Friday, 10 December 2010

Food and Wine Matching Dinner at Plateau

[caption id="attachment_530" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Plateau Private Dining Room"][/caption]

Recently I had the good fortune to be invited to Plateau Restaurant in Canary Wharf for a fine food and wine dinner.  The event showed off the skills of the acclaimed chef, Allan Pickett, pairing four courses against Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines, all from the same Producer, Henri Bourgeois.  It was an interesting concept, particularly as each course was comparing an old world example against a new, as Henri Bourgeouis are making wines in New Zealand as well as the Loire Valley.  The four courses the wines had to match up against were:

  • Poached sea scallops with broad beans and chive velouté

  • Risotto of Umbrian white truffles

  • Poached and roast Scottish pheasant, swede and potato dauphinoise and glazed chestnuts

  • A trio of cheeses; Pièrre Robert, Sainte Maure Caprifeuille, Petit Chaumes.

Wow, that all sounds yummy!  So, let's see how the wines fared...

Ding Ding Round 1 - the scallops up against the two mid-range Sauvignons.
In the left glass we have 2009 Sancerre Vigne Blanche and in the right we have 2009 Petit Clos Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

This was really interesting, as with a plain pan-fried scallop I would prefer a Chablis or some other lean and mineral wine that cuts against the straight-ahead sea-food.  However, very cleverly the scallops were poached in a creamy sauce, which made it a richer dish, though still allowing the flavour of the scallops to come though.  A very successful dish, but how about against the wines?  Well, purely as a wine I preferred the Sancerre; citrus, mineral, fresh and classic, with wonderful crisp acidity and a fairly long finish.  A good wine and certainly up my street.  However, with the dish I surprised myself by preferring the Petit Clos, with its typical Marlborough pungent fruit and veg flavours which I often find OTT, in this context it was spot-on against the creamy dish.  So round 1 goes to Marlborough.  Onwards!...

Ding Ding Round 2 - the risotto up against the two flagship Sauvignons.
In the left glass we have 2009 Sancerre "Le MD" from the steep sloped Mont Damné vineyard, apparently so-named because its so damned difficult to harvest.  In the right we have 2008 Clos Henri Sauvignon, a blend of three specific terroirs in Marlborough.

First of all I must say that as soon as the risotto was brought into the room everyone gasped as the aroma exploded into the air.  The dish itself was absolutely top notch, probably the best truffle risotto I've had.  Often truffles can be overused and unsubtle, but this was spot-on and the depth of flavour was superb.  The MD Sancerre had very similar characteristics to the first Sancerre but with more concentration, flavour and length, holding its own perfectly against the creaminess of the risotto.  The Clos Henri was far more refined than the Petit Clos, with less overtly pungent flavours.  A really good wine.  In this case the two were much closer than in round one, but for me the Sancerre pipped it this time for the Loire.  Next!

Ding Ding Round 3 - the pheasant up against the two flagship Pinot Noirs.
In the left glass we have 2007 Sancerre Rouge Les Baronnes and in the right 2008 Clos Henri Pinot Noir from Marlborough.

As you would expect the Sancerre was much lighter, but it was elegant and had a long finish.  A nice wine.  The Clos Henri was rounder and more overtly fruity but also had a long full finish.  It had a lovely red fruit texture to it and was quite elegant for a Marlborough Pinot.  Against the deeply flavoured pheasant dish the Clos Henri pipped it for me, so Marlborough move ahead going into the final round...

Ding Ding Round 4 - the cheeses up against a Sauvignon and a Pinot.
In the left glass we have 2009 Vin de Pays Sauvignon Blanc Petit Bourgeois and in the right 2009 Petit Clos Marlborough Pinot Noir.  These were the two entry level wines from the two regions.

The comparison diverged a bit here with a white up against a red. There were both cow and goat cheeses on the table and as you would expect I much preferred the white with the goat.  For me red wine with a Loire style goat is a no-no.  The flavours and acidity of a Sancerre are perfect with goats' cheese and it jars when with red wine.  By contrast the cows' cheese was a fine with either, perhaps the red just edging it.  However, I'm not sure I would have chosen to go for either of the wines with the cheese.  All square for the final round would be fair.

[caption id="attachment_531" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Chef at the Plateau - Allan Pickett"][/caption]

And the winner is?

Well my own preference for the wines judged in isolation is for the ones from the Loire, but in the context of the dinner Marlborough took it two to one.  It didn't really matter though, it was all yummy and fun.  We were privileged to have some superb dishes really thoughtfully matched against some decent wines.  It was a great event well hosted by the amiable Robert Giorgione, who clearly knew his onions.  In the lovely setting of a private dining room lined with the restaurant's wine bottles, the company was great too and a very convivial evening was had by all.

Plateau are looking to put on more of these events in the new year and I would recommend going to one if you get the chance.


  1. Nice article Hugo and I'm very glad you enjoyed the experience with my wine pairings matched with Allan's delicious menu. We've got some more in the pipeline, so please watch this space...

  2. Thanks Robert. You did a great job and the event was most certainly a success. Oooh, that risotto!

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