The tasting on Friday 27 January 2023 at the Gazteluleku gastronomic society in Pamplona was unforgettable. The Gazteluleku tasting group has been meeting for almost 30 years (once a month) to taste and enjoy our hobby, first a tasting and then a dinner of brotherhood.
Entrance to Gazteluleku, photo by Miguel Osés
It is always difficult to find all wines to be at a great level, and it is normal to disappointed by some. But what happened at the end of January was memorable!
We tasted five great wines that have been outstanding and above the average of what we are used to.
1.- Château Pichon Longueville 2015 Comtesse de Lalande Gran Cru Classée. Pauillac
- Intense colour
- Spectacular, powerful bouquet: spices blend with the wood and ripe red fruits. Very balanced.
- Harmonious, intense and long on the palate. Liquorice, tobacco, cocoa and blackberries. Atlantic wine.
- A success to be the first one to taste, without disappointing the great previous expectations. Justified its points and its very good reputation, with life ahead of it.
Since 2007 Champagne Roederer is the owner. Wine grapes composition: C.S 68%, Merlot 29%, C.F. 2%, Petit Verdot 1%. Planting density 10.000 vines/ 89 Has. of 40 years old vines. 18/20 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. 96 Parker points.
2.- LUCE 2015, Tenuta Luce. Toscana
There is a lot of talk about terroir, a vineyard planted in the middle of nowhere among stones does not produce the same wines as other much more exuberant areas. LUCE shows it both on the nose and on the palate. Think Tuscan lifestyle. That’s Luce but in wine form.
- Good colour, the layer is a little less than the previous one.
- Opulent nose, black cherry, blackcurrant, leather and pipe tobacco.
- A Mediterranean wine on the palate with good integrated alcohol, with an aftertaste that lingers for quite some time in the retronasal. You will get green pepper, pepper, blackberries, herbaceous notes…
Owner Frescobaldi. Tuscany. Varieties: 50% Merlot, 50% Sangiovesse. 94 Parker points .
3.- AMARONE DellaValpolicella 2017 Classico Allegrini
- A different wine, made from raisined grapes.
- Deep black layer
- Opulent aroma where you can appreciate the fruit and the well-integrated sweetness.
- In the mouth, it is an explosion of ripe fruit, spicy with good acidity.
- A wine to remember
Ownership: Allegrini. Grape varieties: Corvina, Rondinella and Oseleta. The bunches are left to raisin under cover for ¾ months, which means a weight loss of about 40%.
4.- Altura Maxima Salta 2011 Malbec Argentina
- Possibly the best Argentinian wine.
- Very full of colour.
- Aroma where the rustic and the primary are in line, and impresses with its length.
- An unforgettable mouth, where the rusticity rises to high levels, for its roundness, balance and good passage.
- A wine that most of us did not know and has left an unforgettable memory.
Owner, the couple Hess, from Swiss origin: Colomé Winery. Variety 100% Malbec. Vineyard at an altitude of 2.500m. In Calayate, Calchaqui Valley. In the extreme North West of Argentina.
5.-Chateau la Negly, L´Ancely, Languedoc La Clape 2011
- Languedoc continues to surprise us.
- A good layer, but less intense than the previous ones.
- Fresh aroma of fruit (kirsch, cassis), well integrated and vibrant.
- In the mouth it is harmonious, fresh, pleasant, easier to drink than the previous ones. But with a gratifying passage with flavours of chocolate and spices.
Grape varieties: 70% Monastrell, 20% Grenache and 10% Syrah. Aged in 1500l. casks. 93 Parker points.
Corks, in perfect condition
Unusual high scores, but reflecting the enormous quality of all the wines, and the exceptionality of this selection, which ended to unanimous applause.
The dinner, which in this exceptional case, was a Friday lunch, was a real highlight. Carried out by Carlos Velázquez and Carlos Marañon.
An unusual starter. On toasted brioche, a salted butter cream with marrow (recovered from the second course), with a little grated Grana Padano, black pepper and grated truffle on top. A delightful accompaniment to a good rosé wine of Petit Verdot from Ciudad Real.
Carbonara is a humble, shepherds’ dish. And as a humble dish, it is usually simple and easy to prepare. With two basic premises. One, it has to be finished practically at the moment we are going to eat it. Two, no cream, it is totally forbidden.
The ingredients are easy to find and, as a good Italian dish, simple to make. A good pasta, quality eggs of which we will only use the yolks, a good smoked bacon with abundant white streak and extra virgin olive oil.
The bacon is poached in extra virgin olive oil to obtain a fat that is deeply flavoured with smoke, and the hot cooked pasta is poured over it to mix it with the fat and give it flavour. Grated Granna Padano cheese and a little of the cooking water are then added until the whole is juicy.
Plate by plate, serve as much as you like and break two egg yolks on each plate, stirring again. This simple little trick is what gives the carbonara its unctuousness and delicious flavour.
To close the dish, and as we were at a truffle-themed meal, we grated black truffle on top and closed the dish with some thin slices of the same bacon which, with the heat of the pasta, sweat and remain transparent on the plate.
The second dish
To celebrate the fact that this weekend, the last weekend in January, Peralta is celebrating the 3rd Thistle Day (Thistle or Cardoon, a source of health), we take Julie Andrieu’s hand and go to Lyon, on the banks of the Rhône, to prepare the flagship dish of the Brotherhood of the Cardon de Vaulx de Velin, Gratin de Cardons, also known as Cardons à la Lyonnaise. The traditional recipe is prepared with a butter roux to which is added a broth made from vegetables and cane bones. The marrow in this case has been used as an appetizer, and a good portion of grated truffle has been added instead when mixing the sauce with the cardoon. Emmental cheese for the gratin and, when presenting the hot dish, truffle slices on top.
For dessert, the famous La Viña cheesecake, with a good portion of cream cheese, cream and eggs, accompanied by a scoop of cream ice cream. Inside the tart, the remains of the truffle used throughout the meal (80 g of Tuber melanosporum nabarra).
To make gifts, to arrange flowers, to improve the decoration of a room, to make the most of your clothes, you have to have art. Everything fits together for some hidden reason. That ulterior motive is beauty. When there is emotion in front of something, beauty is present.
In this first meeting of 2023 it was a meeting with art, art because all the wines, all of them displayed an outstanding level. Art because the truffle dishes had just the right amount of truffle and were splendidly executed. And art because the comments from all the attendees were splendid.
It was a day very difficult to forget and to repeat, because art is not found every day, it is not felt every day and this first meeting in January was simply art. An exercise in art.
A very good atmosphere, caused by the great satisfaction of a good drink and a good meal. It was the homage we needed to forget for a while all the problems of everyday life. The combination of the above with a good company of friends produced in all of us a great enjoyment. In essence a good start …to 2023, which we don’t know what it will bring.
Carlos Velázquez, Carlos Marañon, Juan Narvaiza y Ricardo Guelbenzu