Piemonte Wine Night

The Salthouse Harbour Hotel boasts that its regular wine nights are hosted by a team of specialist wine consultants along with a leading wine merchant; AND that guests will be treated to a delicious menu of great food and have lots of fun!  Last month, my wife and I put the boasts to the test.

Seeing the menu and then noting that October’s wine night was based upon produce from Northern Italy, I was very much looking forward to educating my taste buds.  Being a red wine drinker, but normally choosing France’s offerings, I was particularly looking forward to meeting the 2012 Barolo.  My brother-in-law has been known to bang on about Barolo, but I have always found it far too ‘heavy’; a fact that I quickly imparted on leading wine merchant – Ed Keith – our host for the night.  During the tasting of the ‘arrival’ drink, a very acceptable 2017 Gavi del Commune di Gavi ‘Fossili’, I discussed the eagerly anticipated Barolo battle with Ed.  I was assured that I would change my opinion of Barolo ‘tonight’ and patiently waited.

A mackerel fillet with fennel, watercress, red chicory & orange was accompanied by another excellent 2017 Italian, this time a Roero Arneis ‘Le Madri’, whilst Ed explained his passion for his chosen industry and effortlessly talked through the grape, area and producer. Antipasto followed, with the highlight being pancetta wrapped figs, as a 2015 Barbera d’Asti ’16 Mesi Le Orme’ gently fizzed away in the mouth and completely changed my perception of ‘Asti’.

Then came the moment I was anticipating the most, the arrival of braised ox cheeks, joined on the plate by a courgette, pea & basil risotto; but most importantly, joined on the table by the 2012 Barolo Riserva.  

Now…one thing that I have learnt about great wine nights and exceptional merchants/sommeliers, is the ability to pair the food with the wine, and I mean really pair these facets.  So far, the fish had been truly lifted by the fennel, the antipasto had been brought to life by the fizz….but the deep ranging tastes of the ox were simply transformed by the Barolo.  Ed was right; the Barolo was lighter than expected, whilst still delivering a rounded taste and complemented the meat superbly.  Job done!

We finished the night with a Moscato d’Asti dessert wine, flourless chocolate cake and orange & pear sorbet, but the event belonged to the Barolo (and Ed of course).

Food & DrinkRichard Stewart