With exactly 6 weeks until Christmas Day (I’m sorry), I hope you’ve started thinking about what wines you would like to be drinking. My ideal Christmas wine list takes careful months of planning and ensuring I have something to suit all tastes. The key thing for me is to find wines that match the food and more often than not, food that matches the wine.
I was recently invited to a Dinner Down Under, hosted by Jackson Estate and Wirra Wirra in collaboration with Chef Gabriel Waterhouse. Gabriel is an ex Chef de Partie of Galvin la Chapelle, and now runs his own supper club The Water House Project. The Evening Standard credits the supper club to be amongst the top 5 in London.
I made my way down to the Chef’s East London flat, for a supper club with an Antipodean wine focus. Once in, I was welcomed with a big warm smile and to the aromas being conjured in the kitchen. I was rather excited to be dining with Matt Patterson-Green (Jackson Estate) and Paul Smith (Wirra Wirra) who had brought a selection of their portfolio to showcase alongside Gabriel’s 5 course menu.
A hot Indian Summer of an evening in late September, we are immediately refreshed with a glass of Jackson Estate ‘Stich’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015. Typically Marlborough in style, with the crisp acidity, often associated with Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. It follows through with texture and body, and aromatic white stone fruits and the lingering citrus.
The first 30 minutes provided a good opportunity to chat to the other 10 or so diners. Amongst us were bloggers, press, the wine trade and our guests of honour Matt and Paul. It was lovely to finally meet wine communicator Sorcha Holloway, after following her tweets for a while.
We are asked to take our seats and at this point I realise we are in for a real treat. Our first dish for the evening is the smoked haddock risotto with an English mustard sauce and soft boiled quails egg. This is paired with two wines; the Jackson Estate ‘Grey Ghost’ Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and the Wirra Wirra 12th Man Chardonnay 2015. Whilst we enjoy the creamy risotto and that perfectly cooked quails egg, Matt Patterson-Green and Paul Smith take the opportunity to discuss their first wines of the evening. This was the crucial point in the evening whilst everyone is still, sober and hungry for food and knowledge. The Sauvignon, stone fruits and citrus, minerality and the acidity needed to cut through the creaminess, saltiness and acidity of the haddock and mustard in the risotto. The Chardonnay was all lemon curd, stone fruits and yeast followed by biscuit, vanilla and gently creamy. Tick, tick, tick, my kind of Chardonnay. I’m salivating just thinking about this wine.
The Chardonnay was my favourite for this pairing, slightly biased but a well made Chardonnay often wins for me. However the more poignant acidity in the Sauvignon made it a very strong contender.
Our next dish was the quail, parsnip puree, pickled cranberries and quail jus, paired with the Jackson Estate Vintage Widow Pinot Noir 2013 and the Wirra Wirra Absconder Grenache 2014. Oh boy, I loved the quail! Gabriel cooked the breast meat to perfection, it was pink, smokey, so succulent and tender. Accompanied by the sweetness from the braised red cabbage and the parsnip puree, the plate sums of Autumn for me. My photo does not do this dish justice.
The Pinot Noir, from the Jackson Estate screams game friendly and worked superbly with the smoky quail. The wine was earthy with ripe cherries and strawberries, finished with delicate spice. The Wirra Wirra Grenache was juicy, aromatic, peppery and red fruit driven. Red cherries, red plums and savoury, some oak present. Very, very smooth tannins.
We followed this with the main course of the evening, Cumbrian Herdwick lamb, pea shoots, mint oil, rosemary and thyme jus, paired with Jackson Estate Gum Emperor Pinot Noir 2011 and Wirra Wirra Church Block 2013. That mint oil and the rosemary and thyme jus were sublime, I could have licked the plate. They provided a really nice fresh herb to the lamb. Great effort in cooking the lamb two ways, the lamb pastilla filled with Morrocan like flavours was just genius.
The Jackson Estate Pinot Noir is rich and intense, with chewy tannins, dark fruits, plum, liquorice and savoury tones. This wine is expressive and a real delight, a wine that just keeps giving in the glass. The Church Block, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot, this wine has the capabilities for some serious aging and provides excellent value for money. Blackcurrants, black plums, green leaf, chocolate, tobacco and leather.
After copious glasses of wine, the evening turnt cheesy, we were presented with a couple of large cheeseboards, with cheeses sourced from Androuet at Spitalfields Market. Gabriel had made some sourdough bread and a grape chutney to accompany the board. You will not believe how excited I was to see one of my favourite cheeses, in the whole entire world on this board. The Camembert au Calvados was so divine, I will need to do a separate cheese post soon just to give you a better understanding of how great this cheese is! The Wirra Wirra Dead Ringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 was paired with the board. Blackcurrants, blackberries, green leaf with cedar and oak.
Our final course for the evening was the Brillat-Savarin and white chocolate ganache, strawberry and basil soup, and strawberry sorbet. It was matched with an obvious choice, the Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2015. Both went very well together, without one stealing the limelight from the other. The Moscato is sweet and has frothy bubbles.
The exciting thing about supper clubs is that they are very hush hush, until very close to the event. I really did not know what to expect until it was all over, and it was time to catch the last train back home to Birmingham. It was a fabulous event, run very well by Gonzalez Byass and R&R Teamwork Food & Drink PR, with the assistance of Chef Gabriel Waterhouse and Wirra Wirra Winery and Jackson Estate.
With 6 weeks until Christmas I now have a better idea of what wines I’d like to see at the table. What is your perfect wine match?
Thank you to the organisers.
As always, my writing and my honest views.
Wines can be purchased here:
Jackson Estate ‘Stich’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015: RSP £13.49 Waitrose, Majestic Wine, Ocado & Tesco.
Jackson Estate ‘Grey Ghost’ Sauvignon Blanc 2012: RSP £18.00 Majestic Wine, Ocado & Tesco Wine by the case & Cheers Wine Merchant
Jackson Estate Vintage Widow Pinot Noir 2013: RSP £19.99 Majestic Wine, Ocado, Cheers Wine Merchants & Christopher Piper Wines.
Jackson Estate Gum Emperor Pinot Noir 2011: RSP £26.99 The Drink Shop.com, Rollings Wine Merchants (Harpenden), Christopher Piper Wines & Cheers Wine Merchants.
Wirra Wirra 12th Man Chardonnay 2015: RSP £19 The Wine Society, Hennings Fine Wines, Cheers Wine Merchants, Bin 21, Harper Wells, The Wine Chambers, Winos (Oldham)
Wirra Wirra Absconder Grenache 2014: RSP £40 Carruthers & Kent, Abbey Fine Wines
Wirra Wirra Church Block 2013: RSP £13.50 Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco.com ‘wine by the case’, Morrisons Cellar, The Wine Society
Wirra Wirra Dead Ringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: RSP £40 Cambridge Wine Merchants, Vagabond Wines, Abbey Fine Wines, H2Vin, The Wine Chambers, Cheers Wine Merchants, Vinea (Liverpool)
Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2015: RSP £9.99 Ocado, Cheers Wine Merchants, Bin 21, Hennings Wine Merchants, The Wine Chambers, The Vineyard (Dorking), The Whalley Wine Shop, Mmm & Glug (Newcastle), The Oxford Wine Company