First Published Costa News Group March 2013



For the time being this is the final article of a series that I’ve been writing about wines from Spain’s majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range. Whilst it would be inaccurate to say that, like the cherry on the trifle, I’ve saved the best ’til the last, it nevertheless is true to say that the high standard that I have come to expect from this small but multinational enclave is at least as prevalent at Dominio Buenavista as it is at others whom I’ve mentioned.


Buenavista wines are exemplary, providing full flavour, power and yet elegance and subtlety and I’m quite sure that in the USA where there are burgeoning sales their wines are being lauded as much and perhaps more than they are here in their native Spain.


However you could say that whilst the provenance of the wines is in no doubt the nationalities of the owners and others associated with their crafting is, rather like the wines they produce, something of a fine blend!


I was first introduced to the wines of Dominio Buenavista following an e-mail I received from the States from Nola Palomar who had picked up, via the internet, the first article I had written about emerging bodegas and their wines from the Alpujerra area of the Province of Granada. Nola, an American, and her husband Juan, born and bred in the high altitude village where the vineyards are located, have also employed the services of a flying Australian wine consultant and continue to use those of a consultant Professor of Oenology from Madrid whoi works cloesely with Head Winemaker, Juan. A truly international effort!


It’s a caring operation – Dominio Buenavista farms organically (though they haven’t applied for the certificates), responsibly and with a keen eye on sustainability and the environment, ensuring that their carbon footprint is as insignificant as possible. All this and the above make for super, fruit driven, flavour laden wines with a pleasing range of complexity, from the easy to drink and economic to deeply layered, supple wines of subtlety and elegance.


I tasted two of their sparkling wines, a rosado and a white both of which shared typical patisserie aromas, with the rosado having some delightful floral, red rose petal fragrance as well as raspberry and loganberry, and on the palate too.


Their Brut is made with Chardonnay and has clearly enjoyed its one month ageing in French oak – there is just that slight vanilla adding a little depth to the flavour and a touch of weight on the palate. It’s a good aperitif of course, but try it also with smoked fish, some white meats and south east Asian cuisine!


The range of wines, including the sparklers, is sold under the Veleta label – one to look out for!


I’m grateful to Nola and Juan for sending me their white wine Veleta Viji 2011, made as it is with a new to me grape variety, though indigenous to the area, Vijiriega, with just 10% Chardonnay for added volume and flavour, and no doubt public appeal. I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that I’d not heard of Virijiega. I’ll be looking out for it again though!


There’s a freshness about the wine, coming no doubt from the floral and citrus contribution of the main player in this blend that is wholly original, save for the minor contribution of the ubiquitous Chardonnay. It’s a pleasure to enjoy different aromas rather than the, albeit pleasing, but also common Sauvignon, Verdejo et al. For me there’s a hint of blanched almond, a passing reference to fennel and was that a whiff of green melon there too?


Vji has had a short time in French oak too which adds to its mouthfeel and length.


Veleta Tempranillo Joven 2011 is a fruit driven, juicy red wine, designed for those who just want to enjoy the wine without having to think too much about it, no doubt an added incentive for younger drinkers, and yet there is within it a clue as to what’s to come with the older wines.


It’s a fine expression of Spain’s darling variety Tempranillo with added floral notes, violet perhaps, some mountain herb nuances and a pleasing first hint of minerality. Its medium length will also endear it to more experienced wine drinkers and in my case it certainly made me excited to try the range of 2008 wines that were also supplied.


In fact the VdlT wine Veleta Tempranillo, the older brother of the above is from the 2007 vintage. The vineyards from whence this wine comes are 650 metres above sea level, not as nosebleed-inducing as some of the wines from this area, but plenty high enough for there to be extremely cold winters, and the usual (for wines from Alpujarra) dramatic changes in temperature between nigh and day during the growing season.


At 14% alc it certainly has presence in the mouth, but this is not at the cost of elegance. Grapes harvested at their optimum ripeness and then a year in oak give the wine a rich feel with damson and liquorice on the nose and the palate. It too has a touch of herbs on the nose, bay leaf, perhaps but a little spicy cinnamon note too. Mineral notes seem to float in and out of the wine’s profile and juicy fruit note stays with you after you’ve drained your glass.


