BODEGAS CASTA DIVA
The tiny rural village of Parcent, inland from the bustle of the Costa Blanca,
is home to the bucolic Bodegas Casta Diva, founded in the ‘70s by ex-naval officer Don Señor Felipe Guttierez de la Vega.
Señor Guttierez de la Vega is renowned throughout Spain for being the first person to make dry wine from Spain’s aromatic Moscatel grape variety. Moscatel is of course responsible for some luscious dessert wines but he recognised that the characteristics of the clone, Moscatel de Alejandria, were such that, with care, a whole new style of wine could be invented.
As discussed in Part One last week Señor Guttierez de la Vega is now part of a winemaking team having been joined by his oldest daughter, the charming Violeta who, having completed her extensive studies in Bordeaux, is now recognised as a talented oenologist in her own right. Violeta is hoping to add an extra elegance to the wines crafted in this innovative bodega.
Carta Diva Recondita Harmonia de Barrica 2010 has been in barrel since September. The deliciously sweet red Monastrell and Syrah grape varieties are maturing in the cool natural cellar. The barrel sample we tasted has quite strong notes of rhubarb, a delight occasionally found in darker styles of rosado wines made from the same varieties.
I was also able to try a style of wine that has been made in the Alicante province for centuries and once prompted a past King of Spain to comment that it should only be drunk ‘on bended knee with head bowed and uncovered’ – Fondillón!
Made from Monastrell this red dessert wine is aged for years in oak barrels (10 minimum, but can exceed 40!) which changes its colour to a brown/red and develops a gradual change in aroma and flavour. Kings of Spain drank it with sweet biscuits but it can match cheese and certain desserts, but in truth it is a wine that can stand on its own as an ideal way to finish a super dinner. Bodegas Casta Diva is currently selling the 1978 vintage!
The Fondillón Joven 2010 that I tasted first will not be ready for at least 10 years of course, but the super figgy nose and active tanning will ensure that this wine will develop into something quite special, made as it was from super ripe grapes borne of the 2010 vintage, one of the best ever in most parts of Spain.
Fondillón 2005 is still nowhere near finished but even so its development can be seen and savoured. It has a super mouthfeel, sweet but with freshness too. Figs and now dates are on the nose and the palate and these flavours last forever after swallowing!
Finally an honour for me: tragically, Berta, youngest daughter and sister of this close-knit family, whom I had the pleasure of teaching for a short while, passed away a couple of years ago after a life-long battle against ill-health. As with his other children Señor Guttierez de la Vega started a barrel of Fondillon in the year of Berta’s birth, 1987, and I was given a taste of this excellent and quite memorable nectar! Thank you!