It’s really the aroma of the Lagunilla Reserva 2011 that captures ones attention, even as the cork is being pulled . . . It was a super start to my tasting of a selection of the wines made by the Haciendas Group . . . . .

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It’s really the aroma of the Lagunilla Reserva 2011 that captures ones attention, even as the cork is being pulled. It immediately speaks of the cellars where the wine has been aging before its release onto the market. If you’ve ever visited (with me perhaps, it’s one of the wine things I do!) the ‘crianza’ cellar, almost invariably below the bodega, you’ll know what I mean.

CONCORDIA lagunilla-reserva

There’s a captivating aroma, firstly of the oak, perhaps French, maybe American – or both, and then of rich red wine. Of course, in the cellar it’s the wood that takes the lead, as it is in this case, when the bottle is first opened. Then, the seasoned taster waits a while for the well made wine to develop in the glass as the primary aromas reverse, with the fruit of the wine coming to, and remaining at, the fore.


It was a super start to my tasting of a selection of the wines made by the Haciendas Group, which not only owns several bodegas but also hotels, villas and restaurants, as well as a farm! Having been seduced by their wines, I’m determined to check out their accommodation too!


Marqués de la Concordia MM Selección Especial is a white Cava Brut which has been  aged on its lees for 6  months longer than the minimum 9 months stipulated by the Consejo Regulador DO Cava. It’s made with the three original traditional varieties, Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel.lo, with the former making its presence felt in a crisp green apple freshness on the palate with a slight cooked apple aroma too.


The rosado version of the same fizz is a lovely rosé colour, inviting, and not just for the ladies. Made with 70% Monastrell and 30% Pinot Noir, it’s quite a classy wine, with a touch more residual sugar than the white, thus appealing to those who have a very slightly sweeter tooth.

concordia verdejo

I’m always keen to taste DO Rueda wines made with the indigenous Verdejo variety, with which many readers will be most familiar, as I’m certain many have tasted wines made here and with this variety. Hacienda Zorita Vega de la Reina Verdejo 2015 is a super, refreshing fruit delivery on the nose (gooseberry and under-ripe kiwi) which also has that typical slight vegetal note – look for some asparagus and a little fennel, almost hidden amongst the delightful fruit. An IWSC Sliver Medalist is was my equal favourite of the group tasting!


I’ve already alluded to the Lagunilla Reserva 2011 from their Rioja outpost. It’s made with Tempranillo and Garnacha and has had 24 months in barrel. It’s a lovely wine which has some dark cherry notes on the nose along with blackberry fruit on the palate. Underpinning the fruit is an extra layer of complexity and depth in the form of  some smokey vanilla notes and a little cinnamon. The finish is fruit orientated, and once swallowed the flavours all linger on the palate, inspiring a contemplative mood. The  bottle didn’t last long!


Like it’s younger brother the Laganilla Gran Reserva 2007 is also a Silver Medal Winner at the prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition. Again it is made with the above varieties and it too has had significant oak aging, before bottling. The American oak adds a touch of vanilla to the mature dark red fruit with slight pine-resin presence too. There’s also a faint smokiness with a wisp of freshly lit matches.

Concordia lagunilla-granreserva

However, it’s the fruit and the elegance which impresses most. It’s full and has body, but it’s also a graceful wine – perfect for the dinner table this coming winter. I’d also check out younger vintages over time too.


So, the Haciendas Company is well worth investigating, remembering that the above is just a short selection of their wines. (


Please note that the next Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme on Total FM 91.8 and online at will be on Sunday 11th Sept. from 18:30 – 20:00 hrs. My studio guest – Gian, owner of I-Sushi Japanese Restaurant Chain!

De Muller Sparkling Wine from Taragonna

This article is an acknowledgment of the fact that here in Spain, whilst there are of course wonderful Cavas, there are also excellent sparkling wines, that for a number of reasons, are not allowed to be called Cava . . .




Yes, I agree! I am writing a lot of sparkling articles these days – thank you.


Oh, sorry, I see, it wasn’t a compliment, more of a comment about the number of Cork Talks that involve sparkling wines! Well, apologies if you are all but fizzed-out, but please indulge me this one more time (for now!).


I write this time, not about Cava, love it though I do. This article is an acknowledgment of the fact that here in Spain, whilst there are of course wonderful Cavas, there are also excellent sparkling wines, that for a number of reasons, are not allowed to be called Cava. Such wines are made in the same way, ‘Metode Tradicional’ (the Traditional Method, i.e. the same way in which Champagne is made, by a second fermentation in the bottle), and are therefore often similar in style, even IN aroma and flavour. Plus, they are usually extremely good value for money!


A recent tasting of five Sparkling Wines from DO Tarragona perfectly illustrated these points. Re-reading my notes now, I think I said it all – “Amazing prices; incredible value; super sparklers!”.