Veleta is a largely French blend, the two Cabernets, with Tempranillo too. The Cabernet Sauvignon changes the fruit to a more blackcurrant taste but the minerality remains with perhaps some thyme or rosemary, vanilla from the oak and a touch of chocolate on the rich, slightly bitter finish.


This wine is fine as drink to have with friends but it’s also going to be super with some meat dishes, maybe game, but certainly casseroles.


Veleta Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 is an example of just how good Cabernets can be when grown in full sun, but at altitude, and with a few years bottle ageing after its twelve months in oak. We know, perhaps too well in the UK, Cabernets from Chile that quite hot and sometimes sickly sweet in the mouth indicating a high level of alcohol and not enough acidity. This is the perfect antidote.


The altitude of the vineyards and the temperature change between night and day give the wine a lovely colour but also that crucial acidity. Tannins are mature adding to the overall experience and bringing a smooth depth to the wine. Blackberry and Blackcurrant with a little pepper and cinnamon and some dark chocolate on the finish, but with a lasting fruit note. There’s a very slight note of mint with some stony mineral aromas too.


The Veleta range is VdlT and can be labelled as table wine, dispelling once and for all(?) the myth that Vino de la Tierra/Table Wine must be inferior to DO wines, but of course Cork Talk Readers already know this!


Contact: and through his unique wine services website Please note that now you can follow Colin on Twitter – @colinonwine


First Published Costa News Group March 2013



Regular readers will know all about the dramatic turn of events that occurred in the rarefied world of Spanish Sparkling Wine production just before Christmas 2012. Two originally unconnected events coincidentally dovetailed, to the delight of one area of production and to the dismay, albeit stoically borne, of another.


In the north east of Spain where Cataluña proudly boasts 95% of the production of Spain’s classic sparkling wine, Cava, a fissure appeared separating some established producers from the ruling Consejo Regulador of the Denominación de Origen. It was, it seems, a question of quality. Some of the producers of what are internationally recognised as being amongst the best Cavas decided to withdraw from the DO after a sustained period of pleading with the powers that be to try and up the standard in general of Cava, rather than let it continue to spiral downwards.


These upmarket and most prestigious cava-makers, having decided to abandon the ship, would now be obliged to call their produce merely Sparkling Wines, which in international and national terms does not carry the came cache.


Meanwhile, almost as far away as it’s possible to be and yet still remain in Spain, in the far north west, Galicia, the Denominación de Origen Rías Baixas, famed for their wonderful aromatic white wines made with the noble Albariño variety, decided to welcome Sparkling Wines into their portfolio of wines that can be granted the DO seal.


For those of us who love Albariño wines this was a quite remarkable stroke of fortune – some of you who have read previous, quite recent, Cork Talk articles and have had the opportunity to taste the wines will surely, gladly attest to their quality.


It was fortunate too for those Rías Baixas producers who have been stalwartly making top quality sparkling wines for decades, but who had been unable to sell them as DO wines until now.


Imagine their extra delight when, because of the happenings over in ‘Cava Land’, suddenly the wine world’s attention would shift from cava to the other Sparkling Wines of Spain, thus brightening the ‘cava shadow’ under which they’d toiled for so long. Perfect timing, or what?


Bodegas Coto-Redondo is one of the producers who have a track record of making quality Sparkling Wines, which they are now able to label DO Rías Baixas. My request to them for some samples was readily agreed to and sure enough a small case of wines duly arrived – with a surprise included!


The Consejo Regulador has agreed to include sparkling wines as long as they are made with the traditional grape varieties of the area – Albariño of course, but also others. And this includes black grape varieties!


Hence it is entirely possible, and DO approved to boot, to make red sparkling wines, provided that permitted varieties are used – and that means, perhaps the best known red wine variety of the area, Mencía, but others as well.


So my case of wine included white Brut Nature and Brut, plus a fascinating Tinto Brut! With due diligence and on your behalf of course I selflessly stuck to my task!


Señorio de Rubios Brut Nature is of course the driest style of sparkling wine. No sugar is added at all when the second fermentation is induced while the, at this moment, still wine is in bottle. The yeast gets to work on the residual sugar, reducing the already low level of sweetness and producing the carbon dioxide bubbles. After a period of time this bone dry sparkling wine is released onto the market.


