Archive for the Restaurants Category

All work and no play? Then let’s drink Beaucastel today.

Posted in Food, Restaurants, Rhone, Tasting Notes on September 17, 2008 by AB

People keep asking me how Bid for Wine is progressing, particularly as our site doesn’t appear to have changed much lately. Well, the answer is that behind the scenes we’re working flat out (and have been for the past few months). The upshot of this is that we’re starting testing of the site at the end of the week and sales should be commencing in mid-October (more on this later but key your eyes peeled for top vintages of La Chapelle, ultra-rare Guigal, various 1st Growths…)!

Although the hard work recently means I’ve seen 1A.M. come and go a little more than I’d like, there have been some notable high points. A recent lunch at The Ledbury in Notting Hill to discuss Bid for Wine with a noted journalist over a couple of bottles of the famous Chateauneuf du Pape, Chateau Beaucastel particularly stands out.

Whilst awaiting our starter, a surprise Amuse Bouche was brought to the table.

Squid ‘risotto’ with Winkles and a Pine Nut foam

This was magical. What at first appeared to be perfectly cooked pearls of Arborio rice revealed themselves to be tiny piece of tender, succulent squid with a subtly fishy binding. This was accompanied by some beautifully cooked and incredibly intensely flavoured Winkles – a later conversation with Brett (the chef) revealed these had been finished with PX sherry, which explained the richness and depth.

Next up was a cunning seasonal twist on Ravioli, eaten alongside a bottle of Puligny Montrachet.

Ravioli of Grouse and Cepe, Elderberries, Toasted Bread Veloute

A really unusual and clever dish. The elderberries were an inspiration giving a touches of acidity and sweetness to underline the richness of the other components.

Puligny Montrachet ‘Les Referts’ 1999, Louis Carillon

A suspiciously deep colour on pouring, this wine unfortunately lack an edge and was suffering a touch of oxidation. However, underneath there seemed to be some elegance with well managed oak and a touch of butteriness. Not Rated

Although the choice of Sea Bass or Beef for the main is often a difficult one, our choice of wine left me with no alternative.

Rib of Beef, Kromesky of Veal, Spinach Puree and Grated Horseradish

Beautifully rare Rib, a Kromesky (a sort of croquette) subtly spiced with 5 spice and some very fine potatoes contributed to a great dish which worked perfectly with the Beaucastel. The dish was crowned with a slice of Apple Wood smoked bone marrow sitting atop the Rib – the sort of thing which always leaves me wondering how on earth it was done.

Chateau Beaucastel 1981

Very elegant lightly peppery nose (almost watercress) with lovely background aromas of grilled meat, leather and tarry fruit. Amazingly youthful colour – just a little bricking around the rim. Not a huge wine but there’s exceptional elegance and poise here allied with great length. Excellent

Chateau Beaucastel 1988

Ripe, creamy nose showing some plum and leafiness. A slightly honeyed leafiness emerges over time seeming to suggest the Grenache is asserting its presence in this wine. The tannins are still dense and don’t quite mesh with the other elements meaning the wine lacks some elegance – good length though. I suspect this suffered in comparison to the ’81. Very Good

A selection of lovely cheeses with crispbreads and a miniature loaf spiked with apricots and figs rounded off a great lunch.