Telitec/Blu Tasting Tour




Recently the first in a five part series of wine and tapas tastings, sponsored by Telitec Communications in association with Blu Property Group, was held at Vintage Restaurant, Albir.


Vintage Restaurant’s Chef/Patron Dani Bowler is well known to those who watch UK TV here in Spain as he was one of the finalists on the Masterchef show, narrowly missing actually winning the series.

Telitec’s dynamic Business & Promotions Manager, Gemma Broad, and I met Dani a few weeks ago to explain the concept and to choose the wines – we were quite happy to leave the choice of gourmet tapas to such an expert!


Telitec has an extensive client base stretching along the Costa Blanca and inland and we wondered what interest there would be in holding a series of fine wine and gourmet tapas pairing evenings in elegant restaurants at highly populated centres on the coast. The response was good – bookings for Vintage ensured that we just about filled the venue and reservations for the other restaurants involved* continue to arrive in my inbox!


There was also a good presence of staff from Blu Property Group, who are keen to be associated with such an event, and many of their large portfolio of services were covered by their representatives who, like Gemma, were happy to chat with fellow tasters.


Wines are chosen from the restaurants’ wine lists – we don’t just look at house wines, of course! Indeed at Vintage, I was delighted to be able to twist Dani’s arm into allowing us to use the finest on his list, Santa Rosa 2011 from Bodegas Enrique Mendoza, which had the added advantage of being a local wine with the bodega being just a grape’s throw away from the restaurant!


There is, quite rightly, a lot of talk (which translates into huge sales) about the white wines coming out of D.O. Rueda these days. Modern technology, significant sustained investment and old fashioned hard work have seen their indigenous grape variety, Verdejo, morph into wonderfully fruit driven, fresh, aromatic and flavour-full dry white wines. I’d say it’s almost certain that all readers have at least tried one, and there will be many for whom it is the go-to wine of the summer!


Often, commentators such as myself will point out that some of the taste and aroma profile characteristics of Verdejo are similar to those found in Sauvignon Blanc. It’s true, and we can all be forgiven for confusing one with the other when tasting blind. So, it seemed to some that perhaps the soils and climate of Rueda, would also suit Sauvignon vines. Bingo – two super dry whites from the same region.


Oro, a Sauvignon from D.O. Rueda, was out first wine of the evening and its pairing with Dani’s Duo of Salmon, was a marriage made in heaven. The fresh acidity of the wine cut though the richness of the baked and smoked salmon duo providing a perfect match. An excellent start!


Those in Galicia, particularly wine types in D.O. Rías Baixas, would consider Verdejo to be the new kid on the white wine block – here in Spain’s green (because of the highest rainfall on the Iberian peninsular!) north west the variety of choice is the well established noble grape, Albariño. I’m sure, again, that readers have quaffed and enjoyed several white wines made from this variety and coming from D.O. Rias Baixas.


Martin Codax was a famed poet of centuries ago from this area of Spain, but now his name lives on (I suspect more for the wines than for his verse?!) in that it is the name chosen by one of the leading wineries in D.O. Rías Baixas. The Martin Codax Albiriño is simply named, but it’s not a simple wine!


With a golden hue in the glass the white flower aromas, typical of the variety, rise to the nose promising a lovely drink! On the palate there are white peach notes with just the suggestion of some exotic mango in the mix too. It has the necessary fresh acidic lift but it’s more rounded, with a deeper flavour and longer finish that the Sauvignon above. Albariño’s great cuisine partner is seafood, fish of course, but particularly shellfish.


Dani’s tempura battered langostine, as usual so perfectly presented, was again a perfect fit. A number of tasters took mobile phone photos of this wine’s label with a view to sourcing it for their own supply!


Callejo wine has a really attractive label of a young girl dressed in the fashion of time gone by holding a bunch of flowers, perhaps on her way the local fiesta! Whilst it is true to say that D.O. Ribera del Duero shares the honour of being host to Spain’s equal most expensive wine (priced at about 1,000€ per bottle!) I’m delighted to say that this does not mean that other producers price their wine accordingly!


I’m often told by people that they are buying more Ribera del Duero wine now than ever before. The Callejo red wine is an example of just why this is so. It delivers a super fruit entry, mid-palate and finish – simple as that. Tempranillo (though here the variety can also be called Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais) will always give you juicy fruit and when this is linked with a little oak ageing (only a few months in this case) the result is a lovely, easy to drink mouthful!


