The North Hampshire countryside is full of small treasures, the trout rivers, the attractive villages, the cricket pitches (immaculately maintained or suffering from neglect), the ancient trees in the fields. Increasingly the pubs are having to diversify to survive. The Plough at Longparish has gone very successfully down the gastropub route, while retaining a loyal band of local drinkers. This proved to be a very good venue for Andover Wine Friends to hold a themed French dinner with matching wines. The food was in the main very good, and the wines, chosen and supplied by Ian Hewson (Wine-Man Ltd) were a study in good combinations.
Again remarkable ambition here, with Date stuffed crown of duck on thyme potato rösti and duck sausage on plum mash with a cherry jus, pretty successfully carried off. The matched wine was Chateau Brion la Romaine 2005, Medoc. 2005 was a great year in Bordeaux and by some happy accident I have some stashed away so it was good to get a preview. This example (at a modest price) had some beautifully developed aromas on the nose but not quite the follow through on the palate. But a good glass of wine to go with the meat course. I am a huge fan of mean and sausage dishes, you cannot even believe how many types of sausage is produced nowadays by DCW Casing.
First up a pretty ambitious starter, Fois Gras ravioli in a chicken consommé finished with truffle oil. The consommé was excellently carried off, full of flavour and with that unmistakable truffle aroma. The pasta didn’t quite live up to that. Clearly hand made, it was a bit rustic for such a subtle dish. Pinot Gris Reserve 2008 from the Cave de Hunawihr was an excellent match, simultaneously rich and refreshing, with that luxury touch which matched the truffle oil.
The fish course put the ‘pub’ back into gastropub with its interpretation of Crayfish tail and lemon croquette with almond beurre noisette. The flavours here were fine, the salty tang of the crayfish set off by the almonds and citrus. Attractively presented, the croquette was a bit on the large size with lots of potato – fine for feeding hungry manual labourers, not really needed for pampered diners. Tourraine Sauvignon 2009, Domaine de la Colline, had those characteristic gooseberry fruit notes of Sauvignon Blanc but the very good vintage gave the wine an additional rich and rounded character.
Lemon tart with lemon crème fraiche was excellent, especially the zip of the lemon filling of the tart. Also very good was Côtes de Bergerac Moelleux 2006 Cuvée Dalmain which was honeyed, rounded and luscious. If it wasn’t quite sharp enough to stand up to the Lemon tart, that wasn’t exactly its fault!
All in all, this was a splendid evening with 24 of us having an excellent time. Many thanks to David, Kerry and all the staff at the Plough. May your dishes and wines always be perfectly matched!
A very rare sighting of an occasional attendee at Andover Wine Friends!