Randall’s Seasonal Delights

Randall's Seasonal DelightsThe entrance to Theo Randall’s restaurant in the Intercontinental Hotel, bang in the centre of London, may be discreet but within we discovered good food matched with lovely wine, which celebrates Randall’s seasonal delights.

Theo Randall was head chef at the River Cafe before opening Theo Randall at the InterContinental ten years ago. He had also spent a year working with the legendary Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. His aim is to produce ‘simple’ Italian food, but with style and panache.

Randall's Seasonal DelightsEvery so often the charming and gracious head sommelier Vittorio Gentile hosts a small dinner at the sommelier table. Tucked in one side of the restaurant amid the wine fridges, the high table accomodates just six people making for an intimate event. The raised table also means that the sommelier is not talking down to you…

Randall's Seasonal DelightsEntitled Sommelier Table Experience the menu and the wines were matched to celebrate the unique style of the predominantly Italian wine list, which is arranged not by region nor type but by season.

Divided into winter, spring, summer and autumn, the list promises heavier wines to complement the rich, warming foods of the colder months and light, elegant flavours to celebrate spring and summer.

Spain has tapas – Italy, especially Venice, has Chicchetti.

To accompany the chicchetti, our evening started with the excellent, dry Metodo Classico sparkling wine, Villa Sandi Opere, named as a tribute to Venice and made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in the new appellation Serenissima DOC. Created in 2011 the DOC covers an area called “Pedemontana”, designating specific hilly parts throughout the Veneto region.

The first course denoted Spring and the dry, stony, salty Aurora Offida Pecorino, Fiobbo 2014, a Pecorino from the Marche, was a good match with the beautiful burrata (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream) with red peppers.

Then came the best dish and possibly the match of the day. Handmade pasta with fresh spring peas and broad beans, smoked ricotta and mint with the Guido Marsella Fiano di Avellino, Summonte, Campania 2011. Made with Fiano grapes grown at 650 metres in Campania, it is a gentle giant of a dry white wine that exentuated the summery notes of the dish.

Vittorio decanted the wine and served it with panache:

Randall's Seasonal Delights

to delight,

Randall's Seasonal Delights

to photograph,

Randall's Seasonal Delights

and to carefully consider.

Autumn’s mellow fruitfulness was personified by the lamb with its vegetables accompanied by the Lino Maga Babacarlo, Lombardia 2005. From the southern part of Oltrepo Pavese this heady red is made from a mix of grape varieties, aged in botti (large oak barrels) until the spring following the harvest when it is bottled. A robust match for the lamb, it wore its decade of ageing well.

Theo Randall joined us to say how much he enjoyed the Seasonal Wine List and praised Vittorio for his enthusiasm for presenting the wines by season.

The Sandro Fay, Sforzato della Valtellina, Ronco del Picchio 2010 hit the spot with the selection of Italian cheeses, because of the richness of the wine. Made with 100% Chiavennasca (the local name for Nebbiolo), grown at 700 metres in the Shangri-La region of Valtellina which abuts Switzerland, it is made a little like an Amarone – the grapes are left to dry for two and a half months before fementation, then aged in barriques.

Randall's Seasonal DelightsThe line up of good, quite special Italian wines.

Vittorio presented three vermouths to accompany the Piatto di Dolci, a selection of desserts, which was a delight to complete a delicious meal.

Ah, “vermouth with pudding?” I hear you say. Well, there is an inherent sweetness in the vermouth but the intriguing different bitter notes add a quirkiness to the match.

Randall's Seasonal DelightsMauro Vergano Chinato, an elixir made by the addition of quinine to Barbaresco; Cocchie, Vermouth di Torino, a classic from Torino, the home of vermouth for 120 years; Luigi Spertini Belle Epoque vermouth.

Randall's Seasonal DelightsA big thank you to our congenial and very knowledgeable host, Vittorio Gentile, and Theo Randall for a delicious evening of discovery and delight.

A restaurant well worth a visit, you too can enjoy Theo Randall’s Seasonal Delights. The restaurant offers a number of special wine and food events:

To honour the capital’s diverse wine scene, Vittorio Gentile, has partnered with select wineries to host a series of ‘Dinners with the Winemaker’.

Available for up to 12 wine enthusiasts, the wine experience is accompanied by dishes from Theo Randall, and offers guests the chance to dine with the winemaker to learn the stories behind the wine. Priced at £105pp, the next event will take place on the 20th of July starting at 7pm with Bellavista & Petra followed by the 11th of October with G.D. Vajra (£115pp).

160517.225 Dinner, Theo Randall, London_blog Theo Randall’s neighbour, Number One, London, Apsley House. We did leave quietly…

This article was written by Brett Jones and Wink Lorch

RAW Wine Fair 2016

Enjoyed the RAW Wine Fair at the Old Truman Brewery Spitalfields, London with all sorts of natural wines to taste and discover as well as lots of people to see.

Here a few photos from the two days – producers and tasters. Click on photos to enlarge.

