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Monday, 28 October 2013

Curiously white wine & chocolate at Le Vieux Comptoir

Words & Photography by Su-Lin Ong

The gourmet purveyors of Marylebone’s Moxon Street have nested themselves a charmed spot.  Within a few metres, they can slip into each others’ homes and share neighbourly feasts of their own creations.  That’s how one evening I came upon an adventurous get together, hosted by Laurent Faure of wine merchant Le Vieux Comptoir and Sam Smallman of Rococo.

And so I arrive more intrigued by the prospect of neighbourly crossfire and experimentation, than for the promise of wine & chocolate pairing made in heaven.  Le Vieux Comptoir is tucked away and looks like a discreet Georgian merchant’s house.  Inside it is brimming with ‘vins fins & délices de France’ and extends like a French farmhouse, with comfy rooms in which to sip, eat and while away time.  The evening’s fun is about the challenge of new sensations in this most unexpected setting.

Laurent tells me he tastes 10,000 wines a year to create his cellar at Le Vieux Comptoir.  You’ll notice many esoteric choices from virtually every regional corner of France.  Now for the surprise: he hasn’t chosen a single red wine for the pairing.  Sam responds with chocolates that are all about velvety textures, light herb fragrance and delicate fruit aromas. 

It takes a while for the palate to settle into the test of working hard and then to relax into savouring and contemplation.  Each wine is best sipped before tasting the chocolate - curiously the opposite way from how I tackled a recent beer and chocolate tasting.  The order of play is led by the wines; from light, minerally and grassy, progressing to aromatic and pure indulgent richness.  However the chocs weave their flavours in a more spritely and beguiling way.  You become more aware of textures; from silky liquid caramel through to an al dente Autumn berry jellied ganache.  Suddenly the harmony reveals whole new flavours, found in neither wine nor chocolate.

Trial beyond our hosts’ choice pairings might enlighten or confuse, but for me, two really hit the palate in a stand-out way.  The naturally rich Montlouis Moelleux, paired with the apricot & lavender ganache, opens into new caramelised apple notes; almost like a toasted almond topped apple crumble.  And the subtle, fragrant Gewurztraminer, with the simpler rose ganache, becomes garden fresh; perfect to lead you dreamily thinking that this is how all dinner parties should end.

On the menu:

Riesling Schieffenberg 2007, Gisselbrecht
Patrimonio 2010, Domaine Montemagni
Gewurztraminer Tradition 2010, Gisselbecht
Montlouis Moelleux 2009, Cave de Montlouis
Bugey Cerdon, Domaine Olivier Bardet

60% Grenadian dark chocolate
Passionfruit & rosemary caramel
65% dark chocolate with basil & Persian lime
Rose & cocoa nib ganache
Rose, lychee and raspberry ganache
Apricot & lavender ganache
Red berry Madagascar ganache
Blackcurrant & violet ganache

I’ll have to get back to browse Le Vieux Comptoir beers and unusual génépis soon.

Snap up a ticket for the next wine and chocolate pairing on 7 November 2013.

Le Vieux Comptoir
26/28 Moxon Street
Marylebone Village
London W1U 4EU    

3 Moxon St
London W1U 4EW

Su-Lin Ong (@sloLondon) visited on behalf of The London Foodie as a guest of Le Vieux Comptoir, Rococo.

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