Thursday, 16 October 2014

On the Banks of the Rhone...

On Friday evening a few souls remained in the office after all had headed off for the weekend. Seated at desks all too familiar strewn with files, papers and computer monitors these hard workers were all set for a long evening. However there was an expectant and excited atmosphere as Sebastian had transformed the Prison Law department transplanting dishes of cuisine rarely seen other than in the best Parisian restaurants onto files conveniently closed and other flattish surfaces. Cheeses, cold salamis, Baba Ghanoush, Guacamole and homemade soda bread were all on the menu to accompany a dozen different bottles of vintage wines: Grace, her friend, Bo, Duchess, Danielle, Anneka, Sebastian, Ed, Polly and I were taken on a tour gastronomique fantastique down the Rhone.

I have to admit that I do like a good cheese and have no qualms about those mature pungent runny varieties or those made from unpasteurised milk or goats milk. I have always kept to my maxim that the best cheeses do not have a use by date but rather a use after date. Of course there will be limitations but they are rarely if ever reached. The selection of six fromages on offer were all good and were accordingly dispatched with considerable skill and ease.

The main purpose of the evening was the tasting of wine and to guide us Sebastian provided a menu complete with details of the different vineyards, the soil structure, the climatic potential of a particular area and the grape type and oh yes the price – range from £9.50 - £32 a bottle. We also had a geography lesson thrown in – where exactly is the Rhone, which way does it go, population, history and major cities. From a French perspective it flows from Lake Geneva via Lyon down to Avignon and out into the Med. My favourite white was the Lirac Blanc La Fermade Domaine Maby 2013 and red the Roaix L’As du Pique Domaine Pique Basse 2011: both on the modest (?) end of the price range. Due to a lack of spittoons my discernment may have diminished somewhat during the evening but my memory assures me that all those wines tasted were of the highest quality.

The company was excellent and all were in high spirits when I left shortly after 11pm to stagger home, fortunately without incident. Highly recommended!

- Danny Lyness


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