Many people, when confronted with organising a wedding, will be fretting over how many tiers a cake should have, the shade of the bridesmaids’ frocks or where on earth to seat Great-Aunt Elsie. For me, such trivialities were quickly dealt with and we moved on to the serious decisions – what to eat and, even more critically, what to drink.
As my husband is also a wine merchant (for one of our very illustrious competitors who shall remain nameless in these pages) there was a hint of friction as professional pride jostled for position with future marital harmony. So we organised a partially-sighted tasting and left the final choices down to my father.
A couple of things to bear in mind – the wedding was in September, so while not calling for anything particularly opulent and warming nor was it an occasion for the lightest of summery quaffing wine. Also, Jeremy Lee’s fantastic Modern British food at the Blueprint Cafe in Shad Thames is not for shrinking violets – his flavours are bold and pure – and we were fortunate enough to taste the wines with a trial run of what has to be best wedding breakfast ever. A riot of canapes – hot crab sandwiches, grilled chorizo, goat’s curd and artichokes, roast grouse with bacon, velvety pea and pecorino puree – chicken pie to die for – proper organic chicken swathed in rich creamy sauce flecked with parsley and the “crumbliest, flakiest” golden brown puff pastry, followed by a ridiculously gooey chocolate brownie instead of a wedding cake. This called for serious wine indeed.
So we both set out our wines and, a good omen for the years to come, the decisions were unanimous and even-handed. For the champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV was the clear winner. This small, family-owned champagne house is more famous for it’s delectable rose, and its stunning white champagnes often gets forgotten. But you should all be drinking it at home – every night if possible – as it is quite delicious and ludicrously good value. Leave a case under the stairs (as long as it is cool) and in six months it will be even more delicious.
It was always going to be white Burgundy to follow and Jean Marc Boillot’s Montagny 1er Cru Vieux Chateau 2005 saw off competition from some technically more illustrious heavy-weight rivals. This mini-Meursault punches so far above it’s weight – it is everything white Burgundy should be. Ripe, round creamy fruit, the richness balanced by taut acidity, and effortlessly long on the finish. Hugely moreish but also deeply satisfying.
I have to confess that the reds (from that other wine merchant) were also a triumph. A sweet, soft, earthy Cotes de Nuits Villages Rouge 2002 from Jayer-Gilles followed by Chateau Petit Bocq St Estephe 2000. Not a grand wine this Claret, but so perfectly judged in its pure ripe fruit and firm smooth tannins that it reaffirms the pole position red Bordeaux claims in our affections. And finally the only thing that could give the brownie a run for its money – Hennessy Early Landed Cognac 1982.
You might be forgiven for thinking that should have been enough for most of the participants – and indeed a certain amount of over-indulgence was witnessed throughout the day. However, the more robust Australian contingent finished the day with a refreshing glass of ice-cold beer – while I, at seven and a half month’s pregnant after six hours on impressively high heels, retired gracefully to my bed with a nice warm mug of cocoa.
There is another Goedhuis wedding in the offing – some time next Spring or Summer – and given the energy which James puts into making his own cellar selections each year, it is safe to say that he will already have started thinking about what to drink on the big day itself. He will undoubtedly spend many happy hours contemplating, tasting and re-tasting over the coming months before making a final decision. So watch this space for his thoughts….