CELEBRATING THE END OF ‘LA CRISIS’
After twenty years in the Spanish Wine World, which has included countless winery visits, I suppose it’s inevitable that some of the people who were, initially, contacts, and eventually, friends, in those bodegas, will have retired during this time.
One such friend is Alvaro Faubel from Bodegas Dominio de la Vega, a leading winery within the Denominación de Origen (DO) Utiel-Requena, and crucially, as you’ll see further on, one of the esteemed members of DO Cava’s South Eastern enclave, an unofficial group now often referred to as the makers of ‘Cava Valenciano’.
I’m sure that all of those who have traveled with me to visit Bodegas Dominio de la Vega will remember fondly our guided tours with the eloquent (in several different languages, too!) Alvaro, who is at once, Tour Guide/Historian/Philosopher/Wine Maker/Traveller/Photographer/Linguist and Bon Viveur! Well, we wish him a happy retirement of course.
And it’s clear, following my recent dealings with Bodegas Dominio de la Vega, that the foundations that he and his five fellow founders laid down are good and strong, and indeed, are being built upon with further great success! The new order is maintaining the high standard of Cava and wine making, and indeed making further improvements.
So, Cava (all now Reserva style), fine still wine – white, rosado and red, plus a rather special dessert wine and you can perhaps see why it is that I turned first to Bodegas Dominio de la Vega to ask them to support the resurrection of our very successful Musical Dinners with Paired Wines and beautiful music from Claire Marie (www.clairemarie.es), which we decided to postpone during La Crisis.
To believe that La Crisis is just about at an end, one only needs to look on the high street to see the number of Estate Agents proliferating. So we took the plunge and approached the excellent and elegant Restaurante Dgust in Moraira about hosting our come-back Dinner.
A full-house greatly enjoyed a specially designed and prepared four-course dinner, with each course partnered by a Dominio de la Vega wine. Comments on the night and subsequently (seen here http://www.colinharknessonwine.com/client-comments/) have convinced us that the timing is right and that, hopefully, our next such event (early April, details available soon here http://www.colinharknessonwine.com/events/) will also be a sell-out!
I very often, though not exclusively, start a tasting dinner with a Cava. And so it was in this case. Dominio de la Vega’s Brut Reserva Cava has been aged for 18 months, longer than the minimum for a Reserva, and has the depth of flavour to prove it. It has body and it retains its pleasing elegance as well as its celebratory vivacity. So just the job to accompany Prawn Mille-Feuilles starter dish (this, incidentally, served after a pleasant surprise of an amuse bouche of Foie Gras, which essentially rendered the event a four-and-a-half-course dinner!).
This Brut Reserva is made with 100% Macabeo, that traditional variety of Cava, which often adds a certain green apple freshness. And so it was here, with more than one commentator suggesting a slight aroma of cider! A lovely start.
Añacal, one of the still white wines from this bodega, also uses Macabeo, but this is blended with many people’s favourite, Sauvignon Blanc. So, as you can imagine, a refreshing dry white wine with a fruit aroma, which mirror the varieties – some Granny Smith’s apple combining with gooseberry and a touch of asparagus.
This wine was partnered with the fish course of Lubina (Sea Bass) fillet served on a potato, leek and herb mash, cooked perfectly and served piping hot. The wine cooled the palate, its fresh acidity cut pleasantly through the fish and the overall match worked well.
Bobal, as many readers will know, is the indigenous grape variety of DO Utiel-Requena and, where possible, I like to use it in its monovarietal form. From their ‘Special Selection’ their Paraje Tornel 100% Bobal is a lovely, and inexpensive red wine (approximately 9€).
Made from vines that have seen 50 summers, the grapes are harvested in October, gently pressed and the resulting dark juice (following a four day cold maceration) is fermented and then aged in French oak for 12 months, with a further year in bottle before release. A pleasant vanilla aroma is first to arise from the glass, quickly followed by the overriding dark, picota, cherry fruit. Toasty coffee can also be found, if looking carefully, on the nose, rather than the palate, where the cherries reign supreme. There’s also a pleasing earthy link with the soil and terroir of the vineyards.
Finally, a most unusual wine, for this area. Ice-wine is famous in Canada, Germany and other countries where the end of the Autumn usually brings seriously cold temperatures, which literally freezes the grapes that are deliberately left on the vines well after their ‘colleagues’ have been harvested. With protected hands these solid grapes are picked in November, and crushed when hardly thawed.
The juice is high in sugar and perfect for making dessert wines. But not in Utiel-Requena, not in Autumn. So, the Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Macabeo grapes for Dominio de la Vega’s Ice-wine, called simply, Dulce, are still kept on the vine until November, but are then artificially frozen to minus 22ºC in nthe bodega. Then they are crushed and the free run juice is fermented at a relatively cool temperature of about 16º.
The result is a very aromatic dessert wine, perfect I would say, with any pineapple dish you might like to create. The very attractive half-bottle is also quite charming – for your next dinner party!
Next Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme Sunday 12th March, 18:00 – 20:00 hrs (Spanish Time) with Spanish Wines for Spring!