Texture is one of the few restaurants to showcase a sommelier, the star in this instance being Xavier Rousset who used to work at The Manoir aux Quat' Saisons. His two year partnership at Texture with his former colleague Agnar Sverrisson has just been acknowledged with a Michelin star. I’ve reviewed it for Decanter here but the pairings were so exceptional I thought I’d go into more detail about them.
I was eating with an old colleague and fellow winelover, food blogger Lucy Bridgers - the perfect companion for this sort of meal as we tasted each others dishes and swopped sips of the wines.
Nyetimber 2003 and deep-fried codskin
As unlikely a pairing as you could imagine on paper but the crisp fish skin had a deep umami taste that matches perfectly with England’s most famous sparkling wine (as good as many vintage Champagnes IMO)
Icelandic smoked line-caught haddock withe confit leeks, mustard and hen egg
An incredibly difficult dish to match with mustard and smoked fish and soft boiled egg to take account of. I thought the slightly oily 2005 Ostertag Riesling ‘Heissenberg’ was wonderful though Lucy preferred the fresher 2007 Sylvaner, Eisacktaler, Kuen Hof from the Sudtirol in Austria which was paired with her starter of salmon, gravlax and horseradish.
Icelandic poached halibut with Jerusalem artichoke ‘textures’
Again we had two wines to try: a 2008 white Côtes du Rhône from Domaine de la Janasse and a 2005 Meursault ‘Criots’ from Ballot-Millot. I loved the sumptuous richness of the burgundy with the nutty artichokes but again Lucy preferred the slightly fresher effect of the younger wine.
Icelandic line-caught cod with barley risotto, prawns and shellfish jus
Suckling pig belly with cheek quince and celeriac
One of those tests restaurants like to put you to once they discover you’re into wine. Two reds with these dishes - what were they? We reckoned both were Pinot Noir - lighter one a Burgundy, the more full-bodied one probably from Central Otago. Wrong on both counts! It was the lighter wine - though it was a Pinot - that came from New Zealand: a 2008 Gladstone Pinot Noir from Wairapa. The fuller wine was an apparently unoaked 2007 Nebbiolo ,’Martinenga’ Marchesi di Gresy. It proved the best match for the pork belly while the Gladstone Pinot - a little jammy with the pork - was perfect with the cod.
I’ve written about the cheese course on my cheese blog here but a reminder of how fantastic vintage Madeira (a complex, nutty 1988 Sercial from Cossart Gordon) can be.
Icelandic Skyr with rhubarb granit and muesli
Paired with 2008 Coteaux du Layon Les 4 Villages, Domaine FL. The one pairing that didn’t quite come off: the wine was slightly too light and the dessert rather too breakfasty for it to be convincing.
Mango and Pineapple soup with lemongrass, basil and olive oil
An exotic fruit salad of a dessert that was quite perfect with a 2006 Château Bouscassé Pacherenc du Vic Bihl ‘Brumaire’ from Alain Brumont which had its own exotic fruit flavours. You didn’t really need a wine with this palate-cleansing dessert but flavourwise it worked.
One of the many good things about Texture is that they take their wine by the glass programme seriously and don’t use it as a repository for cheaper wines. And the pairings are entered into with real enthusiasm by Swedish sommelier Erica Lalr. Watch out though - the cost will mount up if you’re not careful.
I ate at Texture as a guest of the restaurant.