This is a lovely wine. It’s made from the Valdiguié grape variety, a rather unremarkable variety from southern France that once was popular in California because of its disease resistance, where it was known as California Gamay. However, it was judged to make rather ordinary wine, and now only 300 acres or so are left. However, like other ‘ordinary’ varieties such as Cinsault, Carignan and Pais, Valdiguié is capable of making really superb, drinkable wines. It all depends what you are looking for. If you are looking for deep, powerful, rich, dark-coloured wines, don’t come here. But if you want something elegant, nicely poised and drinkable, this is for you.
Broc Cellars Valdiguié 2012 Solano County, California
12% alcohol. Very fine, fresh and natural. Perfumed black cherry, red cherry and plum nose with a hint of leathery savouriness. The palate is supple, pure and elegant, with a light body and delicious cherry fruit. Lots of detail here: a really pure, expressive wine with freshness and vitality. So drinkable. 93/100 (available in the UK from Roberson Wine)
So, the first vintage of London Cru’s wines are bottled and will soon be on the market. [Read my report on them from last year.] I visited this – London’s first urban winery – to try the new wines with winemaker Gavin Monery. It’s also time for vintage two to start coming in, and so Gavin is quite nervous. ‘You have one chance a year,’ he says. ‘Screw it up and that’s it. So our focus at the moment is getting the grapes off at the right time.’
This year, London Cru are using the same growers as last time. So in 2014 there will be a Cabernet from Jeff Coutelou (Languedoc), a Barbera from Giovanni Cordero (Piedmont), and Chardonnay and Syrah from Château de Corneilla (Roussillon). Plus a new wine: a Garnacha from Norrel Robertson in Cayatalud, which comes from 90 year old bush vines at 950 m.
‘I’d rather make less wine than mediocre wine,’ states Gavin. ‘The whole project is about making good wine, not gimmicky wine.’ All of the 2013s will be the same price (£15), with 1400 cases overall.
When I visited (the week before last) the Cabernet was just about to be harvested and sent back to arrive a few days later. The key part of the grape movement process is that the fruit is chilled within 2 or 3 hours of the harvest. ‘This is the most important thing from the quality viewpoint,’ says Gavin.
The only problem that London Cru have so far found insurmountable is to do with names. The UK rules mean that the wines must be labelled as ‘EC wine’, with no vintage or grape variety indicated. ‘This really annoys me,’ Gavin reveals. ‘The paper trail back to the vineyard is water-tight. The veracity of varieties and vineyards is 100%. It is an arbitrary rule at this end.’
The 2013 releases are all impressive.
SW6 Chardonnay 2013
Very fine nose is subtly nutty with some delicate toastiness and lovely citrus characters. The palate is fine and expressive with gentle bread, nut, citrus and white peach notes. Very stylish wine. Super-clean style. 90/100
SW6 Syrah 2013
From a spot 5 km from the ocean in the Roussillon: a cool site in a warm region. 12.5% alcohol. Fine, fresh black cherry fruit with lovely purity, and a bit of raspberry freshness. Direct and pure with subtle green notes. Nicely textured. 91/100
SW6 Barbera 2013
Supple, bright, expressive wine with spicy black fruits over damson and plums. Lovely acidity and a bit of bite (this was 12.5% alcohol and pH 3.35 after malo). Vibrant juicy fruit and lovely grippiness. 91/100
SW6 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Jeff Coutelou supplies this, and he was previously giving these excellent grapes to the coop because he just wanted to make wine from local varieties. Lovely pure, sweet blackcurrant fruit nose with some blackcurrant leaf. So classic and expressive. The palate is beautifully balanced with nice structure and classic Cabernet characters. A lovely wine with real potential. 91/100
So I ran the Marathon du Médoc yesterday for the second year. it was the 30th anniversary of the race, so even more than usual there was a party atmosphere. There were also more runners – over 10 000.
It was a hot sunny day. Great for the vines, which need just another week of this weather for 2014 to be a very interesting vintage, even after the coolest August for 50 years. But the heat made running hard, even though it made for a visually spectacular scene.
