Chucho Valdés isn't a chef or a winemaker — he's a Cuban-born jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader — but he designed wine pairings at a performance earlier this month in Barcelona.
The venue was not a concert hall or club but Monvínic, a wine bar owned by Sergi Ferrer-Salat, a pharmaceutical tycoon and also proprietor of Ferrer Bobet, a winery in Catalonia's Priorat region. The event was called "Chucho Valdés: Monvínic Experience Homage to Josep Roca."
Josep "Pitu" Roca is the brother of chef Joan Roca and pastry chef Jordi Roca of the three-star El Celler de Can Roca in Gerona, and the third key figure in the operation, selecting wines for the restaurant and functioning as sommelier. He poured a selection of eight wines, including a Valle de Cachapoal Chardonnay from Chile, a white from the Arbois appellation in France, a Priorat red (not Ferrer-Salat's), and selections from Germany and Australia, offering poetic descriptions of them along the way.
As the wines were sampled by attendees, Valdés created piano improvisations based on Roca's descriptions. To conclude the event, Monvinic's chefs served two sandwiches, in turn inspired by Roca and Valdéz: a veal shank with mushrooms and octopus with roasted peppers in romesco sauce.