A selection from Bodegas De Muller was used, eloquently presented by their representative, whose card I’ve unfortunately lost! First up was the ‘Mas de Valls Brut Nature’ from Bodegas De Muller. It’s a blend of Macabeo, Chardonnay and Parellada, the former and the latter being traditional cava varieties, with the Chardonnay a relative new kid on the block in cava-land, but a staple in Champagne, of course. So, an encouraging start.

DE MULLER FIZZ brut_nature

It’s had 15 months en rima (remember the minimum for cava is just 9 months, and it’s this time that adds depth of flavour, complexity and mouth-feel). You’ll appreciate its golden colour and enjoy the freshness of this sparkler, the characteristic that we all love in fizz, and there’s more. On the nose there are hazelnuts and this blends on the palate with a very slight, Chardonnay-inspired buttery note. This ladies and gentlemen is their entry level fizz – and what an excellent price, retailing at under 4€!


Priced at around the 6€ mark(!!), De Muller Pinot Noir (yes, she of Champagne!) Brut Nature Reserva has a whole 36 months en rima under its belt (were it cava, this would qualify it for Gran Reserva status!), and is a superb, rich, yet fresh still, Blanc de Noir – i.e. a white sparkling wine made with black grapes. The 100% Pinot grapes are harvested at night to preserve freshness and super violet aromas in the finished product. Blackberries are faintly found on the palate, and as you would expect from such a ‘premium sparkling wine’, there’s is a long delightful finish.


In the De Muller mono-varietal range of three (named Trílogia) you’ll also find Chardonnay. Again labeled ‘Reserva’ this Brut Nature is in the same amazing price bracket as its fellow Champagne variety above, and has enjoyed a long time on its lees, en rima, where it has gathered depth of flavour, but not at the expense of freshness. A very slight buttery element loiters with intent amongst the typical sparkling wine biscuity yeasty aromas. Classy!


Their Muscat Reserva, the final wine of the trilogy, is a Gold Medal winner, and there’s an interesting story too! Muscat has been grown here for a long time, and because of careful vineyard management and vine selection, De Muller are able to make from this variety, three wholly different styles of wine.


The first harvest, early to preserve essential acidity, is destined for their Sparkling Wine, making racing base wine. The second harvest, from the same extensive vineyards, but different vines, of course, is destined for their dry, still white wines (watch this space!). And finally, many readers will know of the lovely dessert Muscat wines, and as you’ve guessed De Muller makes theirs from a third and final harvest of the remaining vines, about a month later than the first picking.


The Sparkling Wine I tasted, and enjoyed, has a little leafy floral aroma to add to the usual slightly raisony notes found with Moscatel. It’s a Reserva again, though this time a very slightly higher sugar content puts it into the Brut class, rather than the driest style of sparkling wine, Brut Nature.

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Reina Violant, perhaps their flagship fizz, has enjoyed an impressive 5 years en rima! It’s made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and has the body and depth to partner light meats, fish and seafood as well as all manner of rice dishes. There is a pleasing slight cider-esque nose that blends in nicely with some understated tropical fruit and pleasing citrus acidity! Twitter @colinonwine Facebook Colin Harkness Youtube Colin Harkness On Wine.


Nicola’s Botas de Barro portfolio of fine wines pays homage to the generations of farmers who have worked these vineyards carefully tending to the vines with a view to producing excellent wines, whilst also being aware of the legacy that will be passed on to the next generation. And so on! Thus, Boras de Barro is history past and present, as well as history in the making!



botas de barro capsule botas

I know it must have been a terrible shock for Bodegas Fariña when, after months of deliberation and soul-searching, their Export Director tendered her resignation. Despite her youth, Nicola Thornton had been with the company for many years, and had been taken to the hearts of the Fariña family in DO Toro, almost to the point of being adopted into this proud family with such a wine-making history!


The emotional break for both parties must have been traumatic and for Bodegas Fariña this will also have been a potential business tragedy too! Since arriving at Bodegas Fariña Nicola has opened up 60 (yes, sixty!) new international markets for their wines, in both of the world’s hemispheres in countries as diverse as Brazil and Japan, to name just two!


The reason for the break – well, simply, after a job so well done, a desire to work for herself. Nicola wants to leave something for her children to carry on with after her, as yet long-off, retirement. There was of course, no falling out and I’m sure that she went with Fariña’s blessing, after they had no doubt implored her to stay, probably also offering to fill her so well travelled cases with gold, if she’d only stay!


Spanish Palate ( is Nicola’s new project (more on Spanish Palate in forthcoming Cork Talks!) and underneath this business umbrella is the exciting project which is the subject of this week’s Cork Talk. As the above title says, we should all be putting the eponymous ‘boot in’ – in our wine cellars and wine cabinets. A part of the Spanish Palate is the brilliantly named Botas de Barro (Muddy Boots) wine business, that is Nicola’s new baby!


