Rotary Fellowship Bodega Visit

I’ll be leading a Bodega trip to Bodegas Castaño and their sister bodega, Bodegas Sierra Salinas for the Rotary Fellowship on Tuesday 13th March. It’s a super day out – just 30€ for return travel, a tour of both bodegas with the winemaking process and the bodegas’ philosophy explained in a very user-friendly and fun way, a three course super lunch of local specialities, plus of course plenty of wine, and not any old wine – both bodegas make award winning high pointers in alkl the wine guides! We may have some space on the coach – please contact me if you would like to join us. Leaving Calpe at 08:30 hrs; Benissa at 08:45 hrs; and Moraira at 09:00 hrs. Please call me on 629 388 159.

First Published in Costa News Group February 2012



Reading back I note that I was quite voluble with my praise of the white wines of  Bodegas Terras Gauda made in their homeland of DO Rías Baixas in Galicia, North West Spain. Well, having now tasted all their red wines, made in nearby DO Bierzo, I’m going to be equally complimentary – clearly this is a bodega to watch!

Mencía, indigenous to DO Bierzo, is a remarkable grape variety. It’s unique with a flavour and even, mouthfeel, like no other I’ve tasted. Its wines are deeply coloured and fruity and when made from older vines whose yield is low but whose grapes are the richer for it, the resulting nectar can be opulent and full flavoured, yet beguilingly elegant too. I always like to have a bottle or two in my cellar and because of its natural acidity it will also age well.

Pittacum 2007 is such a deeply coloured wine. It’s had 8 months in French and American oak after a month left in its fermentation vats where all the colour, flavour and tannin are concentrated. The 100% Mencía grapes were harvested by hand into small capacity crates and once at the winery the selection table was rigorously employed ensuring that only the best bunches were included.

Initially quite closed on the nose, the aromas soon start to develop – damson with notes of mint flavoured meaty gravy. On the palate bitter, dark chocolate blends sublimely with the damson and a curious, but attractive, aroma of old rope being untied. Its finish is mid to long, with a dark fruit liqueur chocolate end.

Its older brother, Pittacum Aurea 2007, is made from 100+ year old vines and again it’s a little closed at first. On the palate the first hit is juicy black plum and damson with acidity and mature tannin. During its first ten minutes it may seem a little lacking in depth to be able to develop further, but soon after, the wine comes alive.

Coffee and wooden barrel aromas mingle with damson fruit and, arriving late but making a significant and appreciated contribution, slatey mineral notes, with a certain earthiness too. It has a long, bold finish with dark fruits and cedar and mineral character. It has a well-earned 94 Peñin Points – making it one of the best Bierzo wines available! Decant before serving (if you don’t have a decanter [naughty, you should have!] pour it into the glass half an hour before you intend to drink it).

Perhaps my favourite, however, was the 92 pointer, Quinta Sardonia 2007, a VdlT Castilla y León, – just for the pure pleasure of drinking! It really is a super fruit-charged mouthful, and no wonder, considering the seven different varieties in the blend!

QS is made with Tinto Fino (aka Tempranillo), the lion’s share in fact making 52% of the blend, but aided and abetted by: Cabernet Sauvignon; Merlot; Syrah (only 5% but surely impacting significantly on the overall juciness of the finished product); Petit Verdot; Cabernet Franc (interesting this because, if Mencía shares any characteristics with another variety, it’s Cab. Franc); and finally Malbec! Now that’s a lot of wine in a single mouthful!

Its colour is a glorious dense and dark cherry, picota, red. On the nose there is an inviting, actually addicting intensity with cassis and mountain herbs to the fore. On the palate you’ll find ripe plums, a touch of black pepper with a hint of black olives too. There’s been oak ageing, 16 months in fact, but it’s been in subtle French oak and has been handled in an exemplary fashion with the vanilla input blending perfectly with  the wine, contributing to the final flavour in an integrated, graceful manner, rather like the double bass in an orchestra.

