Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Sherlock Is On The Wine


By Rebecca Brett

‘We’ve got a brand new wine list, would you like to come and try the new additions?’ is not a line that I hear that often but when someone did say it I, of course, politely declined. Yeah right, I was there faster than you can say Sauvignon Blanc.

I could even take a +1, so my boyfriend (and fellow wine-lover) and I plodded off to the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes Hotel with deerstalker and magnifying glass in hand. I was expecting the hotel, which is – of course situated on Baker Street - to have hordes of tourists milling about and taking pictures in the hotel but it was in fact the opposite. The place was a haven from the busy road outside.

We arrived with lots of other wine lovers (or journalists, if you will) to sample the menu. We sat in groups of five, with the bottles of wine just in my sights and only the extremely lovely and very knowledgeable Giles Jenkinson in the way of me grabbing a straw and trying them all by myself. He was there from a company called Matthew Clark – a drinks supplier who supply the Park Plaza chain and who won the International Wine Challenge Awards’ ‘Wine Educator of the Year’ 2009.

So we weren’t just going to get stuck in to the wines. We were going to be educated about them first. Wow, there’s a lot to learn. Grapes, tannins, oak barrels, grape skins, reserves, vineyards, hints and noses… the list goes on. Erm, when can we drink the wine please?

Whoop, here goes – eight wines, three white, four reds and one dessert wine. The first, Cloudy Bay, was already a firm favourite between the two of us so it was good to drink it away from home and with a delicious seared king scallop, pea puree and crispy pancetta. Beats the Doritos we usually tuck in to while drinking the New Zealand white.

Of the other two wines, my favourite was the Klein Zalze Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch, South Africa. There was a red from the same region too. Things got a little hazy after the third glass but if my memory serves me well then I think it was a Pinot Noir, which went deliciously with the roast duck canapé.

This is the thing with wine tasting. I start off being thoroughly interested in every minor detail about the grape, where it came from, who made it, how they made it and then with each glass the interest dwindles. What’s that? Use the spittoon? That’s like tasting a delicious chocolate cake and then spitting it out. Sacrilege.

So with the whites done, I was looking forward to the roses, I’m not a huge fan of the pink stuff but I’ve been to wine tastings before vowing to go straight to the shop and buy the ones we had sampled. But we didn’t try them on the night which I thought was a bit of a shame. So it was on to the reds, I mentioned the Pinot Noir but there was also a Chablis and a Chateau Neuf Du Pape but the best of the bunch (haha) was the Robert Mondavi Napa Cabernet Sauvignon served with a delicious morsel of rib eye steak. Wines like those just increase my wanting of heading to California to bathe in grapes and sunshine.

To wash down a dessert of tarte tatin was the dessert wine, a French Domaine du Seuil Cerons. Dessert wines confuse me somewhat, hardly anyone drinks them and if I’m having a cheese plate I much prefer a ruby port to wash the brie down with. Mixing sweet apples with a sweet wine shouldn’t work but it did.

In fact, it was bloody delicious so when Giles informed us we could stay around afterwards and finish off the wines I went straight for the smallest bottle (unlike me) of the sweet stuff.

With all wines tasted, all bottles emptied and all samples of the menu from the AA Rosette award-winning Sherlock’s Bar and Grill (pictured above) eaten, we staggered off on to the busy Baker Street to go home. One wine tasting: done. One tipsy boyfriend: done. One wishing that the wine tasting included a stay at the four-star boutique hotel: done.

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