Another two-for-one posting this month.

The WING Tutored Tasting Group met on May 12th to taste Alsace wines courtesy of John and Ann, and two days later 20 of the wider WING network attended a Food and Wine Pairing event at our favourite Indian Restaurant: Mem Saab. So here are brief notes on both evenings.

The Alsace tasting focussed on wines from one of my very favourite producers – Domain Martin Schaetzel, a biodynamic, minimum intervention winemaker in Ammerschwihr. I’ve visited and purchased wine at the Domain 6 or 7 times since I first found  it, inspired by a Decanter review of their Kaefferkopf Riesling, in 1996. John and Ann visited a year or so ago and were similarly impressed, so we had a range of the Domain’s wines. All the wines are from the grower and prices shown are in Euro.

Cremant d’Alsace        12%     € 8.50
This Cuvée is made with 100% Chardonnay. The wine has a quiet, spirity nose, slightly toasty and nutty tones with an undertow of apple. Lemon zest and apple flavours on the palate, expressed mainly through the acid line. As the wine warms the mousse fades, but a peachy fruit appears. Very good value.

Silvaner Vielles Vignes 2011      12%      €7.66
Nose is light but with floral and a crisp character. The palate has quite a “malic” sharpness with a bitter twist at the finish. Clean but simple.

Auxerrois 2010     12.5%     € 8.50
An interesting nose, linseed and oily wood. A soft, off-dry palate with beguiling floral notes that focus and fade, a surprisingly long mineral line and some structure. Would work well with a Paté starter?

Pinot Noir Cuvée Mathieu 2010        13%     € 11.30
Quite dark for an Alsace PN. Very  herbal nose at first and then elements of red Cherry, more Mercurey than Beaune! Refereshing acidity and enough body  and fruit to offset the typical, slightly green, tone of the wine. Good

Pinot Gris Grand Cru Kaefferkopf 2010    14%     € 17
Wonderful nose: almonds, peach and notes of a floral honey, vying for prominence. Palate has warm smoky spice as well warmth from alcohol , a dryish palate hiding rich soft fruit. Mineral notes too, typical for this site. Supple and complex – a very good wine at a very good price.

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Kaefferkopf Cuvée Catherine 2010          13%     € 19
The bottle had spritzy and yeasty flavours from the first – a sign of a secondary fermentation in the bottle, and hints of oxidation just beginning. Underneath there were rose petals aromas and a rose water palate. Palate is fizz at first and a more typical Gewurz finish – but the wine is incorrect. Very odd, as I mentioned above I have been buying from this domain for years but this is the second faulty bottle of Gewurz out of the last 3 tasted ( I too had an oxidised wine – although another Cuvée bought on another occasion). What gives?

Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives Grand Cru Pfersigberg 2011          13%     € 34
Initial suphury nose (no oxidation here then), then burnt wood then rose petals. Palate is rose and honey, the sweetness tinged with ginger, cardamom, dried apricots… Cries out for food (a strong cheese maybe?) and just fabulous. A lovely finish to a fab tasting.

Thank you so much John and Ann for the presentation and wine.

Mem Saab Wine and food Pairing Event

Two days later many of us were at Mem Saab for the Wine and Food matching event, the third in an annual series. The evening, by unanimous acclaim, was wonderful.

We matched:

  • the Poppadom and relish starters with Fino Sherry;
  •  a Scallop and Prawn (Jingha Hara Masala) dish with an Alboriño and a Clare Valley Riesling;
  • Venison Sheik Kebab and Tandoori Chicken Tikka with a Jadot Rosé and a US Chardonnay;
  • Chicken Tikka Masala and Goan Vegetable Curry with Pilau Rice with two Marlborough, NZ wines – a Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir;
  • Zaika Gosht (Lamb off the bone) and Saag Aloo with a Lamb Biryani and Nan Bread with a Malbec and a Australian Shiraz;
  • and finally a Fruit and Gulab Jamun dessert with a sweet, Late Harvest South African Chenin.

The evening was much too pleasurable to try and make objective notes on the wines. Suffice to say that the style of wines matched the wines very well (IMO the only let down being the Shiraz!). Opinion was pretty well divided, in most cases, as to which was the better wine of each pair matching each dish; and as to which was best between all the wines over the evening. These are good signs that the matching was very well done.

One small thing struck me is that since the first of these evenings two years ago the food has improved a couple of notches and now genuinely merits the term fine dining. The wine styles were good choices, but several wines were not as good examples of their style as the food was of its style. In other words – in a few cases – the food merits better wine, in my opinion. Although that would have price implications. Nevertheless this small caveat didn’t diminish the pleasure of the evening and a big vote of appreciation must go to Amita, and her staff at Mem Saab, for a memorable evening.

I have just sampled a prototype menu for the Champagne and Indian Cuisine evening, at the same restaurant – on Wednesday June 25th, £69. I must tell you the food is wonderful, and if you are a lover of Champagne , or of Mem Saab’s distinctive and excellent style… or of both… you are in for a treat!!!

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