The full English

Best of English dinnerThe world of food and wine matching now has a new scenario to contemplate: English wine. With a couple of Best of English, Meet the Winemaker dinners under his belt, it is clear that Artisan & Vine’s chef James Robson  has that deft yet inspired touch that works with the subtlety that is English wine.

At our last gathering, where Bolney Estate’s winemaker Sam Linter kept a packed room entranced with her tales from the field and cellar, James’ skill was very much in evidence.

No room for bold beef bourguignon, more it’s a smoked Buffalo Mozzarella and fennel cured ham to partner Sam Linter’s Bolney Pinot Noir 2010 – the first outing incidentally for the latest vintage of the wine that beat the Burgundies on last year’s One Show St George’s Day contest.

Although this wine proved most popular on our delightfully unscientific exit poll, the match only came joint second, along with Sam’s Lychgate Red 2008 with salt marsh lamb, quince aioli and wild broccoli. The best pairing was the first course: a beautifully limpid green watercress and wild garlic soup with seared scallops partnered with Lychgate White 2010. The fresh, appley Lychgate with its spicy aromas and fresh finish is a blend of the Germanic varieties that can do well in our climate: Reichensteiner, Schönburger and Wurzer. Good to see something other than the ubiquitous international varieties proving popular.

The salty tang of fresh goats cheese in James’ dessert – here served with lightly stewed rhubarb and pinenuts – provided the perfect counterpoint to Sam’s Vintage Rosé. And what of our welcoming glass of Blanc de Blanc 2006? When questioned about its apparent lack of autolytic character, Sam said this was deliberate. “I want the grapes to show through.”

Visiting English wineries

DrinkBritain.com couldn’t resist asking our captive audience who had visited a winery in the UK. It turns out that nearly twice as many people had visited wineries abroad compared with here in the UK – 60% vs 35%; 30% had visited distilleries and 20% had visited breweries. Beer and whisky tied first as the next most popular drinks, with cider and gin/vodka coming in close seconds.

We’ll keep you posted on our future food & wine matching exploits, and if you’d like to join us, do reserve your place soon at one of the forthcoming Best of English evenings.

25 May: Julian Barnes, winemaker, Biddenden Vineyards, Kent
22 June:
Sam Lindo, winemaker, Camel Valley Vineyards, Cornwall
20 July: Paul Langham, winemaker, a’Becketts Vineyards, Wiltshire
24 August: Charlie Holland, assistant winemaker, RidgeView Estate, Sussex

Artisan & Vine, 126 St John's Hill, Battersea, London  SW11 1SL, 020 7228 4997, 10 minutes from Clapham Junction station.

Tickets available online