Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Green and Blue, East Dulwich
A brave experiment here on Cheese and Biscuits today, as I attempt to write a post mainly about wine. Green and Blue is a wine shop and deli in East Dulwich, much loved in the local area (so I gather), who kindly invited a small group of bloggers and other interested parties in for a wine tasting to publicise the launch of their new Alsace range. With the wines came a selection of treats from the deli, forming a kind of mini tasting menu of four dishes and four different 100ml glasses of wine.
I could instantly tell Green & Blue was a serious wine shop, because I recognised literally none of the bottles on offer. That's the kind of wine knowledge we're dealing with here, I'm afraid - if I see no Wolf Blass, Jacob's Creek or Hardy's then consider me impressed - but bear with me and I'll see if I can't muddle through. Kate Thal, owner, is frighteningly knowledgeable and clearly passionate about wine and first of all gave a quick background to the Alsace region and its wines. It's a funny old place by the sound of it - separatist, war-ravaged (in many different wars over many centuries) and with its own peculiar laws on labelling and bottling. Alsace, unlike anywhere else in France, is allowed to put its grape varieties on the bottle. This may seem like a minor point, but many people believe it's the fact that you can go out and buy an Aussie Chardonnay but have to memorise the producer and region of the tens of thousands of French wines that the New World varieties are today so popular. I'm sure the French have their own very good reasons for making deciphering their wine labels an intellectual pursuit in itself, but for the rest of us, it's just a bit alienating.
The first wine was a 2007 Dirler Caude Muscat. Muscat, other than the sweet dessert types, goes with nothing, we were told. In Alsace most of this style of wine is drunk as an aperitif as it tends to clash with any accompanying savouries. Anything, that is, apart from artichokes - Kate believes that her roasted preserved artichoke hearts go perfectly (or at least very well) with this fragrant, fresh Muscat. And who am I to argue - all I can say for my part is that I slurped it all down quite happily.
Next up was the 2007 Leon Boesch Riesling, accompanied by crab on toast. This is a far more traditional pairing, Riesling and seafood, and of course worked well. The wine was honeyed while at the same time being quite acidic and minerally - quite an interesting balance. I would have liked more white meat with the brown in the crab, but at this price point (£6.50) I suppose it makes sense to have a slightly more rustic mix.
A buttery 2007 Leon Boesch Gewurtztraminer was served alongside a tasty Popina (you may have heard of these people - they have outlets around London) Aubergine Tart. There were some big Gewurtztraminer fans around the table who declared this course their favourite, and indeed it was hard to dislike this dense, rich wine.
Finally arrived a 2006 Frederic Mochel Pinot Gris, alongside a plate of smoked chicken and red pepper. This was not a polite dish - the smoked flavour was overpowering at first and it definitely needed the sweet peppers to control it. But after the taste buds had a chance to become accustomed to the assault, it all worked out rather well. The Pinot Gris was acidic, to cut through the smoke and sweetness, and fruity enough to add its own layer of flavour.
Each of these dishes and the accompanying wines can be bought for £6-7 each, or if you are hungry and thirsty the whole journey can be had for £25 - remember that's four small plates of food and the best part of 2/3 of a bottle of excellent wines. Bit of a bargain, if you ask me. Green and Blue is exactly the kind of friendly local wine bar that many other parts of London are crying out for - in fact they may have started a trend. Newly opened up the road from me in Battersea is Artisan and Vine, who appear to be trying very similar things. Watch this space.