1 December 2014

Wine Tasting with Oz Clarke at Jesmond Dene House (Newcastle)

Wine fans and foodies came out in force for an evening with wine expert Oz Clarke at Jesmond Dene House in Newcastle. Hosted by Newcastle Wine School, the event involved Oz imparting his knowledge of Bordeaux wines in between five courses of delicious food paired with suitable wines from the region.

Over a hundred guests were treated to a five course dinner with five matching wines approved by Oz Clarke. The menu, involving contemporary British dishes was created by Jesmond Dene House’s Head Chef Michael Penaluna and his talented team (they were seen doing the tortellini by hand from scratch on the  day of the event).

After a welcome by Ruth from Guest Wines (jointly hosting with Newcastle Wine School), Oz started by giving an overview of the Bordeaux region, displaying impressive in-depth knowledge of the area, its climate and how a variety of factors impact on the wine that’s produced. The first offering was a Chateau Haut Maginet Blanc 2010, which was simultaneously citrusy and earthy. It went perfectly with the beetroot cured salmon, horseradish and chicory jerusalem artichoke salad.  After hearing more about specific wine areas in Bordeaux, we were served pumpkin, chestnut and apple tortellini accompanied by Château Saint Hilaire, AOC Médoc 2009 which went perfectly with the autumnal flavours of the pasta.

I was already quite full by the time they brought the main course - roast saddle of venison with smoked bacon parsnips and curly kale and a deep delicious medium-bodied red, Chateau Cissac Haut Medoc 2010 which had notes of cedar wood and berries, and a hint of leather. Then an amazing cheeseboard was produced which had been paired with Chateau La Croix Taillefer Pomerol 2011, which was earthy and had predominantly cherry and red berry flavours. At that point I was definitely about to burst but there was still dessert to go - a caramelised apple and almond sponge pudding served with vanilla pod ice cream. The 2007 Chateau Sudiraut, a Sauternes dessert wine served with it was probably my favourite wine of the night, wickedly sweet yet easy to drink, basically Christmas in a glass. 

By the end of the night I felt inspired to try harder to learn more about wine, instead of doing my usual lazy routine of choosing something new based on how attractive the label is. Oz was witty and mind-bogglingly knowledgeable about Bordeaux wine and very approachable. I made sure I got him to sign one of his latest books, The Pocket A-Z of Wine, and his never-ending enthusiasm spilled over whilst speaking to people after the dinner. I seriously wish I’d thought of having that career. Well, there's still time...

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