Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Late night last night

Im absolutely shattered today. Yesterday was my first day back after a week off having fallen down stairs, and it ended up being a sixteen hour monster of a day. I left the hotel sometime after three am this morning and crawled into bed for about four hours of fitfull sleep. So why was I so late?

Last night we had the second of this years gourmet evenings - Chateau Bauduc. We had the owner/winemaker Gavin Quinney come and talk about how, why and some of the trial and joys of what he and his wife Angela do in Creon. Unfortunately Angela was unable to join us having busted her knee, but she missed a great evening. Despite running over his alloted time (to the consternation of Ross, Paco and the Chef) Gavin kept everyone amused with witty anecdotes (some at the expense of Gordon Ramsay's team of sommeliers!!), tales of some of the trials of being a novice winemaker in Bordeaux and some of his aspirations for the future of Chateau Bauduc. I dont honestly think weve ever had such gushing praise from the guests about the speaker before. The wines were very well received too which is always a bonus. The rose we poured at the start was quite popular, 100% merlot with overnight skin contact, we were pouring the 2004 which isnt the most current vintage, but still packed fruit flavours with a deliciously savoury edge which I think set people up nicely for the starter.

For the starter we poured the Bordeaux blanc, which is 95% sauvignon and 5% semillon for a bit of depth and body. Everyone raved about this wine. Crisp, fresh and lip-smackingly good it worked a treat with chef's crab raviolis. The next wine was a love or loath wine. Roughly half the people loved it, the other half didnt. It was the Trois Hectares 2004. 100 % semillon from a small three hectare vineyard (and the cause of much hilarity when Gavin recounted the story of one the Ramsay sommeliers (a Frenchie no less!!) asking why it was called Trois Hectares!!). Its barrel fermented again for depth of character. Much less expressive than the Savvy, I loved this wine, but for sure its a food wine. I think this would have been great with the intermediate course of Seared Scallop on a bed of cauliflower puree with carpaccio of cauli and a parmesan brittle. Anyway, the next wine was the Clos des Quinze a bordeaux blend dominated by merlot (60%) with the remainder almost evenly split between Cabernets. Coming from a walled vineyard of about 15 hectares. I had double decanted it earlier in the afternoon, so it was showing very well indeed. Again everyone seemed to rave about it. That was paired with a saddle of roe deer and pumpkin spatzle. Everyone raved about that too!
With the cheese souffle we poured a more limited cuvee, the Trois Etoiles which Gavin told us was actually selected by the Ramsay team to be bottled into a separate cuvee. Hence the name - Trois Etoiles- Three stars in honour of Royal Hospital Road and Gavins first customer in the UK. This is a pure merlot and I loved it, for me it was the highlight of the night. But again it seemed to divide the room, some loved it, others loathed it. That was the end of the Bauduc wines, but as we had dessert still to come, we had to throw a ringer into the mix. We chose a Graves Superieures from Haut-Bergeron, which also received mixed reviews, but then a lot of folks dont like sweet wines, myself included.

At the end of the night as we cleared all the glasses, Danny and myself chatted to Gavin, Danny using the opportunity wisely to increase his knowledge of Bordeaux and winemaking. But he wimped out at 1am leaving me discussing future ideas that Gavin has for moving Bauduc more into the UK market, and ideas for further developing the range of wines that he has available. Next year hes got a monbazillac coming out, from a winemaker that he knows who cant get his product onto market. He talked about developing Bauduc into a brand again using contacts who again cant find a route to market in France. Imagine a Bauduc Pomerol, Pauillac or St Estephe. Anyway, I really enjoying chatting to him, and getting involved in helping him reach a wider audience. For great easy drinking Claret you cant do any worse than check out their website and order yourself a case or two of wines.

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