Lunch at Hibiscus with some New World classics

It has taken a few days, but I wanted to report on last week’s great lunch at Hibiscus. Hosted by Doug Wregg of Les Caves de Pyrene, the lunch accompanied a tasting of new wines from the Les Caves portfolio.

Yes, Les Caves are taking on the New World, and they are now developing a very exciting portfolio of wines from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. This tasting was one of the most thrilling I’ve been to this year, and I have written it up in full here. It includes the New World’s best Pinot Noir, and South Africa’s best Chenin Blanc, among others.

The lunch was also fantastic. We began with a warm terrine of chicken and foie gras that was a great combination of textures and flavours, served with some mini-leeks. Superb with the Sorrenberg Chardonnay.

Then, a masterful course: roasted silver mullet with spring vegetables, shallots and paprika. This went very well with the Lion’s Tooth Chardonnay from Pyramid Valley, but also a good pairing for Craig Hawkin’s El Bandito Chenin Blanc.

Changing flavours quite dramatically, we then went to the wood pigeon (cooked sous vide), roast cauliflower and pastilla. A very interesting, richly flavoured dish that worked very well with Castagna’s Un Segreto, although the Cambridge Road Syrah also worked nicely.

7 comments to Lunch at Hibiscus with some New World classics

  • Steve

    You seem to have left the prices off on your tasting notes.

  • Damien

    Steve, you’ve hit upon the one catch – importing small quantities of such wines comes at a price. Approximate (and not greedy) retail prices would be similar to below. Of course wholesale from Les Caves will be less.

    Sorrenberg Chardonnay Beechworth 2009 £36
    Sorrenberg Gamay Beechworth 2009 £32
    Castagna “Adam’s Rib” Beechworth 2008 £26
    Castagna “Un Segreto” Beechworth 2008 £48
    Ngeringa Syrah Mount Barker 2008 £37
    Bindi “Composition Pinot Noir” Macedon Hills 2009 £37
    Timo Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir Yarra Valley 2008 £44

  • Paul Starr

    Castagna are one of my top few Australian producers. Astonishing attention to detail and a distinct sensibility. Their Genesis syrah, La Chiave sangiovese and the Un Segreto blend are all excellent.

  • Doug

    Damien – agreed the wines are not cheap, but, of course, the price of wine is relative and the demand for these wines outstrips supply ten times over (at least). We would not baulk at paying £40 for a St Emilion with an average-to-good reputation and yet because these wines are not “trophy wines” we begrudge paying that sort of price. It is not the cost of shipping or grouping the wines that contributes so materially to the price but rather because they are original, hand-crafted, biodynamic wines from incredibly low yields that makes them desirable. Some of the wines are just heavenly (and thrilling), as good as anything you’ll find in their respective regions and throughout the world.

    By the way the Syrah in question was the JE Syrah not the Ngeringa Syrah and so more like £18.50 retail rather than £37.00.

  • Damien

    Doug – not begrudging the price at all, but once they sit on a restaurant list slap bang in the middle of the £50-100 range it’ll be interesting to see how far demand outstrips supply. After all if demand outsripped supply in New Zealand/South Africa/Australia, logically they’d have none to export would they?

    On another note, it’s curious to consider what they’d be drunk with on home territory too.

  • Piers Barclay

    Whilst I love the Caves de Pyrene wines, it is frustrating that they’re pretty hard to get hold of at retail… If I didn’t live a couple of minutes’ walk from Brawn, I’d probably never try half of them…. It would be great if they opened up a retail shop in London.

  • Stu

    Great tasting and lunch. When I moved from the UK to Australia it was exactly these, hitherto unknown to me, wines that I wanted to find.

    Damien, to answer your question as to what they’d be drunk with, i would (in my opinion) wittily add: great gusto and friends. Cuisine here in Australia – at the right end – isn’t so far removed from what was served at this luncheon. The Pigeon may make way for something more local.

    I’m less familiar with the NZ wines Jamie reviewd over on the main Anorak site. Although I have seen a couple of local scribes liek Andrew Graham and Patrick Haddock wax lyrical about them. Good enough reco’s for me.

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