I ran the first half with Christian Seely, who is great company. He then stopped and I carried on alone. I stopped for wine several times, and it was very enjoyable.
How did I do? Unlike last year, which was painful, this year I had no pain. I came 2741 out of 10196 runners, which is better than last year. I was slow, but it was very warm and there were lots of wine stops, and congestion at the start cost around 25 minutes. It was tremendous fun. I was 808 out of 2380 in my age group – my time was (cringe) 5.27 – I was very lazy because I had lots left in my tank at the end and sprinted the last stretch! Then I had a 20 minute walk back to Pichon, where we had lunch with wine, port and Sauternes, which was most splendid. A short film is posted below these pictures.
And a short film:
I wrote last year about how I’d begun running. The good news is that I have managed to keep it up. And I’m just about to get on a plane to run the Marathon du Médoc for the second year.
I’m so pleased that I have managed to carry on, because what it shows me is that change is possible. We love the idea of change, but in reality it is very hard to achieve. Enduring change, I reckon, comes from within. It revolves around changing our internal narrative: the story we have running in the background about who we are, what we are like, what our purpose is, where we have come from and where we are going.
When you get older, you have to do some exercise, or you have to change your eating habits, or you will get fat. If you are happy being fat, then that is fine. Sort of. Being fat is a major risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer – and it rarely looks good. So I want to avoid it. I find it very difficult to eat and drink less. Particularly the drinking thing, because I love wine and beer. So exercise is necessary, and unfortunately it takes a considerable amount of exercise to burn off a decent meal or a nice bottle of wine.
Short term change isn’t too tricky. It’s comparatively easy to make a once-off special effort and lose weight and gain fitness. A diet will do it, or maybe working towards a heroic sporting goal. What is more difficult is sustainable change: building this new approach into normal life, in such a way that you can keep it up.
I am lucky in that I am a freelancer, so I have flexibility. For winter running, this is a real help. There is little joy in running in the dark. It’s difficult enough running in the wet and cold, but add darkness into the mix and I don’t know whether I could do it.
I am, however, under no illusion that I am a good runner. I am below average. It is not a talent I possess: I was rubbish at cross-country at school, so I just don’t think I am biologically equipped for it. This knowledge does serve a purpose: it keeps me from becoming a running bore. It prevents me from boasting of my PBs (personal bests), and getting competitive. Long and slow is how I roll.
My tips for novice runners, as someone who was very recently in these ranks, are as follows. Get some decent shoes, and wear tight-fitting gear (you won’t blister or chafe). Always wear shorts over the top of running tights in winter, otherwise it looks obscene. Find some good routes to run, preferably in places that are naturally beautiful – nature lifts the soul. Buy an arm wallet for your keys and carry some change so you can buy a drink half way during a long run (I hate carrying a water bottle). Rehydrate on warm days using diarrhea rehydration salts rather than just water. Use a running app such as Runkeeper to track your runs, but don’t share them via social media. Where possible, run with others (although I do almost all my runs alone).
I’m a little scared about Saturday’s run, but my goal is simple. To enjoy the day as much as I can, and just to finish. I am not aiming for a time, but if I do break last year’s very slow time of 5:18 I will be delighted. Truly and honestly.
One of the things I saw in Provence was the way that many of the wineries are projecting the juice by pressing in the absence of oxygen. Pictured above is the press at Chateau Gassier, which has been fitted with the Bucher Inertys system.
The big bag (pictured below is one at Chateau Jas d’Esclans) contains nitrogen gas, and is flexible. It breathes in and out like a lung, depending on the pressing phase. As a result, a closed loop is created, where the gas in the system is nitrogen, not air, protecting the juice from any oxidation at all. Of course, you could just inject nitrogen into the press with every cycling, but then you’d use a lot of it, and the cost would be prohibitive. The creation of the closed loop is the key to the success of Inertys.
This is ideal for making high quality rose, where the protected juice keeps all its aromatic qualities, as well as preserving precursors of aroma compounds (which the yeasts use to make aroma compounds during fermentation) that might also be susceptible to oxidation. Grape must is capable of taking up considerably more oxygen than wine is. It means that it’s possible to use less sulfur dioxide during winemaking, too. Not only do you need to add less to the must, but also the oxidation inhibitor glutathione is protected, and this can have an important role to play later on in winemaking.
