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Neil Sowerby's July Wine Column

Matching Chinese food and wine and lots of other stories

Written by . Published on July 22nd 2013.


Neil Sowerby's July Wine Column

ONE of a restaurant’s great allegiances is to its wine merchant. For nigh on 30 years Warrington-based Gerard Seel (founded 1984) have been supplying the Yang Sing – from the halcyon days when Harry Yeung was converting ecstatic Mancs to the joys of dim sum. 

The Albarino is a juicy white with a subtle lick of minerality and a lingering finish

These days the grand old man of Chinatown (Harry and his palatial Princess Street base) is resurgent after a decade in the comparative doldrums. Or did we all just take YS for granted? 

Harry with an ale in the Briton's Protection with daughter Bonnie. The Yang Sing sponsored the Last Night of The Proms from the Halle Orchestra on Sunday 21 July

 

Harry with an ale in the Briton's Protection with daughter Bonnie. The Yang Sing sponsored the Last Night of The Proms from the Halle on Sunday 21 July. 

Those 30 years have seen marked changes in the wine trade, too, with the arrival of New World upfront flavours that might be better suited to accompany Chinese food than the French classics associated with Gerard Seel and supplied to numerous top-end restaurants   

Yet on the evidence of a recent dim sum and wine matching at the Yang Sing in the company of ebullient founder/director Roger Barlow, there is real symbiosis between wine and food going on here. The Gerard Seel portfolio embraces the whole world as proved by an attractive, affordable range on the Yang Sing’s new list. 

We sampled a selection of dim sum and a couple of mains and I don’t intend to offer a specific and complex set of matches, just a general view of what wines went best on the afternoon.  

The dishes (my absolute favourites in italics): 

'Har kau' prawn and bamboo shoot dumpling

Spicy pork and nut dumpling 

Steamed coriander beef balls

Steamed seafood & yam tart

Steamed honeycomb ox tripe in satay sauce  

Yang Sing's signature cuttlefish bumblebee

Mixed meat croquette  

Assiette of Cantonese roasted meats with steamed rice

Satay beef, red caps and vermicelli noodle with egg yolk 

Stir-fried Cheshire grown kai lan broccoli with wind dried chinese chorizo

The wines I found best suited (and note, two from Italy, one from Alsace) were: 

Gavi – Tenuta La Marchesa 2012 (£9.95)

Terrific minerality and purity from the first floral hit on the nose to the apple and lemon flavours with a raft of subtle oak and lingering acidity – this handles any bullying Chinese spicing. Austrian Gruner Veltliner, I suspect, would be a similar contender. 

Pinot Blanc – Domaine Sipp Mack 2010 (£9.50)

The wine that I’ll probably choose to accompany an entire meal at the Yang Sing. Peach, pear, gentle acidity are a fresh but unassertive Alsace package. Put it with the dim sum and the subtle sweetness inherent coils around the palate. Perfect. Another Alsace staple, the sterner Pinot Gris works well, but in a different way or Gewurztraminer where fresh ginger is involved. 

Valpolicella Classico Ripasso "Campioletti" - Luigi Righetti 2010 (£9.25)

The ripasso method is where the new grapes are fermented over the lees of last year's Amarone wine thus giving additional structure and flavour to the resulting juice. This was a big ripe cherry fruitcake of a wine that surprisingly matched the Beef Satay well... but we continued drinking long after it was so yummy. Always go for low tannin reds with Chinese food. Merlot’s good. 

Prices quoted above are if you buy directly online from Gerard Seel. minimum order a case of six bottles.Mark-ups obviously apply in the restaurant. 

Time for some summer white recommendations – something to chill and sip when the barometer hits Scorchio. The Wines Society are offering a couple of belters from their own Society’s range. 

The Society’s Vinho Verde (£5.95, introductory price £5.50).

Just 11 per cent and rakingly fresh it comes from courtesy of the skilled Monção co-op, where the traditional Alvarinho and Trajadura varieties benefit from modern vinification techniques. A real bargain for an un undervalued Portuguese speciality. 

The Two Wine Society Whites

 

The Two Wine Society Whites

The Society’s Exhibition Albariño (£12.95, introductory price £11.50). 

Equally fresh, but with ripe peach is this white from across the Spanish border. It is made for The Society by  Pazo de Señorans, one of the very top estates in Galicia's Rías Baixas, which dates back to the 16th century. The 2012 vintage saw quantities reduced by some 50 per cent here, but that has added concentration. 

Holding a share in The Wine Society gives you lifetime membership with no annual fee and no pressure to buy. The cost of a share is £40. To find out more (and order some wine) visit the website. 

Bargain Albarino is a rare commodity – it is probably Spain’s most valued white – but Exquisite Albarino, Rias Baixas 2012, Bodega Martin Codax (Aldi, £5.99) is lemony, almost briny, perfect for the mussels in your life. Spicy full-flavoured Fiano from Sicily is being discovered these days, upping the price, but there’s an excellent 2011 Extra Special Fiano from Asda at £6.98 which offers smokiness and herbs aplenty. 

Team At Evuna In ActionTeam Evuna In ActionGreat news for wine lovers in the Northern Quarter. Deansgate stalwarts Evuna have opened a new restaurant/wine shop on the corner of Thomas Street and Tib Street. It’s in old bank premises and so boasts the original counter as its bar. 

First impressions of this bright space were very good. I loved the two wines owner Jane Dowler poured for me as I became virtually the first customer (OK, Jonathan Schofield was already propping up the bar). 

Nates is 90 per cent Albarino with the rest godello and is classified as mere Vino de la Terra because it hails from the Costa del Cantabria on Spain’s north coast. It’s a juicy white with a subtle lick of minerality and a lingering finish (£34.50 a bottle in Evuna, £13.50 to take out). 

Nates From Calabria

 

Nates from Calabria

My red, Santalba Rioja Reserva 2008 (£35.50, £16), offers lots of dark, spicy fruit and the expected vanilla, for a spot-on Rioja package. 

Finally, if you fancy some fizz, The Co-operative has its Les Pionniers Champagne NV on special offer at £16.99, saving £3 until August 6 2013. Made by the highly esteemed Régis Camus, this Champagne recently picked up a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge Awards. The blend for this Piper Heidsieck-sourced Champagne contains 60 per cent Pinot Noir and it is aged for at least two-and-a-half years before release. It is supple and refreshing and the Co-op recommend it to accompany dim sum. Ah, that’s where we came in. 

Les Pionniers %26#212%3B%26#199%3B%26#244%3B Fresh As A Newly-Picked Lettuce

 

Les Pionniers - fresh as a newly picked lettuce

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