But on reflection both she, Trinidad Villegas (Export Manager for Bodegas LAN) and the label of the white she was pouring, Santiago Ruiz Albarino 2010, did you familiar. The wines label is certainly memorable with its distinctive hand drawn map and personal scrawl; I am obviously not a “Hard Disk”.
A flash of light from the kitchen diverted our attention as a juicy looking piece of meat was enveloped by a fierce looking naked flame. Not destined for us I believe as the first of the delicious tapas dishes arrived at our ‘Chef’s Table’, located as close to the kitchen as possible in the Monatgu Restaurant of the Hyatt Regency, London.
Trinadad coped admirably in explaining her wine range with the cacophony and drama of the kitchen playing out behind her.
First up a range of eight tapas dishes, a mix of vegetable, seafood and meat dishes matched against the Bodegas LAN Albarino Santiago Ruiz [Adegga / Snooth] and the Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva 2005 [Adegga / Snooth]. For me the white was the better match. Its herby freshness, cutting acidity and cleanising citric notes matched all the tapas dishes well; the spicy octopus especially, where the Reserva clashed horribly with its deep spicy paprika dusting. This white is a mix of Albarino (70%), Loureiro (20%) and Treixadura (10%).
After a juicy lobster and a palate-freshening Sorbet de Naranja the main dish – Secreto de Cerdo Trompetas de la Muerte, Pure de Romanescu ( ‘secret butchers cut’ of pork served with trompete mushrooms and a Romanesco puree). The wines were replaced with Bodegas LAN Rioja Gran Reserva 2004 [Adegga / Snooth] and Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva Vina Lanciano 2005 [Adegga / Snooth].
The Lanciano, a single vineyard wine from old vines, is a mix of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Mazuelo (aka Carignan), has a delicious elegance that, to me, made it stand out. Typically Riojan with spicy and savoury hints plus a distinctive orange edge this worked so well with the pork and the deep, deep flavours of the mushrooms. The Gran Reserva, while older, offered a little more fruit-forwardness, still delicious, but with a modicum of sweeter fruit and a broader palate.
There was a final wine, LAN Edición Limitada 2007 [Adegga / Snooth]. This was served with the desserts. This matching didn’t work for me but Trinadad explained how the Spanish just continue to drink their red wines through the meal including the dessert. This limited edition wine, a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo and 10% Graciano is sourced from a small plot, the ‘Pago El Rincón’ in their substantially acred ‘Vina Lanciano’ vineyard.
When it came to finding out the Montagu’s price for the wines you might expect a hefty premium, the Hyatt is a top-rated 5-star establishment after all. The Santiago Ruiz Albarino is listed at £20.50 (although that is for a 500ml Carafe), hardly excessive, the 2005 Rioja Reserva is also £20.50 and the 2004 Rioja Gran Reserva is £31 (again for a 500ml Carafe). Only the limited edition Lan Edicion Limitada 2007 could be classed as pricey at £72 for a 750ml bottle. My favourite, the Vina Lanciano, is £48 for a bottle. All very reasonable.