Private Wine Tasting with a group of visitors from Holland

I haven’t checked, I admit, but I’m pretty sure that my Private Wine Tastings, held in the comfort of clients’ own homes, aren’t listed in the lexicon of Dangerous Sports! So it was good to see the relief on Renata’s face when she realised that her birthday surprise wasn’t going to be a bungee jump, or paragliding, or indeed any of the other scary events that she’d been teased mercilessly about by her Dutch family, all on holiday over here in Moraira.

I’d been contacted by son-in-lay, Ben, about presenting a surprise tasting, we chatted about their budget requirements, styles of wine, and how many bottles! All was set – and we had a great time.

I recently wrote about another such wine tasting where, to start the corks popping, I presented first a sparkling wine. I often do this, it’s a great ice-breaker, it’s celebratory, and if you choose the right one it’s so tasty! Therefore I did it again, and if you looked quickly at the labels you’d see that last week’s and Renata’s fizz was made by the same winery, CastellRoig in Cataluña.

However, on closer inspection you’d see that last week we were using a Corpinnat Sparkling Wine (an article on Corpinnat here soon), this week, a Cava, Gran Reserva in fact. It’s a long, long story, but essentially CastellRoig has recently left the DO Cava, preferring to make their fizz under the Corpinnat banner. The Gran Reserva Cava was from the 2012 vintage, before the existence of the new company, Corpinnat.

Cava Josep Coca Gran Reserva, CastellRoig, is made with indigenous old vine Xarel.lo and Macabeo grapes, it has clearly enjoyed its four years ‘en rima’ where it has developed into an exquisite mouthful. The Brut Nature style might suggest to some that it could be a little too dry – not a bit of it! It’s so fresh on the palate despite its age. It’s rounded, complex, with some toasted almond notes and a pleasing herby floral fragrance. It fills the mouth and lasts for ever!

1583 Albariño de Fefiñanes (recently selected as the Wine of the Week by Tim Atkin MW) has peachy aromas and flavours, yellow peach for me. Bottled in May this year, this 2018 is 100% Albariño, fermented in French and aged for 3 months in barrel, where it is regularly stirred with its lees, and then a further 3 months in stainless steel temperature controlled vessels, waiting for bottling and release. Citrus notes, peach, very subtle oak. Drinking well now it’s a wine that, although white and Spanish, will age for another three years, to give even more.

Ben wanted a second white – what a choice I had to make. These days there are so many top class white wines made in Spain! I opted for a Verdejo from DO Rueda, and I’m pleased I did, as I was surprised to learn from all of my Dutch friends that nowadays this Spanish grape variety is well known and loved in Holland.

El Transistor 2018 is made by superstar winemaker, Telmo Rodriguez and attempts to give the perfect expression of the variety. Well, he doesn’t do a bad job! Grapes from 60 yrs old vines are fermented in different barrel sizes and aged in same for about 6 months, as well as cement deposits, to maintain freshness. Lime green shades in the glass, stone/slate mineral elements, gooseberry fruit and the inside of kiwi skin where it meets the flesh, with acidity, rounded, full on mouth, a real mouthful, fresh.

Our first red wine was a cracker – one of the most famous Ribera del Duero producers, Arzuaga wines have really made a name for themselves. Their PR/Publicity dept has done an exemplary job (I’m sure hugely expensive too), however, this is only going to work if the wine is of a top standard too! It is!

I chose, working on advice from Jose. Owner of Teulada’s excellent wine merchants, A Catarlo Todo, the 2016 Crianza, made with 95% Tempranillo (aka Tinto del País in Ribera del Duero) and just 5% Cabernet Sauvignon for some extra longevity, depth of flavour and complexity.

Most of the Tempranillo comes from the oldest on-site vineyards that Arzuaga controls, located at 920 metres above sea level, with a telling addition of some Tempranillo bought in from near Burgos where the vines are 100+ years old! It’s a super red wine, redolent of all we’d expect from an oak aged (16 months in American and French barricas) Spanish red. Gasps of admiration followed first sips!

Finally, as requested, we tasted another red wine, but oh so different – Dolç Mendoza is a dessert wine par excellence! Only made in exceptional years when the fruit on the vines is in perfect condition so that it can stay put until, perhaps 6 weeks after the rest of the Enrique Mendoza vineyards up near Villena, have been harvested.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Merlot make up the blend – after fermentation, this 15·5 abv sweet red wine is aged for ten months in oak. The result is a luscious wine, wonderful with chocolate desserts and summer pudding, but also with mature cheeses, including strong blue cheese! Splendid!

