Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Room Wine Club

Mon 19 Feb 2007

A group of five of us headed off to Room on Boar Lane to try out the monthly Room Wine Club. In light of my last experience at Room, which I didn't think was brilliant value for money, I was worried that we'd part with our £30 and end up hungry and thirsty by the end of the evening. Fortunately, this was not the case.

We started off in the bar, with glasses of 2003 Petaluma Croser Brut and canapes: mushroom ballotine, smoked haddock risotto balls and white onion soup with onion bahji. The bubbly was actually, quite a disappointment. Brian Croser is one of Australia's foremost winemakers and we were all expecting good things from the wine, and it failed to deliver. However, we may have been a little harsh, as Room's champagne glasses, while stylish, are not ideal for tasting. They have very wide mouths and the bubbly fills the stem, so you are left with no option but to clutch the bubbly and warm it up. We decided that while the Petaluma hadn't knocked our socks off it was a wine we'd definitely seek out for another go. Of the three canapes, the star was definitely the white onion soup - it was creamy, smooth and very tasty.

We then moved to our table and the first two wines were poured. The starters were served together so there was an opportunity to mix match the wines and food. We began with a foie gras parfait with plum chutney and toasted brioche which was paired with a Tim Knappstein Three (gewurztraminer, riesling and pinot gris blend), and a wild mushroom terrine with red mullet and tarragon emulsion which was paired with a Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc. Both of these wines were served far too cold, so it was quite good that we were talked through the wines by someone from Bibendum. The Knappstein wine was quite unusual, and while it went quite well with the parfait and brioche, it took me quite a while to warm to it. I personally thought the brioche was a bit too sweet, and the foie gras parfait was incredibly light and mousse like, which not everyone liked. Personally, I think I'm in the camp of preferring my foie gras less fussed with.

The Wither Hills sauvignon blanc was a lovely wine, and, of all the wines tasted during the evening, we pretty much unanimously decided that it was the best stand alone wine. It worked well with the food, but would work better as a late afternoon, hot summer's day drink.

The two main courses were roast beef with confit baby vegetables (carrots and fennel), paired with a Mitchelton shiraz, and a rump of lamb with parsnip risotto and black cherry foam, paired with a Wither Hills pinot noir. I was highly suspicious of the 'black cherry foam' idea but it worked really well and the pairing of the lamb with the pinot noir was the food/wine match of the evening. We were all rather unconvinced by the matching of the beef with the shiraz - it was a lovely wine but I felt it would have gone a lot better with a plain steak. The pinot noir was a very typical example, with a big 'dirty earth' smell (my impression). However, this pronounced farmyard smell very much put off some of our party who, even though they enjoyed the wine and food match, really struggled to get past the wine's nose.

The final two wine pairings were with dessert and cheese. A Miranda Raisined Muscat was paired with a lemon and blueberry cheesecake with raspberry sorbet. This was a subtle departure from the advertised menu and there were a few disappointed faces that we were missing out on meringue. Nonetheless, the wine (which had a curious detergent, almost antiseptic nose) went really well with the food - in particular, the combination of wine and raspberry sorbet was delicious. This pairing was a strong contender for best match, and was only just pipped at the post by the lamb/pinot.

And finally, we had manchego cheese with apple and pear, with St Hallett Faith Shiraz. This was another good match, and it was very interesting to be able to compare this big, blousy Barossa shiraz with the Mitchelton from Victoria. I felt that the Faith would have been a good match with the beef, but I think it would probably be an even better match with something like beef wellington, where you have the added bit of richness and creaminess from the pastry, which would give this big wine something to cut through.

There was also some discussion about whether or not the order of dessert and cheese was correct. In this instance there was a general consensus that cheese first, dessert second would have worked better, as it was quite tricky for the shiraz to follow the sweet white.

Probably my sole complaint about the evening would be that a service charge was added to the bill - this was advised before the event but it's a practice I loathe so much that I'm going to complain about it anyway!

Pet hates aside, we left Room feeling well fed and watered - and more than happy to attend in future.

The next Room Wine Club is Monday 19 March, with a focus on Laroche wines.

1. Room, Bond House, The Bourse Courtyard, Boar Lane, Leeds, LS1 5DE, phone 0113 242 6161
Stumble Upon ToolbarStumble It!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Count me in for the next one (provided I happen to be in Leeds)... Dre

10:50 am  
Blogger Alex said...

You organise the table at El Bulli, get over here and I'll even pay for your dinner at Room! ;)

8:45 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home