The Top Ten!


So, without further ado, here, in reverse order, are my Top Ten wines of the year!

10. Rós, Rosé wine from Bodegas Tandem (in collaboration with Lynn Coyle MW) – an immediate, though slight aroma of ripe red, slightly fluffy apples, as I brought the glass to my nose. An interesting start! This fleeting first note was joined by a floral presence – you can guess which flower, the rose of course, though a red rose rather than pink. Some fruit notes joined the party – a little rhubarb, whose un-sugared acidity followed through to refresh the palate, though soon to be replaced by the overriding blend of pink grapefruit with some slightly under ripe raspberries!

9. Gamonal 2016, Viñedos y Bodegas Pardevalles, single estate wine made from the variety, Prieto Picudo, harvested by hand. Fermentation and macerations occur over a 14 -18 day period, allowing the skins to give off some of their dark colour to the finished wine, as well as tannin, aroma and flavour, with a certain brightness in the glass too. French and American oak aged and stored in the 300 year old cellars, each imparting a touch of vanilla and a toasty note too. After time blackberry fruit is firstly noticed, with some timid blackcurrant, stony minerality, again understated, with a little mountain herb. There are floral whiffs going on and an undercurrent of liquorice too.

8. *‘Vino Flor’, white wine from Pepe Mendoza Casa Agricóla, made in a way similar to Sherry, it’s no wonder I found an aroma, and to an extent, the taste, of ‘en rama’ sherry, as well as some lemony citrus notes, with a brief, but reoccurring ripe apple aroma and it’s got plenty of presence on the palate, with an engagingly long finish. *This was an experimental wine which has, I think, morphed into Pepe’s Macabeo/Merseguera!

7. Pigar El Ardachero Orange Wine, Bodegas Pigar – yep, you read that correctly, another Orange Wine! Captivating – this wine, made with Chardonnay, is another fine Spanish example of this style of wine. Unlike their other Orange wine, featured in last year’s Top Ten, this is fermented and aged on its lees in stainless steel. Mineral notes, a little cider on the nose with a touch of patisserie, minus the sugar, this dry wine will stay with you, beacon-like!

6. Velvet & Stone Rosado, La Niña de Cuenca – yes, that’s two rosé wines this year! Charming, elegant, aromatic and fruit filled, this Prestige Rosé has pink and white rose petal fragrance with soft red fruits, loganberry and a little pomegranate on the nose and palate. So pretty in the glass, it’s simultaneously soft and powerful (Velvet and Stone!) and has a long finish. We absolutely loved it as an aperitif as well as serving it with salmon and red, orange and yellow capsicum, red lentil based dishes. I imagine it would also be super with seafood/fish paella!

5. Les Freses Blanc, Bodegas Les Freses – truly exemplary dry Moscatel wine made from vines planted in white coloured limestone based soil. Fresh scidity, with some exotic fruit, white peach and a little apricot – reminiscent of Albariño and Viognier wines, and that’s certainly not a bad thing! Floral, delicate jasmine, but weight on the palate too. Certainly good with above fish, also where sauces are used, and lovely, no doubt with shellfish!

4. Bobal La Serratilla, Bodegas Pigar – yes, them again! A whopping 16% abv – though you wouldn’t know it to be so high. It’s full, yes, completely taking over the palate with some wonderful black (and lighter) cherry notes, with an air of elegance to accompany its richness. Fermentation of the juice from grapes of the oldest vineyard on the property was provoked by its own wild yeasts. A glorious very dark colour, it invites the drinker in, and won’t let go! Just seven months in oak – super stuff!

3. Torelló Brut Nature, Corpinnat Spanish Sparkling Wine is perfectly dry at only 0–3grms of sugar per litre and a superb partner to canapés! It has crucial freshness, quite an achievement following its four and a half years en rima! Obviously, there’s an extra maturity to the aromas and flavours in this fizz. Citric fruit aromas and flavours mingle with white flowers and more of a baked apple flavour, with a citrus, apple and pear pastry, without the sugar! Earthiness is in there too making it a fizz for more than just first course!

2. Ví de Sal (magnum); Finca Collado – what a discovery from DO Alicante! A minimal intervention wine, rich on the palate but with alluring fresh acidity. The wine is fermented in large 600litre French oak barrels, with regular stirring to extract colour and flavour from the skins. It’s then aged in the same barrels for 12 months, adding depth and complexity, though the wine is so well made you can hardly detect the oak. Rich plum/damson fruit, a reference to figs and liquorice with some dark chocolate on the finish. There’s thyme and eucalyptus on the nose and big though it is, there is also an elegance to this wine.

  1. La Niña de Cuenca’s, Ildania, is my Number One 2019 – 100%  low yielding average 70 yrs old Bobal, fermented and aged 18 months in clay tinajas (amphorae), varying in size, 500 and 1000 litres capacity. Very dark, initially less than forthcoming with its aromas, though eventually opening up (decant this wine). And what aromas – black cherry, typical of the variety, but with some black plum and lighter cherries too, a little black pepper spice as well. Minerality, certainly mouth-feel, presence, as well as some earthy mountain herbs. Wow!

