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Last night six of us gathered for the birthday celbration of a colleague and friend at one of London's more posh and upscale Indian dining spots, The Painted Heron, in the Chelsea section, not far from the Thames along the embakement. For the past five or six years I've been dining here at least twice a year and never do I leave dissapointed. Not only is the food well prepared, but the innovative cusine, where the idea of farm to table runs through the menu, with changes that seem almost daily, but the concoctions of meat including grouse, partridge, rabbit, guinea fowl along with staples such as lamb, chicken, beef, fish and shellfish are both tempting and mouthwatering.
Their beer list includes both Cobra and Kingfisher in bottles but it's their intelligently chosen wine list that always grabs my attention. Like the food menu, the list is not your normal Indian restuarant wine list, and the selection is repleat with tasty whites from the Loire, Alsace and the Southern Hemisphere. Initially I was wooed by a possible Chilean Gewurztraminer, until I saw the 2009 Cave de Huniwihr Gewurztraminer Reserve for only a few more pounds. While the Chilean may have been the more interesting choice, having visited and tasted at the Huniwihr cooperative before I've always been impressed with the quality and consitency of what comes from the wines, and more importantly the half year younger bottling likely would be slightly more fruit forward, while the South American more acidic--but I'm guessing there. The wine was a delight. Unlike the more established producers from Alsace like Hugel and Trimbach that are easy restaurant choices, this racy white was a perfect choice for the gentle heat one expects from Indian food. The usual sweetness led cloying wasn't there and instead I found the crispness to be just perfect. Leychee, rose hips and a tinge of lemon, wrapped around lime and limestone, plus a certain kind of minerality one normally experinces in Riesling. A yummy wine and one not easily found in the USA.
The second white was the 2007 Domaine Pfister Pinot Gris Tradition was smokey and danced on the palate. It wasn't a big, fat Pinot Gris, but instead had that lovely dried fruit appeal that makes the Alsatian interpretation of Pinot Gris so much of a delight. Hints of dried figs, quince, white grapes and honeydew melon were evident, as was a lovely petrol backbone that is typical of wines of the region. As much as the wine was great with the spicy and sweet heated cooking, this wine was also enjoyable all by itself.