Fancy a drink? Sam Wylie-Harris raises her glass to this week’s best buys.
WHEN the last of the richly-coloured Cotswold leaves have fallen to the ground and the twinkling lights go up in Broadway, Russell’s will be uncorking their finest bottles to celebrate the start of the game season.
With local keepers on hand to source pheasant, partridge and rabbit, and a seasonal menu enhanced by an eclectic wine list, every day is a veritable feast in this chic, modern restaurant.
Named after Sir Gordon Russell, the Arts and Crafts furniture designer, this listed building was his former HQ and workshop.
The natural stone walls and attractive wooden features have been restored, and wine trippers can enjoy beautifully-cooked British food in this countryside mecca with its inglenook fireplace.
For a perfect match with game, try a glorious glass of burgundy from the world-famous wine region in eastern France. I love the reds from the pinot noir grape, which have soft, berry-rich and spicy characters that complement the bold, warming flavours of game dishes.
Maison Louis Jadot, one of Burgundy’s most prestigious wine producers, is celebrating its 150th anniversary. To toast the home of fine wine, why not crack open a bottle of its Cote de Beaune-Villages 2007 (£10.99, Sainsbury’s).
From grapes grown in the Chorey-Les-Beaune and Ladoix vineyards (in Burgundy it’s all about the specific plot and terroir!), this young and fruity wine is a stunning combo with lightly-spiced partridge.
If you’re lusting after a top-notch pinot, try the Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru 2002 (£21, Cambridge Wine Merchants, call 01223 568 989). It’s a steep price, but serious wine drinkers will be rewarded with an elegant wine produced from grapes picked from selected 1er Cru vineyard sites throughout the Beaune region.
And a prize mouthful of velvety, berry-fruit flavours with a hint of vanilla - a perfect choice with roast venison.
Thanks to some brilliant beer and game matches, lovers of light, caramel colours needn’t worry about being left out in the cold this winter.
A glass of delicate Kasteel Cru lager (£1.99, 330ml, 5.2% abv, Sainsbury’s) from the Alsace region in north-west France, is a refreshing combination with pan-fried partridge.
Lightly-kilned barley is fermented with sparkling wine yeast to give it a very fine bubble, and the beer’s delicate sweet flavours allow the gaminess of the partridge to break through. Surprisingly good.
Simple roast grouse works well with maltier beers (5-7.5% abv) as they share the same sweetness, and the hops complement the gaminess of the meat.
Try to resist pouring Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer (£1.58, 33cl, 6.6% abv, supermarkets nationwide) into a pint glass. Instead, serve this delicious Scottish beer in a quality glass for something that really hits the spot.
And take comfort in the knowledge that country pursuits aren’t just a rich man’s game.
When north meets south in the Rhone Valley, it’s a sumptuous affair for the tastebuds! Winemaker Perrin & Fils has taken syra grapes from the northern Rhone and blended them with grenache from the south to create this luscious Cote Rhone Nord Sud Syrah 2006 (£11 reduced from £16 between November 2-29, Marks & Spencer). Packed full of blackberry and red berry flavours, it’s delicious with game.
Conversation killer - not much of an explanation needed when you bring a bottle of St Hallett Gamekeeper’s Reserve 2008 Barossa Valley (£7.99, Waitrose) to the table. A classic blend of shiraz for pepper and spice, grenache for raspberry fruit and touriga nacional (a red grape variety often used in port) for its black fruit, this spicy and warming Australian red does what it says on the label and washes down a treat with gammon or game.
Beasty beers! Broughton are on the right trail with a clever new gift pack featuring nine of their best beers to drink with food. You don’t have to be an ale lover to be tempted by Merlin’s, which makes a refreshing aperitif, while Black Douglas has strong malt flavours that complement red meat dishes, and Champion Double ale is scrumptious with shellfish - and judged to be in the world’s top-50 beers. Bring it on! Broughton Ales Beer Pack (£23.50, www.broughtonales.co.uk).
In search of the perfect pint? You’ll need to find a comfy chair and put an afternoon aside to pour over the pages of The Good Pub Guide 2010 (published by Ebury Press, £14.99, available now). But let me make it easy if time is of the essence. Four-time winner of The Perfect Pint award, The Fat Cat in Norwich, Norfolk, has shined tankards and scrubbed down its pine tables to welcome beer lovers, offering a huge choice (hand-pumped or tapped from the cask), draught beers from Belgium and Germany, and more than 50 bottled beers from around the world.