Food Match Awards
Morande Reserva Pinot Grigio 2010, Chile
£7.00 @ Bottle Green
The classic match with scallops might be Chablis, and the versions tried here were perfectly satisfactory in a self-effacing kind of way. But our tasters preferred this atypical combination, with the mid-palate succulence of the wine going really well with the sweetness in the scallops. ‘But it’s not just about texture – there’s an aromatic match as well and it reallysuits the flavour,’ said Christine Parkinson, Hakkasan.
Saumur Blanc La Cabriole 2009, Cave de Saumur, France
£6.22 @ Enotria
Dozens of white wines were in the running for this match, but in the end our panel were won over by this excellently priced Loire Chenin. ‘I really like its stony minerality combined with its completely dry finish. It’s just a really fish-friendly wine – classic bistro fare,’ said Martin Lam, Ransome’s Dock. ‘You don’t normally get so much fruit at that price, but it’s really natural: balanced and lovely.’
William Fevre Chablis 2009, France
£10.08 @ John E Fells & Sons
Our tasters got through an awful lot of wine styles here before finally settling (with some surprise) on the Fèvre Chablis – a combination that seemed to improve both wine and dish, with the wine managing to cut through the dish’s richness, but never taking over. Many fuller-flavoured wines, by contrast, jarred when put with the umami-rich food. ‘The richness in the risotto doesn’t hide the wine, but it’s acquired a bit of weight and texture with the food,’ said Christine Parkinson.
Chapoutier St-Peray Les Tanneurs 2009, Rhone, France
£11.85 @ Mentzendorff & Co
A tricky match. Our tasters tried everything from white to red to rosé here before settling (as they usually do) on a white. In this case, the rich, textured, slightly oily white Rhône from Chapoutier. The St Peray just sneaked in at the upper end of our £12 cut-off for the Food Match awards, and the extra money was obvious. ‘The texture of the meat really works with the wine, but there’s an aromatic match too,’ said Hamish Anderson, Tate Group. ‘The power of the wine really goes with the meat,’ added Christine Parkinson. ‘Local food and local wine often go together.’
Turckheim Riesling Grand Cru Brand 2007, Alsace, France
£11.59 @ Boutinot
This dish has attracted red and white matches in more or less equal measure down the years of the SWAs, and this year our tasters went with a pretty classic match. They eat a lot of pork in Alsace, and the Turckheim Riesling seemed right at home, with enough weight and complexity to stand up to the meat, acidity to cut the fat and, crucially, an integrated softness that comes with age. ‘It’s a textural thing,’ said Caspar Auchterlonie, Team Leader. ‘You need Riesling acidity to cut the fat, but you need flesh around it.’ ‘There’s great minerality, but it doesn’t stick out,’ concurred Christine Parkinson.
Domaine de la Porte du Paradis St Amour 2009, Beaujolais, France
£6.34 @ Boutinot
Spanish wine (often Rioja) has been the typical match for the lamb dish, but this year, after toying with a couple of pretty good ‘nearlys’ our tasters plumped for the St Amour. The billowing red fruit was a magnificent counterpoint to the soft sweetness of the lamb, but there was a winning structure to provide freshness too. ‘It’s perfect for a lunchtime wine,’ said Hamish Anderson. ‘It’d be great with lamb burgers too.’ Martin Lam was equally enthusiastic. ‘With the 09s, you’re getting Burgundy quality at Beaujolais prices. This would work in everything from a Michelin-starred restaurant to a pub.’
Concha y Toro Mountain Range Merlot 2009, Rapel Valley, Chile
£3.83 @ Concha y Toro UK
Our tasters usually look for something cheap and simple for this dish, on the assumption that it’s a good wintery budget offering. And this year, in terms of offering great value for money, it didn’t get any better than the Concha Merlot. ‘You need some balls to go with this kind of food, and this wine has enough guts to cope,’ said Caspar Auchterlonie in a flurry of biological metaphors. ‘It’s not complex, but it’s fabulous for the price,’ approved Martin Lam.
Emiliana Organic Coyam 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile
£11.50 @ Boutinot
Another one that squeezed in at the upper end of the Food Match price limit but delivered an awful lot for the money. This is the second year on the trot that a Chilean has won the ‘steak’ match. A generous blend, with leathery, meaty, savoury characters behind the fruit, the Coyam was a confident, enthusiastic sort of a wine. ‘It’s got intensity, depth and enough structure to go with fatty, char-grilled meat,’ said Christine Parkinson. ‘Great with a well-hung, fatty steak,’ added Hamish Anderson.
Undurraga Terroir Hunter Syrah 2008, Limari Valley, Chile
£11.50 @ Moreno Wines
Senorio de Sarria Rosado Vinedo no 5 2010, Navarra, Spain
£6.44 @ Boutinot
This match is the hardest to call every year, and has been won by everything from madeira to an Oregon Pinot Gris in the past. This year our tasters found two really good matches that worked for different reasons. The Senorio de Sarria – ‘a serious rosado with tannin and grip,’ as Martin Lam put it – went well with the sweetness of the plum sauce and the herbal notes of the cucumber and spring onion, while the Syrah wrapped itself beautifully around the duck and hoisin sauce, with its natural acidity providing refreshment. ‘These two both scored because they each had structure, but without laying any caramelised oak over the top,’ explained Christine Parkinson.
Thai Green Curry
Mission Estate Riesling 2010, Marlborough, New Zealand
£8.14 @ Wells and Young
New Zealand has dominated this match over the years, and so it proved again here, with a Riesling rather than a Sauvignon coming out on top. A delicate, elegant wine (10% abv and dry!), our judges were surprised to find that it went so well with such a powerfully flavoured dish. ‘You would think it would get lost but it walks it,’ said Hamish Anderson who, along with other tasters, enjoyed the way the elegant lime and honey notes skittered along the surface of the food so effortlessly. ‘Its youth is a real asset,’ said Martin Lam.