Starter 26th & 27th
This week Stephen has chosen an Albariño as the perfect match for the starter courses.
‘The first wine I thought of when I read this menu is found in northern Spain, known as Alvarinho in Portugal but also being grown in New Zealand. Expect cool citrus fruit and soft & sweet herbal notes with clean acidity and minerality in the better ones, associated with the soils it likes and the maritime climate.’
Alternatively; Chablis or another unoaked Chardonnay.
Main 26th & 27th
This week Stephen recommends a Northern Rhône Red; Crozes Hermitages, Saint-Joseph, Cornas as the perfect match for the main course.
‘I think that this dish needs a wine that is not too heavy, oaky or tannic. The meat is very tender and the dish savoury/earthy overall, a weightier wine would be overkill. Cooler climate Syrah is one of our favourite wine expressions for moderate tannins, complex fruit, heady perfume (sometimes thanks to the small proportion of aromatic white grapes allowed in some of these regions) and often monumental concentration and depth.’
Alternatively; try a Right Bank Bordeaux like Côtes de Blaye, Saint Emillion; premium Merlo
Starter 5th & 6th March
This week Stephen recommends a Viognier to pair with the starters.
‘The ravioli and accompanying bisque are a bit of a challenge to find a pairing for due to their intensity of flavour and weight of texture. This is down to the amount of flavour that can be drawn from the lobster shell, the tomato base and a good quantity of cream used to make it. With the best will in the world, the usual lightish whites (even very good ones) will not stand up to this kind of competition on the palate. We need to go a bit weightier, and this grape variety is more than capable of it whilst also staying bright & refreshing.’
Sommeliers tip: Like many aromatic varieties it takes a lot of skill to reign in the heady perfumes and complex and often quite exotic flavours, but when done well the results can be lovely, even spectacular. Look for it by name in Southern France, South America and Australia, and for the rarest and sought-after look no further than Condrieu in the Northern Rhone.
Alternatives; Gewurztraminer, Provence Rosé
Main 5th & 6th March
This week Stephen recommends a Rioja Reserva to pair with the main courses.
‘Here we need to consider the accompaniment to the duck on the plate quite carefully as the elements are pronounced in flavour and rich in texture. Of course the duck itself has particular requirements, given that it is has a subtle but unmistakable flavour combined with rich fatty notes down to their delicious skin. The earthy sweetness of the beetroot in particular calls for wine with some maturity, and it’s why we have recommended this wine as ‘Reserva’ is a legally protected term in the region (rather than something a producer can stick on the bottle to make it sound posh) meaning wines must be matured a minimum of three years; in practice it can be much longer. This means you are getting a wine that has often been made from better quality fruit and curated by the producer and released when it’s ready.’
Alternatives; Chianti Classico, Barbera d’Alba