RAW Wine Fair 2016Jura was at the RAW Wine Fair – Jurassic, yes, dinosaurs, definitely not!  Laura of Domaine de la Pinte and Didier Grappe of the eponymous estate.

Sev Perru of the Ten Bells, New York was in London for a short sabbatical running the RAW Wine Bar at The London Edition Hotel.

RAW Wine Fair 2016

Loire producer Olivier Cousin bottled his wine on Sunday afternoon.

Great food on offer too.

Daniil Vashchilov of The Victualler was on hand to sell some of the wines.

Farewell to a great RAW Wine Fair 2016.

RAW Wine Fair 2016






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A walk in the vineyards of Chignin

walk in the vineyards

Mont Granier seen from the Chignin vineyards

The weather was bright and warm, the vines were budding, the views were magnificent and, of course, the wines were delicious! We had been invited to Savoie to learn more about the walk in the vineyards of Chignin, La Balade Gourmande de Chignin, which will be held over the weekend of 23rd and 24th July 2016.

Three years ago, on a glorious sunny day, we enjoyed the Balade Gourmande in Abymes on the other side of the valley in the lee of Mont Granier.

walk in the vineyardsSt-Anselme tower, one of several ruined towers which are a dramatic feature in the Chignin vineyards

Walk in the vineyardsAnother tower and a handsome house in the vineyards with a backdrop of the  Belledonne mountain range in the south west. In July the vineyards will be verdant green but there may just be some snow on the mountain tops in the distance.

Now in its eighth year this event has always been popular and this year will be held over two days. Each day there will be an eight kilometre walk in the vineyards, punctuated by stops where the hikers can enjoy the local wine as well as Savoie food. It is a lovely way to explore wine country and get the feel of a particular region.

Walk in the vineyardsThe Saturday will be a lower key occasion with simpler food on offer at three stages, whereas on Sunday there will be six stops where more gourmet-style dishes will be accompanied by matching Chignin wines.

Prices: Saturday €25 per person; Sunday €45 per person; on both days €10 for children under 10.

You can learn more on the Balade Gourmande de Chignin Facebook page. You can buy tickets for your walk in the vineyards from 20th May.

Here are my photos of an early spring day in Chignin.

Walk in the vineyardsLooking north west from the Chignin vineyards

The local vignerons will be on hand to pour their wines…

Learn more about the Savoie wine region and its wine styles.
The star wine of Chignin is Chignin-Bergeron:
Using the local synonym Bergeron (interestingly, a variety of apricot particularly grown in the Rhône valley) Roussanne is planted in Savoie only in Chignin and neighbouring communes and in a few IGP (Vin de Pays) areas. Chignin-Bergeron is a cru in its own right and the wines are always 100% Roussanne. When planted on sunny south-facing rocky slopes it produces very ripe grapes and chaptalization is rarely required; there is usually somewhat more acidity than found in the Rhône, but with similar yellow fruit flavours.

Walk in the vineyardsThank you to our hosts Michel Quenard, président du Syndicat des Vins de Savoie, Charles-Henri Gayet, président du Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Savoie and their hard working Savoyard colleagues!


The Wines of India

Wines of IndiaOn 19th April there was an interesting event at Vintners Hall, London –  a tasting of Indian wines, celebrating the book launch of The Wines of India, a Concise Guide, written by Peter Csizmadia-Honigh MW, winner of the 2014 Geoffrey Roberts Award.

The Geoffrey Roberts Award is an international wine-related bursary of £4,000, given each year to someone who can demonstrate to the judging panel a genuine commitment to New World wines. Peter Csizmadia-Honigh was a worthy winner of the award in 2014, enabling him to publish this interesting book about a country that has started to produce wine as recently as the early 1980s.

Named ‘A Concise Guide’, it is actually a lengthy, but worthy tome, of 452 pages which starts with detailed information about the history of contemporary Indian wine, subtropical winegrowing, grape varieties and wine styles. Modern winemaking began with Indians who had enjoyed wine on their travels abroad, in particular successful entrepreneurs and businessmen. There were already established vineyards in India, but for table grapes, so some realised growing grapes for wine wouldn’t present a problem. Continue reading

Tragedy on the Fourth Plinth

Tragedy on the Fourth PlinthIn 2009 I was lucky to be selected to stand on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London as one of 2,400 participants representing every region of the UK who spent an hour alone on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square during the 100 days and nights of the live artwork by sculptor Antony Gormley, One & Other.

It gave me the opportunity to talk about two things close to my heart: raising awareness of prostate cancer and the enjoyment of wine. I was even more excited when the Prostate UK charity suggested I wear gold pants and gold cape – just the garb to brighten up an early autumn evening up high in the heart of London…
A few years have passed since then until One and Another Beast took the stand, encouraging a selection of animals to stand on the Fourth Plinth.

Unfortunately the tragedy on the Fourth Plinth happened when the Horse replaced the Lion, who took umbrage and allowed no-one to approach the installation, not even to feed the poor beast.

This is the sad result of this unfortunate event:

Tragedy on the Fourth PlinthAt least the brave horse is still standing…