We know experimental chef Heston Blumenthal and his team have fantastic taste when it comes to wine. After all, Marjan Simčič’s exquisite dessert wine Leonardo, made in Slovenia from air-dried Rebula grapes, is part of the tasting menu at The Fat Duck in Berkshire, England. So what wine, we wondered, would be served at a corporate lunch at his ‘Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’ in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London?
This is the Michelin-starred restaurant where the food is inspired by British dishes that are up to 600 years old, so we were expecting mead at the very least. But, when ywine.press gatecrashed a press lunch there (actually a very interesting event explaining why women and men should not be embarrassed about using Tena Lights), we were greeted with a Bollinger rosé. The red wine – a young Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominated Bordeaux – was equally quaffable, and equally unimaginative.
The wine we were most excited about was the yellow-coloured white – a Grüner Veltliner from Austria. We had it with our £17.50 starter, the Meat Fruit (chicken liver parfait dipped in mandarin jelly), which has become one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. We also had the Fred Loimer Grüner Veltliner 2014 with our £38 main course, the roast halibut with mussel and seaweed ketchup, salmon roe and sea rosemary.
It’s a crisp, nicely balanced wine. The aromas and flavours are reminiscent of green apples, pears and citrus fruits. It’s not as peppery as our favourite Grüners but it’s an excellent choice… if you can find it online for £12-£14. Here, the halibut was crying out for something with a wow-factor, like Simčič’s Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, which are designed to show off his vineyards’ mineral-rich ‘opoka’ soil rather than the grapes’ characteristics.
My fellow diners at Dinner seemed happier with their match of Right Bank Bordeaux with Hereford ribeye or powdered duck breast.
We had the Gerard and Chantal Perse red with our chocolate bar dessert (£13.50). Most of the others opted for the signature dessert – a skewer of spit-roasted pineapples served alongside warm sponge cake. We would have gone for this too… if we thought there was any chance of it coming with Simčič’s Leonardo 2008.