First Published Costa News Group, May 2011

BODEGAS CASTA DIVA

THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN OF JALÓN VALLEY

PART ONE

Considering the proximity of where I live, to Parcent, home of Bodegas Casta

Reception and Bodegas Casta Diva, you'll be equally charmed by the wines!

 Diva (aka Bodegas Guttirez de la Vega), it really is remiss of me for delaying writing specifically about this groundbreaking bodega for so long! Consider me self-admonished!

 Furthermore, reflecting on the quality of the wine they make and the reputation they have earned over the years (including the patronage of the Spanish Royal Family!), I’ve thus been doing readers, and myself, a disservice. Consider me self-flagellated, even!

 So dressed in sack-cloth and with head bowed I recently knocked on their imposing oak doors. My visit was inspired by some information I received via the combined UK/Spain organisation, ICEX Wines from Spain, whose raison d’etre is to promote Spanish wine sales in UK.

 The article paid tribute to the new, subtly feminine influence of eldest daughter Violeta Gutteriez de la Vega who, following an unavoidable childhood and youth immersed in winemaking culture and tradition, continued her studies in the University of Bordeaux (is there a better place to learn the science of oenology?) as well as a further year’s course in Wine Tasting.

 Violeta and her father Felipe, the founder of the bodega back in the 70’s, make their wines side-by-side. And, as I’ve seen so many times before here in Spain, the alliance of tradition (and in this case particularly, considerable innovation from the older generation) with modern technology and the latest possible methods and theory makes for a winning combination.

 The reception area for occasional private wine tastings (watch this space!) complete with beautiful Valencian kitchen sits tranquilly above two levels below. The first of which, the business end, is where the hard work goes on – bottling, labelling, office-work keeping track on the world-wide sales, stainless steel fermentation, delivery preparation etc is, at various times of the year, a hive of activity.

 The level below is a huge cave hewn out of solid rock. The temperature is naturally controlled and is a constant cool throughout the year, being a dozen metres below the road surface. This is where the wines gradually take on age, maturing with time into the different styles of wines that the winemaking team requires.

Violeta Guttierez de la Vega, on the fast-track to winemaker fame!

Speaking of which – Violeta and I tasted a pair of white dessert style wines first: Casta Diva Costa Dorada 2010, and the second, Monte Diva 2010 is similar except that this had been fermented and aged for five months in French oak. The former has a delightful floral nose with a waft of honey. In the mouth it’s sweet but there is excellent acidity, making it fresh too.

 The latter, also made with 100% Moscatel was bottled only last week, both await labels! It’s richer on the nose promising a touch more honey but the floral notes remain along with an acid lift on the palate.

 Casta Diva’s Rojo y Negro 2005 is a different wine than the 2009 version, on which Violeta collaborated. The 2005, classified as a very good year, was fermented in 300 litre French barricas in which the wine stayed for a further 12 months. Black fruit, plums in particular with an element of minerality and mature tannin are the features of this lovely wine.

The 2009, also made from 100% Garnacha, is more delicate with cherries and other red fruits on the nose. It’s not mature yet but it has the makings of a super, elegant wine with a touch of liquorice on the finish.

 *Part two next week, including the wine of which a past King of Spain remarked that it should only be drunk on bended knee with head uncovered and bowed!

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