The Wednesday evening of the tasting came round quite quickly, and I was excited all through the day. We went for dinner in west Didsbury beforehand, enjoying some light bites at The Violet Hour. Incidentally, their ribs and crab cakes were great, and they had a cocktail called a 'Butcher's Martini' that was amazing! Bacon-infused vodka, mixed with vermouth and maple syrup. I really enjoyed dipping the rasher of crispy bacon, served on the side, too. This is a manly cocktail, if ever there was one, and well worth a punt!
So on to the wine and cake! DRAWS is a small venue for an event, but cosy and quaint all the same. 20-or-so people attended, being accommodated on tables of 4 or 6. This proved to be a lovely atmosphere in which to meet new people and have a good natter about wine and cake!
The set-up was to have 5 cakes, matched to 5 dessert wines. The wines were served by one of the Reserve employees, I have forgotten his name, but he is most recognisable by his shaky pouring hands! The cakes were served by 2 lasses from DRAWS. Everything was well organised and ran smoothly. We were provided with a lot of detail about both the wines and cakes, and a tasting sheet, with which to jot down our scrawly notes. I have to admit here, that I am more about the wines than I am about the cakes, therefore details have been lost with regards to the culinary side of the evening.
Up first was a gingerbread cake with a lemon and cream cheese frosting. This was paired with a mixture of Primo Prosecco and a Rhubarb Liqueur from Edmond Briottet. Both of these drinks were tasty on their own, but together were something different altogether. The mix was about 2:1 prosecco:liqueur. It had a sweet, candied nose akin to pear-drops. The mouth expressed sweeter, citric notes and the feel was not to syrupy, down to the prosecco. The ginger cake went delightfully with the citric, fruity liqueur, although I think the blend of fizz and sweet could be a bit more 50:50.
Second, along came a teeny-tiny strawberry tart, with an orange and mascarpone filling. For me, this was a little bit too small, resulting in an over-proportioned amount of pastry. This was matched with a Moscato D'Asti (2012, from G. D. Vajra). This wine was a bit syrupy, but also had a slight spritz. It had a floral, elderflower nose, and a sweet and spicy palate and a fair amount of volatility. The mascarpone melded well with the sweetness of the wine, and the strawberry complimented it's floral side.
Next was an orange and almond cake, with a cinnamon drizzle (fancy!). Accompanying this delight was a 2010 Moscatel from Senorio de Sarria. This wine was very interesting and a definite divider of opinions. It had a very volatile nose that was quite chemically. I swear it smelt of acetone (nail polish remover). This did have notes of lemon and orange underneath it, but they were hard to find. On the palate, there was more citrus fruits, combinded with sweeter, more textured stone fruit, definitely peaches. It had a lovely long, lingering finish, that I liked, but other did not. The food-wine match here wasn't that obvious, which didn't help
A Pistachio and Rose cake next. Although assured they were real petals, it more appeared to be sprinkled with pink... erm... stuff! To go with it, the Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat (NV). A good black muscat actually, and not your usual dessert wine. This one was the most different from the others. less about the sugary sweetness, and more about the depth of flavour. This had lovely rich aromas and flavours, containing dates, prunes and figs. It was quite volatile, and seemed a bit tawny and more fortified. There was slight spice to it that lingered a long time in the finish. This wine was one of the more popular. The levels of cake (lets face it, sugar) was building by this point, and half of this cake got left. In isolation, I think this cake would be delicious, maybe with a cuppa too!
Last up, a peach and almond tart. After a few 'proper' cakes, it was nice to finish on something slightly different. Especially as many people were now a bit caked-out! This was served with the, apparently, most special wine of the evening (and most expensive). The 2010 Donnafugata Ben Rye was delicious. An orange and lime nose, which was also slightly nutty, was followed by a beautifully balanced palate that showed spiced stone fruit and deep toasted caramel flavours. The tart was good, although pastry-heavy again. I personally think this desert wine would have gone with just about anything. It was quite drinkable.
This was a really fun evening and the hosts ran it very smoothly. The selection of cakes and wines was well thought out, and provided a good, representative cross-section of the dessert wine styles. The only issue expressed by a few punters, was that the whole thing was a bit sweet and sickly. I know it was an evening of cake and dessert wine, but there is only so much one can take. I am a fan of sugar, and battled my way through. Others could only manage half their slices of cake and a couple of sips of each wine. I think this sort of event is best suited to certified pudding monsters!
I'd fully recommend attending any event run by either of these two parties, I'm sure many at the event would agree. I believe DRAWS are planning a cocktails and cake event planned for the near future. Both establishments are on the high street in west Didsbury (Burton Road), so do pop in and say hello, they're very nice folk. Both also have websites which can be googled, along with Facebook and Twitter pages.