Happy New Year!   Facebook Colin Harkness

Twitter @colinonwine



Perhaps I was the only one wondering what magic would be afoot when the Show Chef brought out a solitary Magret de Pato and set it before the multitude packed into the ground floor of the DO Alicante offices recently? How was this possibly going to feed us all, or perhaps more to the point, how were we all going to pair the duck breast with the new wine we were there to celebrate?

The magnums of Vi De Sal 2016 adorned the room like the Crowns of so many Princes, left strategically for all to admire. Indeed, Vi De Sal is only bottled in magnums (that’s one and a half litres of wine in one bottle!) – clearly there was enough wine for the throng, but magret?

I’ve written a Cork Talk about Finca Collado before (archived here‘. I enjoyed their portfolio, so I was pleased to be invited to the launch of their brand new wine, Ví de Sal – a wine with a fascinating story, as I was about to find out.

I remember meeting Samuel Castello, son of the founder of Finca Collado, one hot morning over a coffee in Jalón. He gave me a couple of his wines to taste for the article above. We chatted about the bodega, its wines, philosophy – the project as a whole. It was all very interesting, the more so when he mentioned a special project, within a project (alluded to at the end of the above article). Their Head Winemaker was working on a new, very limited release wine which they were hoping to launch ‘soon’. The ‘soon’, wasn’t defined, despite my pressing, but it turns out it’s now – just 15 months after our chat!

As the gentle stream of people arriving at DO Alicante, not far from the Ayuntamiento, slowly turned into a river of journos, restaurateurs, hoteliers, wine merchants and the general glitterati of Alicante City, those of us who’d arrived early were able to advance on the wines served before the big event. These wines were also paired with exquisite gourmet tapas made by the Show Chef’s teams from Restaurante Miguel Angel, Villena.

We went straight for the Finca Collado Chardonnay/Moscatel 2018, a really refreshing white wine about which I’d waxed lyrical in my last article (though a different vintage, of course). Well, I’m happy to report that their high standard has been maintained. The Moscatel, picked earlier than is the norm in the Marina Alta area, lends a more floral character to the wine, that the grape/raison aromas that we are perhaps used to. The Chardonnay, which is about 60% of the blend and has had a little oak ageing, adds depth, plus a little tropical fruit too. It’s a lovely wine for drinking now, though Samuel suggests it will be even better in a few months time.

Finca Collado Syrah Monastrell 2017 is a wine for meaty food! A bold wine, with good fruit, some lively tannin and acidity and a combination of black pepper and olives with dark plums about to reach full ripeness.

Delit 2017, with its simple, effective label is a step up in quality. 100% Monastrell from old vines, fermented and aged in oak barrels of 300 litre capacity. Rich and rounded on the palate, it’s a full wine, but with finesse. Some mountain herbs along with Autumnal earthy notes and lovely damson fruit.

Ví De Sal, will only be made in exceptional years. This 2016 is the first, there won’t be a 2017, but there will be 2018! A magnum of this wine will cost you 70€, so it’s not cheap, but don’t forget that’s two bottle’s worth – and don’t forget also Christmas is coming! This wine will be so impressive for you and your Christmas Lunch/Dinner guests!

In the south of the Alicante region there are the mountains of the Sierra Salinas, here you’ll also find the Salinas lake. Finca Collado’s vineyards are situated here, about 500m above sea level. I mention sea level deliberately because, millions of years ago the whole area was under the sea! This has left a certain saltiness in the earth. Indeed, centuries ago there were salt mines here. And it’s this saline quality in the soils of the vineyards that contributes to a local phenomenon, which is responsible for the unique singularity of Ví De Sal.

Some years, according to rainfall and other climatic conditions the Monastrell vines in the vineyard specific to this wine reach the limit of their tolerance of the saline effect. They almost collapse, and in an effort to hold onto life their grapes are forced to dehydrate, in order to provide some desperately needed water for the plant. During this three day period the grapes are hastily harvested as the juice that is left is far more concentrated but they haven’t yet reached full maturation. The result of this is a rich must which retains a high acidity and expresses the terrior from which it came.

This translates into a minimal intervention wine that is high in alcohol (15%), rich on the palate but with alluring fresh acidity. The wine is fermented in large 600litre French oak barrels, with regular stirring to extract colour and flavour from the skins. It’s then aged in the same barrels for 12 months, adding depth and complexity, though the wine is so well made you can hardly detect the oak.

You’ll find rich plum/damson fruit, a reference to figs and liquorice with some dark chocolate on the finish. There’s thyme and eucalyptus on the nose and ig though it is, there is also an elegance to this wine.  Twitter @colinonwine

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