While the well heeled ebbed and flowed below I ate one too many canapés and concluded that the sparkling wine in my hand was actually jolly good. So I slide back to the tasting table and poured myself another glass. This peaceful moment of contemplation was a precursor to a rather splendid dinner in the hotels private dining room. A series of wines accompanying some splendid food all encased in a River of Wine event. In this case the river was the Loire.
And the sparkling wine that I enjoyed so much on the mezzanine? Chateau Moncontour Vouvray Brut. From the Loire (obviously) and made the same way as Champagne only using Chenin Blanc grapes rather than the Chardonnay/Pinot affair you get from Champagne. Now I’m a huge fan of Chenin Blanc, admittedly in its still, dry form and usually from South Africa, but here, with its constant stream of fine bubbles, depth of flavour and liveliness this really lifted my slightly jaded palate. Throw in a mix of canapes and this was very nearly heaven for me. (all it lacked was a seat like those plush affairs in the lobby bar below!).
Chateau Moncontour Vouvray Brut is available from Slurp for £12.75.
And then I got confused! My glass was whipped away and replaced with a different wine – Monmousseau Cuvee JM, Touraine Mousseux. Different in style, a little lighter in body, but equally as good with a canapé. (I just happened to be standing right next to the door where the canapé carrying staff emerged with their bountiful trays). Before I could decide on which I preferred and whether I could retrieve my first glass for a glass to glass comparison we where herded down the stairs to our private dining room. (Monmousseau Cuvee JM is available from Spirited Wines for £14.30)
Now the dinner past in a whirl of mood enhancing coloured lights (that played havoc with my camera), a flow of lovely wines and fabulous food all overlaid by the whit and repartee of our host, one Douglas Blyde a ‘gastronomic consultant’ frequently found in many a spot across London’s wine and food scene.
At one point I found a huge slice of sourdough toast laden with Colchester crab, apple and coriander with a light brown crab mayonnaise. To which a Muscadet Cotes de Grandlieu Sur Lie, Clos la Senaigerie 2015 accompanied. If I have to drink Muscadet I much prefer it with a little age. This version, still with a major pout of acidity, cut through that mayo like a light sabre through butter.
There was a fish course next – was fish – rainbow trout, with a light wasabi sauce with some cucumber and veg too. To accompany out came a Savenniéres, Clos de la Hutte, 2015. What a gorgeous wine! Again a little age has done wonders. A touch of elegance and some assured minerality mixed with a Ciff-bottle squeeze of lemon richness and, well, another example of just how good the more obscure Loire whites (outside the realms of Sancerre and so on) can be.
The Loire River Of Wine
Two reds were poured next · Chinon Rouge Joguet, Clos de la Dioterie 2009 and Saumur Champigny, Château du Hureau, Lisagathe 2014 . I generally prefer my reds younger, fresher and fruitier so that saw the Saumur get a leg up the favourite ladder. Accompanying these two beauts was a pork chop. Of course not just any ol’ pork chop but one dressed with calçot onions, apple, tomato and a sage sauce. Rather good too, although that slight over indulgence with the canapés was beginning to have an effect. Although I think it might also have been something to do with the room being drenched in a photo-hating purple hue. Atmosphere 1. Photos 0.
Cheese next. A selection served with two more humble wines a red and a white from Berners Tavern. Hands down the white Anjou was voted the overwhelming best match with the cheese. I’ve long droned on about how I find the acidity in white wine cuts through the fat of cheese making for a superior match over tannic red wines. But do people bother to listen to me? Not often no…
There was coffee too! Another chance to enjoy the wonders from Difference Coffee.
Also pictured, between the two recommended sparkling wines, is a bottle of Chateau d’Epire Savennieres. Which was also on free pour in the pre-dinner canapé reception. Highly recommended. Available from Yapp Brothers £18.75.