Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Castillo Perelada flight @ Iberica

If you haven’t already seen Woody Allen’s latest flick, Midnight In Paris, I urge you to do so, if only for Adrian Brody’s spectacular cameo as Salvador Dalí. In the film, a nostalgic Owen Wilson is ushered into a vintage car at the stroke of midnight and taken to a party where he meets the literati of ‘20s Paris, including a brooding Hemingway, ebullient F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his unstable but enchanting girlfriend Zelda. A chance encounter in a café offers Wilson a glimpse into the hyperactive mind of a young Salvador Dalí. Brody’s imitation of the Catalan painter is so pitch-perfect, it feels like you’re encountering the real thing. So what better way to toast Movember, than with a glass of the mustachioed maestro’s favourite Cava, Castillo Perelada. For the next two weeks, Spanish gastronomic pleasure dome Iberica in Marylebone is offering customers the chance to take flight with a trio Castillo Perelada Cavas; the jewel in DO Empordà's crown.

While Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Priorat are well-respected wine regions, Empordà is still a young pretender striving for global recognition. Situated on the northeastern corner of Catalonia at the foot of the Pyrenees, Empordà benefits from a mild Mediterranean climate and has mixture of soils, from slate slopes and red clay to sandy valleys, which make for complex wines. Originally known for its sweet wines, the region is now more famous for its rosés, with Macabeu and Garnacha Blanca making up 80% of plantings. A local of Empordà, Dalí was a close friend of Perelada's founder Miguel Mateu, and was known to welcome guests at his house in Port Lligat, which he shared with his wife and muse Gala, with a glass of Perelada Brut Rosé.

Safely stowed from the bracing autumn night in Iberica’s warm bosom, my flight took off with the Brut Reserva NV, matched with a raspberry-coloured beetroot gazpacho. Dotted with olive oil, the ice-cold soup was punchy, playful and utterly delicious, while the Brut NV was bone dry and bursting with green fruit – tart apples and juicy pears. A severe Cava, I looked on lustfully to Dalí’s favourite, the Brut Rosé, a painterly pale ruby. The nose was equally pretty, displaying attractive summer fruits – squashed strawberries, ripe raspberries and red currants. The palate was generous, cassis liqueur-like almost. To match was a bowl of curious, childlike, chorizo lollipops served swimming in a sea of pear aioli. Devourable in one bite, hidden beneath the battered shell lay a juicy chorizo coin, lifted by the pear kick in the aioli.

My landing was smooth – Gran Claustro 2007, a blend of Macabeu and Chardonnay aged for two years in barrel, which scooped the best Cava award at this year’s New Wave Spanish Wine Awards. The most interesting of the trio, a toasty nose gave way to a stewed apple palate. Smooth and full, and at the same time direct and deliberate, the complex Cava was matched with moreish squares of crunchy calamari that disappeared disappointingly quickly from their dish. Still hungry, and with Dalí on my mind, I was tempted to order the lobster telephone, but the waiter was otherwise engaged.

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