Green and Blue is a wine shop, wine bar and restaurant in East Dulwich. I have heard many good things including some great reviews of their school of wine. Unfortunately I had never had a chance to stop. Luckily, several weeks ago, owner Kate Thal, sent me an invite to a special wine and menu tasting.
Kate is a trained sommelier with a passion for real, natural wines produced by independent, small vineyards. She had set up a few specific pairings for us to get a taste for the difference in wines/champagnes that are made using natural methods by small producers. Small producers have the ability to focus on the quality of the starting ingredients and therefore don't have to put the wine through as much processing later on keeping the wine more natural. Our tasting started with an extremely processed champagne Moet and also included a completely organic wine to show the massive contrast. The other wines we tasted represented moderately processed natural wines produced by small wineries.
We started with a comparison of two champagnes. Moet is a well known, mass produced champagne. We compared that to the Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus 1er Cru. This highlighted very quickly the difference between a good champagne and an over-processed champagne. Larmandier-Bernier produces just over 100,000 bottles per year compared to the millions produced by Moet. We all noticed the difference just with a sniff. The Moet smelled harsh and flat while the Larmandier-Bernier was fresh, floral and inviting. The Moet has the kick that you tend to associate with champagne, but the taste of the Larmandier-Bernier was so smooth and soft you realise the harshness isn't necessary. The Larmandier-Bernier is made almost entirely from Chardonnay grapes and very little sugar is added as is common with the mass produced champagnes. There is a price difference...the Moet retails for £25-30 while Green and Blue sell the Larmandier-Bernier for £46. However, if you are looking for something delicious, well-made and don't mind spending a bit more then this is an excellent choice.
Our next tasting included two white sancerres that can be purchased at Green and Blue. The first was a 2007 Gerard Bouley Sancerre (£19) from the Loire Valley in France and the second a 2007 Sebastian Riffault Akemine Sancerre Blanc (£19). Sebastian Riffault is passionate about biodynamic viticulture and does not use manure on his vineyards, he uses no sulphur during fermentation, and the wine in not filtered or fined before bottling. This results in the cloudy appearance seen in the wine on the right.
Gerard Bouley also keeps things as natural as possible and many of his wines are top rated for the region. His wine was delicious. Clean and fresh like you would expect of a good quality wine of this type. The Riffault was also delicious but in a completely different way. It almost tasted like apple juice. It took a bit of getting used to, but by the end of the evening we were all fans. You had the feeling you could drink it all night long and have no ill effects the next morning. I struggled with it to start, it just didn't have the kick that I associate with wine. However, I am definitely going to experiment some more. It was a great chance to taste a good organic wine. Kate mentioned many people that don't know what to expect return it thinking it has gone off. This is the initial feeling because it is so different, but with continued sips you really begin to appreciate it for it's raw, fresh, natural taste.
The final two wines were Riojas. The 2005 Bodegas Palacios Remondo Crianza (£13) and the 2008 Olivier Riviere Rioja 'Rayas Uva' from Logrono (£14.50). These were both lovely. We chose a bottle of the Crianza to enjoy with our meal, but I think the Riffault really grabbed our attention for the evening.
Following the wine tasting, we enjoyed a lovely meal...
Beet root and pistachio salad. This was excellent. Several different types of beet root, fresh flavours.
The main was slow cooked pork belly in Breton cider with potatoes and salsa verde... The salsa verde was fresh and delicious and the pork belly perfectly prepared.
Finally, a Fino sherry matched with a rich and delicious chocolate pot...
I loved the passion and knowledge that Kate Thal exuded as she explained the wines. It was an evening of learning. It's great to learn from someone that truly loves what they do. Green and Blue is a special find. A great place just to buy an excellent bottle of well-made wine, or a lovely cosy place to have a fresh and delicious meal. I was a guest of Green and Blue, but the meal would have cost about £25.
For more information on natural and organic wines, the Real Wine Fair will be held in London on the 20th May 2012. Many of the wines found on sale at Green and Blue will be featured. Tickets for this event are £20 and can be purchased from the website.