When I first returned to Eriska back nearly 20 years ago we had to find ways to explain to potential guests that not only were we here in the winter but that we were alive and kicking and open for business. The easiest way to do this was to tempt them to our beautiful wee island and show them that it can be as sunny and attractive in November as it can be in June and that it can be a wonderful place to escape and hideaway even if the weather is not ideal as we have lots of log fires and plenty of whisky in the bar!
One way to achieve all of this was to run activity weekends and we would combine education and entertainment whether it be whisky tastings, cookery classes or foraging, however most recently we have invited some of our suppliers to work with the team here at Eriska and combine what we believe we are best at with what they believe they are best at hence the creation of of wine events. This weekend we teamed up with Philippe Larue the managing director of L'art du Vin to offer a journey down the Loire Valley and he paired his wines with Simons food.
The result was a very entertaining yet incitful event. The Loire whilst a huge region of Frace is often over looked or simply considered as a producer of Pouilly Fume when in fact they create a huge range of really intersting wines and have some of the worlds youngest most instinctive players taking over. So Simon started with a wonderful array of canapes which Philipe began the evening showing off a Sancerre in large Magnus giving its age and style a real chance to shine. It also allowed guests to relax into the eving and a chance to gain some background to the evening.
We then moved through to the diningroom and the real work began in earnest with a really fresh starter of local Mackerel being matched by Pabiots top Pouilly Fume, whilst it showed extremely well it was a great pairing with the macjkerel and made the dish stand up well as an introduction to Simons cooking.
Next it was a loin of local venison which having been cooked slowly in a water bath was extremely tender and whilst it kept the game flavour was not too strong nor over powering- a real challenge for Philippe and his wine matching skills and indeed a sign of his dedication as he had Simon cook a sample inthe moring so he could taste the dish and pair it with his wines. interestingly he eventually chose a red Sancerre and the pinot Noir grape held up and brought out the wild mushrooms and earthiness of the dish. It did also however offer a chance for him to show his alternative red a Cabernet Franc with the goats cheese, red wine being the logical choice and he then offered a Samur Blanc with dish and all unanimously although some begrudgingly accepted that the white wine and goats cheese was a winner.
The challenge now over we were on the home straight and dessert was paired with an excellent Coteaux de Layon offering a sweetness enhanceing the chocolate and kumquats. It was now time ro retire form the diningroom for a wee malt in teh library and the evening was declared both a success in terms of enjoyment and education and we agreed to meet next November for another Larue Lesson!