If I was asked to name a winery that best illustrates the diversity and dynamism of the Spanish wine scene in 2020, at this moment I’d probably opt for Bodega de Forlong



When visiting Cádiz, Andalucia, it’s best not to mention Sir Francis Drake! Whilst initiating a surprise attack on the Spanish Armada moored in the bay, itself apparently poised to set sail to attack England, in April 1587, our Frank decided to nick a few butts of the local wine, known today as Sherry. In fact 3,000 butts, with each containing about 500 litres of the fortified wine that was about to take Elizabethan England by storm!

Nowadays Spain and the UK have a far better relationship, with a great history of trading Sherry, rather than stealing it, and of course the Sherry producers around the Cádiz area still make an excellent product. So, in a region where Sherry is queen, readers may think it odd to start a winery there that makes, well, anything and everything but Sherry!

If I was asked to name a winery that best illustrates the diversity and dynamism of the Spanish wine scene in 2020, at this moment I’d probably opt for Bodega de Forlong! Tasting my way around the eleven whacky labelled samples on show at the Forlong stand at the recent Barcelona Wine Week was a voyage of sheer pleasure, rather better than those mentioned above!

This winery, operating out of nearby Puerto de Santa María, makes sparkling wine, white, rosado, red and orange wine – by a number of different and innovative methods. As such it is a microcosmic glimpse of what’s taking place in happening Spain right now. Fascinating – but how good are the wines?

The first wine I tasted was a fizz, made by the Ancestral Method, as the name suggests, the oldest method by which sparkling wine is made, pre-dating, in fact, Dom Pérignon’s sterling efforts. The Ancestral Method is wholly different in that there is no second fermentation. Grape juice is fermented as if making normal still wine, however, before the fermentation finishes, the wine is gently filtered to remove any impurities and then placed in bottle and sealed. This initial, as yet unfinished fermentation then continues in the bottle. The bubbles are of course trapped and Sparkling Wine is the result!

For me, wines made by the Ancestral Method have more in common with Prosecco than Cava and Champagne, in terms of their presence on the palate – I’m not referring here to the slightly sweeter style of Prosecco. Forlong Burbuja is made with the Palomino variety and is dry, with a touch of bitterness on the finish.

Bodega Forlong is also making Orange wine. Regular readers will know that so called Orange Wines are best referred to as Skin Contact wine, wines which are made from white wine varieties whose juice is left with the skins, as in red wine making. The resulting wines often have an orange colour, and some wonderful flavours and aromas!

Forlong have two, by differing methods. I liked the 100% Palomino skin contact wine which is also left in old Oloroso Sherry barrels for a year. It has lovely balance with some mandarin zest on the nose, and a good mouthfeel.

Even better, for me, was their Palomino which was placed in contact, not with their own skins but with those of the Pedrom Jimenez variety, for 25 days – a revelation! Full, complex with subtle nuances, big flavour and a slight bitterness making this wine perfect for pairing with a multitude of different dishes, certainly not only fish and seafood!

More traditional is their 100% Palomino dry white wine which has been fermented and aged in French oak on its lees for 12 months. Butter pastry on the nose with orchard fruit and blanched nuts on the palate.

Palomino reigns at Forlong – and the next wine I tasted also shows how innovative this winery can be, with super results. Here the Palomino is harvested and left in the sunshine for two day to dry out a little. They are then pressed and the juice is fermented in Sherry casks under the flor that develops naturally, as in Sherry production. It’s then left alone, without the addition of any alcohol (as happens in Sherry, it being a fortified wine) for over two years. On the plate the wine is Sherry-esque in flavour and style, though, different too!

It’s only March I know, but so far my favourite Rosado this year is Forlong’s! Made with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Tintilla de Rota (another new variety to me!). It has presence on the palate, as well as finesse. A long finish, excellent rosé wine!

Red wise, it was difficult to decide on my favourite, with five to choose from and little space left in this column! All the wines were made in such interesting ways and all had their attributes – wines to drink now and on their own, through to those which needed some more time, and those which are perfect with food!

My favourite red might have been Forlong Assemblage 2017 whose Merlot, Tintilla de Rota and Syrah blend had spent 6 months in Anfora and 12 in French oak, which is drinking very well right now, but also with time on its side.

Or it may have been their Forlong Tintilla, made with 100% Tintilla de Rota which was fermented and aged in Anfora for 6 months and then aged in French oak for a further year. This wine is a super dinner wine, to accompany light and hearty meaty dishes, as it combines elegance with power. There’s a lovely fragrance on the nose – floral, forest blackberry fruity and leafy with some vanilla and a little cedar wood. Twitter @colinonwine  Facebook Colin Harkness  YouTube Colin Harkness On Wine

In Support of Local Wines!

