LUNCH WITH A CALIFORNIAN WINE MAKER!

WHO’D BE A WINE-MAKER?

 

Two years ago, I visited the nascent vineyard of Jody and John, respectively from California and Wirral, UK.

 

Jody is a world renowned expert (www.limoce.com) on the environmental impact of the search for, and supply of, natural resources buried underground, and often under water too. John is Captain of a ship which is involved in cross-ocean communication. They met when Jody was attached to the ship assessing environmental issues – a conflict of interests? Not at all, as they are now married and, when not travelling internationally (which they do a lot!), they are tending their young vines.

 

Recently we returned (as promised two years ago – just look it up in your Cork Talk scrapbook, you’ll see!), socially as we are good friends, but also with a view to catching up on the progress of their boutique, wholly none commercial (as yet?), winery.

 

Set in the lush (it had been raining heavily for a week or so before we arrived!) countryside of the Javea/Benitachell area the house is as picturesque as can be. Spongy green grass, manicured around the pools, with palms and other trees, here and there giving way to delightful rockeries and flowerbeds it speaks of nature’s, abundant luxurious tranquilty.

 

The tranquil theme continues when one visits the small, vigorously verdant vineyard to the rear of the house. En route one passes the air-conditioned bodega (wine store) whose insulated walls are lined with hundreds of terracotta bottle holders, as yet expectantly empty, save for a couple of dozen wines of their choice.

 

Also, at the entrance to the vineyard, which is sensibly fenced off to deter the wild boar, which are partial to grapes, there is also the scientific part of the operation, the laboratory. Jody’s chemist’s skills are allied to her knowledge of wine-making, as well as her educated palate, making for a perfect pairing, when it comes to the production of wine.

 

John defers to Jody, in all wine making matters, advising that, like Manuel of Faulty Towers fame, ‘I know nothing’, though this is clearly untrue, as John also has a discerning palate. It wasn’t just Jody who selected the wines that we recently enjoyed so much at their fabulous BBQ!

Two years ago there was some debate about which vines to grow. The answers are growing exceptionally well in the vineyard soils that sit atop clay at a depth of about a metre, ensuring that whatever rain falls, is kept available to searching routes.

 

Here we have, all trellised: Tempranillo (representing Spain); Monastrell (in the more local SE Spain corner); and, no surprise here, considering the provenance of the wine-maker, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, California style!

 

Sensibly, although the vines have produced the tiny flowers which, if allowed to, magically turn into grapes, these early efforts were pruned, and allowed to decompose into the soil – free, natural fertilizer! A vine should only be allowed to produce fruit destined to be made into wine, after a minimum of three years. Pruning them thoroughly during the first couple of years will enable the plants to concentrate on establishing themselves without having to expend energy on producing fruit.

 

So, as it’s now two years since the vineyard was planted, I think we can expect the first wines to made in the coming 2018 vintage – and we are hoping that we’ll be invited back to taste the results of all their hard work! Watch this space!

 

It would be something of a miracle, given the youth of the plants, if Jody and John’s wines next year match up to the excellent wines we were served for the BBQ – though it wouldn’t surprise me if, in years to come, they are making excellent wine here!

 

John, it seems, is something of a Champagne-ophile – and we weren’t complaining when he bought out a bottle, fresh, zesty Champagne as an aperitif! These bubbles were then followed by a Cava – holding this Spanish Sparkler on the palate it was clear to me that it had more body, more mouth-feel. I was sure it was a Reserva and guessed that it probably had a good proportion of Chardonnay in the mix (I admit that this was a combination of my palate as well as Jody’s origins that led me to this conclusion!).

 

They often buy the regular Perelada Brut cava, for easy drinking, so I was surprised when John told me that this was what we were tasting. However, he’d actually brought out the 100% Chardonnay, Reserva Perlada – a wholly fuller, deeper and more elegant cava!

 

We moved onto white wine, and why not an Albariño – in fact the lovely white flower and stoned fruit fragranced Lusco Albariño 2016 from Bodegas Pazos de Lusco, owned, interestingly, by Gonzalez Byass, of great Sherry acclaim. Pale gold in colour with a delightful fruit content and good finish too!

 

I know Barahonda Wines, from DO Yecla very well (please note imminent Musical Dinner* with Wine Pairing below!), so I was pleased to see their Syrah as the first red we tasted with all the excellent BBQ meats. But our hosts weren’t finished there – next came the iconic Santa Rosa from Bodegas Enrique Mendoza. Wow! Exemplary Cabernet Sauvignon based wine from SE Spain!

 

Finally we tasted on of the finest Pinot Noirs I have ever tasted – and it wasn’t Burgundy! From the Russian River area of California, Gary Farrell makes award winning, violet perfumed, super-elegant, fruit driven Pinot Noir – to die for, as Jody puts it!

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