Match of the week
Kibbeh and Domaine des Tourelles red
I agonised over whether this should be the standout pairing from this marvellous Lebanese meal at Arabica last week but it won by just a whisker.
The occasion was the launch of the Lebanese winery Domaine des Tourelles latest vintages including the first release of an upmarket chardonnay, Marquis de By. To be honest I was more excited by the latest vintages of their basic wines which are incredibly delicious, especially with eastern Mediterranean food.
The red, a 2011, is a warm, rustic typically Lebanese blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and cinsault. It’s not as extraordinary as the famous Chateau Musar but it has a similar character at half the price. Like Musar the estate is organic and uses natural yeasts but it’s not what is generally perceived as a natural wine.
It was brilliant with the slightly spicy kibbeh, a deep-fried ball of lamb and bulgur (cracked wheat) that can often be slightly dry but Arabica’s were full-flavoured and meaty, the best I can remember eating.
I also thought their basic white - an earthy slightly spicy blend of viognier, chardonnay and muscat was spot on with the starter dishes which included hummus, moutabel (smoked aubergine purée), muhammara (spiced roast peppers with toasted nuts - right), cacik (yoghurt and cucumber) and tabbouleh (parsley salad.) Chardonnay doesn’t taste like this anywhere else which is why the top end white needs time to come round.
Their more upmarket red, the 2009 Marquis de By, a smoother, more elegant blend of syrah and cabernet sauvignon, was also spot on with a dish of slow cooked shin of beef cooked in the basic red and served with nutty, smoky freekeh (green wheat).
You can buy the basic Tourelles range including a very attractive rosé from D. Byrne of Clitheroe for £8.59 a bottle. (They don't have an online shop but will send them mail order) allaboutwine.co.uk has the red at £8.89 a bottle and D & D Wines for £9.50. (See wine-searcher.com for other stockists.). Or drink it - and I’d strongly recommend this - at Arabica by whose food I was hugely impressed.
I was invited to the lunch by Domaine des Tourelles. You can read about my visit to the winery back in 2010 on my (sadly neglected) natural wine blog, Wine Naturally.
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