A week of not bad wines, higher expectations than necessarily came to pass, and even higher prices.
The most interesting was by far a 2000 Vernaccia Di Oristano Contini, extremely rare to my eyes—in other words I’d never seen a bottle. Sardignian white. It was dry and, I guess, dessert-ish, but I had it as a starter at L’Atelier, and it was the perfect aperitif. To which I’ll repeat, the perfect aperitif. Take that you Aperol Spritz. (£9/$14.50 CDN a glass). This is the sort of wine you want to see (by the glass) in a good restaurant; this is the sort of compliment to food that reaches another level.
Over the course of the same dinner at Joel Rubuchon’s tony Michelin starred restaurant I also had a dry, and interesting, but not exceptional, Touraine Sec Cuvee Henri Domane de L’Aumonier, 2010. It was bright and fruit based but somehow a little one-dimensional. (£9/$14.50 CDN a glass). Sometimes I feel French chefs overlook better wines than French wines, or give French wines a pass where they would be more critical if it was, say, Italian or Spanish. I think there are many new world wines in the same price and quality that would have been superior.
To finish off that dinner, with a superb saddle of lamb, I took the sommelier-recommended 2010 Cotes du Ventoux “Terres de Truffes” Cave Terra Ventoux. I am a big supporter of CdV, it’s a value wine in Canada, or at least relatively speaking it’s a value wine, under-appreciated and rarely on average wine lists when it should be. But although I was hot with anticipation this bottle didn’t have the legs to stand up to the lamb (£7/$11.25 CDN glass). Little bit of a letdown.
On a drizzly cool evening in north London, I hunkered down with an old friend and a bottle of Barbera D’Asti “Mon Ross” doc, 2010 in a quiet Italian bistro. It wasn’t as smooth and supple as some Barbera’s can be, or as the menu promised (“velvety”), in fact it paled to the wonderful Sandhill Small Lots Barbera I discovered in BC a few years ago, but it was pleasant and food friendly and warming. (£38/$60.50 CDN bottle).
At Bar Boulud, a chi-chi joint in the basement of the Mandarin Oriental, I started with a fruity, floral, and quirky Greek white, Gerovassiliou Malagousia, Epanomi, Greece 2010 (£8.75/$14 CDN glass); a mere 8.5 per cent alcohol, and exquisitely aromatic. A wine I would, again, love to source in BC.
Then we shared a white Burgundy—it seemed like the right thing to do, given the depth on the wine list. Denis Bouchacourt, Macon-Solutré, 2009. It was tasty, a little sauv blanc sharp, fruity, not quite as deep or majestic as you expect with Burgundy, but with a decent finish. (£38/$60.50 CDN, more than I would like to spend quite frankly…).