Another innovation used by some rose winemakers is shown above at Minuty. Hand-picked grapes are destemmed and then pumped into a device that cools them down before they go to the press. If you have to process a lot of grapes, it’s not always possible to leave them in a cool room overnight, and if you are picking by hand it isn’t always easy to pick at night, or very early in the morning.
I’m currently on the road in Provence. It’s a beautiful time of year to be here. Harvest has just begun in many areas; in others it is a week or two away. It’s sunny but not scorching hot, and the bulk of the tourists have gone home, so it means that the roads aren’t permanently jammed. I’m travelling with a small but jolly band – Amelia Singer, Natasha Redcliffe (of Westbury, the UK PR company who run the Wines of Provence account), and Caroline and Valerie of the CIVP.
We have been busy visiting some very interesting producers, as well as the rose research institute. Rose is the big story here. It represents the vast majority of wines from the region, and it’s something Provence does very well. And in the UK last year sales grew by close to 60% in both volume and value (May 2014 year to date). But I have also had some excellent whites and some very good reds. For now, just some pictures.
Lidl have just launched a fine wine offering. Titled the ‘Lidl Premium French Wine Collection’, they have purchased a large quantity of decent French wine and are selling it at very competitive prices, in a bid to entice more middle-class shoppers into their stores. The scale of the offering is impressive: Lidl bought 5% of Bordeaux’ entire production this year, and it’s Bordeaux wines that dominate the sale.
I have a conflict of interest to mention: I was hired to write the copy for the brochure, of which they’ve printed 6.5 million copies to use in store and as newspaper inserts. So it’s by far the largest circulation my writing has ever had! You can read the brochure online here.
The ratings in the brochure are decided by a panel of four MWs. My ratings and notes for all the wines are as follows.
Cave Bel Air 2011 Bordeaux
A really easy-drinking, lighter style of Bordeaux red with bright cherry and plum fruit, and a smooth, perfumed personality. Very attractive and supple, with no rough edges. 82
Chateau Marjosse 2012 Bordeaux
Pierre Lurton. Full colour. Lively, focused berry fruit aromatics lead to ripe, juicy flavours in the mouth. This is rounded and attractive with lovely texture and seductive sweet fruit. But there’s a hint of seriousness, too. 86
Château Galès 2011 Graves
Sweet, ripe and accessible with bold, sweet cherry and berry fruits. Nice depth here, with a slightly jammy richness and hints of gravel. 84
Château Venus 2011 Graves
A lovely example of Graves with some grippy, gravelly notes providing a backbone for the sweet, ripe, juicy cherry and plum fruit. Has some sweetness on the finish. So drinkable. 87
Chateau Sociando-Mallet 2008 Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux
13% alcohol. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. Attractive cedary, spicy, plummy aromatics are very classic. The palate is savoury, spicy and quite grippy with textured red berry and cherry fruit. There’s real depth here with a lovely smooth, sweet core. 92
Chateau Barthez 2009 Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux
13.5% alcohol. Assertive, bright plummy fruit with nice grip under the sweet cherry and plum fruit. Finishes with some grainy, spicy notes. 86
Chateau Laborde Cru Bourgeois 2011 Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux
13% alcohol. Smooth, pure and vivid with perfumed black cherry and plum fruit. There’s a linear purity to the fruit, which is really smooth, but finishes with a bit of grip. 87
Champion 2011 Médoc, Bordeaux
Fresh with an almost chalky, mineral undertone to the sweet blackberry and plum fruit. Fresh with some sweetness to the fruit. A very supple, drinkable wine. 86
Chateau de Panigon Cru Bourgeois 2011 Médoc, Bordeaux
Really seductive style with soft, open, sweet cherry and plum fruit as well as some spiciness on the finish. No rough edges here: very soft and approachable. 87
L’Escargot Sauvignon Blanc 2013 IGP Côtes de Gascgogne, France
Lively, slighty stony aromas of pear, citrus and green pepper. The palate has a fresh, stony character with herbs, citrus and pear fruit, with keen lemony acidity. Very attractive. 87
