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Friday 6 December 2013

Dinner with WineTrust 100‏

A Culinary Arts Competition Team & Gastronomy Society fundraising dinner with WineTrust 100 at Westminster Kingsway College

WineTrust 100, who provided the wines for this fundraiser, invited me and a couple of other bloggers along to meet founder John Valentine.

I was not entirely sure what to expect from a culinary arts team dinner, but hoped to experience raw talent, imagination and inventiveness; impatient young turks eager to impress with zeitgeisty flashes of inspiration.

What I got was surprisingly conservative - traditional ingredients, processes and flavour combinations, well judged, neatly presented and very well executed; no chef-ism here, then.

On arrival

Doyard, Cuvee Vendemiaire NV (organic), Champagne, France green apple and white pear fruit; elegant, crisp and sharp, with a pleasantly vibrant rasp on the finish. Good.

Amuse of smoke celeriac and gorgonzola dolce, parmesan crisp soup sip
A delicious espresso cup of creamy root-veg soup with a slightly unconvincing sliver of melted cheese on the saucer; good, if a touch one-dimensional.

Confit of British wild game birds

A cone of game-bird flesh served with a chutney and some redundant green leaves plus a single blackberry.

Nicely zeitgeisty theme with really delicious meat and chutney; the unconvincing presentation aside, this was my dish of the night.

2010 Montlouis, Clos Habert, Francois Chidaine, Loire, France golden and rich, off-dry with ripe honeyed pineapple, sweet spice and some late harvest character.

Good depth and length, an old-school, geek's wine. A perfect match with the food. Very Good. My wine of the night.

Cod with cockles and samphire
A delicate piece of cod in a creamy sauce with cockles and samphire - a much lighter, more delicate dish than the game and perhaps would have done better served first.

2012 Lawson's Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand I struggled with this wine previously and encountered the same problem again; for, despite all its accomplishments, it's just too obvious and, like a greedy attention-seeker, overpowers the delicate fish.
A celebration of Welsh lamb
Some lovely meat, perfectly seasoned and well-cooked; delicious, but feels a bit like several different mains placed randomly on the same plate.

2009 Escarpment Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand ripe red fruits, savouriness and a long finish of sweet spice. Served just slightly too warm, there is the merest hint of flabbiness, but otherwise spot on - a great match for the lamb, too. Good.

Selection of British cheeses
Mmmmm, cheese.

2007 Castelnau de Suduirant, Sauternes, Bordeaux sweet cooked pineapple with refreshing, elegant acidity. Really lovely. Good.

Unfortunately, the wine arrives late; I enjoy the cheese, I enjoy the wine and I can see how the acidity and sweetness of the wine would complement the cheeses, but I don't really get a chance to try them properly together.

Warm chocolate cake with ganache, kirsch cream, black cherry coulis
To my mind, chocolate does not lend itself to cake particularly well - this is rather dry and the dessert does not benefit from its deconstruction; all the elements work well together, but they need to be unified, not separated out.

The wine to match with this dish is a Banyuls; it is ever so slightly corked, with just an underlying hint of soggy cardboard, and served a little over-chilled. Otherwise, it is a spot-on Banyuls - rich with sweet berry fruit and herbaceous aromas; matches well with the chocolate / cherry / cream of the dessert.

Over coffee, I sample some of the petit fours; a blackcurrant jelly cube tastes perfectly of fresh blackcurrants whilst a chocolate praline cone is richly chocolatey and moreish - along with the starter, this is a highlight of the meal.
Recommended Wines
Top wine overall - Montlouis
Top classic - Doyard Champagne
Top modern classic - Escarpment PN

Other related articles
WineTrust 100
Big Game and Big Wines at Cambridge's Punter
Cigar Dinner at Hotel du Vin

WineTrust100 - website, twitter

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