I’ve had the pleasure recently of meeting Nicola and her wine making partner Alvaro Martin in Barcelona, where I was also one of the first to taste the whole range of their very impressive wine portfolio. It’s my guess that you will also be able to taste these wines soon – and I’d recommend you do!


It’s a simple concept – Spain has probably the largest number of hectares of old, low yielding vineyards in the world, resulting in an amazing array of stunning wines. Nicola asks the question – have we ever wondered how many old, muddy boots have worked these venerable vineyards over the decades and even centuries?


Nicola’s Botas de Barro portfolio of fine wines pays homage to the generations of farmers who have worked these vineyards carefully tending to the vines with a view to producing excellent wines, whilst also being aware of the legacy that will be passed on to the next generation. And so on! Thus, Boras de Barro is history past and present, as well as history in the making!


Firstly the pleasing thing about all these wines is that they are A. Fruit first wines; and B. uncomplicated, and dangerously easy to drink!


One of the favourite areas of production for white wine in Spain these days is DO Rueda, home to the indigenous Verdejo grape variety, whose tendency to oxidise too soon, spoiling the wines, has now been well and truly mastered – as regular readers know, by a combination of technology and technique – with a liberal sprinkling of investment too!


With some of the same aroma and flavour profiles of the much loved Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo also has a few of its own! It’s firstly an aromatic variety with herby, grassy notes and that gooseberry fruit of Sauvignon, but add some vegetal green asparagus with a touch of fennel too, and you are getting close.


Botas de Barro Verdejo has all of the above! The wines come from ‘pie franco’ vines, those and their descendants that somehow managed to resist the dreaded phyloxera pest that laid waste to most of Europe’s vineyards in the late 1800s and into the 20th century. Natural yeasts are used, so you smell and taste the pure grape, rather than that which specially cultivated yeasts bring to the fore.

botas de barro verdejo con capsule

On the finish there is a pleasing, slight bitterness which makes this wine a fine choice for food – check out salads, fish, seafood, all super partners.


Botas de Barro DOCa Rioja is made with 100% Tempranillo – this is the ongoing theme of the portfolio, all are mono-varietals.  It’s 2014 and is what is these days termed a ‘roble’ wine – meaning that it has some oak ageing but isn’t a Crianza or a Reserva as the barrel ageing is less than is required for these two disciplines, because that’s the way the winemaker wants it.

botas de barro rioja con capsule botas

The 8 months that the wine has enjoyed (and I use the word deliberately!) in American 225 litre barricas has added a little structure, some extra depth of flavour and a touch of complexity, without taking anything fro the up front red fruit delivery, with a little, faint, blueberry back-up!


I’ve tasted some excellent Jumilla wines recently. Monastrell is king here and the old, bush vines that have provided the fruit for Botas de Barro really have done an excellent job! Older vines equals fewer bunches, as Cork Talk regulars know, but the grapes that are formed are particularly rich.


This comes out in actually quite an opulent form in this ripe, darkly coloured juicy red. Once again the full fruit is backed up by some oak ageing adding depth and mouth-feel. There’s a long finish that ends with a slight reference to dark chocolate liqueurs, without the sweetness! Super!


Though not quite unique, Garnacha Tintorera is nevertheless one of the very few of the world’s grapes whose flesh is coloured (cut a black grape and a green grape in half and you’ll see that the contents are the same colour!). The Botas de Barro DO Almansa wine made with this variety is, as you would imagine, a lovely dark, almost opaque colour.


On the nose there is a touch of minerality with perhaps a faint whiff of herbs too, though it’s the fruit that you’ll notice when it hits your palate. The vines that produced this fruit are about 30 years of age, so moving into the old vine category again. It’s rich and fruity with a refreshing acidic lift on the finish, which h keeps it fresh as you reach for the glass, again!


Finally I tasted the DO Ribera del Duero entry into the Botas de Barro range. This wine comes from one of the oldest co-operatives in this, now famed, region and proves yet again that there is no problem buying wine made by co-operatives. The vines here range from 40 – 80 years old, some of which are also ‘pie franco’. It has the Botas fruit driven profile, of course, and this is aided and abetted by a certain structure, depth and complexity provided by the venerable old vines.


Now – I know you are probably wondering about the price. Well the price of the whole range is an excellent value for money 6·99€, and you’ll be delighted with your purchases! So – put the boot in!


Contact Colin: (also see here the new sponsors!) Twitter @colinonwine Facebook Colin Harkness


NB The next Total FM 91·8 Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme, sponsored by DO Yecla, is on Sunday 29th May, 18:30 – 20:00 hrs (an extra 30 minutes due to popularity!).