I admit, I am no wine expert but I love drinking it, being from the country that produces the best wines in the world (patriotic blagging alert!). When I purchase wine, 99% of times I buy wines from Italy whether it’s for our every day dinner or for a special occasion. I was intrigued thus to be given the opportunity try the Reserve range from Jacob’s Creek, a very well-known Australian brand which I mainly associated with Come Dine With Me and TV commercials and don’t usually buy. Would I change my attitude after the tasting?
The event invite sounded really interesting, being held at the Hempel Hotel in Lancaster Gate in the onsite restaurant 35, and it was to be run by Pernod Ricard’s Head of Wine Development. I accepted with pleasure! When I arrived I was greeted by Alice from Weber Shandwick who had organised the event, Adrian Atkinson from Pernod Ricard and a glass of bubbly (Pinot Noir Sparkling). We were in the private dining room, which was spacious and nicely furnished. On one side, two large size photographs of vineyards, which we later found out, were some of the grapes Jacob’s Creek use for their vintages.
Around ten of us took our seats at the square table and the chef (Michael Carter) came in to explain the menu. He introduced each dish and of each dish he told us where the various elements came from. This for me was one of the winning points of the evening. I am a bit of a freak when it comes to provenance and sustainability and to hear Michael saying that the scallops were hand dived on the island of Mull and that the sea bass was line caught by a day boat (rather than trawled), had me right in my element. The rest was from the corners of the British Isles and some (cheeses) from France. Perfect.
We waited for our first course (Roasted scallops with smoked black pudding) while the first wine was poured, a Riesling 2010.
Throughout the evening Adrian told us a lot about wines – not just the Jacob’s Creek range actually but also about how wine is produced, how it is to be enjoyed, why Jacob’s Creek have moved to screw tops, the difference in perception in the various countries (‘old world’ such as Spain and Italy versus ‘new world’ antipodean wines). We did learn a lot about the various areas in Australia where Jacob’s Creek get their grapes, the various soils and the seasonality of the harvests. It was incredibly interesting and I hope one day to learn as much about other countries too (particularly Italy of course).
The scallop and black pudding arrived and I really enjoyed it. The black pudding was not too intense so it did complement the shell fish well. This was nicely roasted and plump. The wine was a great match, being crisp, with citrus notes and a pure flavour. My glass soon was empty.
With the second dish came the second white. A Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from the Adelaide hills which had a slightly green hue and dry in flavour. This was to go and in hand with a very delicate and beautifully coloured Heritage beets salad with Staffordshire Innes goat’s cheese. Light and seasonal.
Next, we enjoyed a Line caught wild sea bass with Jerusalem Artichoke and Vanilla oilwhich was delicate and moist and well played between the sweetness of the vanilla and the artichoke pure. This was accompanied by a glass of Chardonnay 2010 which, second wine surprise for me, I really liked. Having refrained from drinking this grape for years, it was good to enjoy it again, in a vintage we described as ‘buttery and nutty’ and had a fuller, richer golden colour than the other whites we had so far tried.
What followed was the best dish of the evening and one that I will remember for years to come.
A Japanese inspired Mushrooms consommé with Glazed chicken oyster and poached quail’s egg gently topped with truffle oil. It was just divine and we all really cherished the flavour of the various blending parts. It was so good it possibly overshadowed the Pinot Noir 2009 we got to taste with it. This was my least favourite wine of the evening, another vintage from the Adelaide Hills with lower tannin and a red spectrum but, for me, too sharp.
After came the Organic Rhug Estate flat iron steak with garlic mash and roasted onions, which I thought was great given the ‘cheap cut’ used.
The beef was very well cooked and the Shiraz 2009 we had with it a good match and a strong, pretty good wine too. This wine comes from the Barossa Valley and is of a deeper red than the Pinot Noir, with warmth and spices hints (we defined the aroma as ‘Christmas cake’!).
Finally, a selection of British (including a Lincolnshire Poacher) and French cheeses from La Fromagerie with fig chutney, to be enjoyed with a glass of Cabernet 2009. A coastal wine from the area of Coonawarra, this was a perfect complement to the cheeses, being cooler, more elegant with cranberries notes. My favourite red of the evening.
With more chats about wine and wineries, a goodie bag (in which with delight I found a bottle of Riesling!) the evening concluded. I had a fantastic time; I learnt a lot about wines, tasted some very good ones, met yet some more foodies and got to meet a chef which I will definitely keep an eye on. And an eye will be kept on those shelves, stocking Jacob’s Creek Reserve. Chardonnay, here I come….
A lovely post on the evening is by Gwuiltypleasures