Sunday, 9 August 2009

Bristol, Banksy and Burgundy

We queued for two and a half hours to enter the Banksy exhibition at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, but it was worth the wait. From sculpture to installations to paintings to drawings, the imagination of Banksy is truly inspirational. The familiar digs at the establishment produce giggles from the crowd as they look at a policeman on a play ground ride and MPs in the house of commons depicted as primates. Outside of the main Banksy exhibition the artist continues to entertain as space ships unexpectedly pop up in Constable like landscapes and a briefcase full of money appears in a glass cases, the notes have Princess Diana's head on them. It's on until 31st August - it's a must see - go now!

After a long day on my feet I head back to my hotel, the Hotel Du Vin. I've stayed in a number of this particular chain and haven't been let down yet and I'm pleased to say Bristol continued the excellent service and nice environment I've come to expect.

I arranged to meet up with the Sommelier to share his passion for all things wine and his views on how the current recession is effecting the wine list. Stefan Gorda is originally from Poland, but spent a number of years living in France, before making the move to the UK. Stefan explained that the cellar is a fully functional commercial cellar and although some cellaring wine is stored off site, the wine here is to be sold in the bistro/bar and to be enjoyed by the Hotel Du Vin customers.

The selection of wines available is smaller of late due to the recession. It's becoming harder to continue to keep less popular wines on the list. Which is a shame for those of us who are looking to widen our palates and I, like so many others rely on establishments such as the Hotel Du Vin to provide something a little bit more interesting than the norm.

Stefan has a definite passion for many French wines and has a personal interest in small vineyards that are producing excellent quality wine where the terroir and the people behind the wine can almost be tasted. Although it was extremely difficult challenge Stefan chose Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cru as his favourite in the Hotel Du Vin cellar at Bristol, although I think it is one amongst many favourites.

The ambiance of the bistro at Bristol is very similar to others I have tried, relaxed with excellent food, wine and service. Monsieur Vin enjoyed a great steak and fries. I had superb lamb noissets with potato and pea mash and minted jus. All good quality ingrediants and cooked to perfection.

As for the wine we wanted something simple to accompany it and on a tight budget I went for the Jean Claude Rateau burgundy. Not complex, a straight forward smooth wine, a perfect end to a great day.

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