THE empty ‘Altar Wine’ bottles nestled in the recesses and arched stained glass windows give a clue as to the former life of Le Di-Vin Wine Bar.
Housed in what was once the Capital’s Polish chapel on Randolph Place, the spacious French bar and eatery, which specialises in sharing platters, is somewhere I’d often admired from afar but never actually visited, until the other evening.
It’s hard to miss Le Di-Vin’s stunning historic exterior - white walls and painted wooden beams. Inside, it’s equally captivating.
With manager Benoit on hand to ensure the visit ran smoothly, we were seated at a high table for two, with fine views of the bar and a pint each of light Italian Menabrea.
We opted to allow Benoit to choose the platter that would best illustrate the wine bar’s reputation.
He recommended the medium charcuterie and cheese platter, which, he warned, would arrive very quickly.
“Were we hungry?” he asked.
Though the platters change depending on what is freshly available, the cheese selection is drawn from Comté, Brie de Meaux, Morbier, Saint Albray, Tomme de Savoie, Chaource and Strathdon Blue.
The meat selection includes Rosette de Lyon, Spianata piccante, Prosciutto Arrosto, Copa de Corse, Jésus du Pays Basque, Jamon Iberico and Saucisson à l’ancienne.
Of course, with any cheese and meat selection, you need an appropriate wine.
Having decided we were in the mood for a red, sommelier Luke was given a simple challenge, to find a surprising wine we had never tried before.
He found two.
First the Biferno Rosso Riserva 2012, Palladino, from Molise, Italy
Combining a third each of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Aglianico, Trebbiano grapes, it tasted of soft black cherry fruit with a hint of chocolate and a touch of mulberry on the finish.
Medium bodied it was perfect to cut through some of the lighter cheeses and meats.
Luke’s second choice was Côte de Roussillon 2016, Mas Janeil, François Lurton, from Languedoc, France, Syrah/Grenache/Carignan/Mourvèdre.
More full-bodied and an ideal accompaniment for the heavier cheeses and stronger meats, it boasted flavours of sweet plums and damson, with notes of black olive on the nose, which in turn gave way to rich fruity damsons and herbs. There was a nice hint of spice on the tail, too.
We discovered this after following Luke’s advice to let it sit, while moving the glass every now and then before drinking - he had just opened the bottle.
It proved my favourite and, as promised, the wine had no sooner been delivered than the food arrived, a beautifully presented platter that just begged to be savoured. Delicious.
If you’ve yet to discover the delights of Le Di-Vin, let me be the first to encourage you.
I know I’ll be back.