Hot off the press! The Moraira/Teulada U3A have asked me to organise a Spanish Wine Presentation as part of their series of Workshops for members. I’m delighted to do so of course! We will be tasting 4 different styles of wines from 4 different areas of production with explanations about Grape Varieties, wine laws etc – all presented in an easy user-friendly and fun way.
We will be at Cafe Del Mar, Andrago Meeting Point, Moraira (same area as Algas Bar on the left as you are leaving Moraira centre on the Calpe coast road, Friday 23rd March.
We are starting at 18:00 hrs and it shoujld last 2 hours. There will be tapas served with the wines and it seems to me to be an ideal start to a weekend evening out! the cost is just 7:50€ – please contact Shirley Baehr at SBaehr1951@aol.com to reserve tickets. Please do this sooner rather than later as they are selling like hot cakes!
I’m not sure if my friends, Michel and Yvon, owners of Sol Park, Moraira, will think this is a rather late report of their annual April wine tasting, or a very early advance notice of 2011’s event! No matter, I’m sure it will be happily received and I’m pleased to be able to, once again, write up this event in glowing terms.
The Sol Park Spring wine tastings started some eight years ago. My other commitments and the odd illness have prevented me from going to a few but I’ve attended most and now in May 2010 I’m looking forward to next year’s. I’m lucky as I go to many professional wine tastings, in Spain and also abroad. Most are huge affairs where a careful plan has to be conceived before you enter or you’ll simply get swamped as there’s so much to see and, of course, to taste.
Alimentaria in Barcelona is an example – I was there in March and I’m still writing articles about my experiences there, only breaking off now as I’m so embarrassed that I haven’t written about Sol Park’s yet. Small, cosy, charming and almost familial Sol Park is not Alimentaria – however for me it has as large an appeal.
As you would expect such a small local tasting attracts local exhibitors and I’m all in favour of this as we should celebrate that which is good in our own area. However the Sol Park wine tasting is not a village fete. Eleven areas of production from all over Spain were represented, essentially with one bodega from each. Thus the variety of wines for clients to taste was large as well as diverse.
As is often the case, time was pressing for me so I just had the chance to taste white wines on the only day I could visit – a shame as I heard lots of good comments about many of the reds and I have to say that some of them really looked the part. This may appear to be an odd comment, but these days packaging is an integral part of marketing in the wine industry – an attractive bottle sells the wine. The secret of course is to make sure that the quality of the book is reflected in its cover!
I started with cava – it’s the best way to prepare your palate for the tstes to come, whilst at the same time assessing the quality of the fizz. Capdevilla Pujol from Cavas Blancher both had an element of sweetness, despite them being Brut and Brut Nature respectively – an indication of very ripe fruit at harvest. From the same stable Seleccio Blanc was disappointing as I’d anticipated when I saw that it was 2008. I said that I thought it was losing its fruit as it was too old the exhibitor looked surprised defending the wine by telling me that it sells well.
I said it was a pity that he didn’t have the 2009 here for such a tasting and lo and behold he went to his car and produced a label-less bottle which was in fact the latest vintage. After chilling the difference between the two wines, both made with Macabeo and Parellada, underlines all that I have always said about most Spanish white wines – they have to be drunk young. I’d buy the 2009, but wouldn’t touch the 2008 – and I bet it’s this younger wine that stocks the chap’s fridge at home!
DO Rueda called me as it usually does and I tried Bodegas Alberto’s Verdejo/Viura blend which at on 2·5 Euros was a real bargain; the 100% Verdejo was richer of course with green vegetal notes; the more expensive single varietal Verdejo (but at only 5·50 Euros, still a steal) was richer and longer on the palate; and their Verdejo FB (Fermented in Oak) was rich and deep with layers of green fruit and vegetal aromas and flavours.
The single varietal Airén from La Mancha’s Bodegas Lahoz was as good as I’ve tried of this La Mancha-wide ubiquitous variety with a lovely first hit on the palate. Their Sauvignon 2009 had understated grassy and herby notes on the first taste but secondary flavours of kiwi and gooseberry came though making it a jolly nice wine with their FB Sauvignon adding a touch of grapefruit too.
