Wine of the Month is into its second year, I thought it might be interesting to start mixing things up a little by adding a matching food element - and a competition.
Whilst Cambridge may still not be a great dining-out city (due in part to the large numbers of tourists we get who want only recognisably familiar, high-street chain restaurants), there has been something of a food revolution on the last half decade or so with a vast increase in the number of smart eating establishments.
At a more grass-roots level, there is foodie heaven to be found in the various delis, farm shops and the like that have opened up, too.
Amongst these is a relative new-comer, Pavitt's Pies; founded by Carri Pavitt who gave up a career in events at CIE less than a year ago, the award-winning pies are hand-made from fresh local ingredients.
Label Anglais Chicken and Mushroom pie, so I asked the merchants to provide something to match.
For details of the chance to win a couple of Carri's pies, see the bottom of this piece.
Domaine de Menard, Cuvee Marine, 2011 - £8.99, Joseph Barnes Wines
From Gascony in South West France, the name of this wine is a reference to the subsoil which is full of shellfish fossils and gives this wine a minerally, slightly smokey elegance.
Made from a blend of local varieties Ugni blanc and Gros Manseng, it is aromatic on the nose, with zesty grapefruit, orchard fruits and some white flowers.
On the palate it is crisp and fresh, zesty and slightly herbaceous with peach and pear fruit, zippy acidity and a persistent, minerally finish.
Pure and focused, it makes a great summer sipper, aperitif or a match for mozzarella with oil and basil or oily fish such as mackerel.
Gayda Figure Libra Freestyle Blanc, IGP Pays d'Oc 2010 - £13.99 Cambridge Wine Merchants
Gayda is a relatively new winery, established in just 2003 in Languedoc. This Figure Libre (meaning "freestyle") is a curious mixture of varieties - 43% Grenache Blanc, 20% Maccabeu, 20% Marsanne, 14% Chenin Blanc, 3% Roussanne - and as a result carries merely a humble Pays d'Oc tag.
Each variety is fermented separately in oak before blending and further aging in vat - on the nose there is citrus, orchard fruit, blossom and spice. The palate is full-bodied and complex with more ripe stone fruit, buttery, vanilla-spice oak, fresh acidity, a peachy texture and a savoury, toasty leesiness that persists on the finish.
Quirky and characterful in a typically Languedoc way, this is a great food wine that would match with roast chicken or pork.
La Forge Estate Chardonnay, IGP Pays d'Oc, 2010 - £9.29, Bacchanalia
A decade or so ago, oaky Chardonnay was synonymous with "a glass of white" - then it started becoming too big, sweet and monolithic and the ABC ("Anything But Chardonnay") backlash against oaked whites began, first with kiwi SB and then Pinot Grigio.
This oak-fermented Chardonnay is grown on limestone and gravel near Carcassone, with grapes are picked at night to retain freshness. Fermentation is in a mixture of new oak and stainless steel with extended aging on the lees. The end result of all this is a balanced, elegant wine, with good depth of flavour, gentle oaking and good acidity.
On the nose there is tropical fruit, blossom and spice, whilst the palate is full and supple, with lovely toasty, sweet, vanilla oak cut through with tropical fruit acidity and a savoury, leesy finish.
This to me is exactly what a warm-climate, nicely-oaked Chardonnay should be - elegant yet crowd-pleasing, it is a lovely, easy-drinking, food-friendly wine in a textbook style.
As with the previous wine, match with pretty much any dish based on white meats - roasted, stews, with cream and pasta. Also with cheese.
Papaioannou 'Saint George' Agiorgitiko 2011 - £10.49 Noel Young Wines
This organic Greek red from Noel Young wines is from the Nemea region of the Peleponnese and was spotted by Noel at the International Wine Challenge.
Made from the agiorgitiko grape, whose name translates as St George, it is pale ruby red in the glass with cherry fruit, aromatic green herbs and a touch of spice of the nose.
The palate shows cherry fruit, smokey toasty, slightly herbaceous aromas and vibrant, juicy acidity. Good depth of flavour and a balanced, poised finish.
It feels very well-made with a clean freshness that I associate with organic wines.
It has soft and velvety on the palate with an almost Pinot-esque texture - and, like Pinot, can be served slightly chilled.
Chicken and Mushroom Pie - Pavitt's Pies, £2.50
Made from free-range Label Anglais chicken thighs and chestnut mushrooms, this is is a rather superb pie indeed. Deeply filled, with a thick sauce of butter, cream and sherry, it is one of the best pies I have ever had. There is absolutely nothing fancy about it - nothing unusual, quirky or overly fussy - just a really well-made and extremely tasty home-made pie from great ingredients.
As ever, this is a great collection of wines, but the winner this month is the elegant yet crowd-pleasing Chardonnay from Bacchanalia.
The best-matching wine with the pie is either the Chardonnay or, even better, the Figure Libre.
Pavitt's Pies are available from Urban Larder, The Larder at Burwash Manor or direct from Pavitt's Pies via home delivery; full details here.
To win a couple of Carri's award-winning chicken and mushroom pies, just answer the following questions:
- If you could ask Carri to make you any pie at all what would it be ?
- Why ?
- Where would you serve it, and with whom ?
To enter the competition, just leave your answer as a comment to this article. Carri will judge all the answers and pick a winner to be announced some time next month. Please make sure you leave some contact details, so we can let you know if you are the lucky winner.
Competition rules are that Carri's decision is final and she will deliver the pies to the winner in Cambridge, otherwise you'll need to come to this wonderfully historic university town to collect.
Bacchanalia - http://www.winegod.co.uk/
Cambridge Wine Merchants - http://www.cambridgewine.co.uk/
Joseph Barnes Wines - http://www.josephbarneswines.com/
Noel Young Wines - http://www.nywines.co.uk/
Pavitt's Pies - http://www.pavittspies.co.uk/
Urban Larder - http://urbanlarder.co.uk/
The Larder at Burwash Manor - http://www.burwashlarder.com/