MUSICAL DINNER WITH PAIRED WINES
Spain has an official population of just under 46·5 million people and an annual Yecla production of just over 6·5 million litres, only 5% of which is sold in Spain. This equates to 14cl of wine per person, per year, approximately one fifth of a bottle! Why?
Well it’s a long story which, unfortunately, ends with the parochial nature of the Spanish, those outside of the wine cognoscenti. Bottom line – most Spanish people drink the wine from their area, almost exclusively, occasionally buying from the more famous areas, like Rioja and Ribera del Duero. But what a shame, if only they knew!
Over the years I’ve done my best to promote the wines of the whole of Spain, including DOP Yecla, of course, and the comments I receive suggest that English speaking ex-pats (i.e. Cork Talk readers, but not only the British) respond each week, tasting wines of great variety.
We were doing some delicious promotion of DOP Yecla wines recently and to be more specific, four of the super portfolio of those from Bodegas Barahonda (www.barahonda.com/en/) , one of the leading bodegas in the area.
When in Yecla a few months ago I was speaking with Señor Antonio Candela, current incumbent and fourth generation of the Candela wine dynasty. Their wine business was started in the 19th Century, making bulk wines for thirsty travellers, and for the local population. The original bodega, which I’ve visited, is still in production today. However, their bottled, quality, and indeed top quality wine is made at their state-of-the-art and stunningly beautiful Bodegas Señorio de Barahonda, complete with an excellent gourmet restaurant atop, and surrounded by vines.
Señor Candela was keen to be a part of the Musical Dinner with Paired wines that we were holding at Moraira’s exemplary Restaurante Ca La Ai Ai (www.calaiaia.com/en/). Let’s face it, it’s a perfect fit – excellent cuisine, really fine wines and Classical Music, Popular Opera and hits from the shows all performed with such aplomb by Claire-Marie (www.clairemarie.es).
Had we been tasting wines without the food, the order that I decided upon wouldn’t have been strictly correct – we tasted Barahonda Rosado Monastrell 2016 first, followed by Barahonda Blanco Verdejo 2016. Usually, the white would come before the rosé. However, as this was a pairing event, with the food we were eating changing our perceptions of the wine, it didn’t matter. The point was, how well did the one complement the other!
Barahonda’s rosado is quite pale, not quite the extremely pale, Provencal style that seems to be all the rage these days, but not many shades darker. I felt that it matched the colour of the very good quality Serrano with which it was served, along with lovely bread and excellent Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The flavours of each blended well on the palate and I thought the pairing worked quite well.
For some, this rosado wasn’t their preferred style and that therefore out of the four, they’d marked it just outside the medals! I liked it and for just 5€ a bottle, it takes some beating. However, we all have different tastes and preferences – so nobody is wrong, and nobody is right!
I spared my audience a repeat of the story of how Verdejo became the household name that it is now – I’ve often used examples of this fruit driven wine, originally from Rueda and so many had heard it before. However I did point out that here we were tasting a Verdejo, not from its native Rueda, but far further south in Yecla. And, as a further example of how popular Verdejo based wines have become, I did say that it was one of the recently newly permitted varieties in that most conservative of wine producing areas, Rioja!
Barahonda Verdejo has the necessary acidity to cut through a ny slight oiliness in the octopus, that was so perfectly cooked, as well as that typical fruit ‘n veg aroma and flavour. Lovely, and again just 5€.
HC 2014, standing for Heredad de Candela, is one of the three flagship wines of this bodega and for me, in many ways, typifies everything that’s so great about Spanish wine! 100% Monastrell from 60 yrs old vines of limited production, the wine has that heady mix of oak (500ltr, French barrels) and wonderful fruit – plums and damsons. Long, rich, sumptuous – excellent!
The final wine of the evening was really all about the next generation of the Candela family. Lualma 2014 is named after Lucía, Alfredo and Marta and celebrating ‘Our childhood amongst the vines’, as it says on the bottle. Charming, and so is the wine! Retailing at just under 20€ I’d buy this to enjoy now, and to keep for a few years so it develops further. It’s made with Monastrell, Garnacha Tintorera and Syrah, and is a really juicy fruity wine, deeply coloured, with plums on the nose and palate, with maybe a little dark chocolate and some dried mountain herbs lurking with intent.
The next Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme on Total FM 91.8 and www.totalfm.es is on Sunday 22nd October – I hope you can join me from 18:00hrs – 20:00hrs for some great wine and food tastes, super music and wine chat too!