Tuesday, 26th March 2019 – German Wine Dinner, Cigalon, London
I’m rather fond of Cigalon, on London’s Chancery Lane, and in particular I’m partial to both its monthly menu “test sessions”, which are usually on a Monday, and now of their wine dinners having attended a recent one. A reasonable (for London anyway) £50 per person for 4 courses and matching wines, it’s a pretty good bargain. When they announced a German wine event, we were in there like a shot.
Waiting for Lynne to arrive, I popped into their sister establishment, Baranis, which is downstairs and includes a petanque court for reasons best known to their owners. Unlike the establishment in Copenhagen that I went to on a team building workshop (which had at least a dozen courts) it just has the one, tucked away in a corner. It also has a pleasant enough wine list, bar snacky food offerings, and some very nice cocktails including the pear fizz I treated myself to.
Actually, the wine merchants got in first with a fresh aperitif of London Cru, Baker Street, Bacchus 2018 which may well be one of very few wines actually made in London, by Roberson Wines and their slightly mad winemaker. It obviously sells because they’ve been doing it since at least 2013, operating out of what used to be a gin distillery in south west London. Initially they used grapes across Europe, but now they focus on English wines. They also have an excellent range of wines from pretty much everywhere as I’ve found out since. It was impressive in terms of both quality and price, and was complemented by the bread, and tapenade we were given to get the meal off to a good start.
There’s something so transportive about tapenade for me. The first bite and I’m back in Provence the first time we visited back in 1988, or 1995 when I moved to the area to work. It’s summer on a fork and I’m sitting on the terrace of the apartment I rented, listening to the crickets chirping, and the bullfrogs kicking off, watching dusk roll in and the stars appear above the hills to the north of Plascassier. It was magical and I miss it sometimes. The bread was pretty decent too!
The first official course was a crab salad with chilled cauliflower, a delicate dish which had some warming hints of ginger running through it. With it we were served a Sackträger Riesling Trocken 2016, a proper modern-style dry Riesling, but with quite a lot of tropical fruit to my way of thinking, and with that wonderful slatey mineral hit that makes me love Riesling as much as I do.
Next up was a gorgeously gooey, sticky, fibrous glazed ox cheek, with a root vegetable broth and – carrying on the theme from the crab – gingerbread in little croutons of crunchiness. It was a triumph of textures and it went very nicely with the Spätburgunder Rotwein 2015 that was chosen for it. Spätburgunder is probably better known as Pinot Noir to many people, and this was a light, plummy delight that was so good we ordered an extra glass each, in between having quite a long discussion with the wine maker about this particular wine.
With the cheese selection, which was accompanied by a very good plum and horseradish chutney and more rye bread, we tried a Riesling Güldenmorgen Auslese 2014, a much more “normal” Riesling with fruit and petrol and mineral in pleasing measures, enough to stand up to the cheese, while not being viscous in that way that some more powerful dessert wines are. The cheese was nicely kept, at the right level of room temperature and went beautifully with the chutney, which was nicely restrained with just a hint of horseradish ferocity.
The pièce de résistance in wine terms for me though came with dessert, an apple and quince tarte fine, with an accompanying pear sorbet, which came with a stunner of a dessert wine, a Beerenauselese Bacchus 1994, apparently something that was “discovered” in the cellars back at the vineyard and which had matured to a glorious sweetness and stickiness. It matched the delicate, fruity tart to perfection and made me very happy on a cold, damp London evening.
So much so that I took advantage of the 20% off any purchases on the night offer and ordered a dozen bottles which are now loitering in my cellar awaiting an opportunity to share one with like-minded friends.