**Valentine’s Wine Tasting with Top Tapas – Now Full, Sorry!**

Sorry – Wine Tasting with Top Tapas at Tapes Tapes/A Catarlo Todo, Teulada, Friday 11th February 19:30 start is now full! This corner of Teulada on the main dual carriageway, Avenida Mediterránea, is now a Centre of Excellence for wine lovers.

A new interior passageway connects the excellent wine/tapas bar, Tapes Tapes, with the best wine merchants in the area, A Catarlo Todo – but that’s not all!

Next door Jose has now opened a beautiful Wine Accessories shop,  it and its contents really are something to see! And that’s what we’ll be doing on the night in question. We’ll be able to tour all three venues as well as enjoy a cava ‘Bienvendo’ and then 5 super wines accompanied by 5 top tapas!

What a great way to start the Valentine’s Weekend!

To make sure you don’t miss out next time please contact me at: www.colinharknessonwine.com ; or call 629 388 159, and you can be included in our e-mail list!

First Published in Costa News Group, Jan. 2011

Hal & Jan seated and enjoying their wine at one of many tastings!



 The New Year didn’t start so well for us as we heard that our old friend and fellow wine writer and critic, Hal Harley, died on its second day. After the funeral, family, friends and the remaining members of the tasting panel we’d formed together, with Hal as one of the founders, met to toast him and celebrate his contribution to all our lives.

 Hal was a big man, in every positive sense of the word. At six feet six with matching frame it’s hard to believe that such a man was not expected to survive past his teens when, at his birth, doctors pronounced that he had a congenital heart disease. A life lived to the full into his sixties with his wife and two daughters, initially in the Midlands and subsequently in Spain, and here with the addition of a grandson, gives a lie to that prognosis.

 But to be fair to the doctors of the time as well as those of his two later sessions of ground-breaking open heart surgery, they hadn’t reckoned on Hal’s determination, or his thirst for life. Hal was a survivor and those of us who had the pleasure to know him also experienced how big he was in friendship and family love. He will be sorely missed!

 I first met Hal and his ever-supportive wife, Jan, at a restaurant in Javea where he was perusing the wine list that, unknown to him, I’d written. Before he knew who I was he mentioned that he was interested in Spanish wine, having recently emigrated from the UK to Spain, and was a keen reader of Cork Talk in an effort to learn more!

 This was the first of many, many occasions when the two of us, later supported by several others with similar interests, ‘went off on one’ about the nectar that we found in our adoptive country. Hal’s thirst for wine knowledge was never wholly sated by such willing cohorts as Pepe of La Parrilla, Javea; John of Pedregeur and maybe myself too – the only way to learn about wine is to taste it! And did we do so!

 We had countless professional style tasting sessions at each of our houses, as well as at La Parrilla, where the first hour’s tasting was taken very seriously with wines considered in depth, notes taken and observations recorded. This was duly followed by food (Hal’s speciality was an excellent Paella) and finally the official, obligatory, finishing of every wine on the table!

Hal became very knowledgeable, graduating to the level of wine writer and critic on the way, with very creditable performances in Spain’s Golden Nose Sommelier’s competition, aided and abetted by the incorrigible Pepe!

 Although not particularly religious Hal’s wine tastes were very catholic. We tasted together wines from all the main DOs (Denominaciónes de Origen, official wine producing areas) as well as many other wine making zones. He preferred reds, but was equally happy joining Jan in a quality white too, with a classy cava to start.

 Although an Enrique Mendoza and Fagus (DO Campo de Borja) devotee, perhaps Hal’s most favoured style of red was complex, deep coloured, multi-layered and full-flavoured as typified by those from Priorat. It is for this reason that I’ll be searching out a top Priorat this month to quietly sip by an open fire and reflect on an enduring friendship and a life well lived.

 Cheers Hal!


Salmon and Potato Pie

Sunday Brunch Presenters Noelle & Bob

Salmon can partner really classy white wines so you can bring out some of your best slightly oaked Chardonnay when salmon comes calling. However as there is also potato and pastry involved here you’ll be pleased to know you don’t have to push the boat out re the cost of the wine.

I still think a judiciously oaked Chardonnay will be the best partner, Avgvstvs from DO Penedés will be perfect. Enate unoaked Chardonnay will also be excellent. However if you want to be a touch daring you may like to look for a rosado instead.
I often like to link the colours of wine and as Salmon has a pink tinge to it, rosado often works well. It has to be dry, though, and you can very occasionally find a slightly oaked rosé – this would be very good too.

First Seen in Costa News, Jan. 2011


 It’s not often that one has the opportunity to be the first to taste a new wine before it goes onto the market. So when Armando and Nuria, brother and sister owners of Bodegas Parcent, invited me to do just that I accepted with alacrity!

 However it wasn’t just me who enjoyed such an honour as a group of other wine lovers gathered one late November morning for a bodega tour and then the tasting. Plus it wasn’t just the new wine that we enjoyed as in fact we tasted all but two of their whole portfolio!

 Bodegas Parcent is a modern wine making facility housed in a bucolic finca whose previous business was of pasa (raison) production and sales. Indeed, in the comfortably appointed intimate shop there hangs a picture of those times gone by where you can see that the original building is largely the same today as it was then, but with a very sympathetic refurbishment maintaining its character and ambience.

 In the 80’s Armando started to make wine, though not on a commercial basis, using just his wits, friends’ advice and family tradition. His first efforts were good and convinced him to study further. Winemaking qualifications followed and then a period of experimentation when vineyards were sourced, growing methods adapted and innovative winemaking skills were blended with traditional ways.

 Bodegas Parcent’s first commercial wines in 2002 were an instant success, their quality/price ratio was just right and to their delight Armando and Nuria sold out of all their wines. Nothing changes it seems as this is the case year in year out – and those of us who tasted that day will not be surprised when the 2010 vintage follows suit and quickly disappears.

 A tasting invariably goes better when the fist wine is a Cava. In this case it was even more apt as it was the limited production cava that was in fact the wine whose inauguration we were attending! This super Brut Nature Cava is made from Chardonnay, Macabeo and Moscatel making it a very eclectic sparkler where the aromatic Moscatel gains depth of flavour from the classic Champagne grape Chardonnay and balancing acidity from the Macabeo.

 Bodegas Parcent’s rosado was label-less as it had been bottled only a few days before. It had clearly had time to recover from bottle-shock (wines often suffer from a short down period after they have just been bottled and after a long journey in bottle) as the super fruit-laden aromas escaped from the bottle as soon as the cork was pulled.

 Their white Auro is a wine designed for those who still have a slightly sweet tooth – it’s not a sweet wine by any means but the 6 grams of residual sugar make it an off-dry style which many will really enjoy. Made from 50/50 Chardonnay and Moscatel this wine went down very well on a damp and grey morning!

 Bodegas Parcent’s recently bottled 100% Merlot, a new wine to the portfolio really is a very good wine. It’s a limited production wine, as are they all from this small bodega, and is guaranteed to sell out I’m certain. It’s drinking extremely well right now but because of the generous fruit content and after its oak ageing it also will develop over the next three -five years.

 Comtat de Parcent, Cabernet, Merlot and Gíro (Garnacha) Crianza is a wine that lingers on the palate after swallowing – a long finish is a mark of quality in wine. Older than the Merlot it’s perfect now but again has some further ageing capacity.

 Finally Dolç D’Art their super dessert wine made from 100% local Moscatel grapes loaded with raison and floral aromas coupled with a lick of citrus acidity and a long finish. A splendid way to finish dinner!