Last week we were invited to Exeter’s Hotel Du Vin for an evening showcasing their specialty wines and fine dining. Taking place in one of their stylish function rooms, the evening was a relaxed affair and we dined with fellow bloggers The Slimming Foodie and Not Just Phoebe, as well as General Manager Guillaume Lesage.
We started the evening off with a glass of Hotel Du Vin’s very own Champagne (which was an absolute pleasure to drink). Richard, Hotel Du Vin’s sommelier, poured our drinks and explained that in order to highlight each of the wines, dinner was going to take a rather different format to usual. Rather than matching the wines with each course, he had asked the kitchen team to craft dishes that complimented the wines. I’ve never experienced a meal where the wine takes center stage before and I was excited to find out what would be on the menu…
Vila Real Douro Rosé & Sour Salad
We begun our meal with a summery course that brought together a light and flavourful rosé with a rather unique chargrilled salad. Vila Real Douro Rosé is very easy on the nose – with notes of red fruits and spices – and is very fresh and full in the mouth. The salad was comprised of chargrilled baby gem, burnt melon, confit cherry tomatoes, grapefruit, an apricot pickle and a split dressing. This really was quite delicious and the first course demonstrated that chef and sommelier were very much on the same page.
Redoma Branco, Douro White, Nieport 2015 & Moroccan Seabass
Up next was a fish course created with a very sophisticated white wine in mind. Redoma Branco, Douro White has a wonderful aroma that combines notes of lemon, orange and apricot. The wine can really stand alone, with a very complex flavour profile, but it went beautifully with the Moroccan Seabass. What I loved about the fish itself was the addition of pomegranate, yogurt and strawberry. I wouldn’t have ever thought to combine these ingredients but the result was very accomplished and seasonal.
Quinta da Garrida Tinto & Smoked Duck
For the main event we were served the loveliest wine and what was, in my opinion, the most enjoyable course of all. I adore red wine and the intense ruby colour of this variety gave me high hopes for what was to come. Quinta da Garrida Tinto is a very elegant red and it paired beautifully with our smoked duck main. The duck itself was superb. Not only was the meat perfectly cooked but the burnt onion mayo was outstanding. I could quite happily enjoy this dish and red wine over and over again…
Quinta do Noval LBV Port 2009 & Chocolate
Lastly, we got to sample a vintage port with deep dark fruit and bitter chocolate flavours. The grapes that are used to create this port come entirely from the Quinta do Noval estate and Richard recommended serving it with blue or hard cheeses or chocolate. Dessert came in the form of a baked chocolate mousse, served with a pistachio & white chocolate parfait and a blackberry & black currant coulis. This wasn’t quite to my taste but everyone else seemed to polish off their plates, so chocolate lovers would probably have enjoyed this course very much.
I was impressed by the selection of wines Richard had chosen for our evening at Hotel Du Vin Exeter and the kitchen team is doing a fantastic job creating unique, seasonal dishes for their guests. If you are on the lookout for somewhere to relax with good food and a glass of quality wine, look no further than Hotel Du Vin. I think that their menus are great value and the ambiance of the hotel is really warm and welcoming. Hotel Du Vin will be hosting regular wine pairing events in the future (see details below) so if you fancy experiencing something similar to this, keep an eye on their upcoming events!