This perhaps should have gone in the weekend drinking thread, but it didn’t feel appropriate to that occasion, so I hope people will forgive its being posted here.
The South-West Hampshire Wine and Food Appreciation Group met on Saturday 4 December with Philip & Carolyn hosting as well as ever. If only the Bluestar bus route had been as reliable. Whereas sometimes we have had two very similar choices for each course, or some obvious misfires, the main feature of this meal was how often two quite different wines both worked with the same dish.
For our aperitif – when we finally managed to arrive – we had a Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs, clean and quite light in flavour.
Our starter was a salt cod paté, with croutes, olives, cucumber and tomatoes. Both wines were from Spain, but very different in style. One was a 2020 Albariño Rias Baixas, aged 6 months on lees, from Viña Lareira, fresh and well-balanced with a hint of lemon. The other was a Viña Gravonia white Rioja, 2012, from the very traditional producer López de Heredia, with a lot more colour and depth and obvious vanilla from the oak ageing. Both worked very well, in different ways, and people’s slight preferences reflected their a priori preferences for one style or the other.
The next course was a braised haunch of venison with Lyonnaise potatoes, red cabbage with cranberries, and braised celeriac. The wines were a young and fruity 2019 Lirac from Domaine Maby, a Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre blend, and a 2005 Cahors Malbec from Chateau de Haute Serre, deeper and rather more tannic. The depth of the Cahors suited the venison better, but the fruit and freshness of the Lirac were a better match with the vegetables, especially the sweetness of the red cabbage. Again overall preferences generally reflected a priori preferences for one style or the other.
The cheese was a Mimolette, a hard cheese from Northern France, broadly in the style of Edam. The offerings here were a very dry sherry, Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana, and a Lebanese red wine, Ksara Carignan 2018. Although the sherry was very dry, the cheese brought out its brightness and nutty flavour. The Ksara was quite light, with darkish fruit flavours again brought out by the cheese. Although both wines worked, we reckoned the sherry edged this one (and surprised some of the group).
The dessert was a warm carrot cake with hazelnut marmalade syrup and nutmeg mascarpone cream, the nutmeg quite prominent. Again we had two excellent but very different wines, a 2018 Monbazillac, Domaine de Grange Neuve, very like a Sauternes in style, and Warre’s Colheita 2009 tawny port, quite delicate and honeyed. The port perhaps matched the spices a little better and on that basis was the marginal victor.
A fascinating evening, with a really good collection of matches.