Santa Rosa, D.O. Alicante, from Bodegas Enrique Mendoza, Alfaz del Pi can perhaps be considered the iconic red wine of the Denominación de Origen! When first submitted in international competitions a few decades ago it made headlines and caused the wine writers of the day to re-think regarding wines from this hot and humid area of Spain. They hadn’t realised that Alicante is not just about the coast.


The vineyards in Villena, Alicante(!), are between 600 – 750 metres above sea level and at night can therefore offer vines some peace and rest from the fierce temperature of the daytime. The sunshine hours ensure that the Cabernet Sauvignon (the major shareholder in Santa Rosa) ripens perfectly (unlike, often, in areas considered it’s natural home – Bordeaux, for example) making the finished article almost instantly accessible, with no need to wait for any harshness to mellow down.


It’s a wine that is there to savour and as we drank it there was a reflective hush that enveloped us, until someone said, “Wow, I love this wine!”!


The final wine was Jane Ventura Reserva Rosado Cava a wine that has had extra time ‘en rima’ giving extra body, enough in this case to match a super small delicious homemade (of course!) cake creation!


* Next in the series: 12th November, Swiss Hotel, Moraira; 25th November Nox, Javea; 10th December Republic, Denia. Seats available at all venues – please contact me on 629 388 159 or please e-mail

Classical Music/Wine/Dinner Event




Regular readers may remember my account of the very well received Wine, Music and Dinner event that took place at the Swiss Hotel Moraira, before the heat of the summer addled all of our brains! Well, it seems the word has ‘got out’ – Dolce Divas, who coined the idea in the first place, are in demand.


Recently another such event was held, again at the Swiss Hotel, where the wines were supplied, this time, by two sister bodegas from D.O. Jumilla, Bodegas Hacienda del Carche and Bodegas Casa de la Ermita. And, judging by comments during and after the evening it would seem that everybody had a good time!


In fact, I’m not surprised! I say this of course, without any reference to my input. I talk of the obvious attraction of the beautiful Dolce Divas ( and their equally stunning renditions of classical and contemporary music; plus a range of the top wines from two of D.O. Jumilla’s finest bodegas; served with a super gourmet dinner. Not forgetting the concept itself.


As Dolce Divas’ Claire Harkness-Post (so, no bias here then!) said before the last such event:


“Some of the characteristics that can be found in wines can also be found in music. A young vibrant, purple tinged wine can be matched for charm and dynamics by a piece of vivacious music. Similarly, a full-bodied and rich aria would pair perfectly with a deeply flavoured, opulent red. And, of course, it doesn’t just apply to red wines.”


To be able to discern attributes in wine and compare them with similar characteristics within classical and contemporary music is a skill in itself, and then to combine them with a dinner designed in conjunction with the Head Chef  – well surely a sensational  night was in prospect!


Bodegas Casa de la Ermita ( is a well established bodega just outside of the inland town of Jumilla, in the Murcia Province. Over the last few years a merger has taken place with the new Bodegas Hacienda del Carche (, whose triumvirate of owners are now running both wineries. First and foremost, of course, these sister bodegas are concerned with producing top wines – a series of prestigious medals and high points in the various guides are evidence enough that this side of the business is being taken care of quite nicely!


However, in such a competitive field, there are other sides, these days, to a bodega’s success and profit making ability. There is a range of wine related products for sale – for example some wonderful wine-based confitures that go so well with cheese (more on these in my annual Christmas Presents for Wine Lovers article). Plus, wine tourism is also a major focus at these two bodegas.


There is a range of wine related activities for the wine tourist: bodega visits and tastings, of course, as well as many other activities using their really beautiful Casa Rural, where small groups of up to eight people can stay self-catering style in the wonderfully appointed and equipped ancient converted barn, which conveniently is equidistant between the two wineries! I’ve visited – believe me, it’s lovely!


Now, regarding this event, the problem, if such a wealth of possibilities can be termed a ‘problem’, was choosing the wines! We had access to both portfolios, well into double figures of wines from which we had to choose just five! Well, we couldn’t do it – so we made it six wines, plus two more as raffle prizes at the end of the event!


We were served firstly a very unusual, brick-red coloured, off-dry to slightly sweet Monastrell  wine, designed to be a sweet aperitif wine so loved by the Spanish. It’s this bodega group’s version of Ice-Wine. The bottle design is as attractive as the wine – a very good start!


Taus Blanco, Hacienda del Carche, is made with Sauvignon Blanc and Macabeo.  Fresh, sprightly and bright with a pleasing acidic lift, Dolce Divas compared this wine with young French maidens and paired it with ‘Jeunes Fillettes’, a traditional 18th Century French Folk Song.


