First Published Costa News Group, May 2011



 Owned by Jose of Teulada’s: Bodegas A Catarlo Todo; Tapes Tapes; and Diversus, one would expect that this elegant restaurant boasted top wines as well as gourmet cuisine. One would also presume that any wine tasting event held there would be top drawer – and you’d be correct on both counts!

 Some highlights were discussed last week and today there are more. First though a brief repeat mention, from previous Cork Talks, about the remarkable Riedel wine glasses as used exclusively for this tasting. There is no doubt in my mind that Riedel glasses do enhance the enjoyment of wine – and indeed, as clearly demonstrated at Ca La Iaia, the flavour and taste of other alcoholic beverages, on this occasion Brandy too!

The Riedel Challenge - taste the difference!

Clients and the press were invited to attend a special tasting using perfectly adequate and attractive glasses in competition with Riedel glasses, using exactly the same wines from the same bottles. Proof positive that Riedel glasses are superior, regarding the wine’s aromas and first mouthfeel and taste. (I’m not on their payroll, I should add, I’m simply one of the converted!)

 In true Watergate tradition (well ok, perhaps not quite as important!) I feel it my duty to let you in on a secret – Bodegas Care’s Chardonnay 2010 has some officially unapproved Viognier in the blend! My guess is that DO Cariñena’s Consejo Regulador will soon approve the variety – the wine is lovely!

 In fact Care wines were amongst the stars of this tasting. I love their distinctive labels (each has a unique modern art face drawn on it) and this effective marketing ploy is backed up by super wines in the bottle. Their joven (young) wine, made with Tempranillo and super fruity Syrah (when grown in a hot climate) has a touch of oak ageing to add some depth to the fresh fruit flavours.

 Xclnt 2004 is their take on ‘excellent’ – and it’s not far off! As deeply flavoured as it is coloured the Garnacha, Cabernet and Syrah grapes harvested from old vines also make this a complex and highly flavoured wine. Sixteen months in French oak have added a slight aroma of well-used leather to the liquorice and blackcurrant fruit with a touch of spice from the Syrah grown at altitude – a minty minerality completes the picture!

 Bodegas Alegre, whose logo you’ll see on my website, continues to make super wines. Their Selección Especial 2004 (an excellent year in la Rioja) is made from Tempranillo with the addition of Graciano for added flavour and Mazuelo for acidity. This wine will last for several years yet, lovely!

 Their flagship wine, Pontiac 2005, is elegant and subtle, with dark chocolate notes on the finish and a great length. There are dark fruits and mature tannin to seduce the drinker followed by a warm glow after swallowing that lasts and lasts.

 NB when I was there three years ago there was a wine that had just finished fermenting which was going to be the next generation of Pontiac – they didn’t have name for it them, so called it Pontiac+. Watch out for Pontiac de Portiles when it becomes available soon – I’m certain it will be outstanding!

 There was also a ‘Super Tuscan’ wine from Italy, Insoglio from the Antinori stable. Damson fruit from its Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah, this surprise package was of the ‘best in show’!

 I liked Pago de Vicario’s Soto De Vicario, made from that unique variety Bierzo and aged in 300 litre Caucasian oak with its violet colour and aromas plus mineral notes too.

 However the wine I came away thinking about, and one to which I’ll return

A lasting memory - super Martúe red wine!

 for sure, was Martúe from Bodegas Martúe La Guardia (the only bodega in DO Campo de la Guardia!). Put simply it’s such a lovely, fruit driven but deeply textured, layered wine that it’s a real pleasure to drink! (Note also that their white Verdejo Pie Franco, a past Costa News Top Ten wine, remains perhaps the best Rueda wine I’ve tasted!).

First Published Costa News Group, April 2011



Entrance to Restaurante Ca La Aiai

 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!

 * NB Part Two next week!


Croquetas de Jamon:
There are possibilities here – a rosado would be good, and as this is the land of super rosé wines there are plenty to choose from.
However I think the best match would be a fruity Monastrell from Jumilla or Yecla. Some oak ageing wouldn’t go amiss but I think a crianza with it’s minimum of 6 months oak would be the limit, lest we lose the upfront fruit.
So I think the ideal would be a Semi-Crianza or Roble Monastrell. Such terms are not legally defined. Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva are, with minimum time in oak and bottle specified. Semi-Crianza is perhaps self-explanatory, as it indicates that there has been oak ageing but not enough to satisfy the criteria for a Crianza.
Roble, essentially means the same – Roble is the Spanish word for Oak. Sometimes the number of months in oak will be recorded on the label, sometimes not. 
PS Don’t forget the next On-Air tasting will be Sunday 5th June 12:00 – 13:00 hrs; Listen Live by internet: !!

Bodegas Roda, DOCa La Rioja

The Outstanding Wines of Bodegas Roda

Hola Colin,

 Muchisimas gracias por el artículo.

 Ya sabes, que cuando quieras, como tenemos otros vinos, no dejes de indicarme que te envie muestras para que puedas catarlos.

 Mis más cordiales saludos,


Dear Colin,

 Thank you very much for your e-mail.

 It’s a very nice article; and very well written, congratulations.