Discovering a harmonious combination of wines for a variety of occasions, whether it’s for an aperitif, a formal function, family reunion or party, Matthieu Longuere, MS and lecturer of wine at Le Cordon Bleu London, can help you decide what you should be drinking and how to source it.
After gaining his formal hospitality education in France, Matthieu moved to England in 1994 to launch a career that would see him hold the position of senior sommelier at Lucknam Park Country House Hotel, Hotel du vin and La Trompette where he helped them win the AA Guide and TW Wines’ Wine Award in 2003 and 2011 alongside the Tio Pepe Most Exceptional Wine List 2004. Matthieu was also named Ruinart Best Sommelier UK in 2000 and was a semi-finalist of the Best Sommelier of Europe competition in 2010. To put it breifly, we're in safe hands.
Joining Le Cordon Bleu, one of the leading culinary arts, wine and management schools as the wine lecturer in 2013, Matthieu went on to create the Diploma in Wine, Gastronomy and Management; a unique programme which combines the theory of wine with a strong emphasis on practical learning. Here's his picks of wine to drink this summer and where to find it.
British Summer Time: Trend Busters! Try Something Different.
Perfect for a picnic - the fully biodynamic producer Eric Bordelet believed that cider should be produced just like sparkling wine, so in 1992 he took over his family property in Normandy and created a range of cider that continues to ferment in the bottle.
With only 5% alcohol, you’ll be sure to stay feeling hydrated for longer. Sydre Argelette is a prestigious offering that combines 19 apple varieties and is a mixture of fruity and mineral notes like apricot, lemon, honey and mild spices which are brought out by the extremely small bubbles. It is vintage dated and can easily be kept for a few years.
Something to take the edge off a British strawberry? Moscato d’Asti Frizzante is said to be the perfect match to any dessert. It’s sweet and seductive, vibrant and refreshing with tones that are delicately peppered with persistent bubbles - as refreshing as a shower on a hot summer’s day. Expect apricot and elderflower with layers of white peach and mineral flavours. Sounds good right?
Photo credit: Le Cordon Bleu London
Aperitif and Drinks Reception
Whatever the colour or type, it has to be easy to drink and non-obtrusive. For sparkling wines keep it simple with fresh styles such as: Prosecco, Champagne Brut NV, Franciacorta, Entry level Cava Brut Nature, English Sparkling wines... Stay away from too complex wines like Grande Cuvee Champagne or older vintages. For white wines, keep away from oak and avoid old vintage. Aromatics or fruity wines are ideal. Contenders are Macon, unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Albariño, Torrontes, Vermentino, Gavi di Gavi, Rueda...
Fresh and fruity style Rose from Provence or Languedoc can also work wonders. Light, fruity and lower alcohol reds such as Gamay, entry level Pinot Noir, young Cotes du Rhone or Garnacha, Zweigelt are also a good option.
It will be dependent on the occasion, the budget and the message one wants to convey. If the aim is to impress, stick to classic or renowned appellation, region and producers and don’t hesitate to showcase older vintages too. In this case there are a lot of websites one can refer to like Decanter Magazine, The Wine Advocate and Jancis Robinson Purple Pages. Depending on where you are you can always trust an independent wine merchant or a sommelier to help with your choice.
If it is a quick business lunch, keep it simple with one bottle, avoid aperitif and stay with something light. If the aim is to maintain a business relationship, you might want to show some confidence and show that you are relaxed by offering a mix of well-known wines and more adventurous choices. The clue is the flavour profile, the country of origin (the same as your guest) and the vintage (symbol of when you had your first deal, when you started the business).
Sourcing wine can sometimes be very difficult. Using a local wine merchant, who you can meet regularly and who comes to know you and your taste is the best option. You can build a relationship of trust, try the wines with them and benefit fully from their advice. If you are already well informed, you can also find some very good wines with high-street retailer and supermarket. Lesser known appellation can offer very good value especially if you breach the £10 price band, as they have more to prove and tend to focus more on quality than fame. If you are entertaining more than six guests, don’t hesitate to buy a magnum, they are the perfect size and tend to be better preserved than bottle. Rather than opening the wine too long in advance, just make sure that it is at the right serving temperature, kept upward to let the sediments fall down on the bottom of the bottle and decant them prior to serving, white wines included.
For more information, visit Le Cordon Bleu London on: www.cordonbleu.edu/london
Matthieu Longuere teaching at Le Cordon Bleu London. Photo credit: Le Cordon Bleu London