Monday, 24 October 2011

Dinner with friends (oh, and some wine)

I have never invited wine makers to dinner before, but with the harvest and much of the subsequent cellar work out the way it was their turn to relax and for someone else to feel some pressure. Being friends, any pressure is of course imagined and bears no resemblance to what growers experience at the climax of a years work. Nevertheless, fuelled by the presence of a sommelier, restaurateur, lawyer and finance director (all ex of course), there was no shortage of imagined pressure.

I supplied the wines and had declared my guest's products interdit in advance. For the heart of the evening I had procured three whites and three reds with some tenuous connections to the guests - grape, style and all Languedoc of course. They were served blind, but I did reveal they were from the region. Most interesting were some of the comments. A white icon of the Terrasses du Larzac was harshly deemed by one of us to have contrived acidity and no more complexity than a Picpoul. Everyone, I think, agreed on which white showed best - Domaine Fons Sanatis B… d’Agniane 2009 (Aniane, geographically in the Terrasses du Larzac). A Vermentino I tried last year that had now shrugged off most of the oak of youth and opened into a lovely clean and rounded wine full of haunting interest. A comment "Riesling of the south" sums it up.

The bottle has an attractive glass closure originally held in place by the capsule. It avoids corked bottles and is certainly a more stylish (and expensive) alternative to a screw-cap.

The three reds generated a similar number of comments. Brett was detected by one observer on the first, but for the rest of us it was an expressive start. A still youthful 10 year old icon Carignan surprised everyone and it was the best equipped to complement cheese.

We all agreed the Léon Barral Tradition 2008 (Faugères) was the red of the night. Spiralling circles of flavour captured everyone's feelings. It will be hard to dislodge as my red of the year given how delicious it was on two previous occasions. I must make an effort to procure some.

For the record the menu included: -

  • Roast aubergine and courgette with Pesto and Tapenade
  • Brandade made with olive oil from Mas Cal Demoura, fresh Paimpol beans, capers from the commune and roast red peppers
  • Pig's cheeks braised in Cévennes onions, fresh sage and bay, garlic, reduced Noilly Prat and home salted anchovies (no other added liquid) accompanied by green beans with garlic and aforesaid oil, a baked mix of Jerusalem artichokes and new potatoes.
  • Selection of cheeses including a Brebis called Nauc from the Larzac and chèvres from Le Chalet Roujan.
  • Quince Frangipane Tart with home made vanilla ice cream
  • Mature Armagnac soaked chocolate coated prunes.

1 comment:

  1. Glad the Leon Barral was good Graham, really enjoyed it too at the tasting. I too must make an effort to pick up some.