According to Google Maps, it takes 24 minutes to walk from Sloane Square to Medlar on the Kings Road. Ten minutes into the journey, with the sun cruelly co-ordinating its heating efforts with some extremely low pressure humidity, the outlook was desperate. Too short a remaining journey to take a taxi but too long to feel anything other than raising blood pressure and the cold, damp horror of a sweaty back. Has mortal man ever known such hardship?*
Such that, on arrival I wasn’t looking forward to the innovative modern French cooking, the laid-back professionalism of the kitchen or the excellent wines we’d lined up for this birthday dinner. No, all I wanted to do was to sit, head in hands, in the walk-in fridge for fifteen minutes.
Medlar opened in 2012, to what seemed like universally good reviews and picked up a Michelin star soon after. Now, there are some places where the Michelin currency seems important, here, I don’t think it would change their popularity one bit.
Fortunately, although the walk-in fridge remained a fantasy, a mirage in my addled mind, I did manage to sit under a well-powered air-conditioning unit, so by the time the wines started arriving, I was happy and my back, thank the lord, was dry again.
We started the evening with a magnum of 2004 Pol Roger. A muscular vintage and style. Densely wound with just the start of a a few nice notes of maturity, Terrific.
John Kongsgaard’s 2013 Chardonnay was a gorgeous bowl of fruit. For those more used to the citrus end of the spectrum in Burgundy, this was quite profane. It almost had me thinking of Viognier for some of the exoticism of the nose with peach, apricot and mango coming through. Lovely complexity but I struggle to see how this can improve in the bottle. But when it tastes this good young, why wait? It went very well with a lovely, buttery Cod Cheek and Tagliatella starter.
We ordered a bottle of 2011 St-Joseph Sous L’Amandiers Curtat Blanc for those with fish for the next course and it was nice but a tad forgettable. It possessed a bruised apple character, decent length and acidity but with a bit of warmth and a feeling that maybe it should have been picked a little earlier.
My contribution to the night was a bottle of 2010 Chambolle-Musigny Hudellot-Noellat. A hot name in Burgundy right now, their wines are part of a few that are ascending the hierarchy, so bandwagon rolling by, I decided to jump on. The wine was lovely, quite ascetic and a little austere, in a slightly awkward place between the fruit of youth and the elegance and development of age. Although austere, the balance was excellent, so I’d be more then happy to hold a few of these in the cellar.
Its bareness, might have been exaggerated by the wine served next to it, a 2011 Bergstom Vineyard Bergstrom Pinot Noir, This had more fruit, cherry and perhaps even a bit more mid-palate complexity, but something about seemed a little bit muddled. Such that, when I drank each wine, I wished it tasted more like the other. Perhaps I should have poured them into the same glass.
As I continued to digest the roast Guinea fowl, we got stuck into the twilight zone of corked bottles where we variously had a hollowed out version of the 2008 Hermitage by Bernard Faurie, which was replaced with a much better, chunkier version of the same wine, only to be told that the Sommelier still didn’t think it was right, and presented us a bottle of 2009 Hermitage Farconnets by JL Chave. Very dark and dense, a nicely made wine that is surely made from fruit of a good quality from the Greffieux lieux-dit, but for me, it just lacks a bit of character alongside the traditional wine of Bernard.
With desert, a bottle of 1997 Rieussec, that seemed a very advanced colour, it was unctuously sweet and lacking a bit of acidity I thought, to the point where it seemed a little unbalanced for its considerable pedigree. It was still a very pleasant last wine of the evening though.
But, what a meal it was, at the risk of sounding banal, the service was faultless and welcoming, the atmosphere was brilliant, and the people were the best kind.
And, as we left, the sun had gone down, the air was cool, and all was happy in the world. If Hemingway himself was at the dinner, I think he would have said something along those lines. But he wasn’t, so I’ll say it for him.
* – No, he has not