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!  Twitter @colinonwine

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First in the series of wine tastings for small Groups from Sweden!


In September and October I’ll be presenting a series of wine tastings for small groups of Swedish people who are visiting Spain, combing various activities with the opportunity to experience a little Spanish culture, and some sunshine!


The Iberian peninsular, even if we take Portugal out of the equation, though still include the islands, is a rather large area, no? And, as Cork Talk readers know full well, there are many, many wine producing zones here in Spain.


It’s clear therefore that there is rather a large number of wines from which to choose. My job, although hugely enjoyable, is also tough! I like to include at least one wine from a world famous wine producing area. However, I also like to champion the cause of the smaller, less famous areas. Plus, I’m a great believer in promoting local wines too!


So, for the first groups at least (I’ll probably ring, or pop, as in cork, the changes as time goes on) I’ve chosen, for the ‘famous areas’ – Cava. I’m a great believer in Cava, as regular readers will know. For ‘smaller, less famous’ I’ve chosen DO Yecla, another favourite area of production for me, as well as DO Terra Alta, where there is some great winemaking going on the moment. And for ‘local’ I’ve actually chosen a white wine from DO Valencia and another red from DO Utiel-Requena.


I think it’s a good balance, and I’m hoping that the always very appreciative Swedish attendees will agree!

Our cava, is not just any cava! I’ve mentioned Premium Cavas in Cork Talk before – these are the Reserva and Gran Reserva cavas that, for me, distinguish Cava as one of the foremost sparkling wines of the world, always equalling Champagne in quality, and often beating it!


Cava producers, Canals i Munné have been mentioned here before too! Their Cava ‘Adn’ Brut Nature Gran Reserva, priced at well under 20€ is made with two of the classic cava varieties, Macabeo and Parellada, plus it has 30% Chardonnay in the blend. It really is a winning combination, and when you include aging on its lees ‘en rima’, for a lengthy 48 months (easily exceeding the minimum 30 months for Gran Rerervas!) – well you have something a little bit special!


For white wine, I’ve gone for a favourite of mine since its inception several years ago. Cullerot (meaning tadpole, in Valenciano you’ll know why when you see the label!). A super wine which is made with each variety (Chardonnay, Pedro Ximénez [yes, PX, of sherry fame, but as dry as you like here!], local variety Verdil and, linking nicely with the above, Macabeo) being fermented separately. Then, blending takes place and the almost finished wine is placed in huge, underground ‘tinajas’, clay amphorae, with its lees, for a further 6 months of ageing. You have to try it!


I’m a fan of rosado wines and Llumí Rosat from Celler Alimara, DO Terra Alta is a firm favourite. It’s made with 100% Garnacha grapes and is certain to make those who think rosé wine is just for girls, think again! Perfumed, yes, with raspberries, under-ripe strawberries, a touch of pomegranate and wisp of ripened cranberry; but also full and lasting on the palate. Excellent paella wine, by the way!


My great friends at Bodegas Castaño, DO Yecla, make a large range of wines, every one of them excellent value for money, from those retailing at under 3€ all the way through to their flagship wines that cost 30+€. I decided to go for the one which has consistently been given 90 points and above in the Robert Parker guides, since its first release, quite a few years ago now, when it earned 93 points out of 100. And this for a wine that still retails for under 7€!


Made with elderly Monastrell grapes the wine is placed in oak barricas, 80% French and the other 20% American (incidentally, it sells out every year in the USA!) for no more than six months. The lovely plum and damson fruit is to the fore, with some oak back-up for depth and added flavour and aromas.


The final wine will be from Bodegas Pigar, made by my pal, the slightly rebellious, Juan Piqueras up in the rolling, mountainous hills of Utiel-Requena. Here, the indigenous Bobal, queen of all she surveys, gives of its best, and Juan’s version is proud to be among the best that the area can offer. Cherries, light, dark and Picota are the fruits involved here, with some mountain herb notes, a little minerality and a depth of flavour that would surely make you think it cost twice as much!


First Swedish tasting tonight (as I write) – I can’t wait! Facebook Colin Harkness

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