First Published Costa News Group May 2011



The tiny rural village of Parcent, inland from the bustle of the Costa Blanca,

Reception at the charming Bodegas Guttierez de la Vega

 is home to the bucolic Bodegas Casta Diva, founded in the ‘70s by ex-naval officer Don Señor Felipe Guttierez de la Vega.

 Señor Guttierez de la Vega is renowned throughout Spain for being the first person to make dry wine from Spain’s aromatic Moscatel grape variety. Moscatel is of course responsible for some luscious dessert wines but he recognised that the characteristics of the clone, Moscatel de Alejandria, were such that, with care, a whole new style of wine could be invented.

 As discussed in Part One last week Señor Guttierez de la Vega is now part of a winemaking team having been joined by his oldest daughter, the charming Violeta who, having completed her extensive studies in Bordeaux, is now recognised as a talented oenologist in her own right. Violeta is hoping to add an extra elegance to the wines crafted in this innovative bodega.

 Carta Diva Recondita Harmonia de Barrica 2010 has been in barrel since September. The deliciously sweet red Monastrell and Syrah grape varieties are maturing in the cool natural cellar. The barrel sample we tasted has quite strong notes of rhubarb, a delight occasionally found in darker styles of rosado wines made from the same varieties. 

 I was also able to try a style of wine that has been made in the Alicante province for centuries and once prompted a past King of Spain to comment that it should only be drunk ‘on bended knee with head bowed and uncovered’ – Fondillón!

 Made from Monastrell this red dessert wine is aged for years in oak barrels (10 minimum, but can exceed 40!) which changes its colour to a brown/red and develops a gradual change in aroma and flavour. Kings of Spain drank it with sweet biscuits but it can match cheese and certain desserts, but in truth it is a wine that can stand on its own as an ideal way to finish a super dinner. Bodegas Casta Diva is currently selling the 1978 vintage!

 The Fondillón Joven 2010 that I tasted first will not be ready for at least 10 years of course, but the super figgy nose and active tanning will ensure that this wine will develop into something quite special, made as it was from super ripe grapes borne of the 2010 vintage, one of the best ever in most parts of Spain.

 Fondillón 2005 is still nowhere near finished but even so its development can be seen and savoured. It has a super mouthfeel, sweet but with freshness too. Figs and now dates are on the nose and the palate and these flavours last forever after swallowing!

Berta's Fondillón

Finally an honour for me: tragically, Berta, youngest daughter and sister of this close-knit family, whom I had the pleasure of teaching for a short while, passed away a couple of years ago after a life-long battle against ill-health. As with his other children Señor Guttierez de la Vega started a barrel of Fondillon in the year of Berta’s birth, 1987, and I was given a taste of this excellent and quite memorable nectar! Thank you!

First Published Costa News Group, May 2011




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!