Lunching at The 10 Cases, Covent Garden

Dec 21, 11 Lunching at The 10 Cases, Covent Garden

Posted by in Food and Wine, restaurants

At a dinner the other evening, one of the other diners mentioned this great little wine bar in Covent Garden, called appropriately enough, The 10 Cases,  which only ever  has 10 cases of 10 red and 10 white wines on hand. As an added incentive to visit, once the 10 cases are gone, they pick a different wine to take it’s place. The tantalizing prospect of a wine list with only 20 wines was something I couldn’t pass up. I was curious to see what they would offer, with some wine lists comprising hundreds of bins, a pared down list would make it easy to choose. Or would it? The wine list is not the only thing they’ve simplified, The chef, (ex-Coq d’Argent) Juette Shallow has only 3 starters, mains and desserts on his menu, changed daily. My friend Liz who was with me at lunch, commented that the concept is a bit like a “Bistrot Moderne,”common in France – daily menu with quality selection of food and wine, although they call themselves a “bistrot a vin.” They also have a small menu of bar snacks written above the counter. The food was hearty bistro fare. Stilton & spinach tart, duck salad, egg and foie gras to start, onglet, braised veal belly and trout for the mains. Uncomplicated but appetizing and appealing to the eye, we tucked into our meal with gusto. There was a small complaint about the foie gras toast being slightly burnt but in general, we pretty much ate in silence. And the wines? The list is well chosen and the prices are not over the top. Surprisingly, it was a a bit difficult to choose but I started with a reasonably priced 2008 Bouchard Gevry-Chambertin (£8 a glass). Full of ripe, red fruits, intense but subtle at the same time, I could have this with or without food.  Looking at the list, it was a primarily French with a few Italians in the mix – Barbera d’Asti, Cotes du Rhone,...

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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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Short and sustainable (and/or organic/biodynamic) – a little winelist from Tsuru

What I like about Tsuru, besides their katsu curry and sustainability credo is their wine list. Emma, one of the 3 owners of Tsuru, is always tweaking the wine list, looking for wine that not only go along with their Japanese hot food and sushi but also follow their commitment to sustainably sourced ingredients. Recently, they’ve gone completely organic/biodynamic, shortening the list to just 3 reds and 3 whites along with a sparkler to complement the dynamic flavours of Japanese food. Tsuru uses the wines of the importer Caves de Pyrennes, who specialize in organic, biodynamic and sustainable producers. So what did I think of the wines? While not being overly complex (and there might have even been a natural wine in there somewhere), they did make good matches with the food. The sparkler is a Vouvray brut, made from chenin blanc but with bubbles, which while having definite fruity notes on the palate displayed nutty, yeasty aromas. The bubbles were big but not distracting and this was a simple fizzy wine which was very easy to drink. Two of the other whites were French, a still chenin blanc, La Dilletante was full of fruity tropical notes but dry with a lime accented finish. We tried this with the gyoza which was a good match. The 2010 viognier from Reserve de Gassac was my favourite with the tuna sushi, savoury, minerally, and loads of white stone fruit flavours. The third white was a sauvignon blanc from De Martino (Chile), it was typical but nothing special, go for the Gassac if you want a more interesting wine with dinner. Gran Cerdo means Big Pig in Spanish and this fruity tempranillo from Spain is light but not confected, a soft and fruity red wine, it’s really good with pickled ginger. I liked the story behind the wine. Seems the winery owners couldn’t get a loan from the big banks and had to rely on friends and family to start up their winery so in homage to...

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