The evening kicked off with a Champagne André Clouet Grand Cru Réserve Brut reception – really delicious full bodied champagne full of rich, ripe apple and biscuity flavours making it way too easy to drink! The label for this wine was redesigned and based on a Belle Époque style label which was found on bottles that were hidden away during World War Two. The meal was perfect – perfectly prepared, perfectly presented and perfectly delicious! For those of you unlucky enough not to have eaten in Les Gourmandises, the style of food is classic French with only the best local ingredients used. Soizic, being French, took considerable care in what to choose and the menu was as follows: Champagne André Clouet Grand Cru Réserve Brut Les Gourmandises tasting plate (Jerusalem artichoke soup, monkfish beignets with pea puree, chicken & foie gras parfait) Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2010 Braised lamb shoulder with aubergine caviar, confit potato, thyme & rosemary jus Perrin & Fils Gigondas ‘La Gille’ 2008 Château de Beaucastel Rouge 2000 Selection of French cheeses Château de Beaucastel Blanc 2008 Orange cake with orange & Grand Marnier panacotta Perrin & Fils Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2009
To say all the wines were WOW would be an understatement they were at least WOW +++! The ‘most basic’ wine of the evening was the Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2010 – not at all basic and beautifully balanced – really well matched with the chicken & foie gras parfait. The monkfish beignet with pea puree was one small but intensely flavoured mouthful which could have taken on any wine but went well with the Réserve. The soup was delicious but, being artichoke, was probably the most difficult thing on the tasting plate to pair with any wine. The lamb was meltingly tender and succulent (drooling just thinking about it!). We had two wines to sample with this course - Perrin & Fils Gigondas ‘La Gille’ 2008 and the big hitter of the evening which was Château de Beaucastel Rouge 2000. The Gigondas was beautiful with intense fruit, full body and long finish. If it were just this wine with the lamb, it was a perfect pairing. However, to go from the Gigondas to the Château de Beaucastel demonstrated the sheer quality, power and finesse of the Beaucastel. Being a 2000 vintage it was drinking beautifully with intense mature fruit, silky tannins, balanced acidity and a finish that went on and on and on…. What a wine! Beaucastel is truly one of the great wines of the world and a must try for any serious wine lover. As the wines were recommended by Château de Beaucastel to match the menu, they insisted on the Château de Beaucastel Blanc 2008 with the cheese course. This raised a few eyebrows in the initial discussions as even Soizic of Les Gourmandises thought that Irish people would prefer a red with their cheeses. She went to a lot of trouble to select a range of cheeses that would specifically pair with the Beaucastel Blanc. Beaucastel Blanc is only available in tiny quantities and generally not available for sale – it is usually allocated to customers who purchase Beaucastel Rouge – so we were very lucky indeed to get it for the dinner. This was my favourite wine of the evening – a stunning white that oozed class and elegance. It was powerful but beautifully balanced and matched the cheeses as if they were made especially for it. We finished with the Perrin & Fils Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2009 which was paired with panacotta, mango and orange cake. Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is an intense dessert wine with honey and orange blossom flavours and with good acidity to balance the high sugar levels. A good one should never be cloying but instead be fresh with a mouthful of beautiful honied fruit. This was great – as good a Muscat de Beaumes de Venise as I have tasted with a really long finish – a fabulous pairing with the dessert. Rupert talked us through the wines and made the whole evening memorable but without the feeling of being lectured. Soizic and Pat hosted a fabulous evening which everybody I spoke to agreed was one of the best to show wines at which they had ever been. In fact it was so successful Bubble Brothers are thinking of making such an evening a regular event featuring different wines and producers. Keep checking for updates!