Twenty family and friends celebrated Sandra’s birthday at John and Sandra’s beautiful house on Montgo recently with a cheese and wine evening that I had the pleasure of presenting, with excellent assistance from Dom, John’s 9 year old grandson who helped with the foils, corks and the wine pouring as well as holding up the DO Map of Spain!; along with Claire, who advised on cheeses, did the filming and laid out the cheese boards. Mine was the easy bit!

We chose 5 different cheeses, three French and two Spanish, each to be accompanied by a different wine. Whilst many like to drink red wine with cheese – there are some cheeses that go very nicely with white wine and we started with Avgvstvs Chardonnay FB 2011 – a superb, Burgundy style wine.

The rest of the wines were red, supplied by my friends at Bodegas Sierra Salinas (Mo Tinto 2010; Puerto Salinas 2009); and Bodegas Castaño (Colección 2009; Castaño Dulce Monastrell 2009).

The wines were, as expected, really tasty with depth too – we each had our favourites of course. Plus the cheeses were excellent and the combined flavours of cheese and wine worked very well.

Such nights can be arranged for anyone – please contact me for details:


First Published Costa News Group, July 2012, Parés Baltà Red Wines



Readers may remember a lengthy article about the cavas and white wines of the DO Penedès based winery Bodegas Parés Baltà. This family owned bodega whose original vineyards were planted as far back as 1790 has of course established a fine name for itself regarding its cava production. Indeed I’ve been njoying Parés Baltà cavas, which manage to successfully blend tradition with modern methods, since my arrival in Spain fifteen years ago.

I confess, though, that I knew little about their still wine production. Well the erudite and elegant Anna, Nottingham born and Liverpool Uni educated, who had not only mastered Castellano but also Catalan, guided me through (in good Northern English!) the white wine portfolio on a memorable day in March during Barcelona’s biennial Alimentaria wine fair.

But that wasn’t all. A few weeks later I received a raft of red wines which I have recently tasted and I have to say the prognosis is good, very good, for this leading Penedès bodega. Typically the red wines manage to combine elegance with depth of flavour and invariably have an abundance of fruit along with pleasing minerality, which is of course part testament to their uncompromising organic approach.

Indeed this forward thinking and very responsibly minded bodega is at this very moment testing some biodynamic practises which will bear fruit perhaps in the coming year. Watch this space!

Indigena 2010 Garnacha (though spelt Garnatxa in Catalan on the label) weighs in at 14%, but it is surprisingly light on the palate with crisp early ripened plum notes with some cherry too. It comes in what used to be called a Burgundy bottle, downwards more bulbous from a sloping neck than the straight up and down Bordeaux style bottle. This style lends an air of seriousness to the rather trendy purple foil and lettering on the labels, fore and aft. A wine, I think, designed like the label, for the younger consumer who doesn’t want to be short-changed on flavour and quality but does require an element of cool.

The wine delivers on both fronts – on the palate it’s fresh with good fruit notes, a closed nose initially but one that develops and opens out in the glass. Its high alcohol content would allow it to age and it’s noticeable acidity and tannin levels will aid and abet, but that’s not really the point of this wine. It’s vivacious and ready to drink now and for another couple of years.

Mas Elena 2009 has a similarly trendy label though this time the very small orange/red lettering doesn’t really work as it’s really too busy and therefore very difficult to read. However don’t be put off the wine. Made with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon it’s a fine example of how Parés Baltà likes also to use ‘foreign’ grape varieties – to great effect.

These French, in fact very Bordeaux, varieties have adapted excellently to Penedés soils and Spanish sunshine. Mas Elena demonstrates how minerality is a feature of wines from this bodega, all of whose wines are Organic.

Mas Petit 2009 is made with Garnacha and Cabernet and at 13·5% it’s a relatively lightweight wine, the other reds all scoring 14+%, however on the palate the slight difference is hardly noticeable. It has lovely bold blackcurrant and plum notes and is rich in flavour, and aroma, after it has spent as few minutes in the glass.

The minimalist front label of Hisenda Miret 2008 Garnacha is in contrast to the intense aromas and flavours of this full bodied (14·5%) floral and wild dark fruit scented wine. A wine for enjoying long after you have swallowed. It has well integrated oak in a fruit driven style.

Mas Irene 2006 is made with Cabernet Franc and Merlot and has been aged in French oak. It’s from a limited production which will mean that is difficult to obtain, though you really should try! It’s a very rich wine and yet subtle too, despite its 14·5% alcohol. After five years in bottle resting in the perfect atmosphere of the Parés Baltà cellars is took a little time to open out on the nose, though the intensity of flavour was there straight away.

Bottle number 1,634 of Marta Baltà 2006 was one of only 3,856 bottles produced of this wine for that vintage. Limited production, or what! Like the Mas Irene above it is a wine that is not produced every year and comes from individual vineyards whose micro-climates give the wines an enviable singularity including an abundance of fruit combined with mineral notes from its soils and subtle use of French oak.

Marta Baltà is made with 100% Syrah and really is an exemplary wine from Spanish Syrah, where these French in origin grapes have the chance to ripen fully under Spanish sunshine. There are spicy, peppery notes along with some blackberry fruit and a touch of black olive on the nose combining floral notes too.

Finally Absis 2005 sees the first appearance of Tempranillo in the blend with Syrah again, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a wonderfully dark coloured wine, sultry in the glass, with aromas of black cherries and blackcurrant jam (with a whiff of same but with a tiny splash of whisky or brandy in it too!). Again it has the customary minerality and a great length ensuring double the pleasure from this, another limited production wine. Complexity, richness, depth and elegance in equal measure!

Contact Colin: and through his unique wine services website:

Received following my Wine Appreciation presentation to a group enjoying a Yoga Break in Spain!

In full flow!

Colin, thank you again for a great evening last Sunday.   Your wine appreciation session went down so well with the couples on our Yoga Break in Spain.   You’ll be pleased to know there wasn’t a drop of wine left in the bottles you put on the table after you finished your session!    You’re a fantastic ambassador for Spanish wines – I hope the wine producers appreciate what a great asset you are to them.  Your knowledge, enthusiasm & passion for wine is truly infectious.  I am most certainly going to take more time in choosing & appreciating local wines now &  I feel confident that there will be a great many more bottles of Spanish wines sold in the UK now our yoga holiday guests have had the pleasure of meeting you & trying the great selection of wines you bought to our session.”

Nicole Director Yoga Breaks in Spain Tel. 0034 620 147 089
STOP PRESS: Yoga Breaks in Spain just voted a TOP 10 YOGA RETREATS WORLDWIDE by Fox News USA.- Woo Hoo!
Enjoying wines from Bodegas Castaño and Sierra Salinas with Yoga enthusiasts


The next live wine tasting on Bay Radio’s Sunday Brunch programme will be on Sunday 26th August, 12:00 hrs – 13:00 hrs. You can tune in and/or listen through the internet,, click Listen Live!

We also invite your calles/e-mails during the programme for any suggestions/comments/questions you may have – why not join the party!

The idea is that I recommend a couple of wines to accompany the recipe(s) that Noelle has designed – the recipe details are read out along with the method and my role is to talk about the wines that will be a pefect match for the food, and why I believe this is so. I also give some details about the bodega, the wine itself, the area of production etc – and it’s all done with a sense of fun!

There are many listeners who follow the recipes and the wine recommendations and often people ask where the recommended wines can be bought.

Please join us on Sunday 26th August 12:00 – 13:00 hrs!

Pairing food with Spanish wine - it's a tough life!