Food and Wine Matching – Nyetimber Style
When I saw the picture on Twitter of the table at the Nyetimber offices awaiting guests I thought (a) I’m sure they meant someone else when they invited me and (b) I’m certainly not going to ‘fess up!
The event was to celebrate Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2009 winning Best UK Sparkling Wine at IWC2014 as well as English Wine Week. With the quality of the wines, their awards, market positioning and the events they sponsor, it would be easy to imagine Nyetimber being a bit pompous and aloof, but the evening was far from that. We were welcomed by the friendly team, with a glass of the trophy-winning ’09 Classic Cuvée and introduced to other guests and to our hosts.
I was sitting next to wine writer Jamie Goode who asked neighbours whether they were on Twitter, went to follow them and charmingly (I don’t think he was bluffing) expressed surprise that we were all already following him!
At the beginning of the meal, Brad Greatrix, assistant winemaker introduced his wife and boss “at home and at work” Cherie Spriggs, who told us a little about each wine as we came to it.
The purpose of this this post isn’t to show off about my lovely evening, though – there are a couple of particular things noteworthy to those who set out to explore more of English wines, firstly that there are quite a few Winemaker’s dinners around, notably during English Wine Week; these are well worth looking out for. I’ve read this week of events with Duncan Schwab of Sharpham and Kevin Sutherland of Bluebell, for instance, both engaging characters whose company you will undoubtedly enjoy. To me, hearing a bit more of the story behind the wines enhances the enjoyment enormously.
Secondly, it’s all too easy to think of a glass of fizz as just being there for an aperitif, but as the carefully thought-out menu at Nyetimber showed, you really can drink sparkling wine throughout a meal, pairing different courses as you would with still wines.
A crab salad starter was paired with the Rosé 2009, delightfully flavoursome and having just the right amount of body. Oh, to have the palate of Cherie who commented that she thought the Rosé went best with the dark crab meat and the Classic Cuvée with the white crab.
With our light fresh chicken and vegetable main course (just my kind of food) came a Blanc de Blancs ’98. A real treat for blanc de blanc lovers like me – a little bit of aging here has done wonders. This wine was made by Sandy Moss, who with her husband Stuart first started the vineyard at Nyetimber with planting in 1988. A real illustration of how exceptional quality has been consistent since the very beginning; I also loved the Blanc de Blancs 2007, the latest release which I tried at the recent trade tasting.
Finally we moved on to the Nyetimber Demi-Sec with our delicious dessert. This was a wine I had not tried before and even been a little bit sceptical about, but as Cherie explained it goes nicely with desserts with a “hint of sweetness”. It’s not designed to go with treacle pudding! She said that they had thought a Demi-Sec would be a nice idea, so that one could perfectly pair a whole meal with Nyetimber wines – who’s going to argue with that? But seriously, she and Brad had no favourite they could use as a benchmark, so set out to develop this themselves from scratch. Although the Demi-Sec has a dosage of 44g/l of sugar (see my Hambledon post to read more about dosage), it’s not as simple as just making some sparkling wine and then adding sugar at the appropriate juncture, the whole wine-making process is in anticipation of this sugar arriving and decisions will be made accordingly.
All in all, a great learning experience as well as an enjoyable one. I also picked up a hint that there’s a possibility of occasional Open Days at the Nyetimber vineyard in Sussex in future. If and when that comes to pass, we’ll be sure to check it out and mention it here.
Meanwhile, do look out for Winemaker’s events (I’ll try to post any I come across on the events page of www.WineCellarDoor.co.uk) and experiment with fizz throughout a meal, especially with a light dessert. I’d love to hear how you get on.
FEATURED / PINNED POST
Use our map to find your local vineyards, a great place to meet that friend you've been meaning to catch up with, somewhere to hold your next business meeting...