When an email landed in my inbox inviting me to a tasting event with Nyetimber at Chisou, I immediately responded with a big fat yes. Nyetimber are probably the most famous producers of British Sparkling Wine, while Chisou are a fantastic little Japanese restaurant in Knightsbridge, and as a lover of all things British and Japanese, I quite literally sprinted from the office to the event on Monday.
Henry met me there, and we sat down to four empty glasses in front of us and a menu with the pairings. We started with the 2009 Nyetimber Rose, paired with a Spinach salad. Nyetimber’s vineyards were the first to be devoted exclusively to the holy trinity of Champagne grapes: chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir. All of the grapes are produced on the Nyetimber estate, whereas many wine producers use grapes from different estates to make their wines.
Now when this arrived Henry and I looked at each other and just went 'we're being given a plate of leaves...' but oh my goodness, I have never had a plate of leaves so good. It doesn't look impressive, but the taste was just sensational, I never ever thought I'd be praising a plate of spinach, but the yuzu and soy dressing just made it incredible! The Rose was also delicious, probably one of the best Rose's I've ever had.
Next up was Pacific amaebi head crispies with matchajio (green tea rock salt). I wasn't so keen on these, they were very salty and it creeped me out eating the eyes and head...so I only ate half the body and left the head and eyes. The eyes were just so beady and I felt like they were watching me and crying out 'Nooooo! Don't eat me!". So Henry finished them all off while I sulked at him being so cruel.
Next on our list was my favourite dish of the night; Wild Alaskan dive caught scallop carpaccio, dressed with yuzukosho and ponzo sauce. Aka, scallops. They were the most delicious scallops I've ever had, they just melted in your mouth! With this we had the Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2007, which I wasn't very keen on, so once again, Henry finished it off (as you can probably tell by now, he's a greedy bugger).
Now the next sparkling wine was my favourite, it tasted like a sweet dessert wine, it really was something special. I wasn't so keen however, on the sea eel, aka, unagi (think Ross in Friends). I've had conga eel before which was very bony, so I was worried this would be too, when in fact it was the opposite...slimy.
The best thing about tasting events is you get to taste foods and wines you wouldn't usually try, I found two wines that I really love (the Rose, and the Demi-sec), and I really really loved the scallops and spinach salad. It was a lovely evening with other bloggers and our friends, and it was fantastic to find out more about Nyetimber and the way they produce their sparkling wines. Did you know that the seam of soil they grow their grapes in is the exact same seam of soil that the growers in Champagne grow their grapes in!? It's chalky soil and runs right under the English Channel and through Kent and East Sussex - who knew!