Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Matching Food and Wine at Pairings Wine Bar

York, England. Saturday 29-April-20.

We like restaurants that recommend matching wines, favourite examples are Enoteca Turi in London and Four and Twenty in Penrith

Pairings Wine Bar in York recommends matching food with wine - getting your priorities right! Mary had found out about this somehow and booked the Premium Food and Drink Experience. We had an excellent tasting hosted by the charming and knowledgable Abbie. She introduced us to new wine discoveries and many of the wines triggered memories of other times and places. Next day she sent us an email with tasting notes for the wine experience otherwise this would have been a very short blog!

Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Brut Champagne // Arturo Sanchez Jamon Iberico Gran Reserva.

Sussing out her audience, Abbie asked "Do you know how champagne is made?" Errm, yes. We must have visited some eight or ten champagne houses on our way to and from canal and other holidays in France. Stopovers in Rheims and Épernay means that we have visited everything from the slick, corporate, multimedia presentation at Mercier to our personal guide, Guillaume, at Perrier-Jouët to the on‑request‑only tasting at Ruinart (the Rosé was lovely). Also we did a fantastic grand marque tasting at a BBR Champagne School.

The Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Brut was lovely, the classic cuvee blend consisting of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. We drink a lot of the local "prosecco" in Puglia but opening a bottle of champagne reminds you that it is a superior drink! The Jamon was lovely, very dark, chewy and strongly flavoured - a bit closer to biltong than parma.

Blankbottle Orbitofrontal Cortex // Beetroot Cured Gravlax

More memories. This wine comes from Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, South Africa. We visited that region on our first trip to South Africa back in 2007: SA Trip 4: Stellenbosch. We subsequently bought an apartment in Hermanus and have visited dozens of South African wineries, tasted many fine wines and there are always more to discover. Read more about our South African adventure.

This is a unknown blend - the notes say "BLANKbottle is breaking every rule in the book. It produces 30 different wines a year, with half never to see the light of day again. No label has any information about varietals or blends. This particular blend was subconsciously blended by winemaker Pieter Hauptfleisch Walser’s brain. From the very little that we know, it consists of around 10 grapes, but only five are known to us; Clairette Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Semillion, Verdelho and Fernao Pires. Plenty of complex flavours such as peach, aniseed, and walnuts."

The beetroot cured salmon was lovely and paired well. At this point I realised that we weren't having a meal we were doing a tasting but by then it was too late to photograph the preceding courses.

Ken Forrester FMC Chenin Blanc, 2020 // Pork Rillette

Another Stellenbosch wine. Notes from Pairings: "A careful selection of up to 10 harvests through the same vineyard, choosing the grapes at their peak, then naturally fermented in French oak both new and old, then aged for a year in barrel on the lees." 

South African Chenin Blanc is one of our favourite wines. We have tasted Ken Forrester's wines before but this is one of his specials and a perfect match for the rillette.

Durigutti Proyecto Las Compuertas // Pork and Fennel Salami

The notes from Pairings list a number of wines from this producer but doesn't say what varietals go into this particular wine. There are a number featuring Malbec so I'll go with that: "Brothers Hector and Pablo are passionate about expressing the characteristics of Argentina’s various terroirs along with freshness and bright, focused fruit, which is enhanced by their preference to age wine in concrete."

The salami is local as are all the foods and Abbie was able to tell us the provenance for each one; we were pleased to learn that the wine bar is supporting local producers.

Suertes del Marques 7 Fuentes // Manchego DOP

Now something really different. I've never had a wine from Tenerife: 

"Country of Origin: Tenerife, Region: Valle de la Orotava, Grape: 90% Listan-Negro, 10% Tintilla.

Originating from several plots of land with clay loam soil with volcanic origin. They have different orientations, and the altitude can vary from 350 to 700 meters above sea level. The age of the vines ranges from 8 to 100 years depending on the plot.  Each plot is harvested separately, and the fermentation of the grapes is also done separately in stainless steel tanks with temperature control. The fermentation process is short with maceration of the skins. The wine is aged for 8 months in concrete tanks (60%) and in French Oak Barrels (40%)'"

Sadly I cannot recall my impressions of this pairing.

As the night was yet young we decided another glass of wine was in order. We had to vacate our table so we sat up at the bar for a flight of three reds - 50ml of each so only equivalent to one glass.

Coravin Red Flight 2:

  • Brunello Di Montalcino ‘White Label’ Casanova Di Neri 2017 
  • Amon Ra, Ben Glaetzer 2018 [Barossa Shiraz, their top wine]
  • Soul of a Lion, DAOU, 2018  [California Bordeaux blend]

We drink almost no American wines so were interested to try the very expensive Soul of a Lion at approx £120 a bottle. I would struggle to pay that much for a bottle but trying it as part of a tasting flight allows for a low risk trial.

These wines were very different - tasty and complex - but we were too busy chatting to make any notes and Pairings had no write up for these.


There was a couple next to us as we sat at the bar and when they heard us mention Penrith to Abbie they perked up and asked if we had been to Fell Bar. "Is there any other pub in Penrith?" I quipped. Turns out they were Phil and Claire of Black Cat gin based in Brougham Hall and whose No. 1 gin I had tasted in Fell. Also Abbie's gran lives in Stainton, a village just outside Penrith so another example of how small a world it is.

We bumped into Phil again the next day in Fell bar, had an interesting chat about gin production and arranged to visit their distillery in Brougham Hall. 

We went on Friday and bought a couple of bottles: No. 2 (pink peppercorn and pomegranate) and No. 3 (olive and rosemary). These gins are strongly flavoured (especially No. 2) and designed to be drunk with mixers, a little too intense to be drunk neat. 

Nice to try yet another gin, see My Life In ... Gin; also My Life In ... Wine.

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