Monday 5 September 2016

Event: Cheval Blanc Moseley Press Dinner and Wine Tasting

Moseley is known for drawing crowds of young, trendy, types to the suburbs with its mix of eclectic bars and international restaurants.

Popping up next to The Dark Horse, is Cheval Blanc. A classy, elegant venue, Cheval Blanc is an upmarket bar with a real thirst for wine.

Its undoubted USP's include the hand-painted mural of a white horse and a spiral underground wine cellar which can hold up to 1,500 of the best wines, retailing at between £15-£1,000.

I was drawn in on a Sunday evening for a Press Launch with the lure of tasting ten wines as well as plates of nibbles created by French chef Cyd.

An intimate space, the main restaurant is small, with room for up to 25 diners. Dominated by the glass topped wine cellar and accompanying spiral lamp feature above, the room is cleverly divided with booths, soft seating and wooden tables.

So dedicated are the owners to wine, that they have brought in sommelier Abigail Connolly to manage the venue.

Onto the evening itself, a champagne reception on a Sunday night does not bode well for Monday morning, but it would be rude to pass on such a welcome.

Following an introduction from owner Keith Marsden, the owner of The Dark Horse and The Prince of Wales, we got stuck into the wine tasting.

Sailing through a Gardet, Blanc de Blancs (£60, Champagne), Chateau Montaud Rose (£27, Rose), Eschenhof Holzer, Wagram Gruner Veltliner (£20, White, Crisp and Dry) and Domaine De Le Chauveniere, Muscat Sevre et Maine (£20.50, White, Crisp and Dry), we were taken on a tour of wines from £20 to £40 and over in this relaxed and unpretentious environment.

Giving us just a taste of what it felt like to taste 180 wines, which is exactly what the team did to put together the wine list, we continued to try a further six wines. These were: La Monasesca, Verdicchio di Matelica (£33, White, Fruit Forward), BLANKBottle, Nothing to Declare (£38.50, White, Rich and Rounded), Eschenhof Holzer, Wagram Bauer Zweigelt (£20, Red, Light and Fresh), Domaine Foillard, Morgan Classique (£43.50, Red, Light and Fresh), Nitida, Calligraphy (£38, Red, Classic Blend) and Juan Gil, 12 Meses (£35, Red, Big and Bold).

Some of the highlights for me included the Verdicchio, with flavours of honey and pears, this was my favourite. Nothing to Declare, described as a Rich and Rounded White, had hints of pear and marzipan and was again a treat.

In amongst the wine, there were a few small plates to enjoy too. Featuring highlights from the main menu, we tried a fish plate, a meat plate, a cheese plate and the white wine and vanilla poached pear, creme chiboust and shortbread dessert.

The food menu ranges from £4 for olives to £12 for a meat or cheese sharing board, and the dishes are small but full of flavour; perfect accompaniments to the extensive wine list.

Cyd is a French chef who pays attention to detail and flavour, and the produce he selects has got to be perfect before he'll let it anywhere near the menu, In particular, I couldn't fault the tea smoked duck breast with flavours of orange and black cardamon, the hearty pieces of poached lobster, the rich cheeses served alongside quince paste and the dill cured salmon.

In amongst the bars, pubs and restaurants, Moseley has finally found itself a grown-up wine bar.

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