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Glenelly Estate Dinner At 63 Degrees

Last week we were delighted to welcome Nicolas Bureau, Export Director for Glenelly Estate, to 63 Degrees in Manchester where he very kindly presented a selection of his wines over dinner. The evening kicked off with the Glenelly Glass Collection Chardonnay, a beautifully lithe, citrussy style, unoaked, but with a lovely, gently smokey richness from a period of lees ageing. Reminiscent of a top flight Mâcon-Villages, it made an excellent apéritif. Its big sister, the Glenelly Grand Vin Chardonnay, was served next, alongside a delicious terrine of pheasant. Fermented and aged in French oak barrels, 30% of which were new, this was a step up in richness and depth and not at all overworked. It shared its sibling's limpid clarity of bright citrus fruit and mineral vitality, proving just how well located are Glenelly's Chardonnay vineyards.

With apologies for the picture quality, but rather than post pictures of plates of food and freshly filled wine glasses, I thought it would be more interesting to see and hear Nicolas in action. Here he introduces Glenelly before giving us an insight into his two Chardonnays:

Serving all three of the Glass Collection reds with the next course seemed a little excessive, even to us, and thus we faced the difficult task of choosing just one. Nicolas is very fond of the Syrah so we plumped for that. Floral aromas of dark berry fruit and a dusting of white pepper spice, this was moreish, structured and very impressive. Possibly somewhat controversially, the Glenelly Glass Collection Syrah was served with the fish course, although monkfish with sautéed leeks and a red wine jus was about as meaty a fish dish as we could have found! The dish was as good as the wine, and they worked together brilliantly. Hear what Nicolas had to say about the Syrah:

The main course saw the pouring of Glenelly Estate's flagship wine, Lady May, named in honour of owner May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, the indefatigable doyenne of Bordeaux winemaking who nominally retired to South Africa but who still runs the operation with a rod of iron as she enters her 92nd year! As you would expect from the former owner of deuxième cru Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, producing a very fine Médoc-style Bordeaux blend appeared to be an almost effortless task, merging old world structure and refinement with the richness of new world fruit. This blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot spent 24 months in new French oak, and it displayed rich, elegant black fruit wrapped around a well-built frame of ripe tannins and juicy acidity. This had all of the concentration, panache and class of a 2010 Bordeaux, but in an already approachable and exceedingly enjoyable format. With bags of life left in front of it, South African wines of this calibre should be a serious wake-up call to any Bordelaise winemakers who think they have a monopoly the on wines like this. Paired with a deliciously pink breast of duckling, sauce Chasseur and pumpkin purée, Nicolas was justifiably proud of the Glenelly Lady May:

With the cheese course we served the Glenelly Grand Vin De Glenelly, the red equivalent of the Grand Vin Chardonnay we drank with the pheasant terrine. A wine I often describe as Bordeaux meets Rhône meets Stellenbsoch, this initially odd-sounding blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot actually has historical precedent in Bordeaux as Nicolas explains below. It is very probable that Bordeaux hermitagé (the practice of beefing up red Bordeaux with Syrah from the Hermitage or Cornas areas of the northern Rhône which, although illegal, continued well into the the 1960s and '70s) resulted in many of the legendary wines of the last two centuries and more. The kinship between great Syrah from the Northern Rhône and great Médoc Cabernet Sauvignon was one that no other region could seem to match, so it came as no surprise that this modern reinterpretation was quite so enjoyable. Dark, bold and with a more obviously new world fruit character than the Lady May, this was supple, rich and an exceedingly pleasurable way to round off the evening.

Thanks to Nicolas and to Eric Moreau and his team at 63 Degrees, this was another memorable evening of fine wine and excellent food that was enjoyed by all. We very much look forward to the next one!
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