Received after 5 day trip to Granada/Jerez/Seville

Hi there Colin, as it happens I was about to send you an e mail when yours arrived .Well what can we say ,we had a great time ,the arrangements that you had made were superb ,travel, accommodation were excellent and we would be very interested in a trip to the land of Cava!,

The only adverse comment that we would like to make concerns the buffet evening meal in Jerez it simply was not in keeping with the Hotel the room and facilities of which were very good ,our point was that by the time we arrived in the dining room there was little choice to be had ,that apart as stated everything else was very good ,you even managed to select nice people to sign up for the trip,well done.

Keep us posted re the proposed Cataluña trip please.


Best Wishes


Keith & Margaret Price. 




I’m not sure how many times I’ve attended Barcelona’s biennial Alimentaria since I was first invited well over a decade ago. If you want to be close to the cutting edge of Spanish wine-making, tradition and innovation, this huge gastro trade fair is really obligatory.


I could blind you with the statistics included in a weighty tome that was the Press Dossier handed out to me as I was given the necessary identification ‘Prensa Costa News Group’, but suffice to say that there were hundreds of exhibitors and thousands upon thousands of visitors.


With such a large venue and so many stands and visitors the newcomer can become rather bewildered, as I was on my fist visit. To have a successful Alimentaria as a member of the press you have to have a plan, otherwise the sheer size of the show can overwhelm.


In past years my plan has been to spend the first day tasting sparkling wines, the next day, whites and rosados, next day the reds and finally any wine styles that I’d noted whilst doing the rounds but hadn’t had the time to visit. It’s worked quite well and I’ve always tasted many, many wines. Nevertheless when leaving the show on the final day I always have a worrying feeling that I might not have done it justice. Whilst there are a large number of wines that I’ve tasted there are invariably hundreds more that I haven’t. So much wine, so little time!


This year I adopted a different plan. I was looking not for the famous, not for the very expensive wine and not for the large bodegas with holdings in several different Denominaciónes de Origen (although I broke that rule more than once, as you’ll see in forthcoming Cork Talks).


Instead, I was looking for small producers (relatively) who make quality and top quality wine. Plus I attended as many ‘organised’ tastings as I could – I’m always keen to learn more about Spanish wine and when there are renowned experts presenting tastings it’s an excellent opportunity to do so.


Well the plan worked quite well, but I also received via Twitter and e-mail various invitations to visit certain stands that weren’t necessarily on my list. Hence a very tiring four days. However, I still found time to observe and note any trends, any changes from previous years.


The first thing I noticed this year was the profusion of wonderful looking wine labels. I commented on the welcome move away from gothic writing and bottles wrapped in wire several Alimentarias ago. The movement has gathered momentum to the point now where the arty and sometimes quirky labels have become a real draw, even to a seasoned old-timer like me! There’s an inescapable feeling that with such a finely decorated label the wine inside must be fine too. So, the marketing departments have really done part of their job excellently.


Also, as anticipated in Cork Talk a couple of weeks ago, the shapes and weights of the bottles themselves have changed so that it’s not just the label that attracts you, but the chunky bottle too! And, incidentally, the wines I tried with such bottles and labels lived up to expectations, always!


My fellow visitors’ demographic is changing too. I reported a few years ago about how many Japanese and Chinese buyers were present at Alimentaria, and this has continued apace. However this year I noticed a large increase in Russian buyers too. Those of us who live by the coasts here in Spain will not be surprised by this. Recent years have brought a considerable influx of Russian visitors and house buyers, who no doubt would like to be able to drink their favourite Spanish wines when back in Russia, where, as I understand it, they have to dwell for at least two months a year.


Spanish wine producers are keen to seduce these new buyers and I was often asked if I’d mind waiting a moment while my contact welcomed Russians to their stands and then proceeded to do a dual tasting, keeping me informed (and in wine!) as well as the Russians!


Alimentaria 2014 wasn’t all positive though. I noted, for example, that this year saw an increase in the number of bodegas who, rather than have a stand to themselves, had joined the larger stands of the DOs under whose auspices they make their wines. It’s not safety in numbers, it’s simple economics – these fairs, whilst being excellent selling opportunities, are very expensive.


Sharing the cost is an economy that many feel necessary during this ongoing financial crisis. A crisis, I would add, that would be far worse if it weren’t for the considerable contribution that the wine industry makes to the Spanish coffers!


There was one other rather irritating part of Alimentaria that really needs addressing. There were some excellent wines, informative talks and innovative wine/food pairings presentations on the Catalunya stand – but why oh why do they insist on speaking exclusively in Catalan?


