A leisurely lunch with wine-loving friends at the Ox Inn, Liverpool Road, Manchester
29th December 2009


Fennel and radicchio risotto, topped with seared scallop and quail egg
Fennel and radicchio risotto, topped with seared scallop and quail egg.
Nice scallop, nicely cooked. Soft boiled quail egg. The risotto, however, was rather unevenly cooked - some of it was right, some of it was a bit underdone and chalky. My guess was that either they realised a bit late that they hadn't done enough, or that they spoiled one panful and had to start a new batch. To be very picky, it would have helped (though not in the cooking of the rice obviously) if the plate had been warm.

Chicken liver parfait, wrapped in foie gras butter
Chicken liver parfait, wrapped in foie gras butter, accompanied by loganberry jelly and brioche.
Superb parfait, the foie gras in the butter just adding that little bit more richness, that was nicely offset by the jelly. Yum.

Confit duck leg with dauphinoise potato
Confit duck leg with dauphinoise potato, peppered balsamic strawberry sauce.
Peppered balsamic strawberry sauce sounds like some horrible car crash between 1980s nouvelle cuisine and a 1990s TV chef. But it was nowhere near as ill-judged as it sounds, and actually worked very well with the nicely done duck leg. Maybe if the skin on the duck had been crisped a bit more, that would have improved the dish? The potatoes weren't dauphinoise, as there was a layer of onions in there and there wasn't a huge amount of cream. Missed a bit of green (squeaky beans maybe?) on the plate.

No photo - you know what cheese looks like.
Munster cheese.
Smelled like Munster, but didn't really look like it. Nice condition though.
We needed this to soak up our little gewurz fest.

Chocolate fondant with
Oops, nearly ate this before taking a photo.
Chocolate fondant with "Uncle Joe's Mint Balls" ice cream.
Decent fondant. Fab ice cream.

