8 May 2006

The Right Terroir

[Cley next the Sea, Norfolk, 01263 740336 ]

I HAVE spent a couple of days breathing in the tranquility and enjoying the sheer space of the north Norfolk coast. We stayed in the bright, elegant guest suite of Terroir, a small but perfectly formed 'vegetable' (not necessarily vegetarian) restaurant. The mission of proprietors (and sole staff into the bargain) John and Kalba Meadows is to open your eyes to the potential flavours and richness homegrown seasonal produce can deliver. In this they succeeded.

Simple, honest wines made from organically grown grapes dominate the concise list. Two wines of note include Sannio Falanghina, Vesevo, 2004 [£14.50, Terroir; £7.99 independent merchants (widely available) = £6.51 mark-up] showed the characteristic minerality of a wine grown in the shadow of Vesuvius, but - unusually for this curious grape felt slightly late harvest in character pushing it more into the new world Chardonnay-style bracket than Chablis.

Predictable French varieties including Syrah leant a spicy feel to the Tenuta I Muracci Fortediga, 2004 from southern Tuscany [£15.50, Terroir; £5.39, Chateau Online = £10.11 mark-up]. Though invariably young and tannic, this debut vintage suggested grandness is within reach of the winemaker. It stood up well against the richness of an aubergine ragu (ironically feeling like braised lamb) replete with Turkish saffron.

Dinner at Terroir (strongly recommended) costs £24.50 including aperetif and Monmouth coffee.


Yesterday we had lunch with Lorenzo Bedini (pictured), the wine-importing Anglo-Italian Count who will be gracing our television screens when commissioning editors eventually get over their fear of wine. On this point, the most intriguing rebuttal I've heard being: "I think that the problem with wine on TV is the end game thrill I.e. you have a few colours and limited audience takeaway."

We drank a gently maturing Châteauneuf du Pape (1998) from leading producer, Domaine du Pegau [£46, everywine.co.uk]. Not wanting to overtly thieve words, I think the writer who described the wines of this estate as posessing "great amplitude" nailed it...