Posted by: jmbwineblog | April 27, 2010

A spicy food enlightenment and some more Great Wine!

Last Monday, I met up with some friends in order to have dinner with them; as we hadn’t done anything of the sort for quite a while. We decided to pop along to Tayyabs in Whitechapel, London; a well known and popular Pakistani/Punjabi Restaurant serving their local cuisine. I hadn’t been to Tayyabs before, but had been to Lahore Kebab House in the East End of London, which I have always known to be excellent. The ‘Word on the Street’ is that Tayyabs is a superior dining experience, and whilst I haven’t been to Lahore Kebab House for at least ten years, I was certainly not dissappointed by Tayyabs in the slightest. A good mix of Kewari (the Lahori Curry) and the traditional Kebabs. With an excellent mix of spice and flavour, it certainly is up there with Lehore Kebab House if not better (as far as I recall).

For religious reasons, the Restaurant is a Bring Your Own Bottle type and as such we had turned up with three wines; My friends had brought a white Rioja (which we didn’t open as I was worried that the wine would fall apart under the heat from the food) and 2007 Bishop Shiraz by Ben Glaetzer which in the end wasn’t opened because of the four of us only two were drinking and we decided to go for a pint after the meal, and I didn’t want to destroy our first wine by having the big, bold, robust and lively Bishop first. In the end it really didn’t matter in the slightest.

We opened up my last of my bottles of the quite lovely but modern, 2001 Baron de Chirel, Rioja Reserva. However,even though we had the classiness to have to drink the wines from tumblers, it showed very well.

cee95c6a.jpg picture by JonoBeagle

It produced its minerally, plummy, dark and red fruit quality and hints of developement and oak in full flow… a really lovely wine even though a modern Rioja it certainly keeps its elegance and is very well made, with the potential to develop for at least another 10 years and maybe more. It is certainly moreish already and I to some extent regret having not been able to keep my hands off of them for longer. Still, it is hard to do so when you know how well the wine is already drinking!!!

After this we went off to the Commercial Tavern on Commercial Road, just across the road from one of my favourite London steakhouses, The Hawksmoor, and down the road from the critically acclaimed (although I have not eaten there, despite eating at the very good Hereford Road [where the head chef is ex-St. John]) St. John. The decor is certainly eclectic…

473c309f.jpg picture by JonoBeagle

… and I did like it, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste. The Ale’s and Bitters on the other hand were very very good, and although you will be able to find them at other good pubs in London, the mix of location, decor and drinks was a lot of fun and highly recommended. Pop in in the evening or after dark to get the full experience of the place. The dolls on the trellis will look a bit odd in broad daylight when you can guage the quality of them!!

The following night was another ecletic mix of food and wine, but boy did the wines shine, and leads me to believe that in essence, if you want to match food and wine together then you don’t necessarily need the best wines, but the best food and wines which compliment the food and add flavours to the palate. If you are drinking great wine, sometimes you need simple food, hearty food that will take away the tannins and the acid but not mask any of the complex flavours in the wine.

On this night, it was on to a friends house; and illness meant that it was down to the fish and chip shop for some very good Fish and Chips, and whilst I always knew that Sparkling wine and Deep Fried Beer Battered wines work well together, I didn’t expect the Reds to survive. We started with arguably the best value wine available anywhere in the world.

This Mexican Sparkling Wine produced by the world-famous Cava house Freixenet is soft, delicate, with mineral and fruit charactar and could be mistaken at the very least for a good quality sparkler from any region that produces Sparkling wine. However, when it is this tasty and the only place that I have found it charges only 680 Yen (roughly 4 pounds sterling at current exchange rate) you can’t beat the NV Sala Vive Brut (88pts RP) for value for money… a real winner.

Whilst still digging through the fish and (by now mainly) chips, we moved on to our first Red Burgundy of the night from (although the estate is old) the up and coming producer Drouhin-Laroze, whose Grand Crus from 2008 are looking to be really, really special wines.

2004 Bonnes Mares; Domaine Drouhin-Laroze; smoke, meat, wild raspberry, plum, herbs, minerals, very young but it will be fantastic with so much depth! A long long finish, strawberry, earth, flint, bonfire, saltfish! Nice! *****+

Having polished off the quite lovely and complex Bonnes Mares we moved onto (what is not quite, but compared to other vintages) a sleeper of a wine:

2001 Chateau Cheval Blanc, St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe A; deep menthol, black fruits, scorched earth, soil, black plum, blueberries, cassis, red cherry, wonderful depth, dill, herbs; concentrated, dense, soy, ink, squid oil, in 10 years this will be very special; long black fruit, mineral and earth finish! *****(**)

I have found that right bank Bordeaux’s and especially those which have a large degree of primarily Cabernet Franc and to some extent Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend to be superior to their equivalent wines from the much lauded 2000 vintage where it is generally assumed that every single wine is of fantastic quality. A small example, is Chateau La Conseillante. When I first tasted the 2000 and 2001 side by side at the Bordeaux Index dinner, I made the mistake of not giving the 2001 much worth, and simply concentrating on the 2000 and 1998. At the dinner that I organised myself (of which the report can be read here) I realised that the 2000 is a showy wine that won’t last for a particularly long time, and was to some extent slightly subdued right now… as if heading towards the downslope of drying out. The real battle is between the 1998 and 2001, and the key here is Cabernet Franc. We all know that La Conseillante and Cheval Blanc share the boaundary between Pomerol and St. Emilion… however, a key point here is in the blends. Generally Cheval Blanc plants 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc with a generally equal split between the grapes in the final blend. La Conseillante plants 20% Cabernet Franc, and 80% Merlot, with the final blend always having roughly 15% Cabernet Franc in it (obviously varying between vintages). What is clear here, is that Cabernet Franc is important to these two classy wines, but the Cabernet Franc at La Conseillante is not actually in Pomerol, it lies in a small plot of St. Emilion completely surrounded by Cheval Blanc and the Merlot of La conseillante itself. In this plot at least 90% of the vines are Cabernet Franc and the soil is the same as the soil at Cheval Blanc…

Clearly 01 was a Cabernet Franc/Sauvignon vintage… the Cheval Blanc is better and more concentrated than the La conseillante (another thumbs up for Cab. Franc) but another wine not to forget, generally blended with equal parts of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc is Chateau Figeac from St. Emilion, who made a very good 2001 which still looks very well priced!



  1. La Con 89 is nice juice.
    Will bring a bottle or two to my Joe Fisher and crowd Pebbles charity lunch in October.

    • It is a fantastic wine, as are other La conseillante’s from great vintages…

      … but you are just making me drool now!!!!

  2. Hey, hey Keith – the lunch is ALL thanks to you, so please don’t give me the credit!.. Saying that, cannot wait to taste the 89 Con, I think that will be what I’ll stare at in my head on those long hard days cycling the 300 miles to Paris!

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