Normally considered the poor relation of the wine areas it abuts in Galicia, DO Ribeira is known for its light, pleasant but not so thought-provoking flavoursome white wines. So I was surprised to taste a 20 Euro bottle, Lagar Do Merens 2008, from Bodegas Alan – a very good wine, but I think just a little too old. Their 2009 Godello was a bright and fruity as you would expect from this super variety which is not seen as often as it should be. Their 2006 FB was becoming past it – I’m in favour of using oak with some of these aromatic varieties but it doesn’t mean that the wine suddenly has great longevity. Drink FB whites no more than three years after the vintage, generally. Their Albariño was lovely and their 2007 Lagar Do Merens FB having had 5 months in oak was drinking well.
I tasted more but space is limited – suffice to say I think that this tasting as always was enjoyed by all who attended over the two days, the more so as it is always free of charge! If you are in the Moraira area I’d contact Sol Park and ask to be placed on their mailing list – see you there next year!
THE MORAIRA EXTENSION OF TEULADA’S CENTRE OF WINE EXCELLENCE
When the first stand you see at the entrance to a wine tasting is that of Pol Roger Champagne you know you are onto a winner! So it was when I took up my invitation to attend such an event recently at Restaurante Ca La Aiai in Moraira.
Recently I presented a wine tasting for Jose who owns Teulada’s Centre of Wine Excellence, well he also owns Moraira’s gourmet quality restaurant, Ca La Aiai, as well. And, as a part of this elegant edifice is also a wine retailing emporium, it seems that Jose has something of a monopoly over quality wines consumed in this part of the Costa Blanca!
It’s not surprising therefore that he is the area’s exclusive stockist of several bodegas’ wares. Understandable too, that many of these wineries are happy to exhibit some of their finest wines as a favour to Jose and a real plus to local inhabitants.
Pol Roger’s Brut Reserva is made from the triumvirate of Champagne grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay from three different vintages and blended from thirty different vineyards. It is an elegant fizz with a tiny touch of sweetness on the first hit.
Sir Winston Churchill, who declared Pol Roger to be his favourite Champagne, has a cuvee named after him – it wasn’t available at the tasting (it’s their flagship special cuvee and priced accordingly!). Their highly praised Brut Reserve, probably the one that the great man actually drank, was being served – the MillesmeVintage 2000 in fact. It’s a Premier Cru wine made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay selected from the best vineyards aged for many months in bottle and in the cellars and is excellent, a highlight of the tasting!
There isn’t space to list all of the wines tasted, even in two articles, so I’ll focus on the highlights – some of which were quite outstanding!
You would be entitled to expect wines priced as high as those from Bodegas Arzuaga to be a cut above the rest, and you’d be correct to do so. This Ribera del Duero winery is being aggressively marketed in the Spanish wine media, boasting not only top level wines but also a spa hotel and their own wine products massage and therapy! Indeed I’ve just received information about their forthcoming Spanish Mothers Day special wine therapy treatments for mothers to be and young recent mothers (I’m not sure why, I’m not expecting!).
Pago Florentino 2008 is a single vineyard wine made from Cencibel (aka Tempranillo, Tinto Fino etc!). It has noticeable Vanilla notes on opening which develop with time in glass to minerally undergrowth aromas. Good fruit and mature tannin.
Arzuaga Crianza 2008 has maturing tannin plus acidity to make it very much alive. Good fruit content from the Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet, again with vanilla notes from its time in oak. This wine has three more years I think.
Their reserva 2006 was a touch more closed on the nose, though this may be because the bottle had been open for too long. There was good fruit but the tannin (as with all the Arzuaga wines I tasted) makes it more suitable for enjoying with food than on its own.
Reserva especial 2004 at 54€ had a more subtle and balanced nose with an inviting light mouthfeel, but big taste. It was one of my favourites of the tasting. Arzuaga Gran Reserva 2001 is a very good wine with lots of flavour levels and a long finish, though I’m not sure I’d pay 72€ for a bottle! Gran Arzuaga (145€!) with an attractive label was not available when I was there – shame!