So last Thursday, a guest from Quebec. Sophie Suraniti, freelance food writer, blogger and épicurean twitterer (@) came to visit after twelve years absence.Visiting la Patrie, for a marathon seven week tour with ten year old Lia, we were this week’s stop. It was time to try and make some decent food and pull out some good bottles.
The weather had at last started to improve.
Thursday evening was simple, some (not very good) squid (too small, and a little anaemic to be frank), gutted, cleaned and pan fried with garlic and red chilli. Served up with a plate of Martelli’s magnificent pasta, it was ok. The wine was better.
A new entrant in the cellar, Lopez de Heredia’s 2006 Vina Gravonia Rioja (white) is delicious; full and unctuous with just the slightest hint of oxidisation it is manna to the Iberian wine lover. It’s a bit like Fino without the flor, and less dry – so nothing at all like Fino really, but you get my drift. It retains an elegant, filigree of acidity with a deep marigold colour and is richly satisfying. Mature already, it has plenty of time left on the clock. Very fine. There was half a bottle of Clape’s 2014 Côtes du Rhône left and we finished that off with our cheese (red wine and cheese, quel horreur). Sophie’s raspberries yes, but if if ever I have tasted a syrah based wine that screamed violets, this is it. This is terribly young now, and needs a couple of years to come together. It’s very much a junior Cornas, black as night and brooding.
Friday evening brought regular acolyte Céline to the table and Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem classic Aubergine Chemoulah with cracked wheat and yoghurt. After an apéritif of a glass of just off dry Colle Duga’s 2015 Collio blanco (like so many Italian whitls, pleasantly floral but perhaps just lacking a bit of zip and minerality), we moved onto an earnestly sleek bottle of Cerbaiona 2009 Rosso di Montalcino and then onto frivolous excess with a bottle of Quintarelli’s 2006 Valpolicella. Both delicious, both standing up well.
Saturday night was River Cafe’s courgette and rocket salad with Elodie’s delicious pesto based pizzas made with ultra ripe, ultra tasty coeur de boeuf tomatoes. Her finest yet. Having hand-cycled 55 km’s in the 40° heat of Saturday afternoon (Bertrand had actually done quite a lot of pushing) we were ravaged by thirst and whizzed through a couple of spritz cocktails before a nervy bottle of Brunelli’s 2013 Rosso di Montalcino. I had chosen this as an illustration of Sangiovese’s breadth of interpretation, not least with regard to the second wine of the night: Poggio Scalette’s 2007 Il Carbonaione.
At eight and a half, this wine is a baby. It’s sheer mass and weight contrasts loudly with the immediacy and shrieking acidity of the rosso. It’s not an entirely fair match, but as comparisons go, it was eloquent. In the course of an hourand decanted a couple of hours before serving, Il Carbonaione had three distinct phases: bulk and boldness; a cry of high acidity and then a relaxation into suppleness and breadth. It has years to go, and largely merits the praise laid upon it by Anthony Gallioni.
To take the edge off the evening, I had the tiniest of glasses of Montevertine‘s oak aged grappa and then hit the sack. At 8,30 we were up and running with Sophie heading off through the Jura to Lausanne and the Swiss. It was brief, it was fun and next stop will be us in Montreal. Inch’Allah.