It’s been so busy the last few weeks that good pairings have been coming thick and fast but this was a great match I enjoyed at an offbeat new occasional restaurant which was launched by food and wine writer Marc Millon in Topsham, Devon the other day. (He’s also contributed a couple of pieces to this site including this wonderful piece about Bagna Cauda)
The deal is simple and great value: you get a couple of courses for £12.50 (£10 for Marc's Club Vino wine club members), wine and cheese extra. The main course was some fantastic fennel-flavoured Gloucester Old Spot pork sausages that Marc had had made to his own recipe by a local producer Jason Wise of Ark. They were served with rich mealy beans cooked with garlic, sage and tomato.
The accompanying vivid, fruity Montepulciano Rosso Madregale IGT Terre di Chieti was perfect for both the dish and the occasion. Quaffable but with sufficient personality to stand up to the punchy flavours. (Beans are in fact incredibly wine-friendly)
Marc’s philosophy is that you shouldn’t just buy wine but soak up the culture around it. To quote his website “Vino [his wine club] is for those of us who want to go beyond just drinking wine, to enhance our enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of wine by learning about the people and places where great, genuine wines come from, how wines are made, the cycle of the vineyard year, the gastronomy and culture of a region.” Amen to that!
Topsham by the way is a pretty, unspoilt little town on the estuary of the River Exe just south-east of Exeter and well worth a visit in its own right. (I was a student at Exeter rather longer ago than I care to remember and it has hardly changed) We stayed at the Globe Hotel which is a proper, welcoming old-fashioned pub.
For more information about Marc’s wines visit the Vino website. The Montepulciano sells for £6.60 a bottle or £5.70 a bottle by the case if you're a Club Vino member.