Loire Valley wine tasting at the London Edition Hotel for London Wine Week 2017
“Quand je t’ai vu pour la première fois, c’était le coup de foudre.” Spoken softly, paired with the silky touch of a midnight espresso, a phrase guaranteed to elicit dreamy sighs of romance from even the most world-weary of hearts.
Yet here, in the moody light of the London Edition Hotel, it was not spoken in praise of a lady’s elegance or a man’s Gallic charms. It wasn’t even spoken in praise of the often exceptional food provided by Berners Tavern, which here peaked with a simple starter of Colchester crab with apple, coriander and mayonnaise, as fresh, light and delicious as it sounds.
It was spoken in smitten praise of the verdant Loire Valley, and its often sensation offspring. “The cradle of France” is known for nurturing some exceptional children, and the fruits of its brilliance were on full display here. Matteo Montone and Douglas Blyde handpicked the dinner’s six exceptional bottles; the former is the celebrated sommelier of the London Edition, the latter the drinks columnist for the Evening Standard magazine, a man allegedly born in a three-piece suit and wet-nursed on a Maenad’s teat. They selected with such impressive skill in fact, that it turned the usual order on its head. Dishes felt of secondary importance to their pairings, a mean feat considering the quality of the output.
Two wines from Clos de L’Elu, offered as the house red and white at Berners Tavern, form a contrasting duo. The Chenin Blanc, Anjou Blanc “Berners Tavern”, Clos de L’Elu, 2015 is an interesting choice, all light, acidic freshness dancing across the tastebuds. It’s sister, a full-bodied and flirtatious Anjou Rouge 2014 is typical of Cabernet Franc, well-balanced, moreish and with heady notes of currants. Both bottles are enjoyable, but are the least exciting of all those we sample this evening.
The Muscadet cotes de Grandlieu Sur Lie, Clos de la Senaigerie, Domaine des Herbauges, 2015, is paired beautifully with the crab, it’s bright and playful acidity cutting through the richness of tangled crabmeat, piercing languorous mayonnaise with superlative ease. The Saumur Champigny, Lisagathe, Château du Hureau, 2014 is a bold and engaging prospect, teetering at times on the brink of punchiness. It reigns itself in, and is much the superior bottle for it, able to revel in its complexity – all sandalwood, black cherry, tobacco.
Head and shoulders above their familial rivals, though, were two bottles – prodigious and somewhat precocious, wrestling for that coveted spot as the favourite child. The Chinon Rouge, Clos de la Dioterie, Charles Joguet, 2009 looks an early leader, loaded with an inky strength verging on the muscular. Heavy with dark red fruit and tannins, its complexity is compelling. It’s impossible, however, to look past the Savennières, “Clos de la Hutte”, Thibaud Boudignon, 2015. An incredibly intriguing bottle, it’s poised ever so delicately on the line between bold citrus and cool, almost even cold minerality. Like all the best romances, it doesn’t just delight upon consumption but imparts anyone lucky enough to get a taste with a lingering impression of the potential yet to come. Remember the name, until you meet once more: Thibaud Boudignon.
Photo: London Wine Week
The Loire Valley tasting was at the London Edition Hotel as part of London Wine Week 2017, for further information about delicious wines available from the Loire Valley visit here.