TNs--Toronto does Raul Perez

I seem to have started a trend in our group. I had some of the gang come to a dinner at Montecito where I brought the main and dessert wine—a full of 2001 Rieussec and a half of 88.

This time, our benefactor was Jay Shampur (those who know Jay know that the words “benefactor” and “Shampur” do not automagically go together [grin.gif] ). And he was exceedingly generous in donating the following to a delicious and interestingly interactive 5 course dinner, again at Montecito. Tran and our friends Michael and Heather joined us for this fabulous exploration

As opposed to last time, when I wanted Heather to have significant input into fashioning the menu for the Sauternes, this time she let Chef Matt taste beforehand and let him come up with the menu on his own. For my taste, he is growing increasingly skilled, adventurous and confident in showing his talent.

2014 Artadi Valdegines

Michael ordered this off the list. Plenty expressive for being so young. Meats and fur and sweet berries. Taste replays, it still has the backbone and dark of Rioja but does have a bit of Gevrey sauvage about it. More time will improve this, but already good

2011 Raul Perez Ultreia la Claudina

Mossy…kind of funky, greens. Silvery and unripe cantaloupe deep down there. My, this does have a smooth and rich, quite a complete presentation. Lemon and walnut, amazingly—raw. This continues to change and develop over the course of the evening and holds interest for that

2010 Raul Perez Muti

Lovely mushroom-edged apple and pear. Also bits of leaf smoke in and out. Livelier in the mouth (no surprise, really), accents unripe pink grapefruit, a bit of grape seed and ‎mustard. There’s a mite of juniper berry with the food. Later some cheesecake/custard. I thought this was the best wine with the various food and the one that was in the best place for drinking. At the end of the day, very slimly, my WOTN, but with more time, the Rara Avis and the El Pecado will both surpass this

2009 Raul Perez Sketch

Skating on the edge of oxidized, more in style than substance. Has body, and some tastes of apple and white plum, but definitely in an awkward spot right now.

2007 Raul Perez Rara Avis

Beautiful purest gunflint. Bring the 12 pounders in and light 'em up. Fine binned apple underneath. This is dazzling. Such class. Rocks and stones and white pepper and lemon. Dagueneau’s personality albeit a fully different wine. Incense too. Food doesn’t make a dent in this wine. It is strong—tempted to keep this for a meat dish. Even the spicy-ish fogo cod is no match. Does not play well with others. We theorize, though, that epoisses would be dreamy with this. It’s a strong, strong wine and my #3 tonight

2010 Raul Perez El Pecado

Mencia–opened at noon, decanted after 5, so 4 hrs. Not shy. Love the coffee and mocha. Real dark mocha, dry mustard seed. Well, now. If Barbera were to grow a set and add a charcuterie plate, this would be it. Not hot or big at all, but so vibrantly alive. And truly fascinating transformation in the glass. Heather’s right—later it starts to take on some very different characteristics. There’s no question that at that point, blind, I would have been humiliated in guessing RRV Pinot. This is what can happen with a talented natural wines winemaker and we were all enthralled by this bottle. My #2 and it was close.

Again, huge thanks to Jay to give us this truly rare opportunity to explore this producer, something he’s wanted to do with us for 2 years.


Bah. Everyone complains about my “Asian Tourist”-iness when I snap away for pics and take notes galore and then expect me to post all the food and wine porn along with my notes. Ingrates. Oh well, here goes:

The evening was dedicated to the wines of Raul Perez, an amazing winemaker working out of Bierzo, Spain. Jay is a devoted fan of his wines and introduced us to his work a number of years ago. This evening was an homage to him.
I arrived late thanks to the stupid transit system we have here in Toronto so everyone was already seated with three glasses in front of them. The first course came as soon as I sat down. It was a beautiful Scallop Crudo dressed in soybean oil, mint, sea asparagus, salmon caviar, serrano chili, cucumber, ginger, and crispy rice to provide crunch and texture. This was delicious. I could’ve eaten three times the amount we got.
2011 Raul Perez Ultreia la Claudina – A light gunpowder nose, light body, light straw gold color in the glass, flavors of yeasty lees and fresh lemon curd. Very pleasant riff on Chardonnay using Godello grapes from Bierzo in Portugal.

2010 Raul Perez Muti – Sherry-like rancio flavors and nose mix with tell-tale tart unripe pear flavors and high acidity from the Albarino grapes. Surprised Mike didn’t mention that in his notes. This was amazing with all the food as the combination of high acidity and rancio guaranteed it went well with everything.

Artadi ‎2014 Rioja Valdegines – Fabulous modern style Rioja. Rich, smooth, and concentrated flavors and aromas of dark cherries and black licorice in a shockingly light body with lots of minerality. Honestly, this was like a Rioja if it were made in Burgundy instead of Spain. I couldn’t believe this was Rioja. Concentrated yet still light enough to go with the Crudo if you can believe that.

