Loch Lomond Arms Hotel Wine Dinner
We have passed the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel quite often on our travels and always thought that it looked like a smart coaching inn that would do decent pub food. When we received an invite to their regular five-course wine tasting dinner hosted by Daily Mail wine writer Matthew Jukes, we almost did a double take. It’s fair to say that we didn’t know what to expect and were looking forward to tasting some of Head Chef Allan McLaughlin’s food along with having our limited wine knowledge expanded by Matthew.
Matthew Jukes and his fabulous wines
Our evening started off with a cocktail of NV A. Fourtin Brut Champagne mixed with Causes & Cures Vermouth and fresh orange pulp. A refreshingly dry and herbal bucks fizz that was the perfect ice breaker. Matthew is an engaging host who clearly loves his job and working with the team at the Loch Lomond Arms – he curates their bar wine list too. He wears his extensive knowledge lightly, explaining why he picked each wine and guiding us through the tasting while letting each wine speak for itself.
Cauliflower seems to be terribly fashionable at the moment, and it was spiced roasted cauliflower with a salad of stems and toasted hazelnuts that kicked off our feast. Instead of matching wine to food, Matthew had challenged Allan to create a dish to pair his chosen wine of 2015 Lugana, I Frati, Cà dei Frati from Lombardia, Italy. His chosen creation was a hit with diners with chargrilled florets with saffron and a spicy hit of paprika. The toasted hazelnuts providing a textured crunch to the dish that complimented the nutty, waxy long finish to this delicious wine.
Our fish course was a twist on traditional pub grub goujons with fingers of crunchy breadcrumbed lemon sole served in a paper cone and an oyster tartar sauce. Matthew matched a 2105 Loibner Burgstall. Reisling, Smaragd, FX Pichler Wachau, Austria to the dish. The wine provided the acidity to cut through the deep fried fish and also coped well with the sharp tartar sauce. Matthew informed us that although 2015 was a hot summer, the chilly mountainous vineyards of this Grand Cru producer provided the perfect conditions for this bone-dry Riesling. The wine was floral, and we agreed with Matthew that it was definitely a glugger.
Next up we had the beautifully cooked wood pigeon topped with seared Foie gras, the knife cutting through both like butter. The pigeon was moist, and a thick roll of Arms cured bacon added a delicious saltiness to the dish. Two wines were served with this dish, the first being a pale South African Pinot Noir from Walker Bay. The production method involves the whole bunch including the stalk giving the resulting wine a complex, herby flavour. The taste of forest fruits and oak also went really well with the gamey dish without overpowering it. The second wine – a Beaujolais – 2015 Cháteau de Pierreux was completely different – coming from 55-year-old bush vines just the grapes are used in this ultra-organic wine. Nothing else is done to the wine, and after six months they bottle it giving a deep colour and plummy flavour. It was nice to try two very different wines with this dish and opinion was divided although I felt that the Pinot worked better.
For our cheese course, we had a lovely truffled and honeyed brie with pickled apricot on caramelised onion brioche. The heady truffle and condensed sweet apricot flavour along with the ripe brie were complimented by the 2015 Clonakilla Viognier’s intense, clean apricot taste. It was a cheese course that could have also have been a dessert course – rich, sweet and indulgent.
Our dessert had a pool of brown butter patisserie with delicate stem ginger meringues and chunks of spring rhubarb floating on top. It was a refreshing end to the meal, and Matthew matched this with an equally light and frothy 2016 Brachetto D’Acqui, Contero, Piemonte, Italy.
A wee special! – One for the road?
Matthew saved his very best until last and surprised us with a glass of 100-year-old All Saints Rutherglen Museum Muscat which retails at around £700 per 500ml bottle. He rated this as one of the best wines he has ever tasted and said that “my brain would never be able to compute a flavour as complex as this”. It was probably slightly wasted on my untutored lips, but it had a concentrated sweet dried fruit character with a very long finish – we savoured every last drop of the most expensive nightcap we are ever likely to have.
An extremely comfortable room to retire to…
We had such a surprising and enjoyable evening at the Loch Lomond Arms. Our host created a convivial atmosphere where everyone could relax and share their thoughts on the delicious food and wine pairings. We met some lovely people during the evening and got the opportunity to try some of Matthew’s favourite wines. One thing is for sure; you won’t leave feeling short-changed as measures are large, and top-ups are frequent as the delicate heads on Saturday morning proved. Thankfully we didn’t have far to travel upstairs to our cosy bedroom. The bed was comfortable, and the powerful shower certainly blew away the cobwebs in the morning.
The Loch Lomond Arms won Country Hotel of the Year 2017 at the Prestige Hotel Awards and is a perfect place to stay when visiting Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. They also serve food all day so is the ideal stop at any time. Chef Allan McLaughlin makes the most of Scotland’s natural larder and local produce when creating his usual bar and restaurant menus. The very special Matthew Jukes wine dinners are a regular fixture in the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel diary and at £85 for five courses and eight glasses of wine are excellent value.
What a super 24 hours on Loch Lomond
To book a room or a table at Loch Lomond Arms Hotel next Wine Dinner
Loch Lomond Arms Hotel
Tel: 01436 860 420[/su_gmap]
Thank you to Lottie Colquhoun for our kind invitation to come along and experience their wine dinner.