26 May 2009

Liquid Type

ON THE eve of the International Wine Fair, I ventured to ‘Terroirs’, the newish restaurant masquerading as a bar by super-indie wine supplier, ‘Les Caves de Pyrenes’. Behind a forgivably corny title, which describes the influence of soil, site and climate, a tantalising array of ‘blood of the soil’ bottles extends. These often tend towards organic, even biodynamic viticulture – the holistic approach to farming outlined over seven lectures by philosopher and scientist, Rudolf Steiner.
I was guest of Andrew, author of ‘Spittoon’, for the annual ‘Circle of Wine Writers’ dinner. This was preceded by a charcuterie and wine-matching workshop hosted by responsive and accurate gastronomy writer, Fiona Beckett. According to her website ‘Matching Food & Wine’, Beckett wrote her way into professional journalism ‘out of sheer greed’...
The question posed via ten bottles matched with translucent Jamon, robust saucisson, positively fatty duck rillette and garlic sodden terrine, was: does rustic wine work best with rustic food? Cutting to the chase, I think it did. Consequently a musky, blueberry-scented Lambrusco triumphed a polished Riesling with ivory architecture worthy of its own dish, an edgy, unpronounceable Greek white and a soggy-sweet but compelling sherry-style from Lanzarote lava.
Why was this marriage a success? According to Fiona, the post-modern Lambrusco provided ‘a great hit of sour cheries’, ‘acidity’ and ‘gentle effervescence’ which made it a ‘particularly good’ collaborator with the rillette. Agreed. Also, its coarse fizz melted the fat, and the drying trace of musky, black tea-like tannin added grip, developing the satisfying, salty-savoury umami present in the meats.
Over dinner, I witnessed professional wine blogger, Gabriella Opaz (‘Catavino’) receive an albeit polite dressing down for her spirited letter to ‘Off Licence News’ penned in response to Chairman of the Circle, Julie Arkell’s comment that ‘we do not accept applications from wine bloggers if this is all they write, however well they do it.’
Terroir's cooking veered from cool to burnt, revealing their unsuitability for en-masse catering (for 50). However, on account of the moist, moreish charcuterie and carefully kept aged Gouda, I would be curious to revisit for a more in-depth review.
Appropriately given the volume of liquid writers, Dali-esque ‘dripping’ typewriters lined the stairway to our private room. A cynic could read such an image as a statement on the future of print...
For full details of the wines tasted during the workshop, and stockists, visit Fiona's site.
Terroirs on Urbanspoon

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