As the days stretch longer and we start to see the first glimpses of sun, so the date of RAW WINE fair creeps inorexably closer. As such we felt it was time to poke our heads over the parapet and get down and dirty with some people who we thought might be interested.
Open since 2001, Antidote, located just off Carnaby St in the heart of Soho, is London’s oldest natural wine bar and one of our favourites, so what better place to kick off a wine and food matching evening to celebrate Spring’s imminent arrival.
We started the evening with Glou….Bulles 2010, a Pétillant Naturel (pet nat for short) from La Ferme des Sept Lunes in the Rhone, the 100% Gamay was showing wonderfully, all cloudy orange rose petal in colour, just off dry and intriguingly scented.
Onto the meal proper, we opened with a surprise. One of the house wines from Fortnum & Mason. Yes, the bastion of traditional London department stores is selling Craig Hawkins’ Lammershoek Chenin Blanc 2011 for £12 under its own label. Incredible value it is too. All waxy and rich with careening acidity in the background holding it all together and letting the Chenin woolly and herbal notes come to the forefront.
This was served with a celeriac remoulade, goats curd and toasted almonds. The celeriac with the Chenin was revelatory, the tartness of the root seemed born to sit with the occasionally prickly Chenin.
Following on from the Chenin and celeriac we came to Isabelle’s Lagvinari Lagvini 2011, a Rkatsiteli from Khakheti in Georgia. Made in traditional large ceramic pots called Kvevri (or qvevri). This was for many their first experience of orange wines: white wines made with extended skin maceration. Glowing amber in colour, the wine matched a bold tannic body to rich dried mango and stone fruit nose. Paired with citrus cured horse mackerel, fennel, satsuma and a delicate horseradish cream, the body of the wine became much less prominent letting the citrus notes of the fish intermingle nicely with the fruit of the wine.
Now the French have a term ‘vin de soif’ essentially wine for when you’re thirsty. I guess the closest we have in the UK would be talking about great ale as being a session beer. Refreshing, satisfying and the sort of thing one can consume a bottle or two of. Crunchy acidity, sour cherry notes and a little herbaceousness, textbook vin de soif. Also, exactly what you need with something like Gascony pork loin, apricots and chanterelles. Sebastien Bobinet’s Du Rififi a Beaulieu 2011, a Cot, Pineau d’Aunis blend that fitted the bill perfectly.
The last of the savoury courses was a confit shoulder of mutton with Jerusalem artichoke, feta and onion ash. This was served with Tom Shobbrook’s Barossa Shiraz 2010, a wine that proves natural wine is no longer just an European phenomenon. Combining an incredible purity of black and red berries with an uncharacteristic (for the Barossa) freshness of acidity it made a lovely partner to the intensely flavoured mutton confit.
Finally, the jewel of the wines was an off dry Vouvray 09 from Clos de la Meslerie. With some residual sugar and acidity that could carve diamonds this was the real deal. Isabelle mentioned that in all the vintages the owners have worked they’ve never once seen any malo-lactic fermentation, such is the intrinsic acidic structure lying beneath the languid river emerald green tinted liquid. Lightly herbal, complex yet still indisputably Vouvray with honeyed white flowers and that wet river hillside character.
With the Clos de la Meslerie we had gingerbread, rhubarb and an orange bavarois, in particular the rhubarb seemed to really sing alongside the wine.
It was great to sit down and show a selection, however small, of the RAW WINE fair wines to people over dinner. Particularly satisfying was seeing how much everyone seemed to love the selections and pairings. Though truth be told a lot of that credit needs to go to Guillaume and John (owner and chef) of Antidote, who did the wines proud with their dishes.
La Ferme des Sept Lunes, Glou…Bulles, Rhône, France, 2010 – gamay
Importer: Aubert & Mascoli
Celeriac, goats curd & toasted almonds
Lammershoek, Swartland, South Africa, 2011 – chenin blanc
Importer: Richard Walfords
(with thanks to Fortnum & Mason for the bottles)
Citrus cured gilthead bream, fennel, satsuma & horseradish
Lagvinari, Lagvini, Kakheti, Georgia, 2011 – rkatsiteli
Importer: Dynamic Vines
Gascony black pork loin, apricot & chanterelles
Sebastien Bobinet, Rififi A Beaulieu, Saumur, Loire, France, 2011 – cot & pinot d’aunis
Importer: Gergovie Wines
Confit shoulder of mutton, Jerusalem artichoke, feta & onion ash
Tom Shobbrook, Syrah, Barossa, South Australia, 2011 – syrah
Importer: The Winemakers Club
Ginger bread, Yorkshire rhubarb & orange bavarois
Clos de la Meslerie, Vouvray, Loire, France, 2009 – chenin blanc
Importer: Dynamic Vines
All the wines featured tonight are produced
by natural wine artisans who will be in London for RAW WINE 2013.
Come and meet the growers on the 19th & 20th May.
Another thought on the evening…
We need something to see us through these dull grey days of February, right? This is usually in the form of food and drink, if you’re a greedy bitch like me. Luckily two top invites zinged through my letterbox and I found my mood turn from cloudy grey to as light and airy as a mauve marshmallow.
Antidote, a charming wine bar and bistro off Carnaby Street has specialised in natural wines for nearly a decade, an ideal place for a natural wine and food pairing dinner ahead of the RAW artisan wine fair in May. Made with minimal intervention, natural wines are the closest you’ll get to hangover-free drinking thanks to very little added in the making (sometimes just a smidge of sulfites for preserving purposes) Natural wine is not only how wine used to be made, it’s also the future of sustainable, environmentally friendly winemaking… (more)