To the relief of many, life as we knew it in 2019 is returning and nowhere was this evidenced more than at Bakers & Larners’ first event since lockdown – their Château Capion wine tasting dinner. A seven-course tasting menu and wine flight welcomed a sell-out audience, all ready to be entertained by Howard Laughton and to enjoy the menu by resident chef Andrew Baker. Samantha Mattocks went along to enjoy the evening. To the relief of many, life as we knew it in 2019 is returning and nowhere was this evidenced more than at Bakers & Larners’ first event since lockdown – their Château Capion wine tasting dinner. A seven-course tasting menu and wine flight welcomed a sell-out audience, all ready to be entertained by Howard Laughton and to enjoy the menu by resident chef Andrew Baker. Samantha Mattocks went along to enjoy the evening.
Many businesses have undergone changes in the past two years and Bakers & Larners is no exception. 2020 saw the 250th anniversary of this family-run business, but this is the year when they finally get to celebrate this milestone with family, friends, and customers as they bring back their much-enjoyed events. With new Managing Director Carl Milton there to introduce the evening, it was with great excitement that people made their way to the Bakers & Larners No 10 Café for an evening of exceptional wines and delicious delights.
Hosting the evening was Howard Laughton, the UK representative of Château Capion, and he was full of great energy, passion, and knowledge for this family-run vineyard. Located in southern France, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region and at the heart of the Hérault Valley, Château Capion produces a range of red, white, and rosé wines that appeals to a wide palette and budget. Under Howard’s excellent tutelage, we would taste seven wines during the evening – accompanied by a tasting menu created by chef Andrew Baker, of whom you can read more about overleaf..
The first course was grilled mackerel with lightly pickled fennel served with toasted bread, accompanied by the first wine of the night – Les Fantaisies de Capion, Coup de Foudre Blanc 2019. The name of this wine translates as lightning bolt, but also means love at first sight. An unoaked wine with notes of fresh lime, grass, and green melon. Crisp and smooth, it was elegantly quaffable, and it paired well with the local line-caught mackerel, the flavour of which was enhanced by a subtle horseradish mayonnaise.
Next came Le Chemin des Garennes Blanc – literally, the path to the rabbit warrens – a punchy 2020 white wine with notes of grapefruit, lemon, and white pepper. It matched very well with the delicate tartlet of smoked salmon, fennel, and Comté Saint Antoine, an aged Comté cheese. The fennel and pepper in the dish complemented the wine perfectly.
Domaine de Capion Chardonnay 2019 was the third wine of the evening, a rounded buttery white that is more restrained than Le Chemin des Garennes. This is a wine that pairs well with cheese, and Andrew presented aligot aux poireaux carbonisés – a rich cheese and potato mash-style fondue with charred leeks and toasted bread. The flavours worked well together and there were empty glasses and bowls all around!
The first of the reds came next – Le Chemin des Garennes Rouge 2018, served alongside a ragout of confit duck and lentils. Howard explained that the 2018 vintage had it all in terms of the elements: snow, mildew, a heatwave, and then 900mm rainfall in one month! Despite losing a lot of grapes, the 2018 vintage proved to be a good one, and this almost vanilla-sweet wine was light, fruity and offered a good first glimpse into the vineyards red wines.
Wine number five – and I should add here that they are generous portions, and it is well worth staying locally if you do not have a designated driver so you can enjoy your evening – was Domaine de Capion Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from 135-year-old vines. I loved this wine, and how Howard challenged us to really explore the different notes in each wine presented; in this, I picked up tobacco, leather, and that tang of the lead notes of a freshly sharpened pencil. Andrew served aubergine and chickpea tagine with this wine, which was spicy and sweet at the same time.
The vineyard’s premier wine was next, Château Capion Rouge 2016, a rounded, balanced, smooth and elegant red that was a real winner – and also the most expensive of the evening at £38.99. With its light spice notes, this is a wonderful red and perfect for a special occasion. It matched well with the grilled pork fillet with herbs de Provence, potato cake, and vegetables. This pairing was the standout of the night, and rightly so.
The finale came with the dessert course – a redcurrant clafoutis with a sweet goat’s cheese mousse, with the mousse balancing the dish well. Served alongside was Zéfir Rosé de Capion 2020, described by Howard as being a gourmet rosé as it “goes with foods, not just for by the pool!” This was a great wine to finish on, lightening the palette after the bold reds, and with notes of strawberry and marzipan, it was a light rosé that, just like the first wine of the night, was very quaffable.
The evening was full of energy and enjoyment, and it was clear that Howard was in his element, sharing his knowledge and passion for Château Capion with great verve. The tasting menu itself offered matches that were not always obvious, and that is always part of the beauty of nights such as these – where you taste and experience foods and wines away from your regular go-to choices. Andrew and his team did well, and with a range of tasting evenings coming up over the summer months, there is plenty of opportunity for people to come and enjoy the Bakers & Larners experience for themselves.
- Visit www.bakersandlarners.co.uk to find out more about future events, including an Evening with Bollinger on 29 July.