Did I expect to find some of the best wines and most delicious Basque food on a golf course close to Canary Wharf? Hardly, but pure curiosity took me to Vinothec Compass last friday evening to meet VC’s Basque Head Chef, Idoia Guzman. Keith Lyon, previously wine buyer at Waitrose partnered with some quirky, crafty liquid matches playing up to the acidity of dishes.
With the anchovy, stuffed chilli and olive ‘Gilda’ appetiser, Keith poured, from height to exaggerate the fizz, Itsas Mendi’s ‘7 Txacoli’. An unusual Txacoli with plenty of spritz and buttery texture.
Next, warm shots of Jerusalem artichoke, one of the culinary world’s hardest ingredients to partner wine with, blended with rocket and almond pesto. I was thrilled by the match with ‘illegal’ unfortified sherry-style from Sanlúcar – La Bota Vino Blanco ‘Florpower’ which rose to the challenge of the soup.
Following on, a velvety smooth, cinnamon infused pinxto of Basque black pudding plus padrón pepper, brilliant with a pour of Basque, Sagardoa Sidra, which suitably cut through the iron bloody richness of the dish
With ripe, vibrant giant, coeur du boeuf tomato salad, flatbreads of anchovy, olive and basil, and ricotta, pancetta and truffle, Keith uncorked a modern style, mesmerisingly supple and berry rich Saperavi from Georgia. This grape is rather unusual in that it contains already tinted juice, meaning producers don’t need to leave skins in contact with this for so long.
Highlight of the dinner was confit of cod with pepper and tomato rage gloriously matched with a highly unusual, mineral rich white Priorat.
With Belted Galloway onglet Keith decanted red – Olifantsberg Syrah – from gnarled vines tugging the Brandwacht Mountain Range in South Africa’s Breede River Valley. Northern Rhône in style, with exceptionally balanced tannins and a good meaty taste.
Finally, poached white peaches with ‘pistachio Anglaise’ – heightened with rosemary. To accompany, a rare Swiss wine, by Favre John and Mike – late harvest, botrytised, balanced Sauvignon Blanc ‘Moelleux’. Peach-scented white with actual peaches, a perfect late summer ending to an eminently enjoyable dinner with some brilliant new wine experiences.