I’m all in favour of the different cultures within this one country, and that includes the different languages and dialects, but it is so blinkered at a truly international wine fair such as Alimentaria to use Catalan exclusively, presuming that everyone understands. The foreign visitors cannot be expected to learn all the languages/dialects of Spain – please, Catalunya, conduct the tastings in Castellano, out of consideration for the multi-national buyers who come to Alimentaria, you’ll note sales will increase, I’m sure!


When I asked presenters to change to Castellano I was always accommodated with a smile, but others there, less voluble than me, but just as foreign would have had to listen to a presentation that they wouldn’t understand, had someone not intervened.


I have some places left for the excellent Thai Cuisine/Spanish Wine pairing evening at Javea’s Monsoon Thai Restaurant on Tuesday 20th May! Please call (629 388 159) or e-mail to reserve.

Bodegas Señorio de Nevada




It’s over a year since I first wrote about the impressive and slowly expanding portfolio of wines at Bodegas Señorio de Nevada, DO Granada. Head Winemaker, Chema Concustell, is charged with fashioning a range of wines that will delight consumers and gain awards and medals on the way.


Our e-mail exchanges over the months leading up to my article and subsequently have always ended with an invitation from Chema to visit the bodega and stay overnight in their hotel which is surrounded by the vines from which come the grapes that make their wines. Recently I decided to take him up on his kind offer, and bring some friends along too!


At the end of March twenty-five of us turned up at the superior 4* Hacienda Señorio de Nevada and having checked into our luxurious rooms we assembled in the foyer where we met our guide, plus General Manager, Antonio Gimeno, who was also keen to meet such a large group of wine enthusiasts.


To say that the Señorio de Nevada bodega and hotel is an impressive project, doesn’t really do it justice. The group of five businessmen, who have made their money from construction in nearby Granada, and who started the business in 1996, have spared no expense in terms of  building and interior design. Plus, their attention to the detail that is required if fine wine is to be made, no doubt with a huge input from Chema and Antonio, is second to none.


It’s a long-term project that is relatively in its infancy (note, for example, that the 2013 white wine we tasted is their first white wine vintage – a new product), and yet already the plaudits are rolling in. Indeed, after our tour of the bodega, we started our tasting with the wine that has most recently garnered a Gold Medal, at the prestigious Bacchus wine competition, held in Madrid the week before our arrival.


I will be very surprised if I taste a better rosé this year than Bodegas Señorio de Nevada’s 2013 Rosado – it is a beautifully coloured, delicate, fragranced, elegant wine whose pink rose-petal and raspberry aromas begin the graceful charm offensive in considerable style. The flavour on the palate is beguiling, you swallow, and suddenly all is right with the world! Yes – it’s that good!


Starting with rosado (under8€) instead of the new kid on the block, their white mono-varietal Viognier, was wholly understandable when we tried the Viognier 2013 (just over 8€). It’s a bigger wine than the delicate rosado, and one with some time on its hands for developing further. Jassy (my kindred spirit re white wines on this trip) and I agreed that, although drinking well, with as yet only a passing reference to varietal characteristics, there’s a richness to the wine that will evolve over the next 12 months.


It will become a wine to partner some SE Asian dishes, as well as seafood paella, fish, chicken and light meats. Serve it chilled, but not too cold, and right now, wait a while for the aromas to escape.


The next wine we tasted was their red 2009 Oro, aptly named as it is a golden wine, the flagship of the bodega, from what Chema describes as an excellent vintage. It’s clear here that Chema’s philosophy of ensuring that it is the fruit that is to the fore in his wines, with the oak adding depth, complexity and subtle flavours, are not wasted words. On the nose there is glorious damson, blackberry fruit, with some herbal additions, earthy bay leaf and maybe some rosemary or thyme, but also with integrated coconut and an illusive dark chocolate finish from the exclusively French oak in which the wine is aged.


Priced at the bodega at 18·50€, it actually merits a steeper price, and is a wine that will keep for several years yet. (all wines are available from where you’ll also see details and photos of the hotel).


We thoroughly enjoyed a sumptuous dinner in the hotel’s gastronomic restaurant on both nights of our stay, where we were also served two further red wines: Plata and Bronze, which were both very well received, with the latter a medal hopeful at the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC), where I’ll be completing my final day of judging on Friday 11th April – when this article is scheduled for publication!


NB We have some space left for our Thai Cuisine/Spanish Wine Tasting evening on Tuesday 20th May at Javea’s excellent Thia Restaurant, Monsoon. Five different Thai dishes will each be partnered with a different wine, designed to make the perfect match! Should be a sensational evening – to reserve please call me 629 388 159 or e-mail; or call into Monsoon, Javea.


