Regular readers will have seen the notes on our first two Beaujolais dinners at The Ten Cases and Quality Chop House earlier in the year. The third and final attempt to look at the (mainly) newer or younger growers alongside some old hands took place last night, upstairs at Antidote, near Carnaby Street, in London.
I’ve dined at Antidote before, but it has been getting very good press recently, and I think the cooking has moved up a notch (it was always very good) based on those reviews and last night’s meal, though a good few attendees felt the portions a little small. With a two hour journey home, I was less worried as, to be honest, I felt a lot less stuffed than I often do after a late finishing wine dinner.
The menu was notable for the quality of the ingredients. We ate a set four course menu (varied for those with dietary requirements) of:
Slow cooked organic egg with green leaves Mullet (freshly sourced from St-Jean-de-Luz) with chanterelles and trompettes de mort Pork chuck (cooked pink) with dandelion, seaweed and walnut purée Goat’s curd & olive oil parfait with pink muscat grapes and vermouth
The bread, from Hedone (I kind of guessed as the two restaurants are connected and Mikael Jonsson oversees head chef Michael Hazlewood in the kitchen) was delicious.
The wines, all fifteen of them, presented a quite varied array of winemaking techniques and philosophies. I think I’ll give a few brief comments on each wine this time, but as an overview my initial reaction was that there were fewer peaks than in the previous two dinners. On reflection I found more I liked from my notes than my impression at the end of the evening gave me. My top wines were really good. I think anyone looking at all the wines drunk over the three dinners would find an awful lot to buy. The three dinner format presented an excellent in depth look at what is happening in one of Europe’s most exciting regions. I hope we can pursue this idea next year, though the problem is I can think of too many regions to look at already.
Dom des Terres Dorées Beaujolais Blanc – We had both the 2012 and 2014 here. The ’12 tasted a bit flabby to me and was much darker than the almost rapier-like ’14. I preferred the latter, which was the one that brought back memories of this J-P Brun wine I have not drunk for at least five years. The 2014 made a delicious, palate cleansing aperitif.
Dom Le Grain de Sénevé Roue Libre Vin de France 2014 – This, for me, is a pure vin de soif. Enjoyable, light, with fresh cherries and a slight cheesy note which I didn’t mark down too much as it seemed to dissipate.
Dom Perraud Vin de France 2014 – Another simple, quaffable vin de soif but with a nice nose, and deeper cherry notes than previous wine.
France Gonzalvez Beaujolais-Villages 2014, “Cueillette” and “Point G” – We had both these cuvées. I preferred the more perfumed Cueillette from sandy soils (Saint Etiènne La Varenne, partial carbonic, cement) to the bigger, meatier, Point G (granite at Blacé, later picked, two-thirds aged in older oak – thanks to Dave Stenton for this info). The Point G needs more time for my taste (it’s the second time I’ve drunk it), but others preferred it.
Les Bertrand Coup d’folie Fleurie 2014 – This had a Fleurie-like lifted elegance but didn’t, for me, rise above the pack. On the lighter side.
J-C Lapalu Cuvée des Fous Brouilly 2014 – Richest wine so far, touch of VA but within acceptable parameters. A wine with stuffing and one which might be spottable blind. Nice, classic of it’s type and maker. I liked it.
Antoine Sunier Regnié 2014 – Brother of Julien, 2014 being his first vintage, this was a wine which split opinion. For me it was middling, and not a patch on Julien’s, which won Wine of the Night at a previous dinner. Others loved it, but one who did said it had fallen apart by the end of the evening. Thankfully I bought some, so will revisit soon.
Domaine Perraud Moulin-à-Vent and Morgon 2014 – My first words on the Moulin were “smells of sock that is definitely not fresh from the drawer”. I wondered aloud on the Morgon whether I’d offended someone – there was a smell of peach blossom and bitter almond which, I’m told, is a classic cyanide pointer. I survived, but several people found these two Perrauds faulty.
Daniel Bouland Chiroubles 2013 – Simply lovely. Universally liked, and so nice to actually drink a wine from this village, let alone one so good. Very elegant. Trouble is, I bought it in Paris and I now have to try to remember which of the usual crowd of bars/shops I found it in.
Anthony Thévenet Morgon VV 2013 – Another excellent example, though certainly bigger (and seemingly alcoholic?) than the previous few wines. Grows in complexity in the glass.
