First Published Costa News Oct. 2012



Some of the wines from Bodegas Torrevellisca

It can’t have escaped your attention that there are increasing numbers of Russians moving to the sunshine of Spain, and in particular to the various Costas. However, like many British ex-pats, there are also those who eschew the clamour of the coast, preferring instead more tranquil areas inland where they find that the real Spain hasn’t yet disappeared under the weight of foreign cultures.

It would be difficult to find an area more tranquil than Fontanars dels Alforíns. An extensive plain of flat arable land inland from Gandia home to the sleepy agricultural villages of Moixent and Fontanars where in many respects time has stood still. Such an area though has for centuries been producing wine and, since the latter half of the last century the quality of said wine has been gradually increasing, to the point where wines from here are often voted the best in the DO Valencia!

I can only see the wines from this area going from strength to strength, the more so now that a new group (spotlighted in Cork Talk over a number of months now), Terres dels Alforíns, has been established. This group is dedicated to making top quality wines whilst simultaneously keeping an eye on the environment and the soils, sustainability is the key.

Fontanares’ Bodegas Torrevellisca, now enjoying Russian investment, is one of the member bodegas and I’ve been tasting several of their offerings over the last few weeks. My advice is to look out for them – but take your magnifying glass with you!

There are two wines that are clearly targeting the younger generation. For a number of years now there’s been a sustained attempt to enfranchise, in wine consumer terms, the jovenes of Spain. Youngsters have disposable income (albeit it earned sometimes by their parents!) and wine producers, understandably would like to convince them to dispose if it by buying wine, rather than beers, cocktails and spirits.

The wine marketing people don’t pretend to any altruism here, though it is probably true that, taken in moderation, wine will be better for young drinkers than the rest. They are simply trying to increase their sales. And it’s marketing techniques that are being used, of course, one of which is label design.

Now I’m all in favour of making labels interesting and accessible and I think the labels on the Embrujo Range have their attractions – where the two ends of the label should join to fully encircle the bottle, it doesn’t quite make it. But it does make a rather clever silhouette of a wine glass. Nifty. The problem is though that the minuscule writing on the label (even to the youngsters who were with me when I tried the wine – I’m not just talking about my bespectacled eyes!) is so small it’s illegible!

A shame. as the wine in the bottle is actually rather good. Their white is made with Malvasia, following a nocturnal harvesting – meaning that the grapes were picked after dark to avoid uncontrolled fermentation. It’s a dessert style wine which will please those who have a penchant for sweeter wines, perhaps as an aperitif or to accompany desserts. It’s fragrant too.

Their red wine has a similar label, though purple/pink in colour (an attempt to include young ladies in red wine drinking circles?). It’s made with Monastrell, the darling grape of the area, and a favourite of mine, along with Syrah – which as I’ve said before can be so good here in Spain where it can fully ripen.

Blackberry and Victoria Plum aromas arise from the deeply purple coloured wine along with the merest hint of oak after a very short one month only in French wood. It’s a wine that is meant to be drink in its youth. It has not airs and graces, no great complexity, but it’s not any lesser for it. Vibrant fruit driven wine is what they want (the producer and the young consumer) and that’s exactly what they get!

Torrevellisca’s Zagromonte Range has a different approach, in terms of labelling and wine style. These wines are meant to grace a dinner table – and that they did, with a certain aplomb.

Argentum 2009 Crianza won a Silver Medal at the Bacchus 2012 Wine Competition – and I’m not surprised. Made with Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon this darkly coloured wine has a good depth of flavour following its fifteen months in French and American oak. Blackcurrant on the nose and palate but some soft light red fruits in there too. It lasts quite a while after swallowing too.

At 86 Peñin Points Aurum de Zagromonte Crianza 2009 made with a Bordeaux style blend of Merlot and Cabernet has perhaps a little more to it than the above (it has two more Peñin points for a start!). It has mellowed nicely with time in bottle and the 12 months in French and American Oak have given the tannic grip of youth a soothing hand, whilst retaining its power. A very good dinner wine, this.

The slightly higher Peñin scoring Brundisium 2008 Crianza has had a whopping 20 months in French and American Oak, but not to the wine’s detriment at all. The fruit is still to the fore with a depth and enviable complexity to boot. A triumvirate of varieties: Tempranillo, and the two Cabernets – Sauvignon and Franc, make this a many layered wine which changes over dinner giving a slight surprise each time you take another sip!

So Bodegas Torrevellisca – wines from Valencia with a Russian influence! and

CAVA the new Wine/Tapas Bar, Moraira – Inaugural Tasting

CAVA - the new Wine & Tapas Bar in Moraira - scene of a rather special Christmas Themed Wine & Tapas Tasing in December!

Check this out! There’s a new Wine & Tapas Bar in Moraira! It’s only been open a few months and to celebrate its growing success as well as start off the Festive Season with some great wines and really lovely, Christmas themed tapas they are holding a Wine & Tapas tasting on Tuesday 4th December and then repeatng the same thing on Tuesday 11th December, for those who can’t make the 4th! Both start at 7pm and we expect to finish at about 9pm.

I’m delighted to be presenting the wines as well the tapas which we’ve discussed (and tasted!) at length to make sure that the pairings (a different wine with each different tapa) are just right.

Why don’t you come along and join us?

We’ll be tasting: Cava, white wine, reds and Sherry!

Please call me to reserve, 629 388 159, or e-mail, – be quick though, places are going quickly!



First Published Costa News Group, October 2012



 It has to be a courageous couple to open a new business on Spain’s recession-hit Costas, but Mari and Juan, of the new Javea Port wine merchants, Bodega Puerto, are exactly that!

