The Associació Vinícola Catalana (Catalan Winery Association) of Barcelona recently organized a magnificent lunch at Jaleo Restaurant in Washington, D.C. which featured the food and wines of Catalonia. The lunch was part of a day-long trade tasting featuring the wines of key Catalan producers from regions such as Alella, Catalunya, Cava, Costers del Segre, Emporda, Monsant, Penedes, Pla de Bages, Priorat, Tarragona and Terra Alta.
The day’s events began with a morning seminar for sommeliers and members of the wine trade conducted by Lucas Paya, Wine Director of Jose Andres’ Think Food Group. The seminar was followed by the presentation of Cartavi Awards by Hon. Ambassador of Spain, Ramón Gil-Casares and Valenti Roqueta, Vice President of AVC. The awards which recognize excellence in representation of Catalan wines on restaurant wine lists were presented to Veritas in New York and Jaleo in Washington, DC.
The lunch which was prepared by Jaleo’s Head Chef, Ramon Martinez and consisted of 8 dishes and a selection of top quality Catalan wines. The dishes provided an excellent introduction to the richness and diversity of Catalan cuisine. And, the wines selected for each dish revealed the richness of Catalonia’s indigenous varieties and the high quality of the region’s winemakers. The wine and food pairing was also masterfully planned and executed with each winemaker speaking briefly about their wines when they were served with a dish.
In the section which follows, we summarize the menu, the wines which were paired with each dish and our tasting notes. Readers interested in purchasing the wines will also find the retail prices and the name of the importers.
i) Xatonada(Salted Cod Fish with Romesco Sauce)
Wine: Albert de Vilarnau 2008 Vilarnau Cava DO ($80)A balanced and elegant sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Macabeo and Parellada showing notes of yeast and ripe orchard fruit, finishing with excellent length. The Chardonnay is barrel fermented. Spends three years on the lees. Importer: San Francisco Wine Exchange.
ii) Coca de recapteAmbAnxoves(A colorful combination of anchovies, bell pepper, tomato bread and eggplant)
Wine: Caves Llopart 2006 Leopardi Cava DO ($80)This is an elegant Cava. It’s very dry and chalky with notes of freshly baked bread, fine bubbles, and a long finish. Made of traditional Cava grape varieties—40% Macabeu, 40% Xarel-lo, 10% Parellada, plus 10% Chardonnay—and spends five years on the lees. Importer: Fine Estates from Spain.
iii) Pa ambtomàquet (Catalan tomato bread)
Wine: Torelló 2007 3D Brut Gran Reserva Cava DO ($87)The 3D bottle art is attention getting, but the wine itself is also very good with interesting fennel and thyme notes on a dry palate. Aged at least 4 years on its lees. Not yet available in the US since the BATF doesn’t like having to wear 3D glasses to read the label. Importer: United Cellars.
iv) Bacallà amb samfaina (Salted Cod with samfaina)
Wine: Agusti Torello Mata 2011 ATM XII Subirat Parent Penedes DO ($23)This lightly oaked wine is made of Parent, a grape evoking Malvasia, that is native to Catalonia. It’s bright with high acidity and showing pleasant citrus flavors. Importer: Mata Wines.
v) Espàrrecsambromesco (Asparagus with romesco sauce)
Wine: Miguel Torres 2009 Salamos,Priorat DOQ This blend of 50% Garnatxa, 35% Cariñena, and 15% Syrah is intense and delicious, showing ripe, concentrated and very pure fruit. Aged in oak for 12 months. Importer: Dreyfus Ashby.
vi) Caneló de santesteve (Canneloni with pureed veal)
Wine: Abdal 2007 3.9 Plà de Bages DO ($31) A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah, this is a very serious wine showing cedar and dark cassis on the nose and a richly flavored, superbly structured palate. One of our favorite wines of the day and an incredible value. Importer: Classic Wines.
vii) Fricandóambbolets (veal cheeks, mushrooms, mashed potatoes)
Wine: Parés Baltà Gratavinum 2008 2 Pi R Priorat DOQ Very dry, earthy nose. Cotton candy mouth. A blend of Garnatxa, Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Importer: Broadbent Selections.
viii) Pa ambolixocolata (bread, olive oil and chocolate)
Wine: Castillo de Perelada 2005 Gran Claustro Empordà DO ($49) This is a delicious, rich wine coming from a little known appellation on the French border. The wine is complex, layered and ready to drink now with attractive aromas of plum and blackberries. Made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Garnatxa, and Samsó aged in barrel for 14 months. Importer: Perelada Worked well with the Pa ambo li xocolata.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler
April 17, 2013