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Our Square Meal week kicked off with a sparkling reader dinner at Michelin-starred restaurant Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, hosted by Michel Janneau from Champagne Louis Roederer. The atmosphere crackled and the wine flowed, but perhaps most impressively of all, head chef Sergio Sanz and his team excelled at serving 50 Square Meal readers all at the same time.
Following an exquisite glass of Pinot-rich Brut Premier, the stakes were raised as the 2005 Cristal was poured. This prestige cuvée was specially created for the egotistical Tsar Alexander II, and it showed great aromatic ripeness and Chardonnay character, combining vinosity and complexity with delicious elegance. It was a real treat, made all the more so when paired with a series of amuse-bouches, including chorizo with mango, crispy monkfish skin (delicious), and a visually striking kataifi with scorpion fishcake.
What came next was one of the highlights of the evening: 2011 Domaines Ott Clos Mireille Blanc de Blancs from Provence. This fresh-faced, supple wine showed peach, citrus and light spice flavours and was a great match for two spectacular fish dishes – a beautifully flavoured plate of king prawns, spider crab and sweetcorn, alongside fleshy scallops served with cassava soufflé.
Meat lovers were then treated to rare lamb served with sweetbreads in couscous that was matched with two contrasting reds. A surprisingly fragrant and very rare 2010 Domaines Ott Château Romassan Bandol Rouge 2010 was a wonderful expression of spicy Mourvèdre, rich in soft tannins with a delightful morello-cherry nose. The second red was 2008 Château de Pez from Saint-Estèphe, a wine displaying oodles of dense crème de cassis fruit and cedar-inflected black pepper, all wrapped in sweet tannins.
To finish: Ramos Pinto 10 Year Old Tawny Port which came with lots of chocolatey morsels. It was smooth, spicy, nutty, and felt like Christmas had come early.