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By JON DEAN
Thursday, April 5, 2012
»It’s rare that you get to sample the finest wines and meat while having them lovingly described to you by the people responsible for their cultivation.
But the wine dinners at Farringdon eaterie Vivat Bacchus afford just that opportunity.
On our visit the wine was from the immensely well-regarded Morgenster Farm, a multi-award-winning vineyard near Cape Town, South Africa.
The meat, on the other hand, was the preserve of Hambletons, a specialist smallholding whose animals are grass-fed with an emphasis on traditional farming methods.
Representing the two enterprises were Huibre Hoff, export sales manager for Morgenster, and William Nelson, sales and manufacturing manager for Hambletons, who were on hand to talk us expertly through each course.
And what courses they were; after a glass of fizz on arrival, we had a gorgeous steak tartare – delicately seasoned hand-cut mince in a parmesan nest.
The accompanying wine was the Lourens River Valley 2008 – an excellent fruity drink with a silky tannin finish.
Then came an unbelievably tender ox cheek pie, served with the Morgenster 2006, winner of a five-star John Platter award and my personal pick of a fabulous collection of wines.
The main event food-wise was a beefy duo of sirloin and ribeye cuts with chips, béarnaise, peppercorn and rich bone marrow.
Vivat Bacchus Restaurant and Wine Cellar, 47 Farringdon Street, EC4A 4LL. Tel: 020 7353 2648
Wine dinner: £59 per head
Mains: From £9.75 (or £14.50/17.50 for 2/3 courses)
Wine: £16.50 a bottle
Children welcome: Yes, but no children’s menu or changing facilities
Disabled access: Yes
While the ribeye was slightly overdone – the fault of the lengthy speeches rather than the chef – the sirloin was pink, succulent and wonderfully juicy.
The wine for this course was the Morgenster 2003 – a complex, smooth blend that is often considered the finest of the Morgenster stable.
Finally, a powerful mixture of English Waterloo cheese, Fourme d’Ambert from France and Italian Salva Cremcaso washed down with Morgenster’s 2001 vintage – the oldest wine served and a fantastically elegant number.
All the Morgenster wine and Hambleton beef was of an incredibly high quality – made by people for whom quality is a passion.
And having Huibre and William to take us through the intricacies of the flavours, and how they were promoted in production, was a brilliant way to refine our palettes.
Vivat Bacchus has a series of wine dinners planned for the spring, including one featuring the Frog’s Leap winery in the Napa Valley on April 12.
With fare of this standard, plus the communal, friendly and knowledgeable nature of the evening – I can’t wait for the next one.