Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy New Year!!

You might think that Im being a bit forward here, but tonight Ive been planning the wines that we will serve on New Years eve here in the hotel. Just over five months away and here I sit matching up wines to a menu that Chef came up with a couple of weeks ago. I was slightly surprised to hear we've had over a dozen enquiries about the festive package already, but I guess after nearly 15 years working in the trade I ought to know better by now.

At this stage all Im working out is a costing for the wines to go with each course. I have a spreadsheet (God bless excell!!) that works out the cost prices plus VAT, divided into portions, and then it gives me a total cost per person based on a higher than average consumption. By over calculating, I can make sure that we work out the worst case cost and track back from there. Once I'm happy with my choices, they get passed on to Andre the F&B manager to give his approval, before getting signed off by Ross. It's all about getting the right balance of choice, value and quality, because the guests are paying a lot of money to have their celebrations here, and we want to make sure that the package we offer is good value.

So what kind of wines are we looking at?

Guests will arrive and start the evening off with a glass or two of Aubry's Nombre d'Or champagne. This is an unusual champagne in that it is made from the conventional three champagne grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier) with the addition of three traditional grapes (Arbanne, Pinot Gris and Petit Meslier). The last three are old grapes that have mostly been forgotten and uprooted within the region. L. Aubry fils are one of a handful of producers that still use these grapes, their arguement being that if they were used in the olden days there must have been a reason for it. The champagne has quite a floral nose, dominated by Pinot Gris (30%), with citrus and a fruity almost grainy flavour from the Meunier (15%). An interesting start to the evening.

For the first course the wine we are planning to serve is a Meursault from Domaine Roulot, 1999 "les Chaveux" Meursault. Another fairly aromatic wine, with that lovely perfumed character that I find in Meursault. It should complement the mosaic of french partridge with jellied figs and scottish lobster quite well.

For the second course, we travel down to the Eden Valley of South Australia for a riesling from a co-operative of well known Barossa winemakers and growers. The Saviours as they have dubbed themselves are comprised of some serious big names in the region - Stephen Henschke, James Irvine, Bob Berton, Peter Seppelt, and Joanne Irvine are some of the more prominent. Selected from parcels of fruit from the twelve members vineyards, and vinified under the guidance of Stephen Henschke and the Irvines, this riesling is a fantastic example of New World riesling, crisp bright citrus flavours, with a floral, rose petal elegance on the nose. Intensely fruity on the palate with crisp acidity and a lingering minerality on the finish.

We bring out one of the big guns for the main course with a 1996 La Mission Haut-Brion from Pessac-Leognan. Huge dense black fruits on the nose with a deep cedarwood and mineral undertone, this is a serious wine. Second only to Haut-Brion in the region this stellar wine has produced consistantly good wines even in challenging vintages.

The one quirk of the evening comes with the cheese course. For the crispy goats chees with winter truffle salad I'm planning on serving a Rashiku Junmai Sake. Coming from the Yamatagowa brewery in the prefecture of Fukushima, this is produced from Hanafubuki organic rice that is milled to 58% of the grain. This means that the outer 42% of the grain is polished off, leaving the purer starches to ferment. Served lightly chilled this sake has similar flavour characteristics to a sauvignon blanc which makes it an interesting complement for the goats cheese.

Finally for the dessert I'm planning on serving a Jurancon moelleux from Clos Guiroiulh. Made from Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng grapes, this wine has a richly unctuous honeyed flavour with a grapey, slightly floral nose. It should be a nice match for the mandarin and white chocolate glace souffle.

So thats about the gist of what people can expect for New Years eve in the Arkle. Now to start planning for the Westminster Suite.

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