Greg Jones is a Sommelier, and together with acclaimed chef Chis Godfrey, runs Native Feasts; a pop up supper club and events business in Oxfordshire and the South East.
Here he talks about his latest dinner party and the pairings offered:
Pairing food and wine is often a difficult balance. It is a tightrope between harmonious matches and near contradictions. I want to compliment the dish with similarities, whilst also adding another layer of complexity with contrasts.
Here is a recent menu for a client’s dinner party, with the wines I selected from The Vinorium and the reasons for doing so.
• Griddled Mackerel, Apple and Fennel
• Truffled Goats Curd and Summer Garden Salad
Dog Point ‘Section 94’,
Oak Aged Sauvignon Blanc,
Marlborough NZ, 2012
Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is the current ‘go to’ white wine for the unadventurous supermarket shopper or restaurant ‘by the glass’ drinker. It offers relatively consistent, if not one dimensional drinking, always with some tropical fruit characteristics and that forever requested ‘dryness’.
Dog Point vineyard’s Section 94 throws a curve ball to that classic boring ideology of a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. A wine in its own class and from one of the region’s top producers, it is the perfect match for fish, cheese and acidic fruits. Eighteen months in used French oak barriques gives this single plot (hence section 94) wine from one of the area’s top producers a layer of added complexity, a longer finish and a powerful, subtle richness.
With its creamy body, mango-like bouquet and lingering acidity is the perfect match for mackerel. The oily nature of the fish butts up against the full, slightly honeyed mouthfeel of the wine but there is also a harmonious marriage of acidity between the apple and the biting finish of the Sauvignon. The potent, earthy sourness of the second course’s truffled goats curd would quash some whites, but extra contact with the lees gives this wine a funky nuttiness that loves earthy foods like truffle.
• Fillet of English Veal with Vacherin Pomme Puree, Girolles, Broad Beans and Gremolata
Au Bon Climat ‘La Bauge’ Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, California, 2010
Veal fillet is a tender meat with a delicate flavour and matching wine to it can be difficult. In some Italian and German dishes, white is the go-to colour, but for this dish I have chosen a red, mainly due to the accompaniments. A creamy, cheese infused mash, earthy mushrooms and an acidic, pungent gremolata of herbs, lemon and garlic. Immediately I thought red, as I wanted a warming, velvety texture to add to the dish that would marry well with the pomme puree. A wine with soft, tender fruit to accompany the veal’s gentle flavour. An earthy, damp bouquet to accompany the girolles and a wine with a soft, round finish to let the gremolata’s potent acidity shine through at the end of every mouthful.Au Bon Climat’s ‘La Bauge’ Pinot Noir 2010 had to be the answer. The cooler vintage of 2010 produced some deliciously soft Pinot Noirs in California and this bottling by Jim Clendenen is of no exception. Amazing balance, restraint and supple cherry-like fruit makes it the perfect wine to drink alongside this summery veal dish.
• Lemon and Elderflower Parfait, Honeycomb and Citrus Madeleine
Rolly Gassmann, VT Pinot Gris (Biodynamic), Alsace, 1996
This dessert seems to have everything: acidity (lemon), bouquet (elderflower), creaminess (parfait), intense sugariness (honeycomb) and citric chewiness (madeleine). There is just one thing missing; a 1996 Vendange Tardive (late harvest) Pinot Gris from one of Alsace’s famed Domaines, Rolly Gassmann. This wine is a real head butt of a liquid. Twenty years since its inception and it is still so vibrant. A perfumed, tropical nose belies the intense sweetness of the mouthfeel and its long, deep finish.
This sweetness is a match made in heaven for honeycomb, citrus flavours and the bright acidity of the dessert, which creates a whirlpool of decedent, complex flavours that linger on the palate even after the plate has long been licked clean.