Earlier this week I was invited to a 6 course meal with a wine tasting at The Hempel's No. 35 Restaurant located in the boutique hotel, The Hempel. The wine was provided by Jacob's Creek and was specifically matched to the dishes prepared by chef Michael Carter. Adrian Atkinson from Jacob's Creek provided a detailed explanation of the grapes, the regions, the age, taste and other qualities important to the wine. I love wine, but I am definitely a novice when it comes to choosing and matching so I found the evening fascinating.
Jacob's Creek wines are from South Australia and have just recently been introduced to the UK. The focus of this company is on regionality.
The menu at No. 35 is also based on regionality and the ingredients are all sourced from independent suppliers. The chef personally described each of the dishes and the origin of the ingredients.
The first course was hand doven scallops that were perfectly prepared and were enhanced by a smooth slightly sweet red onion jam. This was served with a mild black pudding, which was flavourful but not overpowering. The wine was a Reserve Riesling 2010. It is a dry Riesling that pairs well shellfish and clean simple foods. It has been aged for over 15 months so it has become more complex in flavour and the colour has deepened compared to a younger bottle.
Next was a beetroot salad with 4 types of beetroot served with a Staffordshire light goat curd. Each beet root offered a distinctive flavour but all went well with the very soft goat cheese and the hazelnut gave a nice crunch. The wine was a Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.
Following that was a match made in heaven. The moment I sipped the Chardonnay I tasted toasty vanilla. It is a delicious wine from the high altitude region of the Adelaide Hills. It was served with seabass caught off the coast delicately flavoured with madagascar vanilla and chanterelles. The soft vanilla flavour harmonised with the vanilla of the wine. It was perfect union, where the food and the wine enhanced each other.
The mushroom consommé was described by the chef as the least sustainable item on his menu. It had an Asian influence inspired by time he had spent in Japan. It was earthy and delicious, the perfectly cooked quail egg oozed into the broth. The chicken was just done, and perfectly tender. It was an unbelievable dish...each bite better than the one before. The wine was a Pinot Noir. Simple, soft, slightly acidic and so nice. It complimented the consommé.
The flat iron steak was organic beef sourced from Wales and was served with caramelised onions, leeks and very buttery soft mash. A lovely dish. Australia is know for Shiraz so it was important that Jacob's Creek make this right. It was much denser than the Pinot Noir and gave a nice warm sensation.
The final dish was a selection of cheeses from, "La Fromagerie", a local cheese shop. The plate included one French and five English cheese. They were served with a Cabernet. This wine was amazing. Fresh tasting offering a smell of coldness quite the opposite of the warmth in the Shiraz and hints of blackcurrent and cassis.
There was no doubt about the quality of the ingredients in every dish. It was a fantastic menu and was taken from the normal tasting menu currently offered at Number 35. I would highly recommend a visit. Michael Carter is a chef that clearly cares about what he serves and does the research to source the best.
The wine was also fabulous. As a gift we were each given a bottle of our choice. I chose the Chardonnay as I was overwhelmed by the vanilla warmth that it provided. Sadly I left this bottle on the train. I hope it was appreciated and that I have inadvertently introduced someone to this lovely wine. I can't wait to get another bottle and I would not hesitate to purchase Jacob's Creek in the future (Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Riesling being my other favourites). I should mention they are affordable at £10 per bottle.
I was a guest at Number 35, but the tasting menu with matching wine is £75 per person.
**UPDATE Jan 2012*** Jacob's Creek Reserve Chardonnay is available in a case of 6 at Costco (Definitely the Croydon one) for £33.95...that's an excellent price of less than £6 per bottle.