Indeed this symphonious, sexy wine is sensual in every way. Drinking perfectly now, it has the mature tannin, fruit content, acidity and alcohol (15%!) to age for another 3 – 5 years, but I doubt you’ll be able to keep your hands off it!


Hot off the press! The Moraira/Teulada U3A have asked me to organise a Spanish Wine Presentation as part of their series of Workshops for members. I’m delighted to do so of course! We will be tasting 4 different styles of wines from 4 different areas of production with explanations about Grape Varieties, wine laws etc – all presented in an easy user-friendly and fun way.

We will be at Cafe Del Mar, Andrago Meeting Point, Moraira (same area as Algas Bar on the left as you are leaving Moraira centre on the Calpe coast road, Friday 23rd March.

We are starting at 18:00 hrs and it shoujld last 2 hours. There will be tapas served with the wines and it seems to me to be an ideal start to a weekend evening out! the cost is just 7:50€ – please contact Shirley Baehr at to reserve tickets. Please do this sooner rather than later as they are selling like hot cakes!

PS Hot cakes are not included in the Tapas!

See you there!

First Published Costa News Group January 2012



Despite (or perhaps because of) it’s youth, the relatively young 22 years old Bodegas Terras Gauda is something of a yardstick by which the super wines of DO Rias Baixas can be measured. Their classic 100% Albariño wine embodies in abundance all the attributes one would expect from this noble, and increasingly sought after, white wine grape variety.

However such a forward thinking bodega also has a foot in the past and I applaud it for this as well. Unwilling to simply help lead a bandwagon full of Albariño, the variety that is achieving cult status, Bodegas Terras Gauda is also keen to preserve, not just the memory of other local grape varieties, but to promote them as well. Their two other white wines proudly proclaim that they are made with Caíño Branco and Loureiro, with Albariño playing a only a bit part in one (though nevertheless significant) and a more major and yet equal (in terms of flavour and aroma) role in the other.

But even that’s not all! Their eye on the present and the future is also noticeable as they make wines, under a different name, in nearby BO Bierzo too, where the unique, and a touch quirky, Mencia variety makes exciting and yet elegant red wines that will grace any dinner table.

The golden hued, Acacia honey coloured, La Mar, DO Rias Baixas (a glass of which sits invitingly alongside my laptop right now!) is the wine that boasts only 10% Albariño, just 5% Loureiro and the rest the variety, new to me, Caíño Blanco. It’s not an easy variety with which to deal. It is susceptible to disease and attractive to insects. It’s skin is thick relative to the juice it produces and allied with naturally small yields the must realised after pressing is far less than with other varieties.

However the sensual aromas and flavours make up for all the hard work, plus it is also a fine conduit for the terroir under and in which the vine is grown. There’s a minerality about this wine as well as white peach fruit and gently perfumed white flowers along with subtle herbs – a touch of bay, an almost, but not quite anonymous thyme and green, actually damp, sage. Super!

Terras Gauda, simply named but quite complex, is another of their whites that uses Albariño as it’s base but also has a decent percentage of Caíño Blanco and quite a lot more Loureiro (approaching 20%). The Albariño contributes volume, mouthfeel, on the palate as well fruit aromas – some pineapple but predominately peach and apricot and more delicate white flower petals. But it’s the Loureiro that makes such a dramatic contribution to the intense aromatic quality of the finished product.

The Abadia de San Campo bottle, doesn’t have, for me, the most attractive label – but the wine contained therein writes volumes about how good Albariño can be when made from the free-run juice (the first 60% of juice produce from the lightest of pressing). The vineyards for this wine are at the highest altitude with less humidity and considerable differences between night and daytime temperatures.

The wine has a fresh lick of lime and lemon acidity underlying corpulent soft skinned stoned fruit such as peach and apricot. The aroma has a lovely white flower intensity, a touch or orange blossom mingling with distant jasmine floating in on a sea breeze.  It’s a full flavoured wine which will be ideal with its usual Galician partner, the wonderful seafood that is served in all the restaurants, as well as fish with sauces.

So this was the first half of the story – next week the outstanding reds of Bodegas Terras Gauda.