After an enjoyable mooch round the Shaftesbury ‘Feastival’ on Saturday afternoon, I was looking forward to trying a piece of beef fillet I’d purchased from Higher Stavordale Farm (www.kimbersfarmshop), winners of the 2011 ‘Best Meat Producer in Somerset’ award at the Taste of Somerset Awards. Here was an occasion to open a correspondingly special bottle of wine. Having recently been sent a couple of Spanish red wines to review by the PR agency for Grupo Codorniu, a 2005 Priorat seemed appropriate and I decanted it a couple of hours before dinner.
Priorat is a tiny region in Catalunya producing some of the most exciting but expensive wines in Spain packed full with minerals from the unusual, local llicorella soil. The Priorat Scala Dei Cartoixa 2005 is from Garnacha Tinta, Cariñena (Carignan), Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and it’s full-bodied stuff with amazing deep, dark fruit aromas which follow through onto the palate where the mineral elements can be picked up together with a hint of vanilla and plenty of herbiness. I have to admit that it overpowered my beef somewhat – a dense, slow-cooked meaty casserole would have done it better justice in hindsight. This, for me, is a special occasion wine and for £28.50 a bottle at Tesco Online, with a minimum purchase of six bottles, you’d need to find quite a few such occasions. Having said that, the wine will be drinking well over the next five years so there is plenty of time. Hercules Wine Warehouse also has stocks currently. If you enjoy this kind of wine and are looking to spend a little less, try the young and promising appellation of Montsant, whose vines encircle D.O. Priorat, and offer wines of a similar style.
I also tasted the Grupo Codorniu Rioja Viña Pomal Reserva 2005 and the food match this time was spot on: grilled pork shoulder steaks that had been left overnight in a marinade of Moroccan spices, garlic, lemon and olive oil. The wine, with its deep red fruit flavours and lingering finish sat so well alongside the meat that I could have eaten (and drunk) the whole lot again. So, apparently, could the assembled company. The vintage in question, 2005, was hailed as exceptional in Rioja and this wine proves the point. Whatsmore, it is reasonably priced – £12.99 at Majestic.