Bangkok connoisseurs sample five outstanding vintages from the Spanish winemaker
THE MAKERS of Spanish premium wine Valduero flew their sommelier, Pedro Foncuberta Cortes, to Bangkok recently to host a posh wine-pairing dinner that showcased its fine vintages and the amazing craftsmanship involved.
The 10-hectare vineyard in the small northern town of Gumiel de Mercado (population about 400) has been producing excellent grapes for decades. Though aided by modern technology and guided by recent innovations, the winemaking at Valduero is largely based on the old wisdom, particularly in the harvesting, still done entirely by hand to ensure a minimum of damage in the delicate process and to maintain the grapes' natural characteristics.
Tables Grill at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel Bangkok was selected for the Thai event and chef Kevin Kristensen produced marvellous European-style dishes to pair with five stellar wines.
Valduero Garcia Blanco de Albillo 2014, made purely from Albillo grapes, was matched with an herbaceous and tangy shrimp salad. This light-bodied wine has fruit aromas with notes of pineapple and grapefruit, created specially to complement seafood.
The harmonious, crisp fruitiness is the result of a meticulous process that begins with the plucking the grapes. They're then chilled at 4 degrees Celsius overnight to macerate (soften) them before pressing. Fermentation also takes place at a controlled temperature - no higher than 19 degrees - to enhance the aromatic nose.
Valduero Crianza Classico 2011 of pure Tinto Fino grapes was served next with Jerusalem artichoke soup. Fermented for nine days between 23 and 28 degrees, then macerated for another 10 days, the wine rests in different types of oak for 15 months and finally 12 months in bottles. The result is a dark purple-red wine with a fruity aroma and intimations of balsamic spices and cloves, which went very well with the creaminess and slight saltiness of the soup. Chicken breast with mascarpone cheese was paired with the noble Valduero Reserva 2009, which undergoes 30 months of barrel-ageing in three different types of oak and a further 18 months of bottle-ageing. The scent of coffee and oak makes it a unique wine that truly reflects the vineyard's terroir and makes it a terrific match for any creamy, savoury dish.
A quail-leg confit with crispy skin was the main course, accompanied by 100-per-cent Tinto Fino Valduero Grand Reserva 2005, whose surprising profusion of aromas and flavours, as well as a long finish, made it the perfect partner. It's the product of 48 months of ageing in barrels of six different types of oak and another 40 months in the bottle.
Dessert was "Fantasy Chocolate" with ganache and dark chocolate, served with Valduero Una Cepa 2011, for each bottle of which a single grape vine provides the ingredients. Using only low bush vines, the yield is three times less than from those grown on trellises, rendering the grapes three times more superior in quality.
This dark cherry-red wine has great complexity and an intense aroma, with notes of red fruit, oak and vanilla. It's also very balanced and structured, making it a good match for red meat, cured cheese and, yes indeed, dark chocolate.