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Wine Dinner At Chapman’s Of Canterbury

Last Thursday saw another hugely enjoyable wine dinner at Chapman’s of Canterbury and the food was sublime. As for what washed it down, it was a very spectacular line up and featured some of my favourite wines of the moment. Here’s what we tasted –

Louis Roederer Collection 242 Champagne, France @ £48 per bottle

With the canapés we had the pleasure of this new release from Louis Roederer, one of Champagne’s most prestigious Grande Marques and the Champagne that replaces their NV Brut Premier. So why the change? Well, as with all NV Champagnes, the aim of Brut Premier was continuity and to produce a wine that always tasted the same by blending wine from different vintages. This had been successful for Louis Roederer as Brut Premier won plenty of awards however the company wanted to make the best wine possible every year and the result that became Collection 242 was released in late 2021. This cépage (blend of grapes) is 42% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir and 22% Pinot Meunier and is a mix of five vintages with the bulk being from 2017 which was the 242nd vintage since the House was founded, hence the name. The results are absolutely stunning, with Collection 242 offering a much richer and complex style than Brut Premier that is also slightly drier. It’s RRP is £52 but we’ve decided to offer this glorious champagne for under £50 at £48 and it’s worth every penny. Can’t wait to taste Collection 243 later this year.

2018 Riesling Reserve, Domaine Jean Sipp, Alsace, France @ £17.75 per bottle

This was matched with some delicious chalk stream trout with horseradish cream cheese. It had wonderful aromas of green apple and a precise cleanliness but with a enchanting richness on the palate that counterbalanced the garnish beautifully. Wines from Alsace do not get the recognition they deserve, but it is when they are matched with excellent food you realise what wonderful purity and excellence they have.

2018 Langhe Chardonnay, Marchesi de Gresy, Piemonte, Italy @ £31 per bottle

The wine of the night for many which is no surprise as it’s one of the best Chardonnays I have tasted in recent years. Marchesi de Gresy are better known for their reds, producing some of the finest Barbarescos you can find but this white matches their top wines in terms of class and sophistication and worked brilliantly with the hand dived scallop with parsnip purée. Made from two single vineyard Chardonnay plots, one in Barbaresco and one in Martinenga, all the fruit is hand-picked and then destemmed at the winery. Once pressed, the juice is fermented and aged in new French barriques (smaller barrels). This maturation in wood lasts around 22 months with further ageing in bottle before release. After this meticulous winemaking process you get a serious wine for a serious Chardonnay lover full of gorgeous, rich, honeyed aromas with notes of hazelnut and elegant citrus. Does it get better? It certainly does as you take a sip and are charmed by the beautiful texture and glorious mixture of stone fruit, vanilla, hazelnut and ripe citrus. Totally top-notch and Burgundy like in style but luckily not in price as you’ll probably have to double it these days for a Côte d’Or equivalent. Grab the 2018 whilst you can as it’s drinking spot-on right now!

2019 Oldenberg Chenin Blanc, Banghoek Valley, South Africa @ £17 per bottle

Well the Chardonnay was always going to be a hard act to follow but this delicious Chenin Blanc did its job splendidly. This is from the Banghoek valley which is inland from the Western Cape and a bit further from the coast than the better-known Stellenbosch region. This goes through a wild fermentation and is then aged in 20% new oak with the remainder in second fill 300l barrels which are rolled once a week to move the lees around the wine to give it more complexity. I chose this as a match to fillet of cod with a clam chowder sauce and the wine’s flavours of lime, lemon, white peach and clove when paired with this fish dish were a joy to behold.

2016 Monferrato Rosso, Marchesi di Gresy, Piemonte, Italy @ £18

It was now time for some cheese and the truffle cheddar could have been a bit of challenge until I remembered another super wine from Marchesi de Gresy. Bordeaux can work well with cheddar so I went for a red that features one of its main grape varieties, Merlot, but from a region famed for its truffles – Piemonte. This Merlot vineyard was originally planted to be blended with the indigenous Barbera grape but the winery’s owner, Roberto, thought that the Merlot tasted so good he decided to make a single variety wine with it. It’s aged for 12 months in used barrique and then a further 24 months in large Slovenian oak casks. Any oak flavour has been beautifully integrated as on the nose, the main aromas are glorious red cherry and raspberry with maybe a hint of eastern spice. Lovely and full on the palate but still maintaining that sophisticated, northern Italian finesse. Great stuff indeed!

NV 10 Year Old Malvasia, Justino’s, Madeira @ £35 per bottle

There’s no denying that chocolate fondant with popcorn ice cream was quite an indulgent end to the evening’s dinner so I thought something equally indulgent to wash it down with was required – enter stage left this hedonistic Madeira. Rich, intense and bursting with toffee, dark chocolate and cocoa, this was dangerous stuff. You wouldn’t want to have an open bottle of this sitting on your table if you had an early start the following morning.

It was a wonderful evening and excellent value considering the quality of food and drink. Those of you that couldn’t make it due to prior engagements may want to put the date of the next one in your diaries which is 22nd September. Theme TBC but great food and wine guaranteed.

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