- Food & Drink
I’ll begin this post with an apology for the awful picture at the top of it, and the total lack of pictures hereafter. I did take pictures with my rackety, obsolete iPhone, but they’re mostly blurred, grainy and unusable – something I’m putting down to the romantic low lighting in Green & Blue Wines and not my limited photographic skills or commitment to trying all the natural wines I could.
Green & Blue is an off licence, bar and now restaurant has been brightening Lordship Lane’s parade of boutique baby gift shops and greengrocers since 2005. I was introduced to it by Sister Number 1, who still talks fondly of the sherry tasting she went to several years ago, when her enslavement to fortified Spanish wine was completed. I’ve been to several of Green & Blue’s informal but informative wine tastings over the years, usually followed by a dash for table in the bar and some plates of ham.
But Green & Blue now have a proper kitchen, a menu influenced by Ed Wilson, Terroirs‘ executive chef, and their own chef Simon Barnett, whose way with pork belly makes me want to worship him (more on that later). A couple of week’s ago Green & Blue’s owner Kate Thal invited me to come along and try some of their wines.
I’m forever drinking bubbles
We began the evening with what Kate admitted was a cheap shot, albeit a very expensive cheap shot: a comparison between Moët (£30.72 in Asda) and Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus 1er Cru champagne (£46). Moët produce 26 million bottles of champagne a year, Larmandier-Bernier ferment a more modest 130,000.
The difference between the two champagnes was obvious as soon as I lifted the glasses to my face. The Möet was flat and muted, while the Larmandier–Bernier was effervescent and floral. It sparkled in the glass long after the Möet had given up the effort.
Made entirely from chardonnay grapes and without any dosage (the dribble of sweet wine / sugar added to champagne after the second fermentation), Larmandier-Bernier has entirely spoilt cheap, mass produced champagnes for me. I may finally have to treat champagne as an actual luxury.
(You make me feel like) a natural wine drinker
Having made her point regarding the wonderfulness of wines crafted by small producers, Kate introduced us to various bottles from the Green & Blue shelves. First we compared two sancerres. The 2007 Gerard Boulay Sancerre (£19.00) is made in a small vineyard in the Loire using the natural yeasts kicking about in the atmosphere to ferment it and has minimal amounts of sulphur added. The 2007 Sebastien Riffault Akmenine Sancerre Blanc (£19.00) is made on an even tinier Loire vineyard with natural yeasts, has no sulphur added and isn’t filtered, giving the wine what’s euphemistically described as a ‘rustic’, cloudy appearance.
The two wines showcased the different qualities of sauvignon blanc. The Gerard Boulay was clean, fresh and gooseberryish, while the Sebastien Riffault was grassy, herbal and astringent. The Riffault was the runaway winner of the wines that night – the bottle we all came back to and the one that was lavished with praise on Twitter afterwards.
It’s an unusual, captivating wine and the one that Kate said needs a special warning before it’s sold. Confused customers have bought bottles back because it doesn’t taste like a sancerre and is, well, cloudy. So now all Green & Blue staff are primed to alert customers to its strange deliciousness before the bottle is wrapped and sold.
Food, glorious food
After the whites we moved onto Spanish riojas: a 2005 Palacios Remondo Crianza (£13.50) and a 2008 Olivier Riviere Rioja Rayas Uva (£14.50). Both of these wines were wonderful – the warm breath of Spanish spice and sticky autumnal orchards wafting from the glasses. But our hearts had been won by the Riffault, so they didn’t get as much love as perhaps they should’ve.
What wasn’t eclipsed by the Sancerre was the food. We began the night with little bowls of a Spanish bean stew that was rich with porcine flavours. The pig theme continued with a beautiful slice of pork belly, the crackly-crisp surface giving way to melting, fat-streaked meat. For dessert there was a chocolate pot that I briefly thought would defeat me, but fortified by a mouthful of rioja (the reds went remarkably well with the cocoa-heavy pud), I made my way to the bottom of the bowl.
Green & Blue has always been a treat of a place and with its new kitchen up and running, it’s now that bit closer to being a slice of paradise in East Dulwich. For a write-up that features some beautiful pictures of the food and a significantly more informed review of the wine, go to the wine rambler. And for a write up that goes into more of Green & Blue’s new menu, go to Eats Dulwich.
Thank you to Green & Blue Wines for hosting the evening.