Camillet Bordeaux Blanc 2013 Bordeaux, France
Lovely balance here with nice bright lemony fruit as well as some pear richness. Some appealing grapefruit pith notes here. Drinkable and appealing. 86
Domaine Chatelain Les Vignes de Saint Laurent l’Abbaye Pouilly-Fumé 2013 Loire, France
Lively and bright with a citrussy core and lovely direct, grassy lemon and herb flavours. Some pithy notes too. 88
Domaine de la Vieille Cure Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2013 Loire, France
Fresh, bright and really lively with lovely citrus and pear fruit, a stony core and some bright tangerine and grapefruit notes on the finish. Lovely delicacy here, and so well balanced. 88
P. de Marcilly Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 2011 Burgundy
12.5% alcohol. Crisp and focused with bright citrussy flavours, as well as a hint of pear richness. Clean, direct and pure with nice precision. 87
P. de Marcilly Mâcon-Villages 2011 Burgundy, France
Deliciously balanced with a subtly creamy, slightly buttery edge to the ripe white peach fruit. Lovely pear and spice notes add interest. Classy white Burgundy at a good price. Very stylish. 89
Philippe de Bois d’Arnault Montagny 1er Cru Les Bouchots 2013 Burgundy, France
Lovely balance here, with a subtly creamy, vanilla edge to the pure, open citrus fruit, with some richer melony notes, too. Very stylish wine. 90
Philippe de Bois d’Arnault Chablis 1er Cru 2013 Burgundy
Very attractive, textured, stony, mineral Chablis with lovely bright citrus fruit and some pear richness. Really delicious, and beautifully balanced. Classy. 90
Marechal Chablis 2012 Burgundy, France
Stony, slightly flinty aromas and flavours of lemons, grapefruit and herbs, with keen acidity. Slightly smoky, too, with a savoury core. 87
Mignot Fleury 2011 Beaujolais, France
Bright and juicy with fresh cherry fruit and a sappy, slightly green edge that’s really attractive. Very juicy and drinkable. 85
Domaine de Grangerie Mercurey 2012 Burgundy, France
Juicy and fresh with some grippy, savoury, cedar and spice note under the fresh red cherry and plum fruit. Shows some elegance, with nice fresh fruit and acidity. 88
Domaine Condorcet Chateauneuf du Pape 2013 Rhone, France
Lovely sweet, pure red cherry and berry fruit with some lovely texture and a fine, grainy structure with sweet herbal overtones. Very stylish. 90
Saint-Joseph 2012 Northern Rhône, France
Really fresh, vibrant raspberry and black cherry fruit with a hint of black pepper and some fine herby notes. Nicely typical. 88
Domaine du Gourget Rochegude 2013 Côtes de Rhône Villages, France
A supple, fresh Rhône red with juicy, grainy cherry and raspberry fruit. Nice purity and has a savoury, peppery bite on the finish. Really focused and appealing. 88
Réserve de Fonsalis 2011 Fitou, Languedoc, France
Ripe and direct with attractive blackberry fruit and some cherry stone freshness. Hints of liqourice, herbs and pepper add interest. Finishes spicy and a bit grippy. 87
Gigondas 2013 Rhône, France
Sweet, ripe and textured with distinctive peppery, spicy notes complementing the cherry and plum fruit really well. Finishes quite warm. Robust and food friendly. 88
Serabel Vacqueyras 2012 Rhône, France
Really attractive, ripe, perfumed wine with lovely textured cherry and blackberry fruit, a hint of spicy, earthy savouriness, and real depth of flavour. Quite a serious effort that will develop nicely over the next few years. 90
Nuit de Provence Rosé 2013 Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, France
Pale pink colour. A fresh, fragrant, dry rosé with flavours of cherries and herbs. Delicately fruity with lovely focus. 87
Fleur des Templiers Rosé 2013 Pays d’Oc, France
Bright pink in colour, with really nicely judged red cherry and raspberry fruits, as well as some lemony acidity. It’s dry and well balanced, and highly food friendly. 85
Sancerre Rosé 2013 Loire, France
Pale orange/pink in colour. Mineral and stony core to the strawberry fruit with a distinctive savoury, herbal character. Dry and savoury in style, showing some restraint, this would be best with food. Intriguing flavours. 85
Chateau La Sabatière Monbazillac 2011 France
12.5% alcohol. Just beautiful, with honey, lanolin and wax notes as well as peach, apricot and citrus fruit. Lovely balance between the sweetness and freshness – a serious dessert wine. 91
Chateau Mauras Sauternes 2010 Bordeaux, France
