Battle of the Wine Merchants
" The three wine merchants surpassed themselves with incredible wine selections "
The annual “Battle of the Wine Merchants” is one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the Bailliage’s calendar. Leading local wine merchants compete to pair wines with three courses without tasting the dishes in advance. Discerning members and guests decide on the best pairing. Both wines and wine merchants are unknown until the tasting is completed.
The 2023 participants were:
- Goslings (reigning champions) represented by Ryliegh McGhee and Mark Harrington
- Pitt & Co/Tasting Room represented by John Lake and Neil Mountford
- Discovery/Burrows represented by Simon Carruthers.
Bolero hosted the event as always. Its manager, Marian Fundurianu, and his expert team seamlessly served us throughout the evening. Applying his exceptional creativity, Chef Jonny Roberts prepared a thrilling, enigmatic menu to challenge our wine merchants.
Goslings kicked off by complementing anchovy piquancy of the Gentlemen’s Relish on toast with Pere Ventura Tresor Gran Reserva Brut Cava 2017. Made in champagne style, rich brioche notes tempered with a slight bite of salinity, the ideal precursor.
Round One: Chef Jonny’s Surf ‘n Turf’s scant description of ginger steak hâché, tiger shrimp, salted egg sauce gave minimum guidance. Unanimously French white wines were chosen from different regions.
Round Two: Raw tuna, black potato “risotto”, yellow chutney came together superbly, flavour packed. Another deceptive description with a tough choice for diners between three delectable wines.
Round Three: Chef Jonny’s challenge continued with duck thigh and morcilla (blood sausage). Intriguingly, a mouth-watering taste sensation enhanced by winning accompaniments.
Discovery/Burrows opted for Remoissenet Meursault Rouge 2019. Pitt & Co/Tasting Room presented a 2018 Barolo by Michele Chiarlo Cannubi. However, Goslings’ choice of La Rioja Alta’s Vina Ardanza Reserva 2015 pipped them at the post.
Whilst each hard-won vote was counted, Chef Jonny’s final dish “fried milk, chili ice-cream” was unexpected pure indulgence, delicious and surprisingly refreshing beautifully paired with a lush, balanced German dessert wine, Nik Weis Bockstein Spätlese 2018, provided by Goslings.
In the end it was a close call. The three wine merchants surpassed themselves with incredible wine selections. Guests reaped the benefits. An experience much enjoyed by all.
Ultimately Discovery/Burrows triumphed with choices which, like Chef Jonny’s creative dishes, defied convention.
Based on a longer article by Louise Charleson, Dame de la Chaîne
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