Our next dish with the first flight was a Torchon of Quebec Foie Gras served on housemade cornbread with compressed peaches, fresh grapes and walnut butter. This was great with the Muti as you can imagine.

You didn’t try that wine that was aged underwater in the seas, did you? Now that would be cool!

The third course was an absolutely stunning Mushroom Risotto with Chanterelles. Truly perfection in a risotto dish.
We then moved on the second and final flight of the evening. Interesting how opposite Mike are on thee white wines in it:

Raul Perez 2007 Rara Avis – My exact words upon first sniff, swirl and taste of this potent wine to the entire table were, “Please, nobody light up a match.” I was only barely just joking. This had more gunpowder flint on the nose and on the palate than even the strongest Meursault I’ve ever had. This was not a good thing. As Mike G. pointed out, it simply would not budge even by the end of the evening. It completely overtook the wine and the fruit and acidity were struggling to break through it. In fact, the acidity is the only reason this thing was even drinkable. There’s definitely fresh citrus, especially lemon, and salinity lurking underneath but it simply couldn’t get through the flint. The light body actually worked against the wine in this case. Resultingly, it was a bad match for all the food as well. If this is how powerful it is ten years out, I’d hate to imagine what this must’ve been like to drink in 2007!

I feel totally opposite to Mike on this. I feel this is a very rare misstep of a wine from this amazing winemaker. I have no knowledge or insight into the art of winemaking itself so I don’t know what causes that flintiness in white wine and how to pull it back, but whatever processes causes it should definitely be pulled back in this wine. Gunpowder should be a spice, not the main show in a wine.

Raul Perez 2009 Sketch – Tons of fresh citrus flavor and salinity almost make this like drinking tequila shots. Minor rancio and flintiness – note how it is used properly as a spice in this wine – put this wine in great balance and certainly went a lot better with the food. Really not sure how Mike felt so opposite.

Raul Perez 2010 El Pecado – The bottle says it’s made from Mencia on the label, but this red wine look, smells and tastes exactly like Russian River Pinot Noir. Sweet cherry fruit, soft tannins, graphite, soft acidity. This was great but there’s no way any of us would have ever pegged this for anything other than California Pinot Noir. Heather is a professional somm and even she was astounded at the similarity. It comes across like a cross between Syrah and Pinot Noir per Heather, but then again so does California Pinot Noir which is why I like it. Is Mencia supposed to taste like this? Regardless, this was a great red wine in a perfect spot for drinking.

Our next course and first main was Roasted Fogo Island Cod off the coast of Newfoundland with St. David’s Hydroponic Ratatouille and Sunflower Pesto. Chef Matt actually cooked each hydroponically grown vegetable for the ratatouille individually before putting the dish together which explains why each one’s flavors stood out so strongly. Brilliant dish.
We were then surprised with not dessert but another main course of Roasted Pork Belly on a bed of gently poached vegetables. This was absolutely delicious and the richest dish of the evening. The sweet and moist pork belly had a crunchy exterior but melted in your mouth after the first bite. Essentially, it was a main course as dessert which was a pretty bold choice. I loved this.

The Toronto Wine Elitist Cabal ™ would like to thank the staff at Montecito for the amazing evening. We will return in early November where I will host the next theme: Alsacian wine.

I guess you did have it (Sketch). Too bad it seemed underwhelming. Sometimes you’d like the experiments to work.

That is the Sketch I believe and we certainly did.

Isn’t he from Spain?

He is, but maybe he moved across the border?

I will double check, I believe he makes wines in either Portugal or both regions. He is definitely from Spain, though.

Yup he is!

The 09—as mentioned, the Sketch was just in an awkward spot. We’ve been fortunate to have other more interesting bottles of that wine though.

Glad to have all your counterpoint notes, Tran—even if you are wrong about the amazing Rara Avis [grin.gif]

What we each like is, of course, what makes us different. I love wines with this level of authority to them. That is not everyone’s cup of tea. And yes, Perez is Spanish, as are the wines.

Thanks for all the notes and photos, y’all! I can tell from the playful banter that you had a good time! :slight_smile:

I am unlikely to ever happen across a bottle of Raul Perez in my lifetime, but most of the wines sound like interesting, original (traditional?) works.

Regarding the Mencia that could be mistaken for a Pinot Noir of the RRV, I presume that the fruit was from a rich, valley floor, not the donkey-and-safety-rope slopes that Descendientes de J. Palacios’ “Corullon” call home.

Also, I had no idea that Artadi had expanded its portfolio! :astonished: I enjoyed an off-vintage “Pagos Viejos” years ago.

Correction to the above: Raul Perez is indeed a Spaniard and his wines come from the Bierzo region of Northwest Spain. He has consulted in Portugal, however, resulting in my confusion. But to clarify, his wines are all native Spanish wines. Corrected my original post above.