TELITEC TASTING TOUR FINISHES ON A HIGH!
I know that many of you have been following the reports on the Telitec Tasting, in association with Blu Property Group.
In a nutshell the idea was to present a series of wine tastings paired with top end tapas in restaurants along the Costa Blanca, northwards from Albir, to Denia, calling in at Calpe, Moraira and Javea en route. The final event was at the outstanding Restaurante Republic, Denia Marina.
Jelle, the Dutch owner of Republic, is a keen aficionado of wine, consequently the restaurant’s wine list is impressive. This, in fact, made my task even more difficult – there were a lot of wines from which to choose!
Plus, the Head Chef is very inventive, creating gourmet tapas that streTch the imagination whilst following the mantra of top quality. From the moment I set foot in the restaurant, to discuss the idea and possible pairings, I knew it was going to be a great success!
We started the evening with white wine from the Raventos Group. The name Raventos is steeped in history, for it was the ancestors of the current incumbent who were the founders of the amazing success story of Spanish Sparkling Wine, which we now know as Cava! They don’t just make cava.
Their still wine profile is also impressive. We enjoyed a Chardonnay blend which had a pale gold colour in the glass, with some floral notes on the nose and some weight on the palate, despite its elegance. It’s not an expensive wine, but you’d doubt that when tasting it. A mid-length finish with a touch of banana skin aroma and a refreshing acidic almost-ripe pineapple flavour. Good Start!
We next moved onto a rosado – but not any old rosado! Here’s that which I wrote recently about Can Rafols’ excellent Gran Caus Rosado:
‘It’s no idle claim to say that this is probably the best rosado in Spain! It’s the first time that a rosé wine has made the Top Ten [Costa News Top Ten 2015] which in itself is indicative of just how good is this 100% Merlot wine. Bucking the current trend, this wine is darkly coloured with the grape skins also having had time to impart their aromas and flavours.’
There’s elegance in this wine too, though it does have the power to complement the mushroom and seafood risotto, with which it was served. I often pair risotto with rosé wines, there’s a certain symbiosis going on where each helps the other. But look also at the Spanish who are eating their seafood paella or another rice dish of course – and which wine do you often see on their tables? Well, a rosado, claro – and in this case I don’t think the pairing can be bettered.
It was time to move onto the reds. There are some far-reaching ructions occurring in Rioja at the moment, about which you’ll be able to read here soon, but let’s not forget the fact that Rioja can and does make some very good wines. Often you have to pay, probably over the odds for such wines. But you can be lucky!
La Palea from Vino del Pasaente is a 100% Tempranillo Rioja which strikes the right note.
My colleague Tim Atkin MW has just written a sort of guide to Rioja, classifying the best producers and wines – which in itself is a compliment to the area. Plus there are a number of younger winemakers who are making Vinos d’Autor, within the legal boundaries but with much more soul than the mass produced ‘brand’ Rioja.
Tempranillo of course, is the noble variety of Spain, now the most grown in Spain and plantings in the rest of the world are also increasing. It likes its own company, but it makes friends easily, plus it’s happy with a little oak, and indeed quite a lot of oak – providing the fruit is good and from older vines whose yield is less, but whose grapes are richer.
La Palea has good fruit – this is its raison d’etre. Red and dark red fruits. A little time in oak, for depth and body rather than to add significantly to the taste. Some herby notes too, though limited, but we paired it with chicken and sage on a green polenta bed. Super match we thought!
El Pispa red is made with Garnacha, and proud of it! From old vines in DO Montsant from whence used to come the very best of the DO Tarragona wines, so much so that the burghers of the sub-zone Falset decided to apply for DO status themselves, which was granted only a few years ago – DO Montsant.
The wine has been carefully fermented in relatively small stainless steel tanks with a long cold maceration period in order to extract from the skins all that’s good in terms of colour and flavours as well as aromas. The variety Garnacha is not a naturally very dark skinned grape so this wine is not opaque.
This apparent lightness tells a lie though! It’s 14·5% and on the palate the wine has sufficient weight; plus the 300 litres American and French oak barrels in which it has been aged add volume to the wine as well as complexity and depth of flavour whilst the fruit is retained along with an element of elegance. There’s some granite mineral quality too.
Our final wine, was a beauty! Take a look at the colour of this dessert wine – it’s like a provencal rosé in that it’s pale pink. Bassus is made with two black grape varieties whose skins are left with the juice for only a short time. It comes from Bodegas Hispano Suizas out of DO Utiel-Requena, an area to which I often refer!
Wines from Hispano Suizas are not cheap – but they are value for money. They are always top quality, exemplary for the area.
Now to some readers I might have partly given the game away re the two varieties: Utiel-Requena loves the Bobal variety which is all dark cherries. Here it blends to great effect with one of the world’s best varieties, rarely grown to good effect here in Spain – but Hispano Suizas must have the secret re husbandry of Pinot Noir.
Delicious, luscious, sweet but with acidity too. It’s a rarity – if you find it, buy it!
PS Why not tune into my new radio programme, The Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme on Total FM 91·8 and online www.totalfm.es ? Studio tastings of wines and restaurant food, interviews with chefs and winemakers, wine tasting tips and lots of fun! Fortnightly on Sundays, 7pm – 8pm. Next programme Sunday 21st February