An Effervescent Evening
What could be more appropriate for Valentine's Day at the Institute than a night of tasting the finest bubbles from around the globe.
Peter Morris Wilson and Susan Rees were joined by a special guest fro the evening - Mine Bennett of Ox Cave - to lead us through a number of sparkling wines.
First off, a Franciacorta, the sparkling wine of Lombardy in northern Italy made using the Champagne Methond of a second fermentation in the bottle and aged for 24 months.
Then followed two contrasting Cavas from Spain. The first presented by Mine and available in the restaurant is one of her personal favourites - Colet Navazos. Made with the Cerello grape this Cava is aged 30 months then has Paulo Cortado and Amontiado Sherry added to give a very dry finish along with nutty and honey notes. The second Cava was the Segura Viudas - immediately recognisable due to it's unusual bottle!
Next up was a Lambrusco. No, not the sweet, litre bottled fizz of yesteryear but an authentic sparkling red using the Ancestral method, leaving enough sugar at bottling to allow for the second fermentation rather than adding more in.
An old favourite of the Institute, Tattinger was followed by two contrasting eras of Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve - an older label (circa 2000-2004) versus a new (circa 2009-2014) label. Both aged 5 years but with very subtle differences in style.
We then moved on to my favourite champagne - Louis Roederer Cristal, this one being the 2009 vintage. Created in 1876 for Tsar Alexander II from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay it takes it's name from the original bottles made from lead crystal. Aged, partially in oak, for 6 years then another 8 months after degorgement, it's silky texture and refined fresh citrus flavours show it's quality and price.
Next we moved on to an English sparkling. The 2011 Ridgeview Marksman is a great example of why English wines and sparkling in particular are gaining such high praise. This oak aged Chardonnay has great freshness and acidity with those brioche notes you'd expect from some of the finest champagnes.
We finished off with two wines packed with sweetness in contrasting ways - Graham Beck, The Rhona Brut Rose NV, a Cap Classique packed with fresh fruit flavours of strawberry and cherry and cream soda, and to finish our evening the Martini Asti from the Moscato Blanco grape of Piedmont in Italy. With low alcohol and a sweet finish it like liked the perfect conclusion to a remarkable evening.