Sofitel Wine Days at The Sofitel St James:
Sofitel are a global luxury hotel brand with style. Between September 29th and October 30th of every year they rather sensibly run special Sofitel Wine Days in all of their hotels to celebrate the grape harvest season.
Even more sensibly this year they invited me along to their very chic hotel in St James for a wine and cheese tasting as part of this celebration.
Executive Chef Vincent Menager skilfully combines French techniques with British ingredients in the hotel’s contemporary brasserie, The Balcon. I’m hoping to eat there soon and have a couple of drinks at their champagne bar and in the beautiful Coco Chanel inspired St James Bar, but today was all about cheese and wine.
Vincent explained how much he loved to use the best of British produce and that there were as many varieties of cheese in the UK as in France. Combining French wines with British cheese might not appeal to a purist but is a clear expression of Vincent’s ethos.
We started with a peachy Cotes du Rhone, Paul Jaboulet-Ainé, Viognier 2013 which was a great match with the lemony freshness of Cornish Yarg wrapped in wild garlic from Lynher Dairies Cheese Company near Truro. Yarg was originally made by the Gray family (Yarg is Gray backwards…)
Gevrey-Chambertin, Domaine Roux, Pinot Noir 2010 was a classic silky expression of the grape, full of fruit, and a perfect match for Welsh cheesemaker Caws Cenarth’s Perl Las cow’s milk blue. This was my favourite of the matches. The cheese was creamy and not too salty and astonishingly enough it was only developed because the producers had too much milk left over from their milk quota and so set about turning it into cheese.
Cotes du Rhone, Paul Jaboulet-Ainé, Grenache, Syrah 2013 was full-bodied with a spicy edge that sat well with the Driftwood unpasteurised goats cheese from Glastonbury.
The Sofitel is a lovely hotel with a consistently strong food and beverage operation. I really enjoyed the wine and cheese event and if you want to experience their culinary entente cordiale you should book at Le Balcon.
The Sofitel St James,
6 Waterloo Place,
0207 747 2200