The perfect pairing: the masterminds behind our restaurant menus
Master of Wine Laura Evans – one of only a few female MWs in the world – and estate chef Alexander Baillieu discuss their favourite wines and pairings at our Bottle Store restaurant.
Here’s how our estate celebrates the finest flavours on the plate and in the glass…
What is special about this food and wine concept?
Alexander: I think it is the fact that my food menu is complemented by Squerryes own award-winning vintage sparkling wines, as well as an extensive, wine list designed by Laura – one of only 151 female Master of Wines in the world. Where else can you get access to such a wine mastermind?
Laura: For me it’s the connection to the 300-year-old Squerryes estate, the restaurant in the original winery, with a delicious food menu by Alexander featuring locally-sourced ingredients that effortlessly showcases the natural flavours of the Garden of England and neighbouring counties.
How does the food and the wine reflect seasonality at The Bottle Store?
Alexander: The food changes very much with the seasons. Out on the Terrace restaurant, we have lighter dishes with more fish, and in The Bottle Store restaurant in winter, we’ll have a lot more of the lovely locally reared, red meat dishes, such as Romney Marsh lamb and Park Farm beef.
Laura: We also make the wine list slightly seasonal as well. We’ll have a lot more fresh white wines for the Terrace restaurant, whereas in The Bottle Store restaurant we can really pull out all the stops with our full bodied, richer red wines.
Do you work together on the menu, or does the food come first?
Laura: The food tends to come first, because it’s very driven by the seasons, whereas the wines are available all year round. Alexander needs to be responding to the seasons, and I need to respond to him, making sure we have wines that go with what he’s creating in the kitchen.
Is there a shared locality and provenance between the dishes and their pairings?
Alexander: I recently prepared a dish with locally grown endive and foraged estate mushrooms, which Laura paired with a beautiful English Kits Coty Chardonnay. It’s great when you have everything on the table that’s all come from within a 25-mile radius at most.
What are your favourite Squerryes wines?
Laura: I love the Rosé – even though it’s probably our least serious wine! I think it’s absolutely delicious with its lovely strawberry fruit, as well as being beautifully balanced. It’s a wine that can be drunk throughout the whole meal, because it pairs so wonderfully with so many foods.
Alexander: We have some fantastic wines in our range, but the Blanc de Blancs is so well-balanced and beautifully crafted. It’s such a thoughtful wine, and one that’s great to sit and think about.
And your go-to pairings?
Laura: We pair our pork belly dish with the Etna Rosso, as there’s a lot of interest in volcanic wines at the moment, due to their character and minerality. There are some fine examples around right now from Mount Etna, and this is definitely one of them.
Alexander: The pork from an old breed, Duroc Cross, is quite a fatty dish, with a lot of richness, so the acidity of the wine cuts through that nicely, and freshens the palate. It has a bit of a body to stand up to the weight of the meat too.