Dom des Terres Dorées Moulin-à-Vent and Morgon 2011 Fifteen-or-more years ago (is it really that long?) I used to rave about Brun’s wines. They were the first Beaujolais which re-captured my interest in this region, which I’d previously seen as a commercial wilderness (I’d not quite discovered Foillard and Métras at that time). These reds didn’t really do it for me on the night. I was slightly put off by the almond and talcum powder notes I found on the Moulin, and the same talcum and cyanide combination on the Morgon. I did make a mistake in taking a mouthful of the delicious dessert before tasting and I’m pretty sure that was a bad move. The only times Brun has really failed me there has been a suspicion of poor storage, but they always used to need time at village level.
Ch de Beauregard “Colonies de Rochegrès” Fleurie 2009 – Last but not least, I think this wine got lost as a post-dessert offering. It was really good, lovely in fact, if unusual. I got a sweetish caramel note, cake-like (in a good way). Very big legs, rounded. As it opened up it almost reminded two of us of a peaty Malt Whisky. It sounds a very odd description but it was a very complex wine and it deserved to be savoured for a while.
So, a diverse list with diverse reactions. At these events we all vote on wines of the night. Although one person escaped without voting (we were twelve), the group vote was: 1. Antoine Sunier Regnié 2. Daniel Bouland Chiroubles 3. France Gonzalvez Point G
My own wines of the night were: 1. Daniel Bouland Chiroubles 2 (joint) Anthony Thévenet Morgon and Ch de Beauregard Fleurie
But as you can see from the notes, plenty to get stuck into from that half-dozen and more. The previous two dinners can be accessed via the highlighted links at the top of this post.
Several of last night’s wines were sourced from The Sampler, who are bringing over an increasing number of fine Beaujolais. Many, as always, were sourced in Eastern Paris, which is pretty much the beating heart of modern Beaujolais consumption. I wrote a small piece about some of the bars and shops a few of us frequent (as frequently as we can!) here.
**Some of the wines above were a bit stinky in one way or another. It’s not unusual for these odours to go away in the glass, but many people find that giving them a good shake works, either in the glass or in a carafe/decanter. You can’t guarantee it, but it works wonders much of the time. Some wines merely suffer from reduction, others have a lot of disolved CO2 (which helps protect the wine when using less sulphur). Most of these winemakers ensure scrupulous cleanliness in the winery, but sadly not all and some wines are just plain faulty. But I find the latter quite rare these days.
You are pre-empting one of my upcoming points in a future blog in your last paragraph. The whole question of ‘stinky’ ‘faulty’ notes in natural wines (and others). I agree completely. I often shake the decanter (I always decant these days) and it definitely does help to blow away some of the CO2 etc.
Perhaps the weakest of the 3 lots of Beaujolais?
St Jean De Luz is one of the best places I visited this year but do restaurants need to import fish from so far?
Sorry to mind read your ideas Alan. I thought it was the weakest at first but now, no, I don’t think any were weak. I always like to see what others like, and there was a good spread with only two or three wines almost universally disliked. As for St Jean, a fair point, but the restaurant is very French, with French owners, and also connected to Hedone. I’m guessing they are more au fait with the boats down there than out of Padstow?
Nice writeup, David.
On the red mullet (why do we call them that?), I suspect you can’t get them in London because the great majority of ones fished in British waters go for sale to France apparently. The fact they had to import some back from there is probably just another sad indication of how we undervalue our own fish. But you can certainly get them from south coast fishmongers.
I wouldn’t worry about the bitter almonds taste – cyanide doesn’t accumulate so you’ll be OK. Actually it could also have just been benzaldehyde which is relatively harmless.
I increasingly do the vigorous decant as Alan says myself these days – you have to be pretty organised though – some of these wines need at least 4 hours air contact.
Did you have any ideas on other areas to move on to?
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Ian, no specific ideas yet. We will just discuss over next few weeks. Probably think about something early Spring. There may be one or two “themed” Oddities next year as well. The Southern Hemisphere one was well received, and I have two or three ideas. But again, will discuss with DS.
PS Sorry I missed this comment, I usually get notifications immediately, but only received this one today.
I had a fantastic dinner here recently. The restaurant did seem unhappy for me to bring wine, although they said it could be arranged at the time of booking for £20 corkage. Is that how you arranged bringing wines to this Beaujolais dinner? (I was also surprised at some of the pricing on the wine list, for example the 2014 Tournelle Uva Arbosiana at £48, when that wine would cost about $50 dollars in a New York restaurant.)
Hi Ben, we merely negotiated an all-in price to include a fixed menu and corkage. But we were a large group using the private room (albeit more of a private table). I did feel that the food and service were excellent. I’ve dined there before as smaller number and drunk from the list. Tournelle’s Arbosiana is a real gem. I strongly recommend a trip to Arbois if you can, to meet Evelyne and Pascal, if you already haven’t.