Miss G and I joined 15 other wine enthusiasts at Market Street restaurant in the Northern Quarter recently. This concept is born on the back of the #7wordwinereview trend on twitter which is starting to gather quite a crowd of amateurs at all levels. The dinner is simply a way to bring together forward-looking and open-minded wine bloggers, tweeters, merchants….but most of all drinkers and amateurs from the same area in one place to have a meal together, and share the love of fermented grape juice.
Our host, Gary, gentleman-owner of the Market Street restaurant is not new to the good stuff and has more than a few stories to tell about gastronomy and oenology across the globe. This was actually the second gathering of this type in Manchester and the room upstairs with its larger table is perfectly adequate to comfortably sit up to 20 people. The restaurant’s objective is to provide Mancunians and visitors honest food, skillfully cooked, using fresh local produce…and that is what we got. The starter was a beautiful home made pork liver paté served with crusty bread and I can tell you it’s not the paté you buy in the supermarket. The main was a steak served with a pepper sauce and green beans and to finish we were treated to a huge cheese board.
Now…”where is the wine in all that?” I can almost here some of you say. Well this is where simplicity, more often than not, accomplishes great things. Each of the guests/participants is tasked with choosing a bottle to bring along to the meal. It can be anything you want so long as it is wine and it should not cost more than £20 (more than that and the point you are trying to make can be deemed suspcious). Seeing as you don’t know the menu in advance, you’re not looking for the best food match and to be honest, there are 3 courses and there were 17 wines…And yes, it was somehow possible to serve 17 glasses with one bottle of wine.
So the trick is to choose something that you like (obviously) but that has a bit of a story for you because you’re likely to be asked about it be. From the more initiated who will be curious about your choice because it leads to who you are as a person and where you may have travelled, but also from those who, like you, are not pretending to know much about wine and want to start from the beginning: what is your wine and where is it from?
On that occasion I chose a Moulin-a-Vent Beaujolais. I was toying with a few choices, not only from France but in the New world too. However, Miss G and I were freshly back from a short break in Burgundy and being frustrated that we could not bring any wine back with us, I wanted to keep the cool-climate France theme going. I faffed around Majestic quite a bit and there was no lack of choice but definitely many wines I never tried before. Burgundy wines are never cheap and if you’ve not tried that particular domaine before you can end up making the wrong choice. This is the trick with these dinners, it’s not just for your private enjoyment at home or with friends you know well but for sharing with 16 other people who all like wine, some of them knowing quite a bit about the stuff.
From that perspective my taste buds turned to Beaujolais. Depending on what you’ve heard, read…or drunk, Beaujolais can mean different things to you. For a lot of people it’s associated with the lively, heady, freshly fermented and bottled Nouveau-plonk that the French drink by the buck-load in November. It served it’s purpose back in the day but Beaujolais Nouveau is not what the Beaujolais terroir is about. It is true that the Gamay grape tend to offer fruit driven and light to medium bodied wines. But having tried a Moulin-a-Vent a while ago from the Wine Society, I remembered something packing a bit fleshier and characterfull… The Louis Jadot, Chateau des Jacques is packed with lovely fruit undercut with spice and minerality but the most interesting is the feel, or structure. It’s getting towards “hand of iron in a velvet glove” and whilst I was concerned it may not turn out as expected, I was actually quite pleased with it and others were too…or so it seemed anyway.
Miss G brought with her a Crozes-Hermitage 2009 and apart from giving you basic facts on Crozes-Hermitage that you could get on Wikipedia, I can’t really comment on that one as I was too slow to be able to taste it…
All in all, a great evening was had by all, we shared some great stories – not all wine-related – and all are looking forward to the next instalment.
Here is the list of wine we enjoyed:
1. Lacrima di Moro, Bolla Nera, Luigi Giusti, Italy
2. Binifadet, Rose brut NV, Spain
3. Gerovassiliou, Malagousia 2011, Greece
4. Saint Clair, Pioneer Block, Sauvignon Blanc 2011, New Zealand
5. Monsters Attack, Some Young Punks, Riesling 2010, Australia
6. Penfolds, Koonunga Hill, Barossa, Autumn Riesling 2010, Australia
7. Pieropan, Soave Classico, La Rocca 2007, Italy (Garganega)
8. Chateau des Jacques, Moulin a Vent 2010, Beaujolais, France (Gamay)
9. Juicy Grape, The Big Crush, Merlot 2010, California
10. Chateau des Gravieres, Graves 2007, Bordeaux, France (Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot)
11. La Vielle Ferme, AOC Ventoux 2011, Southern Rhone, France (Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache)
12. Crozes-Hermitage, Domaine Les Hauts de Mercurol 2009, Northern Rhone, France (Syrah)
13. Juan Gil, Monastrell 2011, Jumilla, Spain (Mourverdre)
14. One Chain Vineyards, The opportunist, Shiraz 2011, Barossa, Australia
15. Cline, zinfandel Ancient Vines 2010, california
16. Clos de Paulilles, Banyuls 2001 Rimage Mise Tardive, Languedoc, France (Grenache)
17. Lacoste-Borie, Pauillac 1995, Bordeaux (Kindly shared by our host)