13.5% alcohol. Rounded and fruity with lovely fresh citrus and grapefruit notes complementing the apricot, grape and pear fruit. Lovely hints of tangerine and cabbage add complexity. 90
Chateau Siaurac Réserve de la Baronne 2007 Lalande de Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Dense, firm, grippy and quite spicy with ripe berry fruits and some tannic structure. This has nice weight and a chalky, mineral edge to it. It should age well. 88
Chateau Haut-Chaigneau 2011 Lalande de Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Nicely structured and quite firm with sweet berry fruits and a chalky, gravelly edge. Pure and quite stylish, this needs some time to come together. Classic style. 89
Chateau Haut-Chaigneau 2009 Lalande de Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Dense, ripe, gravelly blackcurrant fruit with a hint of tar and spice, and an attractive sweetness to the fruit. Lovely seductive style with a chalky, mineral core to the lush fruit. 90
Chateau Vieux Ferrand 2010 Montagne Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France
Beautifully fresh, pure blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with nice acidity and good structure. There’s a chalky, mineral edge to the fruit. Very stylish wine. 90
Chateau Larcis Jaumat 2012 Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France
Dense but supple with lovely cherry and raspberry fruit. Youthful and tight with good acidity, but also lovely purity of fruit, and some tight, spicy oak playing a supporting role. 91
Chateau de Cauze 2011 Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France
14.5% alcohol. Ripe, warm and spicy with sweet blackcurrant fruit and some tannic grip. A seductive style but with a savoury bite to it, too. 87
Chateau La Tour de Pin Figeac 2006 Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France
75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc from an 11 hectare estate. 13% alcohol. Mellow, textured blackberry and cherry fruit with a fine, chalky, spiciness and subtle hints of undergrowth. Developing nicely and ready to drink now. 89
Chateau Gaillard de la Gorce 2011 Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France
Fresh, ripe berry fruits with a savoury, cedary spicy edge from the oak. There’s a bit of grainy structure, too. Needs time to settle down. 86
Chateau Haut-Bergey 2003 Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France
Sweet, herby and mellow with a bit of spice as well as ripe berry fruits. Warm and inviting with some evolution, and drinking well now. 89
Chevalier de Lascombes 2011 Margaux, Bordeaux, France
Ripe, sweet and broad with lovely supple blackberry and cherry fruit. Very seductive and forward with good definition and a sweet fruit core. 90
Chateau Haut de la Bécade 2008 Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Supple, sweetly fruited and very drinkable, with nicely balanced cherry and plum fruit supported by some spicy oak notes. 88
Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande 2007 Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
Warm, sweet, ripe and berryish with nice freshness and grip, alongside smooth, pure, almost liqueur-like fruit. Seductive style. 89
Weiber Crémant d’Alsace Blanc de Blancs
Crisp, focused and bright with pure citrus and pear fruit. Very lively and focused with lovely fruit. 87
Champagne Comte de Senneval Rosé NV France
Pale pink. Fresh, slightly herby with bright citrus and apple flavours. Nice taut acidity with a bit of structure. 87
Champagne de Senneval Premier Cru NV France
Powerful, lively and appley with keen citrus fruits. Bold and edgy with lots of presence and a sharp finish. 85
Champagne de Vallois Brut Millesime 2007 France
Aromatic, herby, taut and structured with lemony acidity and some savoury pithy notes, too. Quite grippy finish. 85
Clairette de Die NV Rhône, France
7.5% alcohol. Lovely, pretty off-dry fizz with delicious grapey flavours and some floral, lychee hints. Very pure and attractive. 88
Champagne Bissinger NV France
12% alc. Half bottle. Lovely balanced fizz with citrus fruit, a bit of ripe apple and some nice toastiness. Nice precision here. Fresh and expressive with clean flavours. 89
This is fabulous. It’s made by Apostolos Thymiopoulos for Marks & Spencer from biodynamically managed vineyards, and it’s a wonderfully approachable, drinkable example of the lovely Xinomavro grape variety, one of Greece’s most interesting.
