8 Mar 2016

DINING: All Roads Lead to Rhône

Preview of a wine-themed dinner at The Cross, Kenilworth - which you too can savour on 14TH April…
EDGED by a notably well-trimmed hedge, the handsome, Victorian inn, with stone bay windows and various smoldering fireplaces, has launched a volume of Bacchanalian dinners, the latest of which draws inspiration from the authored Syrah by revitalised Northern Rhône wine producer, Paul Jaboulet Aîné.

With a past illuminated by glory – gout-hobbled oenophiles still reminisce about the 1961 Hermitage – but tinged, too, by sadness – a debilitating scuba-diving accident put the idealised destiny of the original dynasty lastingly out of kilter – the domain is now cared for by Caroline Frey, whose family also owns Bordeaux Château, La Lagune, with sturdy interests in Champagne Billecart-Salmon, too.
Paul Jaboulet Aîné’s pulse is best taken from holdings reaching up the granite hill of Hermitage, where La Chapelle remains one of the most celebrated names in wine.
Today, head chef, Adam Bennett, who was finalist, last year, at the European (Paul) Bocuse d’Or culinary awards delivering truffled blue-legged chicken, calibrated five courses for five wines. As well as eager local press and a beer blogger, restaurateur, Andreas Antona (three times frequenter of Noma, and owner of The Cross and Simpson’s, Edgbaston, where Bennett worked for eight years) evaluated the menu.
Manager and Sommelier, Giuseppe Longobardi poured the wines, all crafted since Frey, described as ‘top of her class’ at Bordeaux University, began to overhaul the property in 2005.
Prettily plated white Portland crabmeat with ripe avocado, clean pomelo and subtle cumin was partnered with bright, broad-textured, Crozes Hermitage Blanc (Marsanne) Les Jalets 2014
Unctuous pork cheek with sweet, caramelised Roscoff onion, perky wild garlic, mash and earthy ‘blood bread’ crumbs was issued bloody, iron-like, dry-finishing Crozes Hermitage Rouge Les Jalets 2013
Relaxed in texture, Highland venison with veal jus-lubricated haggis, celeriac, pear and rum butter was enriched with a glass of softly-centred, violet-scented second wine of the domaine, Hermitage La Petite Chapelle 2008.
Crystalline aged Gouda and younger Comté reached room temperature with understated, already enticing, but in actuality built-to-last, Hermitage La Chapelle 2007. The standout instalment of the tasting, it would cost approximately £130 from a good wine merchant.
Colour coordinated, generously cut, mango crumble with acacia honey ice cream received added vim with grapey, lychee-fragranced, retro Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2013.
Wines, provided by Bibendum, and utterly upscale food in the albeit Michelin-starred pub, showed balance, assurance and classical breeding. Book in on the 14TH of April for £100 per person.