Twitter @colinonwine  www.colinharknessonwine.com

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For more info about Private Wine Tastings: https://youtu.be/8qYhmj4hNQU

Following a recent Private Wine Tasting for Dutch Visitors

Going Dutch – Wine Tasting!

“Dear Colin, last Monday, in honour of my mother-in-law’s birthday, we gave her a wine tasting on location as a surprise. With us on the porch we all enjoyed the very interesting and fun stories you told us.

We tasted two delicious white wines, one sparkling wine, one red wine and a red dessert wine.

Although my mother-in-law was a bit stressed (because we had told her that she might have to go Bungee Jumping or Parasailing) the surprise was more than successful and she really enjoyed the wonderful wines we tasted. The tasting on location is a must for anyone who loves wine, when we may return to Moraira next year I will definitely give you another call to come along!”

Greetings Ben Hogewoning

Introducing Swedish Visitors to the Wines of Spain


It’s been an absolute pleasure presenting a season of wine tastings to small groups of Swedish visitors enjoying the activity holidays organised for them by Milagro Javea. However, all good things must come to an end – well for this season, that is!


Bookings are already being taken for dates organised this far for 2019 and I’m delighted to say my services have been retained.


As I said in the first article this season, when I’m presenting wine tastings with people who don’t live here in Spain, I like to introduce them to indigenous grape varieties as well as international ones. Also, I like to present wines from the famous areas of production, varying these each time, of course.


I’m also a great fan of wines made locally, believing in fact that is really is incumbent upon me to make sure that visitors are introduced to the delights of wines made, perhaps within even a thirty minute drive. Quite how it is that some visitors to Spain eat at McDonalds, when there is such a wealth of wonderful Spanish food here, is beyond me! Sure, you might not like it all, but at least try it! Well, we’re all different I suppose.


So, if thinking of the really famous areas of wine production, Rioja would come to mind of course. Ribera del Duero, Cava and, although we haven’t yet used them, Sherry, would all fit into the super-famous category. And when you consider that for me, starting a tasting (just as when thinking of an aperitif before dinner) with something sparkling, it’s no wonder that all our Swedish friends have been initiated into the world of Spanish fizz – in this case, of course, Cava!


We’ve enjoyed a number of the whole season, the latest, the one we used for the final tasting of the season was Bohigas Reseva Brut Nature (my favourite style of fizz, the driest). Made with a winning combination of the international Chardonnay as well as the Spanish Macabeo, for it’s acidity and green apple aromas and flavours along with Parellada, for a floral presence and some elegance too.


I feel it is very important to explain that there are different styles of Cava, as this can be quite confusing, and can result in people tasting really quite inappropriate, cheap cavas, in my opinion, unworthy of the name! So, we chose a Reserva, a style of cava that retains the important celebratory element whilst adding a different dimension for depth of flavour weight an presence, giving further pairing possibilities.


For our white wine, we chose an area which, in Spain, is certainly famous, but this fame isn’t universal – our Swedish friends, mostly, haven’t come across it. DO Rueda from whence came the Verdejo, the indigenous variety of the area, is a rags to riches story. Their local grape tends to oxidise far too easily and therefore didn’t generally give of its best.


New technology, huge investment and a lot of hard work and experimentation has pushed this variety into one of the best for white wines in Spain! I liked this one because it was one of the more subtle examples, rather than the in-you-face types that are pleasant, for one glass, but over-kill for another.


Our first red (I always like to have more red wines than the others, Spain, still being recognised as a red wine country first), was the flamboyantly labelled Mestizaje Bobal. In fact, although the name would suggest so, it isn’t a monovarietal. Garnacha and a little Syrah join the party, and the finished product is a lovely fruit-first red wine.


The vineyards are 800 metres above sea level – I’ve visited the bodega in February, and I can tell you, it’s freezing in the winter! More importantly, during the growing season there is a considerable drop in temperature at night and amongst other delights this adds a certain brilliance to the wine in the glass!


This wine is notable as well, because it isn’t consistent – and I mean this in a complimentary way! Whilst the blend this year is as above, it may not be next vintage, a fact of which I thoroughly approve. The final blend each year, in terms of percentages and varieties will vary – it will depend on how well the various varieties have fared that year. Wine is a product of nature, and shouldn’t therefore be interfered with too much!


So, our final wine of the 2018 Swedish season, was one that is made in a bodega a matter of just half an hour away from the font line villa in which we enjoyed the wines. Bodegas Enrique Mendoza, as many readers will (and indeed, should!) know, produces a series of wines of the highest DO Alicante order.


The choice, therefore, was actually quite difficult, but I settled on their Petit Verdot – such value for money, and the chance to show how well the variety can ripen in the Spanish Sun!


Roll on next season!


colin@colinharknessonwine.com  Twitter @colinonwine

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