An invitation to indulge in an intriguing assortment of Les Vignobles Foncalieu wines at one of London’s haut-est Indian restaurants turned out to be a memorably delicious dining (and drinking) experience.
Founded in 1901 near Carcassonne, Les Vignobles Foncalieu was the first wine cooperative in France. Building on a tradition of equitable winemaking, Foncalieu, under the guidance of agronomist Gabriel Ruetsch and oenologist Isabelle Pangault, continues to capture the essence of the varied terroirs of its vineyards to produce a diverse range of wines.
In town for this year’s London Wine Fair, a team from Foncalieu (including Gabriel) hosted a trade and press dinner at Michelin star Chef Atul Kochhar’s Modern Indian restaurant, Benares, in Mayfair. Glad to have been offered a seat at the table, I joined in the toasts and tastings while discovering the quality and rich expression of Foncalieu’s wines.
Coming in from a hot and sticky day crossing half of England (literally) and craving a quencher my introduction to Foncalieu was appreciatively refreshing. Les Sources de Gléon Blanc 2015 cooled me down while perking up my palate. An equally delightful aperitif was fruity and well structured Le Versant Viognier 2016.
The occasion was also a chance for me to discover Benares. One to check of my list of must-try fine dining London establishments, Benares was an eloquent setting and a confidently chosen proving ground for showcasing some of Foncalieu’s finest.
Wines served during the meal paired well and stood up to the fiery flavours from the menu. I was particularly impressed with newly launched Ensedune Marsanne 2016, a nutty and slightly peachy white that worked wonders with a range of spicy starters including grilled sea bream and lamb kebabs. Onto the mains, an Ensedunne Malbec (from Argentine vines reintroduced to France) was a ruby hummer of a wine doing justice to gorgeous dishes such as prawns cooked in tamarind curry, Punjabi style chicken with peppers and coriander, and seasonal vegetable dumplings with peanut and almond sauce.
The meal was served in The Sommelier’s Table private dining space. A comfortable space for up to 10 guests, the room is enclosed within cellar walls and is one of Benares’ four private rooms. Service was perfect.
Benares is located at 12a Berkeley Square, W1J 6BS. Find out more at benaresrestaurant.com.
For further details about Les Vignobles Foncalieu go to foncalieu.com.