May 30, 2011

Matching Chapel Down Wines With Asparagus

By In Food and Wine, Wine Notes
chapel down wine tasting The White Swan, Fetter Lane, London, not exactly my local but when invited by Cooksister for a Friday night out complete with English bubbly and food, who could resist! The dinner, a celebration of English wines and English asparagus, offered five courses with five wines for a bargain £46 a head. Not insubstantial portions or measly tasting samples of the wines either.

A quick run through of the wines and the food matches. Opening with Charred Norfolk Asparagus, Truffled Ricotta and Watercress – a sublime match with the Chapel Down Vintage Reserve Brut NV [Adegga / Snooth]. The truffle dimension work gorgeously with the wine, opening out the complexity and adding much to the crisp, apple-led, pure flavours. The Vintage Reserve is a mix of Reichensteiner, Rivaner and Pinot Noir.

The second pairing saw Roast Fillet of plaice, sprue asparagus, samphire and lemon vinaigrette matched with Chapel Down English Rosé 2009 [Adegga / Snooth]. Another melange of obscure grapes here – Schönburger , Rondo, Regent, Dornfelder and Pinot Noir producing a dry rosé with a vibrancy that runs from the colour through to the closing line of the palate. Fresh, summery, cherry edged flavours and an edge of savouriness. Fuller than a Provance rosé and a stellar match with the fish and the delicate sprue asparagus. Lightish in alcohol too at 11.5% making an ideal lunchtime/picnic wine.

Then a red – the Chapel Down Trinity 2009 [Adegga / Snooth] (a mix of Rondo, Pinot Noir and a version of PN, Pinot Noir Precoce) was served with a succulent Rump of Herdwick Lamb, Jersey Royals and Minted Lincolnshire Asparagus. High acidity in the wine – understandable as England is a cool climate – cut through the fat of the lamb beautifully. In conversation notes of coffee, chocolate, pepper, spice and bramble were banded about. A surprising depth of colour too.

chapel down tasting first asparagus course
chapel down wine tasting - second course fillet of plaice
chapel down wine tasting - main course of Herdwick Lamb
A slice of cheese next Tymsboro with white asparagus with rhubarb chutney and buck wheat biscuits. The cheese was nice with the Chapel Down Bacchus Reserve 2009 [Adegga / Snooth] although the sweetness of the chutney clashed somewhat. The wine itself has the most gorgeous aroma; think English hedgerow with elderflower predominating and a distinct edge of exotic passion fruit. Wonderful. A full palate with a similar flavour to the aroma. The acidity is high but a fine alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.
Finally, Poached English Strawberries, Muscat and Strawberry Jelly, Honey and Thyme Ice-cream. Not a great match with the delicate and dry Chapel Down Brut Rosé NV [Adegga / Snooth] jarring with the sweetness of the dessert. Individually superb however. The evening was worth attending just for the ice-cream! Stunning.
chapel down wine tasting - the dessert

Ever heard that asparagus is a tricky thing to match with wine? That the flavour dissipates into something metallic or sulphurous and unpleasant? Poppycock. Avoid wines with heavy tannins or lashings of oak – all the wines here are unoaked – add bubbles too for a little decadence.

Chapel Down can be followed on Twitter with the wines purchased online from the English Wine Group website.

I do think some of the ‘charms’ of the White Swan were lost on me. Mirrored ceilings have their place I guess. Somewhere. Please forgive the poor quality photos, slightly cramped conditions and working by candle light are not the best of environs…

Teh mirrored ceiling at The White Swan Fetter Lane London
chapel down wine

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1 Comment
  1. Jeanne @ CookSister! June 2, 2011

    Could not have said it better myself, sir! And your photos were not bad either ;o) A charming companion for a delightful dinner!


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