CHEF’S TABLE WITH JAMES CLOSE

Our luxe columnist and two Michelin star chef, James Close, gets caught in a frenzy of fizz in the Champagne countryside….

Whatever Brexit brings, we can’t recommend a trip to France for a tasting tour of the champagne region highly enough.

We headed to the city of Reims to meet up with the team at Champagne Deutz, supplier of our house champagne. It’s a lesser known brand in the UK but the French love the stuff and drink it enthusiastically!

Take the Eurostar – set off in the morning and be there by teatime, so easy. Take some champagne to drink along the way.

The city of Reims is the stunning place with a grand cathedral, town hall and impressive square – perfect for people-watching and wine-drinking. It is also the powerhouse of the champagne region and a great place to explore.

There are entire avenues of suppliers to discover – and taste – as well as many, many opportunities to visit ‘les caves’ to see the processes of champagne-making from some of the best-known names.

The wine cellars are really atmospheric places; often you can explore caves which have been there for centuries filled with dusty bottles – yet set against some of the newest technology in terms of wine-making and storage.

We visited the Deutz caves with Monsieur Lallier who is a direct descendent of William Deutz who set up the vineyard in 1838.

The producer makes around 2.5 million bottles a year which is relatively small – they have the same values of quality as we do at Raby Hunt which is why we like working with them and we will soon have their full range on the wine list.

We had a perfect lunch at the chateau with paired champagnes and went to visit the vineyards themselves. The pick of the range is the rich Cuvee William Deutz 2000, a champagne with such finesse – they really look after the grapes to ensure quality. This is an incredibly delicious wine. The nose is very brioche and  long ageing of lees brings a sensation touch. Loads of flavour, complexity and structure. A very opulent drink.

In Reims we went to the two star Le Parc Les Crayères in a beautiful building in lovely ground in the heart of the town. Chef Philippe Mille is a talented guy with menus featuring premium French produce such as lobster, langoustine, foie gras, turbot. A matchless  750 different champagnes on the wine list!

Classic dishes beautifully executed, such as taglini  with truffle and parmesan, suckling lamb with beets and a mind-blowing lemon soufflé, We drank a Domaine Jamet Cote Rotie 2007 alongside the lamb – superb.

 

MEET HESTON >>

We felt it was time Heston got in on the Luxe action as the Raby Hunt honorary hound…

Need to know? He’s a soft-coated Wheaten Terrier. Very naughty, selfish and spoilt. Just a baby at 18 months old – so we forgive him.

Gourmet pooch? He gets to eat restaurant leftovers – sometimes as posh as waygu beef or aged tuna. His favourite food is chicken  – in fact, he thinks chicken is his name – when we say the word he comes running.We called him Heston because it’s cheffy – and it suits him – though he has a lot more hair than his namesake.

Happy days? He loves walks by the river or beach but walks around puddles or mud. He’s a bit scared of the sea.

Good grooming? His breed is known for the hair over their faces. He can still see – he has huge eyelashes. He’s very high maintenance – ha has a de-tangle spray for his hair but doesn’t like a ponytail.

Memorable moments? He recently discovered and ate too much chocolate – which is so bad for a dog. He was very poorly.

Playmates? He’d like to be a sheepdog as he is captivated by sheep – but his true friend is a border collie owned by a lady who comes and walks him.

Dog days? His perfect day is a long, long walk ending up at his favourite pub in Whorlton where there’s a cosy dog corner.  He eats doggie popcorn and dog beer which has subtle flavour notes of chicken stock!

If he was a character? Tigger. Bouncy, friendly, excited and loves cuddles and kisses.


rabyhuntrestaurant.co.uk

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