Contact Colin: and Twitter @colinonwine

Has Your Wine Got The Bottle?


I’m off to Alimentaria on Monday – it’s the excellent biennial, professional wine and food fair held in Barcelona. I’m always invited, on your behalf, of course, so I can come back with tales of what’s hot, and what’s not. Invariably I return to write about, not just the wines I’ve tasted, but also about any new trends I’ve observed.


In the past, for example, I’ve regaled you with comments about: how wine labelling in Spain has evolved for the far better; about the changing profile of the attendees, who are increasingly coming from the Eastern economies, firstly Japan and now China; and about the rise and rise of wines with some sort of ecological twist; etc.


For a wine anorak like me it’s an exciting time. This year I’m expecting to see further evidence of a trend that I’ve already noticed in the wine shops and of course back at base, the bodegas. I’m quite sure I’ll see lots of impressive wine bottles, probably moving away from the typical ‘Bordeaux’ style bottle, with the high shoulders, to that, traditionally known as the ‘Burgundy’ style bottle, with shoulders sloping down to a base with a larger circumference. Or indeed the slightly sloping, as it were, off the shoulder, but more chunky semi-Bordeaux style.


I’m sure also that, despite worries about carbon footprints, these bottles will be weightier items. (Laudable concerns about how much energy we are wasting in the world and how many natural resources are being squandered, seem to have, lamentably, been put on the back-burner [no doubt one that uses fossil fuels!]).


I’m sure, because I have several in my office and, to Claire’s horror, overflowing into the house. My point though is one that will interest not just my fellow anoraks, but also those kindred spirits who share my passion for fine wine. All of these heavier, impressive looking bottles contain/did contain wine of top quality!


Add this to the fact that the vast majority of these wines have excellent, sexy, modern labels and a clear trend is developing. In short the bottle and its adorning label is becoming a clue as to the quality of the wine within, perhaps more so now than it ever has been!


Such wine bottles are magnets, attracting, and almost willing, you to lovingly place them in your shopping bag and take them away from the boring riff-raff skinny bottles with whom they have had to share shelf-space. It’s another, more tangible, form of subliminal advertising – and it’s perfectly legal!


It used to be (and still is) that a label will sell a wine – it’s upfront sexism to me, as these labels are designed to attract the ladies, whom, we are told buy something like 80% of all the wines purchased. And this, wait for it all you feminists, is because it’s the fairer sex that does most of the shopping!


Nowadays the merchandising people are attempting to enfranchise the men too, who increasingly are doing more shopping (Exhibit A, your correspondent!). Wine bottles still have cool labels, they still appeal to the ladies, however their designs are now becoming more attractive to men as well. Plus, and here is where the men are being re-targeted, the bottles are heavier and, although they still contain 75cl, they look larger! More man-sized!


Nonetheless the same caveat still applies, for me. Whilst the label and the bottle combined are powerful and successful forces aimed at the buyer, it’s the quality of the wine inside that will make the consumer buy a second bottle, or not!


From my experience those wines in such powerfully attractive bottles are indeed the better wines! And of course, they command a higher price.


Looking at it from the producer’s viewpoint, it’s fair that we are expected to pay a premium for wines packaged in such a way. For a start the bottle is more expensive for them to buy. Plus the label design has to be paid for. And of course, the producer is in fact pandering to our whims – we like attractive, weighty bottles, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch!


It could be, of course, that a producer of dubious morals might seek to take advantage, and take a gamble too. It would be possible to use the heavy, sexy, cool-labelled bottles for wines of a lesser standard and dupe the consumer into buying wines at a far higher price than they deserve. But, of course, although he might sell all his first run this time, when the consumer gets them home and tastes the contents it’s unlikely there would be a re-print!


Thus I think we are quite safe in paying extra for these wines of quality – for exactly that reason, they are, probably in all cases, top quality wines deserving of the glitz and glam. They are proud. They’ve got bottle!


There’ll be more from Alimentaria in the coming weeks. If you want cutting-edge Spanish wine journalism – you’re in the right place!


NB I’m presenting another of the hugely successful Ethnic Cuisine/Spanish Wine Tastings, May 20th at Javea’s excellent Thai Restaurant, Monsoon! Please contact me for poster and more details – asap as it’s sure to be a full house!


Contact Colin: and through his unique Wine Services Website and you can follow Colin on Twitter for-up-to-the-second Spanish Wine information @colinonwine