The charming Ricard Sariola joined Dani and I to celebrate St George’s day with a wing rib of beef. Roast beef is about as English as things get and so am I! We also tasted Riesling, Burgundy and a selection of heroic Mourvedres. Truly we are serious chaps to undertake such an engagement for Monday lunch!
The food was a simple affair. Sausage and duck gizzard salad to start then roast beef with goose fat roast potatoes and green beans cooked with garlic and anchovies. We then ate a truly staggering about of cheese. After all that food, and an immoderate amount of fine wine, I was impressed by the ease with which Ricard managed to get home.
We began our afternoon with a bottle of Jacquesson Cuvee 735, the latest release in this impressive series of semi-non-vintage Champagnes. This was based on the 2007 vintage and it showed the abundant fruit of the year, but had good elegance and a honeyed complexity from the large proportion of reserve wines in it. These wines are ready to drink on release but when I’ve stuck them in the cellar I’ve found they age with remarkable grace gaining real weight and showing a lot more complexity. They are well worth seeking out.
First course was duck gizzard and Old English sausage salad. The Old English sausages came from Beechcroft Farm and are made with the pork of Oxford Sandy and Black pigs which are exceptionally tasty. Just follow this recipe with chopped up sausages added to the gesiers as you fry them.
We had three 2009 Riesling Kabinetts with this. First was Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg which was a brilliantly pure and direct expression of Ruwer Riesling. Painfully acidic and rigorous but an exciting and nervy drink to enjoy. Willi Schaefer’s Graacher Domprobst had a shade more fat and richness, but still great acidity and an edgy minerality to it. This was a step up in terms of complexity from the Karthauserhofberg. Finally a Berncasteler Doctor from Erben-Thanisch utterly blew us away. Certainly lacking nothing in terms of focus it slashed painfully across my stomach, but had an incredibly intricate and sophisticated minerality to it and a massively long finish. This was a truly great Kabinett and I couldn’t have enjoyed my last bottle of it more.
Whilst we were waiting for the beef to rest and for Ricard to create his peerless horseradish sauce we had a quick bottle of Burgundy: Volnay Vendanges Selectionees 2005 from Michel Lafarge. This is pretty much as winsome and pulchritudinous as village Volnay gets. Highly attractive fruit with a silky texture of polished tannins. Great acidity for a 2005 as well. This just seemed charged with life and begged to be drank, but I’d bet it’d improve for ages if that’s the kind of thing you like doing.
Rather idiotically, I forgot to take a picture of the wing rib of Aberdeen Angus beef, also from Beechcroft Farm, but I suppose this lack of photographic evidence might make it easier to believe it tasted far better than it looked, glorious as that was. I’ll move straight onto the reds.
Ricard had decided he wanted to do Mourvedre as the main theme and we had three to try. First was Altos 2005 from Jumilla. It was certainly alcoholic, but this didn’t show too strongly due to the lovely, scented nose of grilled meat, herbs and flowers. Not as tannic as these things can get it was really pleasurable to drink – I thought it slipped down a treat for such a biggie and was showing at a highly attractive stage of development.
Las Gravas 2001 also from Jumilla was simply delicious. It had matured and softened to a perfumed loveliness, whilst still retaining enough vigour and energy to make it a lively drink. Extremely complex and with massive length. I don’t know the wines of Jumilla at all but if they can be this good, and carry their heroism so discreetly, I’ll look out for them.
Finally I had popped a bottle of Chateau Pradeaux Bandol 2001. Hell’s bells it was a beast! I’d wager the alcohol was at least 15% and the tannins were straying to the distinctly severe side of the intensity motorway. Lovely fruit, though, and a lot of it so I think I need to keep my last bottle for a long time to let all its wildness resolve. I imagine, given long enough, it’ll turn into an extravagantly opulent and ravishing scented old lady. I hope so!
As we gorged ourselves on quality cheese we had a bottle of 2009 Riesling Auslese #45 from Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg. The fruit/sugar/acid balance was electric fun and thrills, and the minerality was great too, but I suspect this wine either needed popping a year ago or in five years’ time. Riesling may be the stuff, but sometimes it doesn’t always show itself at its most luridly attractive.
Our final taste of Burgundy bleached from my mind the requirement for Ricard to try some of our 100 year old Marc de Bourgogne, which he should feel disappointed about, but as we escorted him to the station in the pouring rain he looked remarkably chipper. I think we can do that ‘entertaining’ lark and do it well – I certainly enjoyed myself!