Think of Xinomavro as the Nebbiolo of Italy. That’s the sort of flavour profile you get, albeit with slightly less intense tannic structure. This wine, I suspect, is very similar to the Thymiopoulos young vines cuvee that The Wine Society stock. The M&S website doesn’t yet have this vintage on its pages, but it is in store.
Thymiopoulos Xinomavro 2012 Trilofos, Naoussa, Greece
13.5% alcohol. Lovely cherry and herb nose is very fine with beguiling red fruits, herbs and liqourice. The palate shows red cherries, plums, spice, leather and herbs, with sweet fruit combining with a strongly savoury dimension. Lovely wine. 91/100 (£10.50 Marks & Spencer)
This is a really interesting wine from Wind Gap, an exciting Californian winery making elegant, balanced wines.
It’s from Trousseau Gris, a rare colour mutation of the red Trousseau, which is the same as Portugal’s Bastardo. The red version makes pale-coloured, fragrant, sappy reds (in Portugal it is one of the Port varieties, and is rarely seen on its own). In California, Trousseau Gris used to be known as Gray Riesling. There’s still a bit found as part of old field blend vineyards, but apparently the only varietal block left is a 10 acre plot in the Fanucchi Wood Road Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. This is where this Wind Gap wine comes from.
Three concrete tanks of this wine were made, and it’s really compelling. Roberson stock it in the UK.
Wind Gap Trousseau Gris 2013 Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
12.25% alcohol. A really intriguing wine. Spicy, mineral, herby, slightly smoky lemon and mandarin fruit with delicate acidity. Some rich grapey notes, too. Very fine and expressive with a bright personality. Finishes bright and a bit herby. Such a detailed wine with lovely fresh fruitiness. 93/100 (£23.95 Roberson)
On Monday night I was at Gymkhana, one of London’s most happening restaurants, for an Indian food and wine matching dinner with wine buyer and co-owner Sue Sethi (pictured above).
Gymkhana has made quite a splash since it opened last September. It specialises in home cooked-style Indian food, and this year it won restaurant of the year in the National Restaurant Awards, the first ever Indian restaurant to achieve this. It’s part of the Trishna group, a growing empire of restaurants owned by the Sethi family (Sue and her two older brothers, chef Karam and money man Jothi), which includes Trishna, Gymkhana, Bubbledogs and Lyles, as well as Verandah in Copenhagen.
There’s a lot of discussion about whether it’s really possible to match Indian food with wine successfully. ‘Indian food is quite vast, so to generalize and say you can’t match wine with it is absurd,’ says Sue. ‘Here and at Trishna we keep the home style of Indian food but we use spices delicately. When you have over-spiced food, of course it is harder.’ One challenge for food and wine matching is the complexity of flavours in many dishes. ‘Indian food has so many different components,’ says Sue. ‘For example, a starter has three or four elements on the plate, so it can be quite tricky.’
‘My whole list is put together with the food in mind,’ says Sue. ‘What we are trying to do is to show wines that take people out of comfort zones.’ Sommeliers are on hand to make suggestions, but she notes that people are much more responsive to advice at Gymkhana than Trishna. ‘Trishna is more a neighbourhood menu, and people are in their comfort zone and know what they want. They are much more experimental here.’
So what sort of wines don’t work? Sue reckons that you don’t want firm tannins or too much alcohol in reds, and that you need to be careful of oak. For whites you need to be careful with acidity. ‘Balance is important,’ she says. ‘Just as the spices need to be balanced, so the wines need to be balanced.’
