First Published Costa News Nov 2012



I remember with some embarrassment the dreadful faux pas I made quite a few years ago, when I visited, with a coach load of people, Bodegas Los Frailes, near Fontanares, inland from Gandía. Standing in the beautiful and tranquil vineyards I was talking to the group about the favoured grape variety of the region and also of Bodegas Los Frailes – Monastrell.

I had just explained (in error, as I was soon to find out!) that Monastrell is the Spanish name for the French variety, Mourvèdre. The hand of Miguel, the owner of the Bodega, whose family had in fact worked the vineyards for generations having bought the estate at auction as far back as 1771, gently but purposefully landed on my shoulder:

No, Señor Colin – Mouvèdre is the French name for the Spanish grape variety, Monastrell!”.

Of course it didn’t really matter to the group who were probably more interested in tasting the wine than listening to a lengthy discourse on the provenance of the vines which supplied the grapes for that wine. And I have to admit that I smiled in apology to Miguel, thinking – no matter, it’s probably just a parochial disagreement, some friendly(ish!) cross-Pyrenees rivalry!

Well, when I returned to my office I looked into the matter and yes, Miguel was quite correct of course and I thanked him for pointing it out to me.

I thanked him recently too, this time for giving me several of his wines for a tasting to be included under the association banner of Terres dels Alforíns after we had lunched together with the three other founder members of this group of leading DO Valencia winemakers. Regular readers will remember a number of articles I have written about the impressive wines made by members of the group, and the wines of Bodegas Los Frailes are no exception!

The entire production of this bodega is organic. When I asked Miguel all those years ago why it was that he had decided to change to strictly organic production he simply pointed to a photo on his office desk.

I want the land I leave to my children to be good, clean land. I want to put back into the soil what I take out if it, not with chemicals and fertilizers, but with organic matter. We are all but caretakers of the land with which we work and it is our duty to pass on perfect soils to the next generation.”

Gone are the days when organic wines were drunk solely by tree-hugging, Earth-loving, long-haired, wooly-jumpered Bohemians who accepted anything as long as it was produced organically. The quality of Organic and indeed Bio-dynamic wines is self-evident and, whilst there are wine competitions solely for Organic wines, most of these wines are entered in competitions that are open to all – and they do very well too!

Indeed the wines of Bodegas Los Frailes are of very high quality, full stop!

Blanc Trilogía, which as you might imagine from its name, uses three varieties – Sauvignon for lovely fresh gooseberry, nettle and asparagus notes; Moscatel for grapey, raison perfume; and the indigenous Verdil for extra body.

The grapes undergo a five-day maceration at low temperatures to extract the maximum aromas, then half of the must is fermented French Oak with regular stirring of the lees. After fermentation this portion joins the other 50% which underwent stainless steel fermentation.

You’ll find tropical fruit with citrus too and a touch of vanilla. It has a certain weight in the mouth but with fresh acidity too, and maybe just a passing whiff of wild fennel and thyme.  

Trilogíca Tinto (yes, three varieties!), includes Tempranillo with Monastrell (of course) and some Cabernet Sauvignon all of which have enjoyed a long maceration period where colours, mature tannin and deep flavour are extracted. Mature fruit sits on an integrated bedrock of Hungarian oak vanilla aromas and flavour. Super.

Bilogía (yes, you guessed it!) has a 50/50 blend of Monastrell and Tempranillo. It too has had a long maceration followed by 12 months in Hungarian oak to add some vanilla, depth and complexity, though the wine is very pleasant easy drinking.

f (that’s the name, not a disguised swearword!) Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon is as dark in the glass as you might imagine from these particularly black grapes. It’s had just 4 months in oak, to mellow the Cabernet and add some extra flavout to finished product. Like it’s stable-mate f Monastrell Monovarietal it’s meant for tasty easy drinking and both serve this purpose very well! 

Finally, I was wholly enamoured with Miguel’s Moma 2008 – an excellent wine! It’s made with old vine Monastrell and the superb very new variety, Marselan, which is a man-made cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, first bred in 1961 and first vinified (used for making wine) as recently as 2002!

It’s painstaking elaboration, using modern and old, traditional methods, including finally a lengthy time in medium toasted French Barricas with its lees and then in bottle in the cellars, this wine is outstanding for its under 20€ price tag. Mature fruit mixes with some spice, dark chocolate and a touch of tobacco and stony mineral notes on a long finish.

An outstanding bodega making a significant contribution to the Terres dels Alforíns group, which is causing something of a stir in the DO Valencia – because of the sheer quality of its autocratic members’ wines!

PS Wednesday 5th December is a date for your diary. I’m presenting five super wines to partner five gourmet tapas at Moraira’s Olive Tree restaurant when we’ll also be enjoying the beautiful music of Dolce Divas throughout the evening! And check out the price – only 25€ for all this!! You can call into the restaurant to reserve; or call me on 629 388 159; or e-mail It promises to be a special night! &


If you’re near a radio on Monday 3rd December you might like to tune in to Heat Gold FM (94.1 FM and 94.4 FM), or a computer ( from 14:00 hrs and listen to my Christmas Wine Recommendations on Eric Taylor’s programme.

There will be some good tips for wines you might want to enjoy over the festive season plus lots of chat about wine stuff with Eric, who loves a glass now and now!

I’m hoping to post here the wines that we’ll be tasting, before the event, so that you will be able to buy them and taste ‘with’ us! So watch this space!

First Published Costa News Group, November 2012




It’s a long way from the City of London to the beautiful mountains towering over one of Spain’s most enigmatic cities, Granada – both physically and culturally,  too!

