Wine dinner at Oxleaze Barn, Gloucestershire

Wine dinner at Oxleaze Barn, Gloucestershire

Friday 21st April 2017
by Justerini & Brooks

Luckily our Cotswold barn scrubbed up suitably well for a Justerini & Brooks’s private customer dinner. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect, the location was a beautiful farm in the Cotswold countryside, and the evening sun was out.

As the great and the good from Gloucestershire arrived and sipped on Pol Roger 2006 and Gusbourne Estate Blanc de Blancs 2012, Andrew Kojima, a masterchef finalist, was preparing our delicious Japanese fusion style dishes for the night.

I had been looking forward to this for a long time, I was a little nervous too as it was my launch with Justerini & Brooks in the South West (having done 14 years with them in Scotland) so there was a bit hanging in the balance as they say.  Luckily I had the support on the night of Hew Blair the Chairman!

The guest list was strong, the wines were exciting, and the food was fresh and fashionable. After my introduction to Justerini & Brooks, and a little talk about Gusbourne and Pol Roger, thirty of us sat down to a stunning table set with glasses, flowers and surrounded by the rustic charm of the barn. This was definitely a cool place to hold a fine wine dinner.

With Hew at one end and myself at the other, battle commenced. The theme was France vs Germany, and the English were the judges. I had my French chapeau on and Hew was donning his Tyrolean hat as we went head-to-head to talk through the wines.  Gently trying to persuade the guests to come on respective our sides.  Were they going to go for my obvious elegance and charm, or Hew’s sophisticated and complex character. I think I was being very brave!

First up with halibut, lime, sesame, avocado, red chilli, spring onions, dashi vinegar jelly and crispy noodles I presented Riesling, Grand Cru, Schlossberg, Weinbach, 2010 which is an amazing wine! Composed, refreshing and complex, and showing plenty of rich fruit character - a great match to the flavours in the dish. I am sad to say though, that on this occasion Hew slightly tipped the balance his way with the gorgeous Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg, Erste Gewachs, August Kesseler, 2011. I admit it was stunning - a perfect balance of fruit and acidity, wonderful depth of flavour between nectarine and rock and very moreish.

One nil, but we were just getting going and you could feel the atmosphere in the room warming up. There was a clear fascination for the new flavours being discovered. Two Pinot Noirs were next with Pork belly, pork loin and shiso ballotine, salt pickled turnips, turnip tops, grilled leeks, jersey royal and seaweed butter. Both I have to say were outstanding, the Burgundy - Maranges, La Fussière, 1er Cru, 2013 from Bachelet Monnot in magnum - was really impressive. Showing lots of silky smooth and lush forest berry fruits. This seemed to be very familiar to everyone and they loved that. The Spatburgunder, Alte Reben, Bernhard Huber, 2013 from Baden is one of my favourite wines. It is pure excitement in a glass for me, and every time you go back to it, it offers something else and more. I love the smoky spice element, however I think familiarity just won here.

One all.  Its lucky Hew doesn’t have a say here! Château Sigalas Rabaud, 1er Cru Classé, Sauternes, 2004 and Saarburger Rausch, Riesling, Auslese, Hano Zilliken, Saar, 2011 paired with Rhubarb, blood orange, ginger pannacotta, rhubarb jelly, malted crumble and candied ginger. These were both brilliant matches, the darkness of the Sauternes is deceiving, it is light, fresh and still shows great concentration of fruits. I had the Auslese at Christmas and I was hugely impressed, although still quite young, it was exceptional with uplifting fruits, minerals and the touch of smoky slate, it can only make you sit up very straight and go wow!

Luckily I think the result was too close to call which is good news because it means I don’t have to embarrass Hew!

All the wines were terrific and everyone’s enthusiasm for them was overwhelming, it was such a great night and I’m already looking forward to the next one we do.

- Andrew Macdonald Lochhart