El Cellar de Can Roca is one of Spain’s most celebrated restaurants. Run by the three Roca brothers, Joan, Josep and Jordi, and based in Girona, it has the full complement of Michelin stars, and in the last couple of years it has been number 1 and then number 2 on the world’s 50 best restaurants list. So maybe it would be fairer to say that it’s one of the world’s most celebrated restaurants. And a bunch of us got to eat their food because the brothers came over to cook at Mas Rabell de Fontenac for a lunch hosted by Miguel A. Torres. It was memorable.
The food was a wonderful combination of the novel and surprising, and more traditional Spanish cooking. It avoided being gimmicky (although the stuffed olives with anchovies served on a bonsai olive tree was heading that way), and was solidly delicious all the way through. After 9 ‘snacks’, each of the 7 courses was served with a different Torres family wine.
Marimar Estate Albariño 2013 Russian River Valley, California
Bright and focused with fresh citrus fruit with a bit of pear richness. Very bright and pure and quite delicious. This works. 90/100
Torres Milmanda Chardonnay 1996 Conca de Barbera, Spain
Lovely mature wine with nuts, pears and some peach notes, as well as delicate toast. Very stylish with real finesse and none of the heaviness you might expect from a wine of this age. Honey, marzipan, hazelnuts and baked apple notes add interest. Lovely. 95/100
Manso de Velasco 2006 Curicó, Chile
A Cabernet Sauvignon from 100 year old vines from Torres’ estate in Molina, harvested at 4 tons/hectare. Rich, concentrated, ripe yet well defined with grippy blackcurrant fruit. Dense and grippy with some blackcurrant bud notes. Showing cedary richness, and a little bit of evolution. Very effective in this ripe, dense style. 91/100
Jean Leon Vinya La Scala Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva 2001 Penedès, Spain
Dense, spicy and savoury with hints of earth as well as grippy structure. Complex with a nice savoury side to the sweet berry fruits. Warm but elegant with lovely structure. 94/100
Torres Reserva Real 2000 Penedès, Spain
A Bordeaux-style blend from the Les Arnes vineyard. Structured yet fine with lovely aromatics of cherries, plums, blackberries and spice, with an attractive green hint in the background. The palate is generous yet fresh with chalk and gravel notes adding savoury interest. Lovely precision here. 95/100
Torres Mas Borràs Pinot Noir 1996 Penedès, Spain
Herby, spicy and a bit earthy with some cedary notes together with soy sauce characters making this a mature, quite savoury wine. Dry and earthy. Quite evolved, but with a lot of savoury complexity. 90/100
Torres Nectaria 2009 Curicó, Chile
A botrytis Riesling aged in oak. Remarkable stuff: sweet, intense and with aromas of apricot and marmalade. Some grippy, quite pithy citrus notes on the palate as well as lots of sweetness. Well balanced and complex. 93/100
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Out of interest Jamie, when you are enjoying such fabulous hospitality as this, how do you keep your assessment of the wines unbiased and separate from the surroundings?
Surely the superb food, general bonhomie and the fact that it is entirely on someone else’s dime (at least I assume so, apologies if that’s not the case) will give you cause to smile favourably on the wines you are served?
I’m not trying to be sniffy about it, but am genuinely interested. Do you accept that your critical facilities are likely to be compromised and make a note to re-try the wines in less salubrious surroundings?