Due to the fact that I am blessed to have groups here from Sweden with Milagro that want to try the Spanish wines, and are lucky to know the best teacher in Spanish wines, Colin Harkness. I have tasted a lot of them and I am amazed that there is so few restaurants that keep the local wines on the list. Think the restaurants here in Javea should promote more of the fantastic wines in the region, and there is a lot of them. Take for example Enrique Mendoza WineryPepe Mendoza Casa Agrícola or Juan PiquerasBodega Mustiguillo – DOP El Terrerazo as some of the bunch. There are so many just a step outside our walls…. Have you for example tasted the “orange wine”” WOW!!! It will be BIG!! Elisabeth Holmstöm

Amber (Orange) Wines – review of definitive work by Simon J. Woolf


After 21 years of writing Cork Talk (more on this soon!), I like to think, at least, that I may have made a positive contribution to the Spanish wine world. About 100,000 possible readers, at its height 150,000+, with more online, reading an average of approximately 800 words per article is, I think, not to be sneezed at!

I hope I’ve turned people on to the attractions of wines from Spain, imbuing, perhaps some, with a passion similar to mine. However, if, when I finally arrive at the great bodega in the sky, I am remembered for only two things, I hope it will be for my unerring support of Cava and, more recently, for starting the Orange Wine ball rolling, amongst expats as well as the wider community!

The reds of Spain have a history, a present and a future of great success, for sure. I’ve supported and praised them as well, of course, including highlighting lesser know areas of production. The whites have perhaps needed a little more promotion, which I’ve been happy to do, along with an increasing number of other writers, also charmed by their development. Rosado has always been popular in Spain, as well as with those from other countries now living here, or visiting often.

Amber or Orange Wine is the new kid on the block, but they’ve certainly, and easily won me over (please see click Articles and scroll down a little to my first article on Orange wines). I’m convinced that even in conservative Spain (wine world wise) we will see an extra category added to their wine lists, eventually, as Manuel would say!

However, my support of this ancient, though modern day phenomenon is but a tiny drop in an enormous qvevri of promotion and education, compared to the Amber Wine Ambassador, Simon J. Woolf, whose just published book, Amber Revolution (available here, I’ve greatly enjoyed reading. If you are looking for a Christmas Present for your wine loving partner (or for yourself, of course) this will be an excellent fit!

Of course, it defines Amber or Orange wines (both terms can be used, though I prefer the former, so there’s no confusion, as such wines are nothing to do with oranges!), how they are made, etc, and very interesting it is too. But this work is also like the history book we would all have loved to have read when we were younger. It gives you the big picture, whilst also going into such fine detail that the reader starts to develop a relationship with the modern day protagonists of this 6,000 years old (at least) craft. It engages with the struggles of the first ever Amber Wine makers, as well as those of this century’s exponents and today’s.

And struggles there have been!

Amber wines were first made, it is believed, in Georgia. Over millennia the practise spread, though mostly in other Eastern European states. Enter two world wars and the redrawing of borders, part of the spoils enjoyed by the victors! Consider also the rise of Communism in this area, its eventual fall, and the enduring Russia. Chapter titles such as ‘Destruction and Persecution’, give the reader and insight into what’s in store! Simon J. Woolf meticulously tells the history, from the broad perspective, as well as the personal, where, for example, after a NATO led bombing of an area, one of the 20th Century’s pioneering Amber Wine makers felt unable to speak to his friend and similarly passionate equivalent in a nearby country, for years.

However, this is far from a depressing book. It’s inspiring. Think about so many obstacles being eventually overcome, and read how they were. Indeed, the book’s front cover gives an idea as to its overall positivity, where it states, ‘How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine’! And, on the same subject look at the last, what quarter, of the book where you’ll see listed so many current practitioners in so many different countries and both of the world’s hemispheres!

The photography, by Ryan Opaz, is simultaneously stunning and evocative. We can ‘feel’ the frustration of Amber Wine makers whose hands were tied, perhaps literally in some cases, during the Communist era. I also felt the loss and devastation involved when looking at a black and white photo of Oslavia, destroyed in 1916 as Austro Hungarian and Italian forces battled it out. But we can also sense the anticipation as an Amber Wine is poured by the proud maker, for Simon to taste. We can connect with the ancient world through seemingly being able to touch the iconic qvevri, the huge clay pots, buried underground, in which fermentation so often takes place. And we can ‘smell’ the old oak barrels and foudres where Amber wines are also made and/or aged.

Plus, here’s the bonus. There are seven Spanish Amber Wine producers listed, and whose wines are described, here in Spain. In fact, when Pepe Mendoza’s soon to be released wine is on the market, there will be eight, three of them in the Valencia Community!

Amber Revolution is a great read, especially with a glass of Orange wine to hand! Facebook Colin Harkness Twitter @colinonwine