We are starting to hear the whisper of summer. Black clothes and boots are being banned to the back of the closets. Emerging in their place are bright colours and skimpier skirts. Of course being Oxford, we will still need a sturdy over coat when we venture outside. That doesn’t stop us from longingly looking at the picnic blankets and wishing for those crispy whites of summer.
Ready for summer, the Roof Top Terrace at the Ashmolean Dining Room had its outstanding debut at the Oxford Jazz Festival on Easter weekend. Open Thursday and Friday evenings now they are premiering a trendy menu that is perfect for sharing. Their cocktails caught my eye, and I can’t wait to go back and try the Oxford Fool Sling, made with gin, pineapple and cherry brandy. Yum.
I have had a sneak peak of their new wine list, which will be out in the next few weeks to coincide with their new afternoon menu.
My favourite, the Baron de Badassière, Picpoul de Pinet, is still safe. This is a French wine made by a Kiwi. Think old world sophistication, new world boldness. It is 100 per cent Picpoul grapes and has amazing acidity because of it. This bright wine is balanced between fruit and zest with a lengthy finish.
Jean Mathieu Dulck, the restaurant manager, thinks I might change alliances when the new menu comes out. He says the Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie from Chateau de Coing will become my new favourite. Given its six months of aging on the lees adding complexity and creaminess, he might just be right.
Jean also recommends the Izadi Rioja. Jay Miller from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate scored it 90 points. He describes it as offering “a perfume of violets. Elegant as well as structured on the palate, it has the balance to evolve.”
Good news for Alissa Robinson, from Oxford City Guide, who tweeted “@SauvignonBlonde they haven't had the Malbec the last few times I went even tho it's on the menu. :/” The new menu includes a Renacer ‘Punto Final’ Malbec from Mendoza. Jean assures me it is as tasty as the one they had a few months back.
The best thing about the Ashmolean Dining Room’s wine list is that every wine is available by the glass (175ml), carafe (500ml) and bottle. You will not suffer lack of variety because you are limited to one glass.
My most enjoyable wine experience this week was at the Anchor in Walton Manor, Oxford. They had a little Bajaian Beauty on the list- L.A. Cetto, Petite Sirah 2008.
Mexico is not normally considered a wine country, but they produce some very good samples similar to California in style with out the attitude or the price. This petite sirah is dark purple, almost black in colour. The aroma is rich with chocolate, coffee and black currants. It is full bodied, but smooth with a slightly chewy, long finish. Perfect accompaniment to the sirloin Diane we were eating. At £22.50, it is a bargain for a good restaurant red.