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Wine List Confidential: Moments at the Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona

Douglas Blyde continues his Catalan journey, making time for a visit to Moments. While there, he discovers what head sommelier Alexandre Zaragoza would pair with a “humorously enormous black truffle”.

“Impeccable, innovative – and very Catalan” praised Time Out of Moments, while Michelin rated the “intrinsic distinctiveness of each flavour” of a menu encompassing “the Iberian Peninsula following the route of the ‘La Vuelta’ cycling race…”


Located diagonal to Gaudí’s Casa Batlló within the former Banco Hispano-Americano, the zen feel of Moments, replete with spa-grade Muzak, was envisioned by the Oviedo-born Patricia Urquiola, whose practice employs some 40 architects. Amidst discreet gold and amber hues, the most desirable table, shaped like one of Barcelona’s manzana blocks, overlooks the kitchen and its fleet of toque sporting chefs, as well as a storied racing bike.


The landscape list is overseen by head sommelier, Alexandre Zaragoza, resplendent on our visit in a jacket the colour of Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosado Gran Reserva. Zaragoza undertook a Master’s in Wine and Hospitality Management (Kedge Bordeus and EHL Lausanne) before joining “the Mandarin Oriental family” in Barcelona in the summer of 2022. “Our concept is interactive and challenging for a sommelier,” he says. “Always following a theme, we constantly change our pairings.” These range from the locally-focused “Gran Maridatge Català” which we explored alongside the “Nacional” offering, to the international “Icónico” flight, which might include Dom Pérignon, Gaja Costa Russi, and the prominently strutted Louis XIII Cognac.

White highlights by the bottle include the collection of mature Clos de la Néore Sancerres by cult producer, Edmond Vatan, with the 2009 at approximately double retail (€825), Bodegas Rafael Palacios’ Sorte O Soro 2016 from Valdeorras at close to retail (€515), and the endlessly perplexing 1986 Castillo de Ygay Gran Reserva, its colour like the centre of a Red Devon daffodil, at a shade below twice retail (€1,545).

Of notable reds, Venus La Universal 2018 (€78) is crafted from the scions of Josep Lluis Pérez of Mas Martinet, and René Barbier of Clos Mogador, while Familia Torres’ Grans Muralles 2004 will set you back €325. Then there is a 1981 Gran Reserva from hero of Haro, López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, which seems good value at €480 for a wine some collectors might consider still in its youth. At the pinnacle, Domaine de la Romanée Conti’s Richebourg 1999 is priced at a precise €10,256, while from outside Europe, Henschke Cyril Henschke 1993 Cabernet would be very interesting to uncork, albeit at a price (€547) which one might be tempted to justify as just €17 per each of its 31 years of slumber.

Look carefully, and you will be rewarded with an abundance of more accessible “Easter eggs” with age, including Domaine Gauby’s 2005 Muntada (€157), a 2010 Spätburgunder from AHR star, Jean Stodden (€65), M. Chapoutier’s 2012 ranger Shiraz from Shays Flat Vineyard at €80, and Michael Seresin’s 2012 Momo Pinot Noir – perhaps chosen given MOments’ name.

Handmade stems are by Schott Zwiesel, including vessels with a mighty one-litre capacity!

Zaragoza is assisted by hotel head sommelier, Cristian Sanchez.


The kitchen is captained by Raül Balam, present on our visit, in tandem with his mother, Carme Ruscalleda, who holds seven Michelin stars in Spain (two of which are allocated to Moments) and Tokyo.

The journey began with the monumental, impressive, but delicate of bead, Mestres Mas Via 2006, disobediently poured into a Ruinart branded glass. From 60-year-old bush vines, this macadamia and Roquefort-scented Xarel·lo-led Cava saw oak fermentation, followed by a life on cork. It grandly coped with a quartet of introductory dishes, including a Barcelonan beef, chicken and pork “bomba” finished with garlic mayonnaise, proving the everlasting bond between fried foods and fizz. It also dealt with a course starring wine’s nemesis – the globe artichoke. Here, referencing the meal’s stay in Murcia, “Zarangollo” theatrically comprised an egg yolk foam puffed from a syphon scrambled with braised onions and spooned over a technically impressive, transparent potato wafer concealing the domesticated cardoon.

From Denia, the next moment comprised a tactile cup of cinnamon-pepped “horchata” milk, then red shrimps, their tails deliciously deep-fried, rising from the umami hit of XO-like “salmorreta” (sofrito). Both aspects were usefully served with fluffy, pervious, ahem, “fartón” bread for dipping. Zaragoza poured two aromatic wines “with summer vibes”, being Celler de l’Hospital’s dry Subur Malvasia 2022 from Penedès, and, even better, the richer Pureza Ánfora (Pepe Mendoza) from Alicante, a Moscatel de Alejandria, being “the Godfather of Muscat”.

