Hola, I’m Colin Harkness – wine writer, wine broadcaster and wine TV presenter. I’ve been working in the wine trade for some 20 years in various capacities: importer, exporter, critic, educator, consultant, buyer and broker to name but a few.
However, whilst the above credentials lend some authenticity to my pontifications perhaps the most important one is that, no doubt like you, I’m also a wine consumer! Here in Spain we can enjoy excellent wines of all styles and we don’t have to break the bank to do so. Indeed the quality of Spanish wine was one of the fundamental reasons for my moving here from the UK in 1997. I’ve never looked back!
Having studied with, and been examined by, the Wines and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) I opened my first restaurant in Wirral, Cheshire with a wine list written and designed by me, not the wine suppliers as all other restaurants in the area did. We soon became respected for both our cuisine and our wines. A second restaurant was opened and was similarly successful.
Having arrived I decided that I would change tack in my studies and rather than learn further about world wines I would concentrate on, and eventually specialise in, Spanish wines almost exclusively. The diversity of styles, areas of production, micro-climates and, of course, the wines themselves ensured that I had enough to learn – and more than enough to drink!
I started the weekly column, Cork Talk, in the Costa News Groups’ four titles, and am happy to say that I still write their wine articles. I’ve written for several magazines here in Spain and am now writing for the prestigious Spanish Wine Magazine, Vinos de España, charged with expanding and developing their English language section – a considerable honour and indeed challenge.
I was the regular wine broadcaster for the English Language Section of OCI Radio until they closed down their English service and am currently Bay Radio’s wine consultant, writing weekly recommendations to accompany the recipe of the week and broadcasting once a month in a phone-in studio tasting.
In August and September 2009 I wrote and presented a six programme TV series called Viva Vino, for Regional Television Channel Viva TV and am currently working with the film-crew, Freerange TV, approaching bodegas and DOs suggesting promotional DVDs for their publicity needs, and researching another series.
Over the years I have built up an excellent relationship with bodegas the length and breadth of Spain and am a welcome visitor when I call for tastings et cetera. Indeed I have been contracted many times to guide bodega tours for their English-speaking clients, press etc.
Of course wine is an evolving business and in order to speak with confidence I have to know what’s currently going on in the Spanish wine world. Therefore I read Spanish (and international) press – magazines and newspapers as well as being on the press list of the Grupo Peñin, Wines From Spain, Mi Vino, Decanter etc.
I’m also invited to the major wine fairs and events throughout Spain and in the UK too, where I go to keep abreast of international wine developments and sing the praises of my adoptive country’s wines as often as possible!
Of course the best way of developing knowledge of wines is in tasting them! I’m lucky to receive wines from all over Spain from producers who are looking for a review and the consequent publicity. Therefore, considering the above as well, I taste a lot of Spanish wine, always making tasting notes and comments and have thus built up an invaluable ‘databank’ to which I am constantly adding – it really isn’t a bad life you know!