 Juan and Mari were unperturbed by daily gloomy economic forecasts including such baffling lofty phrases as: “ Moody’s Downgrade Spanish Bonds to Junk Status”; and “Fitch Ratings for Spain free-fall to CCC Grade”, and worse (for heaven’s sake, what does it all mean?!). Plus the instantly understandable and down-to-Earth (unlike the above) sad sight of so many ghostly business premises now empty would put off most entrepreneurs. In such a climate is it wise to start a new enterprise?

 Well an early-term report suggests that Bodegas Puerto is definitely bucking the trend and I, along with a full-house of wine tasters, went along to find out about an oasis of success in what we are led to believe is a desert of recession.

 Having opened in early June, owners Juan and Mari have been pleased with the passing trade that has slowly developed over the months. Many stopped passing and became regular customers, but now the Summer tourist consumers are being replaced by Autumn tourists and this business will again change as Winter comes along.

 In anticipation of this change and natural reduction in numbers visiting the shop, Juan and Mari asked me if I’d like to present a tasting of some of their wines as a promotional exercise. Having visited the premises and having been impressed with the variety of well chosen wines, plus gastro delicatessen-like nibbles also on offer, I accepted with alacrity.

 And, when advised of the tasting, so did the maximum forty inquisitive people, within 48 hours of notification! It seems that Juan’s pre-opening research was correct in suggesting that there is a demand for a quality wine shop in Javea Port!

 We tasted five wines, with nibbles, which were served by charming family members all delighted to help and to meet potential new clients. I made no apology for starting proceedings with Bodegas Dominio de la Vega’s Cava Brut. A consistently good sparkling wine which belies its humble price bringing faint green apple flavours to the typical Cava patisserie, bready nose.

 But that’s not the only reason why I often choose Cava from this highly-rated Utiel-Requena based bodega. With Domino de la Vega Cavas you know exactly what you are getting  – just look at the back label. Here, unlike most Cavas (and Champagnes and other sparklers), you’ll see the month of disgorgement clearly printed.

 This records the month when the sediment (dead yeast cells) that caused the secondary fermentation (which is how the bubbles arrived!) is ejected from the bottle. The Cava was then immediately ready to drink and indeed will be for the next nine to twelve months. After this time (roughly, it’s not a precise science) the wine will slowly start to fade. Of course without the date on the label how do consumers know if the sparkling wine is likely to still be in good condition? Answer – we don’t!

 I applaud Bodegas Dominio de la Vega for taking this stance, their voice in the wilderness should be joined by a huge choir of all makers of sparkling wine singing the same song!

 All the next wines were made under the auspices of the famous Rioja bodega, Ramon Bilbao – which I’m sure many readers will have seen and probably tasted too. However their first wine of the evening wouldn’t perhaps have been recognised immediately as a Ramon Bilbao wine – it’s white, and it comes from DO Rueda!

 I wonder if Monte Blanco, produced by Bodegas Ramon Bilbao in DO Rueda is the result of a decision some years ago by the bodega owners to produce a white wine but out of the Rioja area and therefore not having to use the Viura grape variety? (please see Cork Talk past articles White Rioja Parts One and Two).

 No matter, the point is that this Verdejo wine has lovely, inviting bright lime green tones with hints of pure gold. The flavour is classic crisp Verdejo – asparagus, mountain herbs, long thin Italian green peppers, gooseberry and under-ripe kiwi. It’s super stuff and under 6€!

 You’d be hard-pressed to recognise also that Lucero del Alba, from Rioja’s arch enemy Ribera del Duero, is also made by Ramon Bilbao – there’s no mention of it on the label. But Bodegas Cruz De Alba is part of the group and here responsible for a Roble wine, that is a wine with some oak and bottle ageing but deliberately not enough for it to be called a Crianza.

 Juicy fruit with a noticeable acidity on first opening mellows quickly to be a fruit-led wine but with some depth provided by the American oak. After ten minutes or so just enjoy the caramel and dark fruit aromas wafting out of the glass!

 Ramon Bilbao Crianza 2009 is made from 100% Tempranillo and has had more time in oak and bottle to produce a classic Rioja style Crianza. There’s a nice balance between dark red fruit, some lighter loganberry and herby notes, particularly bay leaf, with the vanilla of the oak. Easy and delightful drinking, and with food.

 Their Reserva 2006 is a dinner table wine and if you open this wine in the UK or anywhere else in the world, you’ll instantly be transported (beam me up Scotty!) to Spain. It speaks of Spanish wine and of course specifically of La Rioja. Tempranillo is joined by the highly perfumed Graciano and the meaty, darkly coloured Mazuelo (aka Cariñena) varieties – a typical Rioja triumvirate. Bay leaves and a very distant thyme and mineral note with roasted coffee beans, coconut and dark blackberry fruit help to make this a flavoursome and deep, complex wine.

 Needless to say – they’re all available at Bodega Puerto! and – are you interested in learning more about wine appreciation, individual and small group courses available!

A Life on the Ocean Wave!

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve been appointed as a Speaker as part of the Cruise Enrichment Programme for my first Cruise – with Fred. Olsen Cruise Line, in 2013.

Spain and Her Islands is the title of the Cruise on their super ship, Braemar, which leaves Dover travelling to: Lisbon, Malaga, Cartagena, Palma, Barcelona, Gibraltar, La Coruña, Dover!

I’ll be delivering five talks on the Wines and Food of Spain, with tastings of course, and as you can imagine – I can’t wait!

I’m hoping to Blog about my trip whilst actually sailing – whether that will be through these pages or another specific Blog will depend on my understanding exactly what a Blog is and how to do one!!

You’ll be able to read about it here for sure!