Casa de la Ermita Blanco is made with the excellent variety Viognier. Whilst retaining its freshness this wine is fuller, richer and more rounded. The song made famous by Charles Aznavour, ‘Etre’, was paired with this golden tinged white wine – the emphasis in the words of the song is on the joy of being alive with the wine aiding such a reflective mood.

ERMITA cdle_blanco

Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’ was paired with Hacienda del Carche’s Crianza red. The song charts a life-long love affair. An affair shared by those whose passion is Monastrell, the darling variety of DO Jumilla, which in this case is blended with some 30% Cabernet Sauvignon to to give the grip that such an enduring love affair needs. Fruit wise there’s a combination here of typical dark plums from the Monastrell and slightly understated blackcurrant from the nicely ripened Cabernet. All this aided and abetted by a slight liquorice and stony minerality.

HACIENDA cepasviejas

Idílico, as the name suggests, an ideal wine, comes from Casa de la Ermita and is their flagship wine (though their new kid on the block Lunatico is now starting to garner awards which put it on perhaps an equal quality level). Handel’s Verdi Prati  was chosen to accompany this fruit delivering wine which has an earthy, forest floor quality, giving more depth to each mouthful. There’s complexity here – a wine to enjoy simply for its rich fruit, but also one to savour. It has a medium to long length and will ensure that once tasted, you’ll want some more!


Finally a dessert wine, made with Monastrell and yet wholly different from our opening wine. Ermita’s Monastrell Dulce is a corpulent, rich, silky and rounded deeply coloured red wine. It’s a classic dessert wine made with this variety – we are so lucky to be able to taste red dessert wines of this quality from South East Spain!

ERMITA smce_dulce_tinto

Sweet yes, but cloying – definitely no! Tiger in the Night was the chosen song to pair with this wine because of the crucial acidity that dessert wines must carry along with their endearing sweetness. It’s a combination that’s perhaps a little hard to understand – we are looking for sweetness in a dessert wine, yes, but  not sickly sweetness. Think of a honey (or sugar) and lemon pancake – the lemon is an integral part of the overall taste sensation, take it away, and the pancake is flabby, just too sweet.


However, it wasn’t pancakes with which this Monastrell Dulce was served, but an ideal chocolate symphony! Try it also with summer pudding, blackberry pavlovas as well as blue cheese and mature Manchego and Cheddar!


NB Next Wine TastingTapas Event – The Telitec Tasting Tour comes to Moraira’s Swiss Hotel on Thursday 12nd November. Five wines from the restaurant’s wine list, matched with 5 gourmet international tapas, just 25€! Some places left, please call me on 629 388 159 or e-mail

Telitec Tasting Tour with Blu Too!

Hi Col,
Very many thanks for last night’s wine tasting at Timon. Lovely location, excellent tapas and super wines. Brilliant cava, gorgeous albariño whitened two fabulous reds. All good stuff. Can’t wait for the next one.
By the way, you might tip off the owner of Timon that he didn’t need to dress so formally for your wine tasting!
Cheers, Mick

La Cata Chez Nous The Reds!




If you were able to read last week’s article you’ll already know about La Gran Cata Chez Nous (yes, I know, a sort of language fusion thing, but it works, I think?!). The article is still available at click Cork Talk, so I won’t spend too many words describing it here.

Castaño Trip Sept 2015; Hacienda & Ermita visit; Cata Chez Nous 014

Put simply, it’s a rather exclusive wine tasting with some of the best wines in Spain paired with gourmet tapas, held at our home. It’s a lot of hard work, but worth it we hope – and judging by the comments that continue to come in ( click Client Comments) it seems that our thoughts are borne out! Thank you, to those who have kindly commented!


This week it’s the turn of the reds. It is still true to say that Spain is considered, first and foremost, a red wine country. More Spanish red wine is sold than any other style (with the possible exception of Cava, whose stocks will even now be increasing dramatically in time for the phenomenal sales before and during the Christmas period).


The red wine contingent included wines from: DO Montsant; DO Ribera del Duero; and Vino de la Tierra de Castille y Leon. I think we all agreed that it was practically impossible to choose one that was above all others – it truly was a formidable group of Spanish reds offering a multitude of aromas and flavours, considerable complexity and depth, as well as unabridged hedonistic pleasure!

A formidable line-up of outstanding Spanish Red Wines!
A formidable line-up of outstanding Spanish Red Wines!

