Every couple of months an assortment of wine obsessives descend upon Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch to partake of a few bottles. Instead of living large with old bottles of Pauillac and Chambertin, this is an exploration of the outer reaches of the world of wine. Purely for a laugh the wines are tasted blind and discussed, the aim being to finish with the kind of guess as to what it is that would tend to lower you in the esteem of your fellow wine lovers. Despite this being seemingly a lot easier after the seventh glass, some people are always incredibly bad at it, and guess the wine (or near enough).
Last week, to illustrate the contrasts the palate must be subjected to, whilst waiting to order, we sampled a bitter spritz, Grazzano, then on offer at Lidl for £3.99, the colour of Lucozade and less than 7% alcohol, before the more serious (and on-theme) “Vrigny” Meunier from Egly-Ouriet. The type of wine many would spot (a couple did), but I had it as Moutard’s 6 Cépages. It was that kind of day, and it’s been a few months since my epic nailing of a Serbian Pinot Noir.
The wine highlights included an Oremus Furmint 2010, still fresh, a stunning white Priorat made from 80% PX, Terra de Cuques from Terroir al Limit, and Equipo-Navazos’ “extra age” version of Florpower, Más álla (Bota 53). The EN is just what these lunches are about, a wine of exceptional quality but far removed from the Cabernet/Chardonnay norm.
I wish there were room to write about Hans Herzog’s NZ Zweigelt, Oikonomoy’s 2006 Cretan gem or the lovely Pelaverga Piccolo from Cascina Berchialla in Barbaresco, but at an oddities lunch, there’s always something, er, odd in the extreme. This time it was Dutch.
I’ve only drunk one Dutch wine before and although it began well it developed a bouquet, and a flavour, of very ripe, runny cheese. No such problem here. De Klein Schorre’s Schouwen Duivenland Auxerrois is lemony, light and refreshing. If a touch simple, it’s inexpensive and much better than its novelty value alone.
To finish, something equally obscure, French, but not from one of her noted wine regions. Jason from Theatre of Wine brought along a little something extra, Vignoble Guillaume’s Reserve Chardonnay “A mon père” 2005 (see below), an experimental cuvée not commercially available. Guillaume are based at Charcenne, in deepest Franche-Comté just north of Besançon. Pépinières Guillaume is one of the largest and best respected vine nurseries in France and the attached vineyard produces a wide range of wines, several of them based on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, plus a Vin Jaune lookalike of some quality from Savagnin, called Cuvée des Archeveques. An excellent wine from a producer somewhat below the radar of cult status, for now, but with a growing whisper of a reputation.
As ever, the food at Rochelle Canteen, and the surroundings, match this type of lunch so well. The very finest ingredients cooked simply, with great care and no artifice. A concentrated game broth special was nearly a meal in itself, but thankfully gluttony allowed the partridge pie main to find space. It’s all about pacing, especially for those following the traditional route of post-prandial pint followed by an evening in Sager+Wilde. This time I was not too unhappy to have an appointment at…another wine shop.