The theme of regional baking continued with a little “jubz” (pitta) stuffed with lentil hummus, then finished with ajo blanco and a spoonful of organic caviar from Granada’s Rio Frio, where your reviewer once travelled to behold previously sunbathing sturgeon meet their demise. Zaragoza poured both an unfiltered, unoaked, though friendly amber 2022 from Tarragona producer, Tanca els Ulls, being a pink-skinned “mutation” of Xarel-Lo, as well as Tres Miradas Cereo Franco 2020, an almost luscious Montilla-Moriles (Alvear) concealed behind a chillingly old school label. Again, the latter, being the wine of the region of the dish, buoyant with dried fig leaf-like notes, achieved harmony.

In reference to Madrid, codfish callos a la Madrileña comprised pliable cups, a little like orecchiette, fascinatingly made of the swim bladder. These were heightened with niblets of chorizo, encouraging the dish to be served with two reds. The varietal expression of the relatively light in alcohol Trepat which Zaragoza called “a cousin of Pinot Noir – but more rustic” came from Conca de Barberà in the form of Vins De La Memòria Pólvora 2021, while, from Madrid, Marañones 2020, a strawberry-scented, thickly textured Garnacha Tinta had more alcohol, not that it was intrusive. Yet again, the pairing from the environs of the dish shone brighter.

From a 20kg fish, approximating the weight of an average six-year-old human, a fillet of turbot a la gallega was presented amidst an almost Massimo Bottura splash of a sauce, featuring paprika, garlic, and olive oil, with potato and turnip leaf mashed by fork alongside. Perfectly filleted, its fleshy fronds artfully lifted off the bones. This met the luxuriously textured, skin contact Garnacha Blanca from the generally high-scoring Lafou de Rams 2018 from Terra Alta, and the refined, granite-grown, underwater aged, Attis Bodegas Y Viñedos Mar 2021 Albariño from Val do Salnés in Rías Baixas, nodding to the dish’s origin, A Coruña. A close call, but the local again won.

We continued to Burgos with a splendid fillet of beef with raw cauliflower, and spherified truffle jus which popped with near pheromonal intensity. Drawn from a porcelain vessel evoking the top of one of the towers of the world’s most famous “minor basilica”, the Sagrada Familia, came an almost humorously enormous black truffle, which was finely grated to huge olfactory purposes, over the protein. With this, Zaragoza brought two glasses to the table, each with a remarkable one-litre capacity. Raül Bobet’s complex Petit Verdot, Castell d’Encús Saktih 2016 from Costers del Segre, represented “one of my first discoveries, and one of my favourite grapes,” he said, while, from Ribera del Duero, Aalto 2021, “had Merlot vibes”. Although the former made for the best narrative, having been born from a twelfth-century stone press, the latter was more vinous, proving the most congruous match with the meat.

Drawn from an impressively laden vehicle, a quartet of cheeses, being the Catalan duo, Puig Pedrós with its ruddy rind, and Or del Montsec, then Galician Savel, and Castro Castillo from León, served with thank goodness, antioxidant-rich chia seed biscuits, met the thrillingly deliberately badly treated, oxidised, tea-coloured Verdejo and Palomino from Rueda, drawn from an eight-litre demijohn with a baster. And from a solera started in 1967 in Pla de Bages, Abadal C1 Ranci Sacristia, with its wet walnut notes, came from a tranche of just 1,387 half bottles, having been much anticipated by Moments who purchased almost half the allocation. Both wines were so interesting, this was a draw.

Celebrating San Sebastián, and signalling the flamme rouge of the meal, Txakolí Extaniz 2022 was poured, alas not from a height, onto a gold-coated encapsulation of peach.

Finally at the finish line, representing Zaragoza, a pudding of chocolate and olive was served on a depiction of a Vélo, forming the front wheel. This met two Catalan wines: Pansal del Calàs, a vin doux naturel blending Cariñena with Garnacha Tinta from Montsant, and Edetària Dolç 2019, a dark blooded Garnacha/Cabernet from Terra Alta.

Last word

The calibrated, creative, love letter to Spain’s landscape provided wonder not only for your reviewer but also for their six-year-old daughter, who was permitted to enjoy the ride despite the refined nature of Moments’ setting…

Best for

  • Curtained chef’s table
  • Art in on-site Villa Arte gallery
  • Bread from L’Espiga d’Or, Vilanova with Aragem olive oil and Pyrenean butter

Moments – Mandarin Oriental, Passeig de Gràcia, 38-40, 08007 Barcelona, Spain; +34 93 151 87 81;;

Blyde previously visited Veraz at The Barcelona EDITION during his time in the Spanish city.

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