ANNUAL BLEVINS FRANKS WINE TASTING
@ DENIA MARRIOTT
Unfortunately I’ve never been in a position which required me to seek the assistance of a Financial Services company. If you have no money, you can’t invest it! However, if a small fortune ever did come my way (some hope!) there’s no doubt that I’d contact Blevins Franks, straight away.
I’m sure that their financial advice is excellent (indeed, I’ve heard nothing but praise) but, as you might imagine, it’s their annual wine tastings which attract my attention! A few years ago I was invited (by friends who remain clients of Blevins franks) to attend one of their tastings, their second, I believe, presented by my friend and colleague, Ed Adams MW (Master of Wine).
Ed is not only a Master of Wine, one of just over 300 MWs in the entire world, but he also puts his knowledge to practical use, by making wine up in the hills of Cataluña – and top wines they are too, excellent! I was impressed with the tasting and wondered if I’d ever be able to attend another.
You can imagine my delight when, a couple of years ago I was invited to present a tasting for clients of the Blevins Franks Office in Alfaz del Pi; and even more so when in March 2015 I was invited to do the same, this time in the plush Marriott Hotel.
Essentially the choice of wines was left to me. There was a budget of course, though this wasn’t restrictive at all – with the most expensive wine priced at around the 35€ mark! It was also a most generous tasting for their invitees – eight wines were listed, with a final, mystery wine to finish. Then any wine left over was to be consumed in the nearby Jazz Bar, with tapas to boot!
We started with Sparkling Wine (and this after the Sparkling wine aperitif, welcome drink!). The idea was to have wines served in pairs, with a view to giving tasters the opportunity to compare wines within the same category. With the aperitif fizz being a young, bright and refreshing Brut (like the paired wines to follow, coming from the Albet i Noya Bodega, Penedés), I thought it apt to taste their Reserva Brut alongside their Pinot Noir Rosado.
Clearly there’s an obvious comparison, one is white and the other rosé – but the contrast went deeper than that, of course. The Brut (approx 11€) has had the benefit of 18 months ‘en rima’, that’s stored upside-down with its lees (the dead yeast that was added to provoke the second fermentation). This is twice as long as the minimum allowed in the nearby DO Cava (please note that, although made largely by the same method, Albet i Noya sparklers are not Cava – regular readers will know something of the history of this), and 18 months is three more than the minimum allowed for Cava Reservas.
The wine is full bodied with depth of flavour and super, aged fizz aromas – and a long finish.
The Pinot Noir (approx 15€) has had 12 months ‘en rima’. This traditional Champagne grape variety also adds a flavour of its own. There are loganberry notes, with some strawberry too and again a depth of flavour complemented by some complexity.
The white wine pairing was one that I was looking forward to – I love the full range of Palacio de Bornos wines from DO Rueda, so it was difficult to choose! I went for the straight Verdejo 2014 (approx 5€), the wine that really made the bodega’s name, along with its elder sister the Verdejo Fermented en Barrica (approx 8€).
The comparison here was the same grape variety, but treated differently. The former was stainless steel fermented allowing the glorious fruit to be at the forefront in terms of aroma and flavour; and the latter, that same fruit but with the integrated, yet still noticeable, beneficial influence of the oak barrels in which it had been fermented and aged. Both excellent!
For the rosado wines I wanted to give the tasters an opportunity to taste, perhaps the best rosé wine in Spain – the darkly coloured Gran Caus Merlot! The contrast here was two fold – the other rosado is made with Bobal, indigenous to Valencia, but also made in such a way that the very pale pink, almost onion-skin coloured, rosé makes it a very different animal, in looks alone!
The delicate perfume of the Pasión de Bobal Rosado (approx 6€) suggested a delicate flavour on the palate, but rather than being a touch weak in taste, in comparison to the meaty Merlot, I’d prefer to term it elegant – and certainly the personification of prettiness in the glass. The Gran Caus has such a depth of flavour and oh so long finish, some might term it a wannabe red. This is rosé excellence (retailing at around 15€ so quite a lot more expensive than most, but trust me – it’s well worth it!).
I used a Bobal again for the first red – and from the same Bodegas Sierra Norte, DO Utiel-Requena. Deeply coloured with dark cherries emanating from the glass the moment it is poured, it too has elegance as well as the dynamism of youth. The comparison wine was wholly different. Elevated to the impressive position of a very close second wine (if not its equal) to Bodega’s Castaño’s superb Casa Cisca flagship, this second red is really excellent!
Casa de la Cera (approximately 35€) has Monastrell at its heart (50%) with Garnacha Tintorera, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot making up the rest of the blend. I love it!
The mystery wine was also made with Monastrell and also by Bodegas Castaño, DO Yecla. However, the mystery is that this wine is a ‘late harvest’. The grapes for such a wine are left on the vine for much longer than those destined to become dry wines. Harvested in November, the grapes look more like raisons. Some of the water content of the juice has been evaporated leaving less juice, but with a higher sugar content as the increased sunshine has over-ripened the grapes.
Dulce Monastrell Bodegas Castaño (approx 16€ for a 50cl bottle) is then aged for 6 months in French oak. The result is, well stunning! It’s a wonderful red dessert wine which is also happy with strong/blue cheeses – there is sweetness, yes, but like all the best dessert wines, there is also the necessary acidity to keep the wine fresh and alive. Excellent!
PS I have 10 places only left for the super Bodegas Castaño Dinner and Concert at the Swiss Hotel Friday 8th May. The Castaño wines have been selected to be paired with the super four-course Swiss Hotel dinner; and the beautiful music will be performed by the equally beautiful Dolce Divas (www.dolcedivas.net). If you would like to secure some of the last few places, please contact me asap! Please call 629 388 159 or e-mail email@example.com
PPS please remember to regularly visit www.colinharknessonwine.com where you’ll see the Events Page, the Blog etc. Also you’ll be able to see and hear my comments on various wines by weekly visits to www.youtube.com – search Colin Harkness On Wine.