Just after I started my new job as Brand Manager, I received an email by Douglas Blyde,a gastro-consultant & wine presenter. My day was made! He asked if I would be into golf, wine and food… I mean who can say no to that?
Food, wine, gardening, design and advertising bloggers made their way to Greenwich on a sunny August evening to visit the brand new restaurant, Vinothec Compass, and try a tasting menu called Terroir and Turf. The new restaurant was developed by Arnaud Compass, a self-confessed wine athlete who is Head of EU development for Robert Parker and Keith Lyons, a wine consultant and former head of wine at Waitrose Canary Wharf.
We were warmly greeted with a glass of the lively and expressive 2004 Pol Roger Champagne an quickly started chatting to each other. No one was handing business cards around; we asked for usernames on Twitter and Instagram to stay in touch. (Will business cards soon become obsolete?)
And then it was golf time! The last time I held a golf club was in 2000 and I was in a mini-golf court in Germany, so I certainly do not qualify as a golf pro. We were tutored by 2 friendly instructors and then we all gave it a go, so much fun! Lots of people filled the courts very soon bringing their friends and children along. The place was buzzing and I would certainly go back…look at this view!
While the sun was setting, we were invited back to the restaurant and we gathered around the kitchen. Head Chef Jordi Rovira Segovia and Sous Chef Daniel Rodriguez Navas greeted everyone with an aromatic baby squid , tomato and coriander tapas kind of dish. For most people, coriander is a very popular herb but not for me. I am one of those unlucky few, whose genes related to smell and taste, make the taste of coriander to be perceived as soap; it can literally ruin any meal. BUT not this time. I am not sure if it was the Champagne, the golf or the beautiful sunset but the perfectly cooked dish went down very well especially with a glass of a 2012 Bulgarian Chardonnay from Chateau Burgozone. It was delightfully fruity and refreshing with citrus and mineral notes.
Next dish on the menu was a smoked trout salad perfectly matched with a Vin Gris (white wine made from red grapes) all the way from Morocco. The 2013 Volubilia blend of Mourvedre and Tempranillo was elegantly fruity with notes of strawberry, watermelon and red cherries and on the palate was appetizingly fresh and vibrant.
It was great to see the response of the guests to the more “exotic” wine countries and how amazed they were with the quality of these wines; supremely surprised! Moving on the to the next dish, Keith poured out of the decanter the absolutely stunning Couvent des Jacobins 2005, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to accompany our suckling pig, piquillo. A classic and traditional mouthwatering pairing. A fantastic vintage full of red fruit, licorice and coffee notes with elegant oak hints and lovely, creamy texture.
Three dishes done and three more to go! The cod confit was next on our dinner table, a beautiful dish even to look at! This was paired deliciously with a Montsant blend of Macabeu, Grenache Blancand Cartoixà (the local name for Xarel.lo). Montsant has a special place in my heart, as I have had some incredible Grenache Blanc wines from this region in the last couple of years. The Dido 2013 has delicate notes of lemon, grapefruit and jasmine and a mouthwatering finish and complimented the cod superbly.
Although we were encouraged to try our next dish, a juicy Longhorn Onglet, with the previous Spanish white wine, Keith surprised me when he cracked open the outstanding Hedgehog Vineyard Xinomavro 2010 from Alpha Estate, Amyndeon, Greece! One of my personal favorite wines, which made a great impression to Jancis Robinson, who made the following comments on it:
“I could see the hint of orange that Julia found on the nose but most impressive was its Nebbiolo-like transparency, light char (from the fruit character rather than oak), and the fact that it really builds on the finish into something impressively persistent. This is a very individual wine that shows Xinomavro’s distinction well. I’d drink it any time over the next five years or so and I’m sure it will continue to gain interest.”
Last but certainly not least was the Vinothec Cheesecake served in an espresso cup. I have to admit that one cup was not enough, so I made my way into a second one, oops! Arnaud poured the last night of the evening, the incredibly impressive Sainte Lucie Rivesaltes 1971! This delicious sweet wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Maccabeu and Tourbat. What a fantastic treat! On the nose, it is delightfully aromatic with notes of almonds, walnuts and candied fruit. On the palate there is some interesting salinity with notes of coffee and cacao.
This was an unforgettable dinner and I got to meet many interesting bloggers and had the chance to put my golf skills into the test ;) I am definitely going back and can’t wait to see how their wine list develops as Arnaud and Keith have a greta vision and have put together a great wine selection!
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