Sue Sethi got into wine by mistake. ‘Growing up my dad had a wine hobby,’ she says. When Karam, her brother, opened Trishna in 2008 she was working in Germany for HSBC, on track for a career in finance. ‘Very quickly I realised I didn’t want to do this,’ she recalls. So in 2010 Sue left Germany, returned to London, and began applying for jobs in management consultancy. The GM of Trishna was moving back to Austria and Karam needed some help, so she stepped in. Working closely with the then Hungarian sommelier there, she quickly realized that restaurants would be her future. ‘Within five days I realised I wanted to do this,’ says Sue. She took over the wine list and began travelling and learning more about wine.
Casava, lentil and potato papadum with shrimp chutney, mango chutney and mint and coriander chutney.
This was served with Hidalgo’s Manzanilla la Gitana. The combination worked well, in part because Fino/Manzanilla sherries are so versatile as food wines, with their savoury notes and broad texture.
Ajwani salmon tikka with tulsi chutney.
This was a delicious dish, with subtle but effective carom seed flavours and a really nice basil chutney.
Ivica Matošević Grimalda 2010 Istria, Croatia
A blend of 50% Chardonnay, 25% Istrian Malvasia and 25% Sauvignon Blanc, aged for 12 months in French oak. Rich, creamy and texture with a lovely citrus and herb twist. It’s a broad wine with a real spectrum of flavours from richness through spice to fresh citrus and aniseed. Lovely blend of oak and fresh fruit. 92/100
This combination worked very well, with the breadth of flavours of the white filling in all around the flavours of the main dish. A well chosen match.
Lansooni wild tiger prawns with red pepper chutney
The prawns are marinaded in ginger, garlic and green chile, and this dish was superb: lots of flavour, but not overspiced.
Domaine Gerovassiliou Viogner 2013 Epanomi, Greece
What a lovely wine: lively and bright with citrus and ripe pears. Quite exotic but precise at the same time. A really aromatic, precise wine with lots of personality. 92/100
This combination worked really well because of the exotic aromatics of the wine, which matched with the aromatic nature of the tiger prawns.
Kid goat methi, keema, salli, pao
This is quite cool. You can also have it with brains, if you fancy your chances with prion diseases! It’s finely chopped kid goat, delicately spiced, served with buns and onions, so you can make your own mini burgers.
Teusner ‘The Riebke’ Shiraz 2012 Barossa valley, Australia
Sweet, ripe, pure and lush but it still has nice definition to the sweet fruit. Nicely focused black cherry fruit with a hint of pepper. Quite elegant and pure with nice balance. Silky. 92/100
This worked well. There weren’t too many challenging spices, and the sweet, lush but nicely defined fruit worked really well. Wines do need a bit of fruit to match food like this.
Suckling pig vindaloo
This was pretty hot. It gave me hiccups, which is my internal spicing detector. Apparently it’s not normally quite as hot as this, but it was delicious nonetheless.
Pulenta Estate Gran Cabernet Franc 2010 Mendoza, Argentina
Such a lovely wine, and it is an ideal red for Indian food matching generally. Lovely sleek black fruits with a fine green pepper edge, and a smooth, spicy texture. Very sleek and ripe but with great definition and some smooth, grainy tannins. 93/100
This was a challenging match, but it worked because this wine is such a versatile Indian food friendly bottle, with its concentrated, sleek ripe fruit and superb balance.
Mushroom Methi Mattar Pilau with black truffle
This was a sensational dish, with incredible aromatics.
Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti ‘le Orme’ Superiore 2011 Piedmont, Italy
Fresh with raspberry and black cherry fruit as well as a bit of spice and a stern, savoury, slightly rustic side. Warm herb and leather notes on the finish. 90/100
Again, a really well chosen match. The savouriness of the wine worked well with this dish, which is mildly spiced, aromatic, and really wine friendly. I reckon a new world Pinot Noir would also have done a good job.
Conclusions? With high-end Indian food that isn’t over-spiced, and which isn’t swimming in gravy, it’s possible to execute some really smart wine matches. Where Indian spices are used subtly and creatively, there’s no reason why you can’t raid the wine list and have a lot of fun with some smart bottles, without being worried that their qualities will be wasted. And Gymkhana lives up to the hype. It’s the second time I’ve been, and both meals have been memorable.