The difference between the frenetic fast-track life of Public Relations where blue-chip clients, and their potential clients, are pampered with top quality wines in the major metropolises of the world, and the actual making of those fine wines in the rural, high altitude bucolic bliss of the vineyards of DO Vino de Calidad de Granada, is immense.

However those who have walked the tightrope suspended between success and failure in the dynamic world of PR are perhaps well equipped to cope with taking that life changing step. Harry Hunt, ex-Managing Director of a successful Public Relations Company, headquartered in The City, hasn’t downsized, he’s sideways-sized! The challenges he and his wife, Katie (and their young children), now face are at least, just as demanding.

Katie and Harry first travelled to Andalucia in the early 90s and although it was unknown to them then, the seeds of discontent with their lifestyles of the time were sown, along with the budding and nurturing of a lasting love affair with the stunning beauty of Southern Spain.

Harry, owing partly to his time fine wining and dining his PR clients, was also developing an interest in wines, and although he didn’t articulate it at the time, in wine-making too. He took an interest in the differing styles of wine emanating from the varied topographies that are available to wine-makers in Andalucia.

It was something of an epiphany when the opportunity to enrol in the University of Brighton’s Plumpton College, Viticulture and Oenology course presented itself. Harry signed up!

After an extensive and demanding course, which included practical experience, not only in the college vineyards but also with stints in UK vineyards as well as in Bordeaux and the Rhòne valley, Harry was handed his degree in Science in Wine Production in 2010. Fully qualified and nicely experienced, all he needed now was a winery!

Or was it? What about the creation of a negociant-style wine business in Andalucia, an area where no such enterprise existed? This novel idea became a reality after meeting a young up-and-coming winemaker in the Granada area, Alberto Villarraso Zafra. Although a local lad Alberto also had the crucial (to Harry’s business plan) experience of international wine making, including vintages in the Southern Hemisphere, in New Zealand to be precise.

Harry’s experience in the business world told him that whilst it was a super idea to make distinctive wine in Andalucia, it was also going to be necessary to sell that wine, not just locally, not even just within the boundaries of Spain, but also internationally. Harry was looking for contemporary wines that had a foundation in the tradition and practise of their homeland including a sense of that place, but also the added value of modern, international thinking.

Harry’s fledging Bodegas Tierra Hermosa owns no vineyards, no wine making facility, none of the trappings that one would normally expect for a wine business. And yet Harry has just released their first two wines and Cork Talk has the honour of being the first to revue them!

Following the classic French negociant model, Harry, along with his advisor, Alberto, identified various vineyard plots whose soils, micro-climates, altitude and grape varieties fitted their requirements. Bodega owners were approached and a deal was made where Harry would buy the grapes from the targeted plots, supervising every aspect of wine production, from vine to bottle.

Thus the wines of Bodegas Tierra Hermosa are wholly theirs, with the exception of ownership of the vines whose bounty they use – and to such good effect!

Neblerío 2010 DOP Vino de Calidad de Granada has the unmistakeable soft red fruit combined with darker, brambly berries that are characteristic of wines made from 100% Tempranillo. The vineyards used for this wine are at a very high altitude where night time

Neblerío, quality red wine from Bodegas Tierra Hermosa

temperatures are dramatically lower that those of the daytime, when the sun beats down mercilessly. The sunshine and consequent high temperatures allow the grapes to ripen perfectly, but the significant heat loss of night time insures against a flabby wine, increasing the acidity so necessary in fine wine.

However Neblerío also has another advantage, indicated perhaps to those who have an understanding of Spanish, in the name. Neblerío is the local name for the mists that form in the early hours of dawn and beyond, until eventually chased away by the rising sun. This mist provides added moisture to help grape production as well as some respite from the sun.

The wine enjoys a short ageing period in small French oak barrels which gives it some added depth with vanilla, slight coffee and dark chocolate aromas and tastes. The oak is handled judiciously, an indication that Harry has not only learned his craft well, but that he is also aware that the modern wine drinker is not keen on wood hiding primary fruit flavours. This is a juicy wine with a mineral quality, drinking well now but with time on its side too. There’s mature tannin, acidity of course, plenty of fruit and a sufficiently high alcohol level making it a wine that can be aged to mellow further.

The name Veinte Grados (20º) 2010 VdlT Laderas del Genil, their other wine, is a reference to the 20ºC drop in temperature between night and day time. Harry has taken the decision to opt out of the DO for this wine’s production. Years ago this might have been considered either brave or foolish as there was a time when DO approval was supposed to be the only the mark of quality. Cork Talk readers will know of course that this is no longer the case as there are many wines that are not DO approved but are often better than some which are!

Essentially, if a winemaker wants to have his wine listed under the DO he has to abide by their rules. These are many and can be

Top Wine celebrating the 20ºC difference between night and daytime temperatures!

tiresome. If a winemaker wants to make his wine in a way not approved by the DO he must have it listed by another name (smelling just as sweet!).

20º is made from three grape varieties – Tempranillo, Garnacha and Syrah, and it’s the Syrah that is the reason for opting out of the DO system. Veinte Grados is a 2010 vintage wine, but the 20% Syrah included in the blend is from the 2008 harvest which has subsequently been aged in small French oak barricas, adding to the complexity and structure of the finished product.

This super Priorat-esque wine, perhaps because of the similarities in soils and altitude between the hallowed Priorat vineyards and those above Granada, was made from vines that manage to grow at 1,200 metres above sea level, amongst the highest in  Spain!

There’s an abundance of dark fruit with damsons particularly noticeable but that’s not all. Look for some spice, from the Syrah along with a faint black olive taste too; there’s a whiff of bay leaf and some pleasing, slatey mineral notes with a blackberry fruit, lengthy finish. Again this wine will also be suitable for ageing.

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