HARROWING SNOBBERY was dish of the day at Cambridge's Hotel du Vin yesterday lunchtime. On ordering a bottle of Chapel Down's '06 Kent Bacchus, the "Bohr-Dow" Sommelier indicated such brazen disgust that even the waiter scuppered. Despite the professional's pleading alternative suggestions, we persisted, finding a flavour tally of racy hawthorn (words rarely partnered) and smashed whitecurrant with acidity canny enough to slice through near-theatrical prejudice and sometimes slovenly service. Sentiments stemming from rugby?
The brasserie menu is distinctly lacking in aquaculture, possibly at the sommelier's behest. Cheese could not be explained, the cheeseologist probably locked in a larder, sobbing from another sommelier's scolding. Rabbit feed (lettuce) is a passenger to every single savoury dish, sometimes covertly dressed for dinner under the code, 'mesclun'.
Of Smoked Duck with Poached Pear, Pecans and Raspberries, and haggard Pot Roast Partridge, it was the Eton Mesclun (I mean Mess) which delivered five star service.
Pictured: glasses chandelier in reception (a cliché in the wine trade), tasting room/luggage store under lock and key, and artistically shaved Chef. Alas I didn't have time to explore the chain's famous anti-hangover showers...
Three further scribbles from my time on the Channel Islands:
Clos de Tart Grand Cru Monopole '97, Mommessin: A soft, fragrant, fleshy breath with a waxy nose and spiced violets underneath.
Château Pichon-Longueville Pauillac '96: Brassica nose with concentrated cassis, red leather, conqueror paper and couth tannins. A product of decades of strict quality control.
Château Léoville Poyferré Saint-Julien '96: The most softly drinkable of the three. Stylish, balanced, rounded but dense with a herb tinged nose. I think I was suffering for my art by this time, having also written 'tastes like buried meteorite...'