First Published Costa News Group, May 2011

WINE TASTING AT RESTAURANTE CA LA AIAI

PART TWO

 Owned by Jose of Teulada’s: Bodegas A Catarlo Todo; Tapes Tapes; and Diversus, one would expect that this elegant restaurant boasted top wines as well as gourmet cuisine. One would also presume that any wine tasting event held there would be top drawer – and you’d be correct on both counts!

 Some highlights were discussed last week and today there are more. First though a brief repeat mention, from previous Cork Talks, about the remarkable Riedel wine glasses as used exclusively for this tasting. There is no doubt in my mind that Riedel glasses do enhance the enjoyment of wine – and indeed, as clearly demonstrated at Ca La Iaia, the flavour and taste of other alcoholic beverages, on this occasion Brandy too!

The Riedel Challenge - taste the difference!

Clients and the press were invited to attend a special tasting using perfectly adequate and attractive glasses in competition with Riedel glasses, using exactly the same wines from the same bottles. Proof positive that Riedel glasses are superior, regarding the wine’s aromas and first mouthfeel and taste. (I’m not on their payroll, I should add, I’m simply one of the converted!)

 In true Watergate tradition (well ok, perhaps not quite as important!) I feel it my duty to let you in on a secret – Bodegas Care’s Chardonnay 2010 has some officially unapproved Viognier in the blend! My guess is that DO Cariñena’s Consejo Regulador will soon approve the variety – the wine is lovely!

 In fact Care wines were amongst the stars of this tasting. I love their distinctive labels (each has a unique modern art face drawn on it) and this effective marketing ploy is backed up by super wines in the bottle. Their joven (young) wine, made with Tempranillo and super fruity Syrah (when grown in a hot climate) has a touch of oak ageing to add some depth to the fresh fruit flavours.

 Xclnt 2004 is their take on ‘excellent’ – and it’s not far off! As deeply flavoured as it is coloured the Garnacha, Cabernet and Syrah grapes harvested from old vines also make this a complex and highly flavoured wine. Sixteen months in French oak have added a slight aroma of well-used leather to the liquorice and blackcurrant fruit with a touch of spice from the Syrah grown at altitude – a minty minerality completes the picture!

 Bodegas Alegre, whose logo you’ll see on my website, continues to make super wines. Their Selección Especial 2004 (an excellent year in la Rioja) is made from Tempranillo with the addition of Graciano for added flavour and Mazuelo for acidity. This wine will last for several years yet, lovely!

 Their flagship wine, Pontiac 2005, is elegant and subtle, with dark chocolate notes on the finish and a great length. There are dark fruits and mature tannin to seduce the drinker followed by a warm glow after swallowing that lasts and lasts.

 NB when I was there three years ago there was a wine that had just finished fermenting which was going to be the next generation of Pontiac – they didn’t have name for it them, so called it Pontiac+. Watch out for Pontiac de Portiles when it becomes available soon – I’m certain it will be outstanding!

 There was also a ‘Super Tuscan’ wine from Italy, Insoglio from the Antinori stable. Damson fruit from its Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah, this surprise package was of the ‘best in show’!

 I liked Pago de Vicario’s Soto De Vicario, made from that unique variety Bierzo and aged in 300 litre Caucasian oak with its violet colour and aromas plus mineral notes too.

 However the wine I came away thinking about, and one to which I’ll return

A lasting memory - super Martúe red wine!

 for sure, was Martúe from Bodegas Martúe La Guardia (the only bodega in DO Campo de la Guardia!). Put simply it’s such a lovely, fruit driven but deeply textured, layered wine that it’s a real pleasure to drink! (Note also that their white Verdejo Pie Franco, a past Costa News Top Ten wine, remains perhaps the best Rueda wine I’ve tasted!).

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