Loire Moments in London:
London Wine week kicked off with a hedonistic bang; with Loire Valley wines flowing freely in the 5 Star London Edition Hotel. I was invited by the charming host, wine writer for the Evening Standard Douglas Blyde and wine educator Lindsay Oram, for a gastronomic event with six Loire wines matched by the London Edition’s sommelier, Matteo Montone and Douglas.
Drinks on the mezzanine provided a bit of early evening glamour with a preview of aperitifs chosen by Lindsay Oram featuring choice picks of 10 wines from the Loire ribbon of a river, available at events during London Wine Week, with some fine canapés to match.
After aperitifs, we headed into the depths of hotel’s basement to the rather decadent private salon. The tables were beautiful set and Douglas cleverly used the coloured lighting and music to set an ambient scene, introducing wine by wine as we journeyed down the Loire River.
Seasoned as I am to a good glass of wine, there is always so much more to enjoy and learn, sitting next to the lovely Lindsay and soaking up her vast wealth of knowledge and passion was a real treat!
My fellow diners and I were all there to experience a sensory river wine ‘boatanical’ feast with the delights of 6 Loire Valley wines all partnered with an exceptionally good menu from chef Phil Carmichael. I have to admit I am getting a bit of a taste for fine dining; good wine and food is rather addictive, albeit a little decadent.
The landscapes and diverse soil of the Loire Valley produce a wide range of wines, including dry whites, sweet wines, reds, rosés and sparkling wines. Renowned for their lightness and typical characteristics, these wines provide the perfect accompaniment to any meal. The Loire is recognised as France’s leading area for wine tourism, a massive 250 million bottles of wine are produced each year and sold in 140 countries, at a rate of 8 bottles per second!
We kicked off with La Senaigerie, 2015 – a superb Muscadet from the mouth of Loire, by 3rd generation winemakers, brothers Luc and Jerome Choblet. A perfect wine to cleanse your pallet, it had a spritzy, fresh and lively taste with a mineral texture and acidic citrus flavours. Lindsay explained that this was often to do with the soil and that volcanic wines were more about texture than fruit flavour.
This was paired perfectly with the Colchester Crab with brown mayo, apple and coriander – The wine didn’t overpower the beautiful fresh taste of the crab which was complimented by the crunch of the apple, the sweetness of the coriander and subtle citrus flavours, served with rustic toast and a smoky brown crab mayo.
Next, we drank Savenniéres, Clos de la Hutte, 2015, Thibault Boudignon –
Made from the Chenin Blanc grape. An intriguing, complex young wine with many facets, it was dry, silky, but rich and chalky on the palette. I loved Lindsay’s description where she described it as having an Asian cushion with caviar notes, now only a true expert could come up with such a fabulous analogy!
This was served with Pan Fried Rainbow Trout with chargrilled courgette, cucumber, wasabi butter sauce and caviar – a divine dish, tender and moist with the perfect bite of the wasabi; melt in the mouth caviar and the crunch of the cucumber. The wine worked exceptionally well with the fish as it allowed the delicate flavour of the trout come through.
We were served two red wines with our next course; my firm favourite was a delicious Chinon Rouge, Clos de la Dioterie, Charles Joguet – 2009. This wine comes from a top vineyard, and 2009 was a sublime year, it’s a vibrant, ripe, smooth and sumptuous wine, with strong aromas of black fruits, plum and cranberry.
We also drank a Saumur-Champigny, Cuvée Lisagathe, Château du Hureau 2014 – a young friendly wine with redcurrant notes and a peppery edge.
The BBQ Dingley Deli Pork chop with roasted calcite onions, apple tomato and sage sauce was probably the best piece of pork I have eaten in years, it was wonderfully sweet and succulent with heavenly melting textures and a tangy sauce.
Finally, we were served a beautiful selection of cheeses with pear and saffron chutney and homemade mixed seed biscuits, which looked so magnificent, that almost all the guests were inspired to get their cameras out and post pictures directly on Instagram!
Douglas is a firm believer that white wine can also be as good an accompaniment to cheese as red, which I tend to agree with. We were given a choice two high-quality house wines chosen by chef, Jason Atherton’s leading light of wine, Laure Patry – herself a Loire native – Anjou Blanc ‘Berners Tavern’ 2015, Clos de L’Elu, Chenin Blanc and Anjou Rouge ‘Berners Tavern’ 2014 Clos de L’Elu, Cabernet Franc. I choose to drink the Anjou Blanc, which with its acidity and freshness and delicate flavours, perfectly cut through the lactic characters of the rich cheeses.
Finally, we were treated to some very special terroir-driven, high-grade coffee courtesy of coffee and cigar aficionado, Amir Gehl of Difference Coffee Co. With a choice of Jamaica Blue Mountain espresso – which is one of the most sought after and exquisite coffees in the world, light and delicate with mild, yet complex flavours, low acidity and a creamy chocolaty taste. Alternatively, there was an excellent decaf made with the Arabica bean using the Swiss Water process, a non-chemical 100% natural process from the Finca de la Pastoria Santa Rosa region of Guatemala. This made the perfect post-dinner coffee, smooth, with chocolate and caramel flavours and a hint of citrus, plus guaranteed not to keep you up all night.
All in all a wonderful evening to open London Wine week, tempting all wine lovers to take a trip down the Loire, a big thank you to Douglas, Lindsay, Jason and Loire Wines.
London Wine Week was part of London Wine Week, an annual summer festival which takes place across the city, with over 100 of the very best wine bars opening their doors to serve flights of wine and delicious food pairings.
The London Edition – Loire Valley Wine
10 Berners St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 3NP
For more information on the Loire, please visit: http://loirevalleywine.com/