Roger Jones, our Michelin-starred roving reporter, attends the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino Investiture annual dinner held at London’s Dorchester Hotel. For the past 33 years this prestigious event has been held to promote the high quality of wines from Spain. The climax is the ordaining into the fellowship of Caballeros, individuals who have made a particularly significant contribution to promoting wines from Spain.
María José Sevilla and Pedro Ballesteros MW were the two new ordained Caballeros at the event. Roger Jones was also very much taken by the quality of the food and wine pairing.
My night tasting the best of Spanish food and wine started on arrival when I was handed a glass of an impressive MM Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2012, Marques de la Concordia. This is a beautiful Cava enhanced with 25% of the classical Xarel.lo grape, aged for 38 months and a great way to celebrate bumping into South Africa’s celebrated wine royalty, Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell.
The Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino was founded in January 1984 to give recognition to “those people in the UK trade who have shown exceptional endeavour in promoting the quality of Wines from Spain,” however since 1989 the criteria was opened up to Spanish compatriots, who have shown similar commitments on a worldwide basis.
A fillet of beef matched with a 2010 Imperial Reserva was the highlight
I had been tipped the nod that the quality of the food at this annual dinner hosted at The Dorchester Hotel‘s banqueting suite was one of the best on the circuit, overseen by the highly esteemed executive chef of The Dorchester, Henri Brosi (I remember well the Krug lunches he used to host in his private dining room in the Dorchester Kitchens a decade or so ago).
It was an outstanding meal, with the highlight being the fillet of beef, served rare, a perfect match to the delicate but full-flavoured Imperial Reserva 2010 from C.V.N.E imported into the UK by Hatch Mansfield.
A beautifully clean, fresh, crisp Godelia Blanco 2015, was bright with its floral notes and touch of aniseed which was a great match to the starter of very lightly smoked haddock with horseradish and avocado. The Godelia also included 20% Dona Blanca and was supplied by Moreno Wines.
There were other great wines to taste and match to dishes including a fresh, dry, complex Manzanilla Solear (Bodegas Barbadillo). It defies me why we all do not drink a little glass of this style every day with the salty, intense, luscious full depth they have. The sherry was imported by Fells.
Two new persons were ordained at the dinner, I would like to highlight Maria Jose Sevilla, who I have had the privilege to meet in the past, a passionate Spanish lady who encompasses everything that is so special about Spain, whether it be food, wine or the culture.
With over 30 years promoting everything that is great from Spain to the UK market through her various jobs with the Spanish Embassy Trade Commission, she has recently retired as director of Foods & Wines from Spain, but don’t worry the youthful and exciting Maria Jose will continue to highlight the bounty from Spain.
The evening was also the first official outing for the new Spanish Ambassador, who replaced Federico Trillo, who was forced to resign recently and, despite just arriving in the country, spoke with great eloquence and fluency and encouraged a great future for Spanish and British productivity whatever Brexit brings.
A Jaffa Cake dessert matched with an intense but clean Capricho Camilo Castilla from Navarra (imported by Moreno). This was a honeyed, nutty, textured, lingering wine that effused dried fruits and honey but did not cloy – a great balance to the clever deconstructed dessert.
Interesting then rather than ask guests to leave we were asked to revert back to the bar to enjoy more Cava and a couple of rather fine refreshing beers and lagers. Sadly my time was up to get back to the Wiltshire countryside, ah and find the wife. But not before trying a rather impressive Cervezas Reserva 1925 Alhambra 6.4%, more beer and hoppy than lager, a rather impressive ale, not surprising the UK importer is Fullers who excels in making great beer.