Our dining experience began with a generous and tasty selection of canapés, made of Duck Rillettes, Sardines, and fried Anchovies, and accompanied by Anselmo Mendes Alvarinho Contacto 2017 (Portugal).
The aperitif was judged by wine spokesman Andrew MacDowell to be a nice, clean, and refreshing wine that showed few signs of four months of ageing on fine lees. All of the wines were supplied by the Club.
After sitting down, we were served a Venison Carpaccio with truffle oil, marinated mushrooms, and parmesan cheese. Our food spokesman, Thomas Boedinger, thought the venison was very lean, and that its typically gamey flavor was balanced by the truffle oil and marinated mushrooms (but he felt the cheese to be superfluous).
Andrew was less impressed by the accompanying wine, Neudorf Chardonnay Rosie‘s Block 2016 (Nelson, New Zealand). He judged it a typical Chardonnay, but suggested Rosie had not improved with age despite the vigneron’s claims.
It was served together with Tongue in Groove Riesling Waipara 2014 (New Zealand), which was described by the winemaker as “rich and full yet with an elegance and purity at the same time.” However, both Andrew and I disagreed with him, and found there to be a slight musty taste to the wine (botrytis), which we thought tended to offset its several other virtues such as fruitiness.
The pièce de résistance came in the form of Slow cooked marinated shoulder of Lamb, crushed potato, market greens, and condiments. Imported from New Zealand, and flavored with cinnamon, it fell off the bone. This was really delicious, and our gourmands consumed every last morsel.
With it came Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere 2012 (Nelson, NZ), which I thought an excellent choice. The more I drank of it, the more I came to appreciate the wine; but as Andrew noted, it was quite heavy for a Pinot Noir.
The dessert course was a lighter version of a typical Kiwi Pavlova – meringue served with whipped cream and fresh strawberries and blueberries. It was not only refreshing but left ample room for a subsequent selection of excellent cheeses from far and wide and for which Dave Hallam deserves special thanks.
These dishes were paired with a New World Hewitson the Mother Vine Shiraz 2013 (Barossa Valley, South Australia), which Dave Halliday had awarded 96/100, saying “It has more than a bit of class”. While no one took issue with his description, a few thought it was not a particularly good match - especially for the dessert.
Birthday boys Phil Shaw and Jake Meerman helped to finish the proceedings by donating bottles of Tawny Port and Johnny Walker Explorers Club, respectively. Jake then spoke on behalf of us all, offering the entire team from No Idea well-deserved praise for their efforts, though it took several more hours to empty the dining room!
- David Dean