Good company, good food and good wine; what more could one wish for when enjoying lunch? Lunch last week delivered all of these at the very pulsing end of jolliness; I don’t think any of us quite expected to have such a roaringly good time.
Incredible thanks must go to Editor Dani for cooking with brilliant skill and Beechcroft Farm for providing extremely high-grade meat. Beechcroft supply some of the best meat in the Hampshire area; they have excellent breeds of animal they treat with care. I cannot recommend buying from them highly enough. I’ll tell you about the food before moving onto the wines.
We started off with Scotch eggs. Dani is a master of Scotch eggs, as regular readers will know, and these were superlative efforts. Using Beechcroft’s Oxford Sandy and Black pig sausage meat they had a great depth of piggy flavour and a fantastic texture. He flavoured the meat with a hint of Perfect Pickles Red Hot Tomato Chutney and that provided just enough of a bite to keep the richly porky skeggs lively and enticing. One each hardly seemed enough, so it is a good job Dani cooked an extra, allowing he and I to be dreadful hosts and eat it rather than let our guests share it.
We followed this up with the excellent chalk meadow-grazed beef that Beechcroft produce – a wing-rib in this instance. Unfortunately we found that our digital temperature probe had gone tits-up just moments before we had to start cooking so we had to estimate the doneness of the meat based on time rather than the preferable temperature measurement. Sadly, we cooked the wing-rib a trifle beyond our preferred ‘frighteningly rare’, but the meat was so powerfully tasty we didn’t feel we had squandered too much of the wonderful experience that is Beechcroft beef. Even the delicately slim Jinke, who had had many strong words about the excessive size of her breakfast and the resultant effect on her appetite, seemed uninhibited when picking up the odd extra slice of beef to put on her plate.
If you are in the Hampshire area Beechcroft get a get multiple ‘worth visiting’ points from this reviewer. They attend the Hampshire Farmers’ Markets and also have a farm shop – details on Beechcroft’s website. (Sorry, just after I published this I noticed Beechcroft’s webpage has better things to do with its time than to show itself. I’ll find out what’s happened to it and update the link/remove this text/do something vaguely appropriate when I’m feeling less knackered and generally shagged out. EDIT: Their site is back up.)
OK, I’ll tell you about the three wines that gave us far more pleasurable things to talk about the bloody awful weather in England this summer. They, and the food, are the main reason Per and Jinke dallied at Elitistreview Towers for so long they didn’t have time for their planned trip to the cathedral. Firstly fizz!
Champagne Cuvee Nicolas-Francois 1996, Billecart-Salmon
Oh how happy I was to smell this, then suddenly sad when I realised it was my last bottle. It had an exquisitely refined nose in a perfect state of maturity: toasty with hints of mushrooms whilst still displaying fresh bread tones and plenty of fruit. Ageing this had brought it to a state of total elegance on the nose, it was simply a delight to sniff. And to taste? Beezer! That refinement was certainly present on the palate, it didn’t over-state its charms. Charms there were a-plenty, though: an incredibly fine mousse, exhilarating, lively fruit, frighteningly vivacious acidity and a persistence of flavour that did it for me rude-wise. A supremely fine bottle of Champagne that was well-worth ageing; it drank with extraordinary pleasure as our aperitif.
Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru Les Brulees 2001, Domaine Rene Engel
Philippe Engel, he was a wild one, got up to all sorts of larks whilst also making some of the most brilliant and joyously affordable wines from the Cote d’Or. I never understood why his wines were not snapped up in preference to some other, far pricier, but lesser growers the, apparently poorly-informed, Burgundy market seemed enamoured with back then. I never got to meet the brilliant geezer, alas, just weeks before I was due to make my first visit he died in an explosion of extravagant excess on his yacht in Tahiti. He must have been making more from his wines than I thought at the time…
This had a glorious nose. It was a mixture of slightly soft, mature fruit, vividly exotic, hedonistic floral/fruity aromas and subtle earthiness. Extremely intricate in construction but showing so much to delight the pleasure-seeking drinker it was impossible not to shout out your gratification at the first sniff. A stunning nose that delivered so much – intellectual interest as well as an awfully large amount of visceral satisfaction. The palate was also a real pleasure-piggy; at that perfect stage of maturity where the flavours are beginning to mellow and soften, but there is still more than an edge of rigour and life to the acidity, fruit and tannins. The tannic structure was particularly satisfying; finely-grained but with a suggestion of severity. Incredibly complex the flavours just lasted an age. If I were a fragile type I’d also howl and sob that this was my last bottle, but I’m a happy chap; as I write this I’m grinning as I remember how damned-freaking-good it was.
Cote-Rotie 2001, Bernard Burgaud
I worried when the Editor said he wanted this with roast beef – really worried. The last few bottles I’ve had were all so incredibly Bretty I almost found myself running out of synonyms for poo when describing them. They were turd-tastic. Happily, this bottle was clean as a whistle and in rude good health. It had plenty of elegant, polished fruit on the nose together with a good mineral tang making it quite complex enough for my tastes. The palate was very polished and sophisticated with fine fruit flavours and fulsome feel in the mouth with no hint of filth or foulness that had irked me on previous encounters. A truly excellent Cote-Rotie that matched the excellent beef really rather well.
That’s enough to be going on with, don’t you think? I’ll tell you about the Haag 01 Goldcap and the Thanisch 01 when you next catch me down the boozer…