Though numbers were restricted to acknowledge that social distancing is still in force, 16 gourmands assembled to dine and wine in style.
Our aperitif, Alma Cuvée Franciacorta Brut Bellavista NV (Brecia, Italy), is set to become a Club favourite; one-third the cost of a Champagne, it is a delicious, predominantly Chardonnay sparkler with an elegant, lush mouth feel and earned compliments from Danny Arn, wine spokesman and white wine aficiando.
Dining commenced with an amuse bouche, an Irish oyster enhanced with Whitcraft-style relish, presented on a golden mat.
It was followed by a colourful and tasty dish, White Shrimp Bolognaise topped with Slow Cooked Pork Belly and Grilled Pacific Scallop, found by food spokesman John MacTaggart to be excellent, with the pork having been slow cooked for 18 hours.
With this came Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Nelson, NZ), a very typical NZ SB, and said by a Vivino critic to be “very crisp and clean. Apples and lime come through on the [sic] pallets”. Our bottles arrived in a carton and were enjoyed especially by Danny.
This was served with Johannes Zillinger Numen Fumé Blanc 2016 (Lower Austria), a little cloudy (fermented in amphora) but nice to sup showing delicate smoky and light woody nuances and lively acidity, dense and persistent on the palate. I thought a(nother) great find by Thomas Boedinger though not quite as fully appreciated by Danny!
Chesa is renowned for its soups and Tuesday’s offering, Cream of White Asparagus Soup enhanced with Morel Foam (and a wafer of morel), was no exception. It was possibly my dish of the day.
Some found the Numen Fumé Blanc went much better with it than the suggested Gaja's Ca'Marcanda Promis 2013 (Tuscany, Italy), a blend of Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese. With subdued earthy notes on the nose, it exhibits the smoothness of Merlot, a contained spicy palate from the Syrah and sour cherry on the finish from the Sangiovese. A very harmonious, balanced medium-bodied red ironically said to be a match for anything in a tomato sauce. Drunk on its own, Danny and I both enjoyed it and Danny was confident it will improve further with age.
Accompanying this dish we drank Olivier Riviere Arlanza El Cadastro 2015 (Castila y Leon, Spain). Parker (93) said: “The nose is more expressive than the palate, where the wine is serious and a little muted with abundant dusty tannins and the chalky texture of the tannins. It’s an elegant and balanced Tempranillo with no noticeable oak and a dry serious finish”. Danny was just as complimentary.
We did not reach however “a dry serious finish”; there followed Grapefruit Sherbet with Campari definitely enhanced by vodka to John’s delight and time to thank no less than three birthday boys, Thomas Nowak, Jake Meerman, and John Handley, for their generous contributions to our pleasure and delight.
David Dean drew the short straw and was chosen to thank the Chesa team on our behalf for a welcome and great return to fine dining.