Made with: Albariño, Treixadura, Loureiro, Godello and Torrontés, this fragrant white wine (how could it not be aromatic with such a blend?!) is a real beauty! Often sparkling wines are criticised for being rather more closed on the nose than are most still white wines. Yes there are usually patisserie notes, perhaps an oblique reference to apple in the case of cava, with this being a typical characteristic of Macabeo, but not often much alluring fruit. Sparkling wine isn’t really meant to have, but if a sparkling wine can have these bready, sweet pastry notes plus fruit aromas then it could be all the better for it.


And so it is with Señorio de Rubios Brut Nature, whose elegance is undisputed with a fine mousse sending diamond-like flashes through the pale gold liquid as they rise from the bottom of the flute. And there’s a floral note, too emanating from the Albariño – white flowers, with just a slight note of lavender too perhaps from the Loueiro and the faintest whiff of Moscatel-esque raisons, probably from the Torrontés in the blend. Greta stuff!


Señorio de Rubios Brut is also made from the base wine Condado Blanco and uses the same varieties therefore. Still dry and elegant this wine has similar aromas of fruit, perhaps with a little more pronounced white peach on the palate too. A lovely wine for celebrations – the fragrance pops out of the bottle as soon as the cork explodes under the pressure and brings a guaranteed smile to all in the vicinity.


Nande Tinto Brut is the odd one out – it’s red sparkling wine! Made with Mencía, Sousón, Espadeiro, Caiño and Pedral it really has the most amazing colour! Opaque with brilliant purple bubbles as it is poured into the glass (unlike white sparkling wine you cannot see the bubbles rising in the glass, so dark is the colour of the deep red wine) the wine has the aroma of a traditional red. And the flavour too – it’s red wine, dark forest fruit, some damson and a touch of bay leaf herb too.


Then of course it has the added profile of bubbles, not as fine as those in the whites, and therefore more noticeable as it hits the mouth.


Also like a red wine there is a quite long finish and I have to say an element of surprise as you reach for the next glass, just to see if your senses were correct with their first report!


It’s the only red sparkling wine made in DO Rías Baixas, and perhaps in the whole of Spain – though I’m not certain of this. I’ve tasted one Spanish red sparkler, some time ago, made with Monastrell but now not available as production was not continued.


It’s a style that is available more in the New World, in California, Australia and New Zealand where Shiraz is often used but where the white variety, Viognier, is sometimes used in the blend. So will it start to catch on here in Spain?


Well, why not try Bodegas Coto-Redondo’s Nande Tinto Brut, from the enterprising, and as we’ve seen, extremely fortunate, DO Rías Baixas?


Contact Colin: and

First Published Costa News SL March 2013



Spain is such a happening country with regard to its wine production! Rather than throwing the towel into the financial mess that is the Iberian Peninsular right now, Spanish wine makers are on the front foot (a mixed metaphor, this time particularly for the sports people amongst you!). Investment money is short of course but that isn’t stopping producers investing time and effort in developing wine styles that are bound to attract consumers.

 Take, for example, a number of bodegas in the mountains above Granada – you’ve read about a couple here already. There is an infectious enthusiasm amongst these hardy wine people whose vineyards are around the one thousand metres above sea level mark where winter’s harsh winds and well below zero temperatures don’t deter them from the work that has to be completed during the vines’ dormant periods.

And of course, as we’ve discussed, these altitudes with their crucial and benevolent, dramatic changes between day and night time temperatures during the growing season make the resulting wines that much better.

Another advantage is that the ruling Consejo Regulador of the DO Vino de Calidad De Granada seems to be far more understanding than that of many other DOs with regard to permitted grape varieties. Pago de Almaraes, for example, grows traditional Spanish varieties like Tempranillo and Moscatel but also foreign grapes such as Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. Also in the grape variety portfolio you’ll find Torrontés which would usually be found far further north in the vineyards of Galicia. Their eclectic blends are all the better for this encouraging diversity.

Pago de Almaraes can really be considered a fledgling bodega having started business only twelve years ago, and yet their wines are already garnering awards. I was lucky enough to be sent four of their wines recently, a finely scented, refreshing white and three of their top reds. If you can find them (and this is where, in my opinion, there should be a concerted effort in finding distributors all along the costas and inland) – buy them!

