Saturday, 6 March 2010

Chateau d'Anglès at Hix

Last week I found myself at Hix restaurant twice in as many days. I partied in the downstairs bar on Monday night at the launch of KitchenAid's new range of blenders. It doesn't sound very glam, but the cocktails that were coming out of those bad boys were amazing. KitchenAid is the i-pod of the blender world. The range comes in a series of cool colours, so you can sync it with your Smeg.

I was invited back on Wednesday for a wine dinner hosted by Eric Fabre of Languedoc-based Château d'Anglès. Fabre, a tall, svelte, silver fox, spent eight years at Château Lafite as technical director, before moving to the lesser-known Médoc estate Château La Cordonne for six years. He's now making interesting wines in the Languedoc.

Ten of them were on show, alongside a sensational tasting menu whipped up by Hix himself. First up we tried the 2009 rosé, which was an attractive flamingo pink. Rounded and creamy, with notes of strawberries and cream, it made for delightfully easy drinking.

Our appetizers were divine – cods tongues with whipped squash and hazelnuts served alongside the Classique Blanc 2008. Made from 50% Bourboulenc, a grape much-championed by Fabre, the wine had a lovely stone and tropical fruit nose, with peach, pineapple and melon in the mix. I also found citrus notes, and hints of cut grass. Rounded, creamy and almost waxy in the mouth, its searing acidity kept it fresh.

Next up were the starters – wood pigeon on toast with chickweed, served with the Classique Rouge 2007. The pigeon was wonderfully cooked, albeit slightly overpowered by the pungent paté underneath. As for the wine, the Syrah dominated the blend, with velvety black fruits and white pepper dancing out of the glass.

For our main, Mark served Glencoe red deer haunch with bashed neeps, beetroot sauce and french fries. Pink and juicy, the deer was cooked pefectly and was a stunning match for the Grand Vin Rouge 2007, my wine of the night. The nose was an opulent mix of bramble fruits, plums, black cherries and black berries, wrapped in soft, creamy vanilla. The fruit was ripe, juicy and mouthfilling, with sweet spice lingering on the finish. It had amazing balance and elegance despite being a blockbuster, and disappeared very quickly from my glass.

Fabre laid on a vertical tasting of his Grand Vin Blanc with the cheese course, where we compared the '03, '04 and '05 vintages. It was fascinating to track the wine's evolution, and to find so many differences from year to year. The '05 was the lightest and freshest of the three, with a peachy nose and a rich, buttery mouthfeel.

2004 was a crowd pleaser. Fuller-bodied than the '05, the honeyed aromas were starting to come through, and yet it retained a wonderful freshness, with notes of ginger lingering. My favourite was the '03. It showed lovely development, with a delicious nose of honeysuckle, white flower and faint petrol aromas. Rounded, rich and complex, the unctuous palate retained its youthful vigor. I found it utterly charming.

Top cap off the evening, we got to try something special with our Bakewell puddings – Oorain Victoria 2006 (pictured), a sweet wine made from 90% Syrah and 10% Maple Syrup. Fabre's cousin is a chocolatier and encouraged him to add it to the blend. It worked surprisingly well. By this stage tasting notes eluded me, so I have no record of the wine, but I remember fresh figs on the nose. A smily and unassuming Mark Hix came through the sliding doors and got stuck into a glass. He seemed to like it. I left as the Venezuelan black truffles started doing the rounds feeling full as a goose, in a good way.

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