Auditori 2013 from Acústic Celler, DO Montsant is one of the flagship wines of this young D.O. Perhaps readers will remember that, some years ago, if buying wines from DO Tarragonna, one always looked first for those from the sub-zone Falset.


Bordering the hallowed lands of DOCa Priorat (home to Spain’s equal most expensive wine) the soils of Falset have similar characteristics, in which the indigenous grape variety Garnacha thrives. So much so, that the burghers of Falset sub-zone decided to apply for full D.O. status, which was granted not long ago. They left D.O. Tarragonna and haven’t looked back!


Auditori 2013 has been given 94 points out of 100 by one of the wine world’s most influential critics, Robert Parker – and this on the back of the highly praised 2011 vintage which was similarly lauded. Made with Granacha coming from old vineyards some of which were first planted four years before the 2nd World War when Spain was  beginning to suffer its dreadful Civil War, the wine has a depth of flavour that only comes from venerable old vines.


The grapes are gently pressed in traditional old wooden presses before fermentation. Once the rich juice has morphed into wine it is placed in barricas which are stored in the old cement tanks underground, where it stays for 12 months. The dominant flavours and aromas are those t hat come from the grapes, as they should be, of course, but the judicial use of oak has paid dividends, adding integrated taste and fragrance, depth and complexity.


The overall sensation is of luxurious dark brambly fruit with some earthy notes and a super length. It’s a wine that will also age gracefully, providing real pleasure for years to come. Lovely wine!


The next wine we tasted was the VdlT wine, Mauro VS 2011 – a quite remarkable wine! The moment the cork was pulled (in fact it was me alone who had this initial pleasure as I’d opened all reds well before the tasting, though the same was noted by tasters later, when the wine was finally poured) the most alluring aromas assailed the nose, in the nicest possible way. There’s a deeply scented dark fruits confitura fragrance to this, a Guía Proensa 92 pointer, with a rrp of 53€!


Mauro VS is made with Tinto Fino, or Tinto del Pais, or the more famous name, Temporanillo. It’s made in the same sort of area, same sort of soils and climate as Ribera del Duero and it has that unmistakeable depth of rich fruit flavour, so typical of wines from this part of Spain.


The wine has also enjoyed (and I use the word advisedly) over 30 months in oak, but it’s the fruit that bis to the fore. Here we must credit the winemaker, of course, who has added depth of flavour, complexity and a wonderful, rich unctuousness by the use of oak which he has not allowed to overtake the quintessential fruit delivery. A masterpiece!


You may find richly flavour dark red fruits, loganberry for example, with some picota cherries as well as an earthy character with more than a hint of bay leaf, which in fact complemented perfectly the beef in wine tapa with which it was served. A superb wine!


Our final wine of this year’s event was from D.O. Ribera del Duero, Aalto PS 2011, crafted by Bodegas y Viñedos Aalto. I can assure that it’s not only the double ‘A’ at the start of the name of this bodega that ensures it’s at the top of the D.O. Ribera del Duero listing. It’s clearly the quality of the wine as well!


Proensa give this wine 98 points, as does Robert Parker, and I certainly wouldn’t take issue with this! Aalto PS is a glorious, quite exceptional wine whose rich, voluptuous ripe fruits flavour is also steeped in elegance. There was an almost tangible gasp when the wine was poured as its aromas rose like a genie from the lamp enveloping us all in its spell.


Yes, I know, I may seem to be a little too theatrical here –  but try it and you’ll see what I mean!


In July, when I contacted the company asking for this wine to present at this annual event I was most impressed with the reply I received. They would be happy to support the event, but for the time being were unwilling to release the wine for transport at a time when we were all suffering from the wild temperatures of that, the hottest July I can remember. I would receive the wines, but not until things had cooled down sufficiently – they wanted to ensure that their wine was served in its absolute Sunday Best!


It worked – September had cooled and the wine was a real hit! Priced at about 70€ a bottle, it’s clearly, to most of us anyway, a ‘special occasion’ wine. But what an occasion!


2011was a year that was extremely favourable to the vines – the right amount of pre-growing season rain, extensive sunshine hours but without the acidity-sapping, oven like heat during the day, and almost the perfect, far cooler night temperatures that help vines so much.


It’s full of concentrated black fruit on the nose and the palate with a forest undergrowth foundation, helped, but certainly not overwhelmed, by its 22 months in  barrel, which adds complexity and depth to the mix. A superb wine to drink with a splendid dinner as well as on its own when you have time to ponder the question – just how good is life?!


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