The highlight of last week was my trip to Priorat so this week’s pairing has to be one of the wines I tasted. Oddly it wasn’t one of the wines I enjoyed most although it was in the upper echelons of what the region has to offer : a Vall Llach 2004, a blend of 65% Cariñena (old vine Carignan), 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The winery was apparently set up by the Catalan singer Lluis Llach and this is their top cuvée. Unlike a couple of other strongly Carignan-influenced wines I tasted (Clos Mogador’s Manyetes and Mas Martinet’s Cami Peserolles) I found it quite overwhelming on its own (it was 15.5% ABV): very dark and brooding with a lot of wood on the nose and some massive tannins (I made a suggestion of roast ox as a suitable pairing in my tasting notes!) But it became as sweet as a pussycat with a rich winey oxtail stew with which I partnered it at the small hotel (Cal Llop) in which we were staying in the hillside village of Gratallops.
The oxtail, which tasted a great deal nicer than the rather blurry photo above might suggest, was cooked in Priorat (not Vall Llach, I’m sure) with prunes which freshened the wine, tamed its ferocious tannins and brought out its more exotic flavours. The wine also paired very well with some aged Manchego cheese.