Each unique wine is served in its varietal-specific, Riedel glass - an insistence as vital as the flavours of the foods so carefully selected for the pairings. To demonstrate the adverse effects of not getting this right, Carolyn invites us to bite into celery while sipping their Sauvignon Blanc, before tasting Chardonnay from a Viognier glass. So wrong! Even to a ‘still in training’ palate, the differences in flavours are remarkable, the influence of glasses quite astonishing.
Science gives way to total gastronomic delight by about the third course, during which we delighted in the Bocconcini dish, having polished off the Pickled Hake, a Viognier and their outstanding Chardonnays – one of their flagship varietals.
We’ve just started on the Pinot Noir when a burly Swiss man enters the room, a rope hanging around his neck (stacking French oak barriques by hand is a precisely measured art). He promptly joins our table and pours a helping of the wine de jour into, of all things, a white wine glass! As the co-owner, viticulturist and cellar master, Jean-Claude Martin is allowed to break the rules, you see. As our table moves through the glorious reds, the light Pinots giving way to Syrahs and Grenaches, JC explains how he chooses the grapes for his sought-after Art of Creation reserves; hand-selecting pockets from a single vineyard to produce around only 600 bottles of the finest wine on the estate – and shoring up a stack of Veritas and international awards in the process.