You’ll not miss their wines on the shelves – their distinctive labels and foils stand out. And you’ll be pleased to know that this is not a case of – “Very pretty, but can they fight?!” You’ll be attracted to the bottle and then to the wine too!

Mencal (8€ at bodega price) is the white wine I tasted and really enjoyed. With Sauvignon Blanc and Moscatel in the blend you’d expect it to be an aromatic dry white wine and you’d be right. But add to the mix Torrontés, which can have a similar perfume to Moscatel, and Chardonnay as well and you’ll see how the fragrance is enhanced along with the depth of flavour.

There are grassy gooseberry Sauvignon aromas, some floral notes too and on the palate there’s a lick of peach, banana and some green pineapple, adding to the fresh taste sensation.

The eponymous Almaraes (9€) is a red wine that also boasts pleasing aromas. Made with Merlot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (the percentages of which are clearly shown on the label, perhaps following a current trend that calls for greater transparency!). On the nose there are some caramel notes from the six months that the wine has spent in oak – that’s, transparently, French, American and Hungarian(!), with dark fruits such as blackberry and blackcurrant coming on strong and then blending well with the oak. You’ll find some cinnamon notes coming through too, with a touch of mountain herbs.

The vines are young, only ten to fifteen years old, and yet this wine has won a number of awards, which bodes very well for the future when the vines become more mature creating grapes with extra richness.

In the mouth there’s a lightness of touch, and indication of the youth of the vines, but the flavour is all there. There’s tannin enough for the wine to age longer and although it’s not made to lay down I think another year for this 2009 wine will see it develop a  rounded texture that will make it even better than it is now. A meaty wine with a medium length that will be enjoyed on its own and with meat orientated dishes.

Memento (12€) is a big and yet graceful wine. It’s 14% and has a strong mouthfeel with super dark fruit and vanilla oak aromas that shoot out of the bottle on opening. Made from Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah it has enjoyed twelve months in oak barrels that are stored in natural caves where the temperature is kept a constant low with appropriate humidity too.

In order to retain the essence of the fruit the wine has been very lightly filtered before bottling which may mean a slight residue at the bottom of the bottle. Don’t worry about this, simply pour carefully having kept the bottle upright for a couple of hours before serving. Winemakers often make wine in this way believing that the sediment at the bottom of the barrel keeps the wine alive, so if some of that is found in your bottle it’s all to the good!

There’s an elegance about this wine. It’s been made from selected bunches of grapes that come from the oldest vineyards (though these are still only fifteen years of age). It has toasted oak blended nicely with dark forest fruits, a touch of bay leaf and a super spicy overlay coming from the Syrah which has clearly ripened perfectly but because of the height of the vineyards, some 800 meters above sea level, retains some of the traditional French Syrah characteristics.

Finally, on a different day, I tasted their Ribera del Faribes, Cosecha 2012 wine, so very young without oak ageing. Full fruit on the palate and the nose and easy drinking, it’s a style that will appeal to those of us who sometimes just like to enjoy a glass, or two, of wine without having to think about its complexity. A wine perhaps targeting the younger drinker like many bodegas are now doing.

Great New Trip – 1st June:

Beer v Wine - no contest, you can taste both on this super new visit!




45€ Only!

This is going to be something special! I’ve arranged a super-tasty day out with our friends at Cool Food Valencia in Ontinyent, inland from Gandia.

 We will first visit the Artisan Brewery, GRAM, which makes excellent beers that could be described as Spain’s answer to Real Ale. We’ll tour the facility, see how the beers are made, and of course taste their wares! There will also be the opportunity to buy their bottles beers – and there’s plenty of room on the coach!

Then it’s off to Santa Elena the beautiful Finca that sits in its own grounds in what is increasingly being described as Valencian Tuscany in the stunning countryside outside Ontinyent. Here we’ll enjoy a Cookery Demonstration from Adela, an outstanding cook and English Teacher too! Adela will show us how to prepare a mouth-watering local speciality and, as the proof is in the eating thereof – we’ll devour it for lunch!

You might imagine I’d get in on the act too and yes my part in proceedings will be a wine tasting during lunch where we’ll taste super white and red wines that are made in the area. You’ll be interested to know that the Bodegas supplying the wines are considered to be in the top ten bodegas of Valencia!

 Return travel, a prize draw and all the above included in the price!

 Please call me on 629 388 159 or e-mail