Les Vignobles Foncalieu: Wine matching at Mowgli

Indian street food and wine. 

I must admit, Indian food – be it take away, restaurant or homemade wouldn’t automatically have me reaching for the corkscrew. I’m more likely to reach for a bottle opener and a chilled beer. I might reach for a Riesling or a Pinot Gris in the case of a Thai dish or two. But a rose with a curry? 

At a recent dinner with Foncalieu, their winemaker attempted to change our minds. 

 

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You may not have heard of Foncalieu – but you’ve probably drunk their wines. A cooperative based in France, their wines feature on wine lists across the UK. From citrussy Picpoul to earthy Carignan, to rich dense Malbec, their labels grace restaurant wine lists all over the world.

 

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And as we sipped on a deliciously chilled Albarino upstairs – gently drying off as every single one of us had managed to get caught in the rain – I was impressed with the quality of the wine. Lots of tropical fruit a nice flinty edge, full in flavour, I was introducing myself to two firsts in one. Along with this unusual pairing, it was my first visit to Mowgli in the Corn Exchange. 

In for a penny as they say.

 

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Downstairs our first pairings awaited. Chat Bombs and Bhel Puri were matched with both the Albarino we’d enjoyed upstairs, and further a Domaine Haut Gleon Gris 2015 rose. Yes, you heard me right, rose. Now before I hear the words ‘Oh no, pink wine!’ (yes you Katharine) this was a bit of a revelation. The wine was the first of two from the same vineyard and was a blend of Grenache Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This gives it a fruity nose – lots of soft berries – but in the mouth it’s light florals that reacted with the coriander to offer a Turkish delight effect.

And yet it was strong enough to stand up to the chilli in the Bhel Puri too. Whilst the Albarino was offered as an alternative, for me it was all about the rose. Not something you’d normally hear me say. 

 

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Moving onto the starters – yes the Chat Bombs and Bhel Puri were mere nibbles – we had Angry Bird Chicken Thighs and Maas Lamb Chops.

And again, our recommendation had us raising eyebrows. With the chicken, Le Versant Syrah 2015. 100% Syrah, and with the lamb another rose – the Chateau Haut Gleon Rose 2015 – a blend of Syrah and Grenache Noir.

 

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The lamb and the rose didn’t quite have me convinced – but the chicken with the Syrah? Perfection. The charring on the chicken thigh with the herbal notes in the red had me topping up my glass. I was swiftly re-evaluating my wine decisions. But the toughest round was to come. 

The curries. 

House chicken curry, Goan fish curry, Aunty Geeta’s prawn curry and Calcutta tangled greens. An absolute myriad of flavours, from the sharp tomato of the the prawn curry, to the soft mustard of the greens. And for this we returned to the Chateau Haut Gleon Rose 2015.

 

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And it held up quite well. Some were better than others – the prawn with chilli and fennel was a bit of a challenge, whilst the chicken curry was much less so for the fruit of the rose with it’s soft spice, coconut milk, yoghurt and ground almonds. 

Finally to dessert – and we were onto a rather special red. Here I’ll admit, I’m not a chocolate cake fan. I know, I’m weird. So pairing chocolate cake with a lush red was a little bit of an anathema to me. But I dove in anyway.

 

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All in the name of research.

The Atelier Prestige Les Illustres 2012 was beautiful and I’m sorry, but whilst the pairing was nice, the wine was wasted on the cake. A rich dense chocolate lava cake, bitter squares of chocolate were more deserving of this blend with it’s notes of caramel, liquorice and spice. 

 

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OK, I may not be a complete convert – I suspect my automatic reaction is still going to be to reach for a beer. The wines are stunning and maybe, just maybe if I spot that rose somewhere, I’ll be pairing it with something a little more substantial than shellfish, and I might just be reaching for a red to go with my grilled chicken in future. 

Bravo Les Vignobles Foncalieu. Bravo. 

 

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