The Wines

2008 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5%
There's crisp, dusky asparagus and tropical fruit on the nose. Quite big and flabby even on the palate. Rather short. It's a decent sauvignon blanc, but nothing special.
2005 Spinifex Lola, 12.5%
50% marsanne; 27% ugni blanc; 23% grenache gris
A very interesting nose: Formula One racing, says someone, and he's right. There's tarmac, oil and some rubber (but not an unpleasant rubber) on the nose, along with some minerally notes, almonds and some perfume (elderflower?).
Very nice on the palate. Good weight and depth. There's nice Rhôney fruit and a yummy stoniness on the palate. Great length. Lovely wine.
2001 Puligny-Montrachet La Truffière 1er Cru, Bernard Morey, 13.5%
Beurre noisette, toffee and melon on the nose. A rich, buttery palate with a slightly bitter edge. Just a hint of oxidation on this, but (and this may be heresy) there really doesn't seem to be anything special about this at all.
2001 Côtes du Jura Cuvée Spéciale, Philippe Butin, 13%
A lovely amontillado nose - nuts and aromatics. A lovely sherrified palate. Deep and nutty, yet also with a good freshness.
2006 Maranges 1er Cru La Fussière, Domaine Bachelet-Monnot, 13.5%
There's sweet raspberry fruit on the nose with some beetroot and a fresh, almost minty lift. It's fairly direct on the attack, but quickly falls away to weediness. A nice palate refreshener, before moving onto the pinot gris.
2002 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Furstentum, Paul Blanck, 13.5%
Very rich, tropical fruit on the nose, with botrytis and apricots. Lovely weight on the palate. Curiously, it's not as sweet as the Sorg, which given all the botrytis on the nose, is rather counter-intuitive.
2004 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Florimont, Bruno Sorg, 13.6%
Much paler colour than the Blanck.
The nose has bananas, pear and lychees with a solid structure behind. Beautiful palate. It's rich, verging on the sweet. Really nice balance. A lovely wine.
1983 Côte Rôtie Les Jumelles, Paul Jaboulet Aîné, alcohol content not shown
Oh yes! A quick sniff, and you just know this is going to be good and a half. When I first saw the menu, the first wine that came to mind with the main course was Côte Rôtie, and it's all here: peppery spice, strawberry fruit, and a meaty fleshiness.
Delicious palate. Very clean. Very nicely mature. Lovely balance.
This is my second taste of Jaboulet's 1983 Côte-Rôtie Jumelles, and a far superior bottle to that drunk in 2006 at the fabled Freemasons Arms of blessed memory.
1997 Quatr Nas, DOC Langhe, Rocche dei Manzoni,13.5%
1999 La Vicalanda de Vina Pomal Reserva, Bodegas Bilbainas, 13%
There's lots of sweet fruit on the nose, and what feels initially like a touch of TCA, but which, with some swirling, seems to turn into just a bit of volatile lift. The palate is fairly wide, but with a narrow, well-defined core of sweet black fruit. It feels a bit subdued overall. Old school Rioja.
2005 Domaine Drouhin Laurène, Oregon, 13.%
The nose is quite peppery, with sweet, oddly black fruits. There's lovely, exquisite balance on the palate. But it's not overly special. Very nice fruit characters though.
2006 privada, Mendoza, Norton
Gorgeous sweet strawberry and balsamic nose. But oh dear, the palate doesn't live up to the nose. Confected palate with very sweet fruit. This is big, big, big. Lost in the company. It really need a big chunk of grilled red meat.
2000 Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Hengst, 16%
The nose is heavy, oily, though not overly gewurz-like actually, the gewurz character being somewhat disguised by the massive weight.
Very big in the mouth. Just a bit hot. Power, power, power. This isn't a style of gewurz with which I'm particularly enamoured, and, to me, it just seems to lack finesse.
1990 Hugel Gewurztraminer Jubilee Réserve Personelle, Wine Society bottling, 14.5%
A lightish nose that really only smells of a dishwasher that's just been opened. Feels rather corked on the palate.
2007 Gewürztraminer, Finger Lakes, New York, Dr Konstantin Frank, 12%
A young, bright gewurz nose. In the mouth, it's a vibrant, zingy young gewurz. It feels a little odd in all this Alsatian company, but stands up very well in the company. This actually works better than a number of the Finger Lakes rieslings that I've had.
1991 Rolly Gassmann Gewurztraminer Oberer Weingarten de Rorschwihr, 13.5%
Bought ex cave in 1998 for 80 francs.
A mature gewurztraminer nose. Quite raisiny on the palate. Feels a touch over the hill, but when you drink it with the Munster, it really comes alive and delights.
1992 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Schlossberg, Les Vignerons Réunis de Kientzheim-Kaysersberg, 13%
59 francs ex cave, also in 1998.
A remarkably light, bright lemon gold appearance. This has very slightly refermented in the bottle and has a bit of spritz on the palate. But the refermentation hasn't served it too badly and there's still a lovely weight on the palate. Better than I'd suspected it might be.
1994 Sercial Casco 70b, Barbeito, 19%
A blissful nose. Nutty. "It's a roller coaster of nuts!" said Sinead. I find it rather like opening your grandma's oak wardrobe, with some burnt oranges too. The warm, caramelised oranges reappear on the palate. Haunting, and with a length to follow you all the way back home.
2002 Clos de Nouys Vouvray Moelleux, 12%
A rather slight nose with some old lemons and scented geraniums. Very nice palate, with a lovely gentle sweetness.
1945 Rivesaltes, Mas Désirée, 16% 500ml
A nutty, oxidative nose with some roast plum kernels. Good palate with lovely balance. Worked pretty well with the chocolate fondant.
NV Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Bouquet des Dentelles, Les Vignerons de Caractère, 15.5%
A good, integrated muscat nose with some sawdust and some garrique. A light, fresh muscat, easily hiding that high alcohol.

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Last updated: 14 Jan 2010