A Night of Immersion 7

The Flavors and Textures of Sophisticated Tapas and Superb Priorat Wines

Newport Beach Lifestyle Magazine had the pleasure to be invited to an extraordinary tasting dinner in Beverly Hills.

At the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, there is a hidden tasting room called SAAM, which is located inside The Bazaar restaurant. The restaurant is one of the most famous eateries from Chef José Andrés, named as one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” and awarded “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard Foundation. José Andrés is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator, author, educator, television personality, humanitarian and also chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup.

A pioneer of Spanish tapas in the United States, he is known for his ground-breaking avant-garde cuisine and an award-winning group of restaurants that spans 21 concepts throughout the country in Washington, D.C., Miami, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Inside SAAM, we attended a one-of-a-kind food and wine pairing event conducted by Chef Holly Jivin and Carles Pastrana, the award-winning owner/winemaker of Clos De L’Obac winery, located in the region of Priorat, Spain.

The tasting was very impressive. We started with an excellent white 2008 Kyrie, “the boss” in Greek, so named by Carles Pastrana to amicably remind his family that he has the last word when it comes to the winemaking. Kyrie was paired with market fish ceviche and avocado roll, as well as sautéed shrimp with garlic and guindilla pepper.

The second round of tapas was paired with a 2004 Miserere, a robust blended red wine with 94 Parker points. The wine was called Miserere, which in Latin means “Have mercy upon us,” due to the treacherous conditions present in the Priorat region of Spain. The region is well-known for its extremely steep and rocky terrain. The first winemakers in the region were monks and the difficulty for them to cultivate the land, plant the vines, and harvest the grapes, earned them the name Misereres. The paired tapas were a “Fermin embutidos” platter, consisting of a selection of dry cured hams, including Serrano, Iberico and Bellota. The hams were accompanied by “pa amb tomàquet,” a crunchy, delicious bread with fresh spread tomato and olive oil on top…a perfect combination.

Later, we enjoyed Clos de L’Obac 2005 and 2004 (Parker 93 and 95 points, respectively) with an exquisite and perfectly executed Oxtail Steam Bun, featuring watermelon radish, cilantro and serrano chile. In addition, we had “Philly cheesesteak, “ air bread with cheddar cheese and wagyu beef. As we bit into it, the flavor burst in our mouths as the air bread deflated and disappeared.

The dinner continued to surprise us with new adventurous foods. An unexpected port wine, Dolc de L’Obac, 2006, was paired with a sensational cotton candy foie gras (a bite of foie gras surrounded with a whiff of cotton candy on a stick) and a superb three cheese platter, including Valdeon (cow and goat). On the sweet side, we had Spanish flan with caramelized bread, olive oil and brioche ice cream. Just spectacular!

One of the main market trends in the wine industry is to maintain a consistency of taste from year to year by varying the percentages of blend. Consequently, the consumer recognizes the taste and remains loyal to their brand. Carles Pastrana’s approach to winemaking is different. His blend percentages never change, allowing the conditions in nature, like precipitation, humidity, and soil composition, to affect the final product of each year’s vintage. As a result, the wines organically exhibit their own unique characteristics from year to year, or as Pastrana eloquently states, “The hand of God.”

The experience was like no other. We were incredibly and positively surprised by the high standards of all products, and the great company. We have to say that the wines belong to the library of any wine collector for many reasons, but especially their quality, power, structure and complexity.

The Winery

In 1979, Carles Pastrana and his wife, Mariona Jarque, recovered the family winemaking tradition. They started off on a long adventure aimed to rescue the old Carthusian wines in the heart of the lands that were once under the dominion of the priors of Scala Dei, a monastery located in the Catalan region of El Priorat. The vines sit along the banks of the river Siurana in the southern pre-coastal area of Catalonia. The couple began to make their first wines in 1989, reaching an important milestone when the World Wine Guide declared Clos De L’Obac to be one of the world’s 150 best wines. The Clos de l’Obac and Miserere blends are made from grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, syrah, merlot, ull de llebre, and samsó (cariñena) varieties, while white grenache, macabeu, xarel•lo and muscat of Alexandria are used to make Kyrie white wine.

Due to a recent wine exploration and visit to the region of our beloved friend Mona Nesseth, we learned about and enjoyed this exclusive experience. Newport Beach Lifestyle Magazine deeply thanks her for her tenacity and commitment to having us be a part of this amazing event.

We really encourage any wine enthusiast to try and acquire some of these amazing wines, particularly since the price point for such a unique experience is so reasonable.

If you are interested in purchasing, please contact John Dominic-Cancilla at Obac Imports Tf. +1 650 332-4740 or by email at john.cancilla@cherrygate.com.

If you are interested in visiting the winery, please visit the Clos de L’Obac website at OBAC.es.