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Saturday, 7 December 2013

Cheese and Wine at Hickson and Black's Deli, Chorlton: Festive Faces at the Ready

There are a number of highly excellent advantages linked to the run-up to Christmas, and the festive period in general. For one thing, it is entirely permissible to accept and consume a small sherry at any time of day or night should the opportunity present itself; equally, entire afternoons may be safely passed in the watching of a succession of low-quality festive films, often featuring brave canines, small children lost in dangerous snowscapes or - ideally - a combination of the two.
It is also entirely to be expected that those with an already high level of cheese consumption may push the dairy boat out still further, embarking upon a whole new array of Christmas cheeses which - by law - must be consumed with an appropriate wine pairing. To this end, I was pleased to be invited to Hickson and Black's deli in Chorlton for a cheese and wine tasting (no finer combination of words in the English language than these four in my opinion) in order to showcase some of the wines already in stock and dangle a couple of possible new ones for our opinion. Now, barely a day goes by on Twitter without some smug Chorltonite crowing about the magnificence of the Hickson and Black's sandwich they have just snaffled (bacon seems particularly popular) and I have bought cheese here before from their excellent selection, but I had never really thought of it as a place to buy wine. I now stand corrected on this matter - here's the sampling list, with my favourites clumsily highlighted in non-wine expert manner:

The Whites

Statti 'Feudo dei Baroni' (Greco) Calabria 2012

Ciconia 'Branco' (Anton Vaz, Viognier, Verdelho) Portugal 2012

Domaine Patrick Vauvy 'Sauvignon de Touraine' (Sauvignon Blanc) Loire 2012 - this was a favourite with most people. I am suspicious of Sauvignon Blanc, particularly in non-summer conditions, finding it often a bit acidic and rather tasteless. Not so with this one - soft, fruity and pretty exquisite with a sliver (/slab) of goat's cheese. I think this was £12.95 but as measures were fairly generous I'm afraid I cannot be completely certain on this matter.

Levenwacht 'The Tin Mine' (Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne) South Africa 2011 - another favourite, with an unusual minerally taste and a blend of grapes that really works. Not currently stocked at the deli, but SURELY it should be.

The Reds

Cours la Reine 'Saint-Chinian' (Syrah, Grenache Noir) Languedoc 2012

Tierra Segrada 'Antigua' Tempranillo, Garnacha) Carinena 2006

Devil's Corner 'Pinot Noir' (Pinot Noir) Tasmania 2012 - in truth, I enjoyed all the reds, but this was my standout favourite. Although I did, ahem, have to try it several times, just to be really sure.

Chateau Les Rochers Mirande 'Montagne-Saint-Emilion' (Mainly Merlot) Bordeaux 2006

The Extra Blagged One

Niepoort 'LBV' Douro 2007 - I am only a very recent convert to Port, but as a room full of wined-up people were baying lustily to try this, it seemed churlish not to join in. I think I have been put off Port previously by exposure to nasty, cheap, supermarket stuff; this one is in a whole different league and worryingly easy to drink, particularly when someone has foolishly placed a plate of blue cheese right by you on the counter. Hickson and Black's sell a half bottle for - I think - £12.50, and I am keen to procure one for my Christmas drinks cabinet (which is, in truth, only a metaphorical cabinet, but is none the worse for that).

All of this booze was ably soaked up by a selection of cheeses, pâtés and meats from the deli counter; the range and quality of cheeses here is particularly impressive, as you will see if you have a little browse of the website here. Thanks to Jay and Steve for their excellent hospitality; now all we need to do is start a campaign for Hickson and Black's to have its own dedicated tram stop for those of us who wish to cart their wine back to the wilds of East Didsbury...

- Hickson and Black's is at 559A Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 8AN; tel. 0161 881 2001.

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