At Decanter we all love our wine, and every week members of the Decanter team - from editorial assistant to publishing director - tell us what they've been enjoying at home and when they go out...
Chief Sub Editor, Decanter
Cims de Porrera, Solanes, Priorat, Spain 2005
Around the time of the Icelandic ash cloud (I won’t look up how to spell that volcano – you know the one I mean), there was a dinner at London’s Iberica restaurant for Castillo Perelada, a notable winery in Spain’s Emporda DO, in the country’s northeast. Sadly the winemaker, Delfi Sanahuja Font, was stranded in his homeland and couldn’t make it across. The dinner went ahead without him, but he so wanted to join that another replica dinner (same menu, same wines) was held this week. The eight-course tasting menu was prepared by Nacho Manzano from the two Michelin-starred Casa Marcial in Asturias, in Spain’s northwest, with Perelada’s wines chosen to match by Bruno Murciano, Iberica’s head sommelier and named Spain’s best sommelier in 2008. It was well worth his trip over. While the wines – two Cavas and six reds – were lovely on their own, having them with food makes you realise that this is how wine should be enjoyed. Perelada’s flagship wine from its Emporda estate vineyards, the 2006 Finca Malveïna, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Garnacha was a case in point, the 14.5% alcohol, grippy tannins and high acidity tempered and its juicy concentration accentuated by slow-cooked octopus with boletus mushrooms, asparagus and paprika oil. But the star of the night for me was this Priorat: wines from this cult Spanish region are often overpriced, so this was a marvel at just £18 and really worth seeking out. It is 45% old-vine Carignan, called Samsó in the local lingo, 35% Garnacha, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% of Merlot and Syrah – super sweet, ripe and rich with delicious, leathery, earthy, oaky notes and juicy mulberry fruit. A bold, bolshy wine, again made more elegant with a rustic Fabada – a traditional Asturian white bean stew with chorizo, morcilla and pancetta; the smoky paprika of the chorizo really complementing the savouriness of the wine. They say Spain has overtaken France as top of the culinary tree. With food and wine pairing dinners like this, it’s easy to see why.
Chateau Angelus 2003
Who says the 2003s aren’t holding up well? We had this at the opening dinner of Hong Kong Vinexpo, thrown by the St Emilion Jurade, with various dishes none of which I can remember. What I can remember, vividly, is the first taste of the Angelus, approached, as you do most 03s nowadays, with hope and trepidation. Some are ready, especially the lower growth Medoc, ripe and almost blowsy, but definitely ready. Some are heading downhill. The ultra-dry summer of 2003 was mitigated by the clay underpinning Angelus.
This was a revelation (it had featured in a Decanter masterclass last year when I’d been underwhelmed – obviously the trip out to HK had woken it up) – big and powerful with creamy oak, bright fruit and smoky spice. Full-bodied, round, earthy palate with notes of blackcurrant, black cherry, blackberry, spice and a roasted, smoky flavour on the finish. There’s lots of life left in this wine – not 20 years maybe, but I’d love to come back to it in five. Angelus owner Hubert de Bouard, by the way, is president of the Jurade, and that evening inducted Decanter’s own ad manager, Michael Denton (pictured with Brigitte Milhade of Château Lyonnat) into the hall of fame.