krug. It was a few years ago, it was a magnum from the mid 80’s and I was blown away by the richness, the intricacies,the balance of the champagne. Ever since then, I’ve had a weak spot for Krug although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people find it too rich, too big, too substantial. While it is a substantial champagne, it’s because it’s a champagne that needs food, more so than many others. Angela Hartnett has partnered up with Krug and created a menu to complement their complex champagnes at her restaurant, Murano by Angela Hartnett in Mayfair. Krug Grand Cuvee was served as an aperitif – savoury and very mineral in character, you could taste the older vintages that were used in the blend. The Grand Cuvee is a very generous champagne, blended from a variety of vintages and has a very umami-ish character, perfect with parmesan cheese crisps and the brightest,meatiest green olives I’ve had in a long time. Arrancini with a truffle cream was another of the nibbles and if my tastebuds could, they’d probably have cried tears of joy – just thinking about them is making me salivate… We had a scallop and bream ceviche with vegetable tempura next with the Grande Cuvee. The flavours of the champagne integrated so well with an orange slice tempura – citrus city but really tasty. And the sweetness of the scallops was overcome by the Grande Cuvee. Good match. The 2000 Krug is a different creature altogether, much more linear and aromatic. Served with a ravioli of king prawn with a shellfish vinaigrette and fennel puree, the 2000 was fresh and had a delicate note to it, the sweetness of the prawns serve to highlight the fruit in the wine. Taking a further step back in time, the 1998 Krug is full of spices, mushrooms and the autumnal smells of the forest.  I really enjoyed this wine and with the roasted English rose veal,...

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Upcoming Laurent-Perrier dinner at Roux at Parliament Square, Nov. 6th

Nov 01, 12 Upcoming Laurent-Perrier dinner at Roux at Parliament Square, Nov. 6th

Posted by in Champagne

There’s no hiding the fact that I do adore champagne. Someone asked me at a dinner the other night, “what’s the one wine you would always recommend?”  I, of course, piped up with champagne and then was rather sniffely told that was a lazy choice by another wine geek at the table. WHAT?!?! Ridiculous, there are so many different kinds and styles of champagne, it would take a long time to taste through them all – from demi-sec to zero dosage, not to mention vintage, single vineyard, NV, blanc de blanc, rose, etc. The variety of champagne boggles the mind. But I’m going off on a rant here, the point of this post is to not only point out the versatility of champagne (and nowhere do you see that versatility  more then when it it served with and, if you’re lucky, throughout a meal) then to advise you all about an upcoming champagne dinner at Roux at Parliament Square on November 6th. Laurent-Perrier and and Chef Michel Roux, Jr. have teamed up for one night only to present a carefully matched 5 course menu, paired with Laurent Perrier champagnes. Not only will Michel be there to talk about the food but Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt,who has taken over from her late father Bernard, will be on hand to talk about the champagnes and the food. It should be an fantastic dinner. I often get the opportunity to speak with the winemakers but to also have the chef on hand to explain his choices with each champagne makes the evening even more interesting. I love this kind of stuff, it always makes the meal even more enjoyable. Here is a small sample of what’s going to be on the menu: Scallop Croustillant, Potato and Truffle Butter paired with Laurent-Perrier Vintage 2002 and a succulent Slow Roasted Breast and Fillet of English Veal, with Macaroni Gratin and Woodland Mushrooms paired with the Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle. Tickets for ‘An evening with Michel Roux Jr and Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt’ on Nov. 6th...

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Lunch with Champagne Duval-Leroy, A family run champagne house

Oct 29, 12 Lunch with Champagne Duval-Leroy, A family run champagne house

Posted by in Champagne, Food and Wine, France, restaurants

One of the things I love about wine, among the many, are the back stories that go with them. Meeting the winemakers or owners and listening to their tales of how the wine came to be, is fascinating and for me, always enhances the wine drinking experience. I had just returned to London from a long press trip but wasn’t going to let that stop me and went straight from Southampton to The Greenhouse Restaurant in Mayfair to meet Carol Duval-Leroy, her son Julien and their winemaker, Sandrine Logette-Jardin. I do love champagne and never say no if I can help it! What piqued my interest about Duval-Leroy was the fact that Carol took over after the untimely death of her husband about 20 years ago. She has not only kept the house going but is also the only woman to head a champagne house today. She now runs the house with the along with her three sons. Much like the original Veuve Clicqout of the 1700’s, she has not only continued but made many innovations as well as producing top quality champagne. The House is one of the few that uses organic grapes for their Brut Champagne and their tasting room is the only one in Champagne to  incorporate photovolataic panels, have a system for retrieving rainwater and have soundproofed it with a wall of vegetation. Over 40% of the Estate is made up of Premier Cru and Grand Cru villages on the Cotes des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims. But enough of that, on to lunch. We started with the Fleur de Champagne 1er Cru, made from 100% Premier Cru grapes, they call it the Fleur because the nose is very floral. A blend of 70/30 chardonnay/pinot noir, it was light and fresh, a great aperitif and way to start the lunch. The Rose Prestige 1er cru is made by letting the must goes through an 18 to 20 hr maceration before malolactic fermentation and then a blend of rose saignee and white...

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The Table Cafe menu relaunch and new wine list

Aug 20, 12 The Table Cafe menu relaunch and new wine list

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, Italy

I went to the relaunch of  The Table Cafe in Southwark the other day.  The main draw for me was the fact that fellow wino, Matt Walls had worked closely with the owner, Shaun Alpine Crabtree to create a wine list that was features wines and grapes that might not normally be found on UK wine lists. The evening was jam packed with the wine-eratti of the blogosphere, thanks to Matt Walls, who was on hand to meet and greet and talk about his new book (Drink Me) as well as the wines that he had chosen for the list. A small, thoughtful list, there were lots of wines that I, as a wine person, wish would get more exposure: for the reds, St. Laurent (Austrian red), Mencia from Bierzo, a reasonably priced and good Nebbiolo (£30), for the whites – Grillo, Verdeca, and Garnaxta blanc. That was just a few examples of the off the beaten track wines to be found. The best thing is the markup is not outrageous, the majority of the wines in the under £30 price range. Table Cafe was also introducing a new menu from Chef Cinzia Ghignoni, lately of Duck Soup in Soho, who wants the kitchen to focus on regional Italian cooking with a special emphasis on the cuisines her home region, Northern Italy. Table Cafe is also a big proponent of sustainability and recently was granted 2 stars by the SRA for their use of  herbs from local allotments and Regent’s Park honey. The menu is divided into small and large plates and they serve Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Brunch on the weekends. Their full menus are here  online. As for us, we had a sampling of the food and wine that evening:  I neglected to take a pic of the first starter which was Baccala mantecato with polenta crisps paired with a Portuguese Adega de Moncao Vinho Verde 2011. Very garlicky but as with all things garlic, so, so good. Loved the polenta crisps,...

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