A CHERRY ON THE TELITEC TASTING TOUR TRIFLE!
Actually, I’m not keen on trifle, so the title may be a little misleading. I’m referring to the old homily where the best is saved to the last. Though . . . .
We are now well into the new year and the Telitec Tasting Tour seems sooo last year! (Watch this space though, it may well rise again, so popular was this series of fine wine and top tapas tastings). However, I couldn’t sign it off without reference to the penultimate tasting of the tour (and the final one, which will appear here, soon).
Javea’s Nox Restaurant is the final eatery of the Arenal beach just before the cove reverts to its natural state of cliff-face rocks and vegetation. It’s interior is plush, to say the least and it’s clear that considerable money has been lavished upon it – and that’s not just in terms of the décor, fittings etc. The staff, including a talented sommelier strike that perfect balance between impeccable professionalism and the open, friendly touch.
I was therefore very confident when I first went to Nox to discuss the tasting, way back in the planning stages, in September, in fact. That confidence increased over time following my recall to the restaurant several times to taste and discuss the various wine and tapas combinations being considered – until we collectively made the final choices. Now that’s professional!
It quickly became clear that Sommelier and Chef, respectively Micaela and Sara, and I were reading from the same script. We wanted to match gourmet cuisine with fine wine, using local ingredients paired with local and national wines. The only possible weak point was going to be my delivery!
Chopped Vieras (scallops) were served with finely cut strawberries as the first tapa and we’d all agreed that a Cava would be the ideal accompaniment. From the selection I preferred the Abadia de Montserrat Brut Reserva. Such cava has had the benefit of extra time ‘en rima’ (in bottle with its lees [sediment]) which, whilst retaining the essential fresh acidity which aided the early picked strawberries in cutting through the richness of the scallops, also gave the fizz the necessary body to cope with the whole dish.
Our next wine was MS Chardonnay – no not M&S, but a local DO Alicante Chardonnay! This fresh white has been made from selected bunches of Chardonnay grapes grown at an altitude of 600 – 700 metres above sea level and indeed inland well away from the sea, and yet with a slight Mediterranean Sea breeze influence.
Chablis it aint (Chablis, of course, is made from Chardonnay) but there is a Chablis-esque steeliness running through the wine which, coupled with a chalky minerality from the soils in which the vines grow, was, for me, a wonderful foil for the goats cheese stuffed home-made ravioli.
MS Chardonnay has also had a short time time French Oak, which gives the wine more body and provides just a touch of the buttery aroma and flavour that we often recognise in Chardonnay based wines. This extra fullness was just right for the fig sauce topping which had been flamed in brandy and enriched with a touch of Cassis!
I don’t consider myself to be on a mission, but, when given the opportunity, I do like to include a rosado wine when presenting tastings – the more so when I’m pairing wines with food. Spain has such a vast array of rosado wines, many of which pair perfectly with all manner of dishes, that it’s really foolish to dis miss rosado wines as simple summer drinking.
I’m also keen to reveal to tasters the concept, not always known, of VdlT wines. Vino de la Tierra wines can often equal and sometimes easily beat DO, Denominación de Origen wines – as regular Cork Talk readers know well. Now, when such wines also have an eclectic blend of grape varieties, this is all the better.
Quinta del Obispo from VdlT Castilla y Leon is an interesting mix of Mencia, usually from way out west in DO Bierzo, with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz. It’s a rosado wine with body and a host of light and dark red fruit, including cranberries and brambly blackberries. Served with mushrooms in a Romesco sauce (don’t ask, I did, but the Chef wouldn’t tell me!) it really did the trick!
We came came back local for the fourth wine – to Utiel-Requena, in fact, though not to DO Utiel-Requena! There’s another designation of Spanish wine that one sees occasionally – Vino de Pago. If you see it, buy it, it’s certain to be good quality.
There are instances when a bodega feels that its ‘terroir’ and the resulting wines are unique even though they are made within a certain D.O. area. This belief can sometimes persuade them to go it alone and apply for the quality status Vino de Pago.
Mustiguillo wines have had this honour bestowed upon them from 2010. At an average of over 800 metres above sea it’s cold here in the winter, and that’s how it was when I visited a year or so ago. Freezing with a thin dusting of snow at the time.
In the growing season there’s plenty of sunshine, it’s in the Valencia Comunidad, after all. But the beauty is that at night, because of the big drop in temperature – approaching 20ºC , the vines have some respite from the heat. This means fresh, wines with the right acidity, perfumed and fruit driven with good colour too. Six varieties are included in the blend, with the lead being taken by the indigenous Bobal. Others are Tempranillo, Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz.
It’s a young wine to be enjoyed for its fruit content. But it’s not a frivolous ‘just drink’ wine – it has body and depth of flavour, with some complexity as well, to match and meet the perfectly executed pork fillet with a superb cheese and asparagus sauce! The 10 months in subtle French oak, has added depth, needed for a meat dish, but the fruit remains to the fore.
Our final wine, Dehesa del Ñañdu, is made with Garnacha, and it’s had 4 mnths in oak. On the nose there is an initial strawberry aroma. It’s rich and full with a marked intensity. It needs some strong flavours so we matched it with canneloni de confit de pato con verduras al dente y salsa de frutas del bosque, and it worked well!