First Published Costa News Group, April 2011


 Last year, as usual, I received a large number of wine samples from producers keen on the wide publicity that a column in the Costa News Groups’ publications guarantees. Regular Cork Talk readers will thus have read about wines from many of the wide variety of areas of production in our adoptive country. I hope you agree that it’s good to experiment with different wine styles, grape varieties etc and I hope that you’ve found this column illuminating and ultimately, ‘tasty’!

 Some of the sample-supplying bodegas from last year had the presence of mind to include two examples of each of the wines they sent. My house is full of wine, so it’s not that I need an extra bottle or three to drink! The advantage of having two bottles of each wine is that it affords me the opportunity of examining the evolution of the wine over a roughly twelve month period.

 There is a useful, if not wholly scientific, trick to assessing how long a wine may keep before it starts to decline. If you try the same bottle of wine on successive nights you will be able to taste how it might develop over a longer period, when it is cellared and not open. The fast-track oxygen it takes onboard during this, say three day period, gives an idea as to its progress over time.

 But the many variables involved mean that there isn’t a hard and fast formula, for example three days good development equals three to five years of longevity if cellared – it doesn’t work! It’s best to keep bottles and taste again after time.

 So, those forward thinking bodegas, like Bodegas Fariña from DO Toro, have given me the chance to see how accurate were my opinions when I first tasted the wine. Plus, readers may like to further consider their purchase.

 Bodegas Fariña’s Tinto Cosecha 2009 is a joven (young) wine made to be enjoyed whilst still in its youth. The vaguely purple hue to the wine a year ago has no matured into a dark red colour. The mixture of light and dark red fruits on the nose and palate have morphed into dark forest fruits with a lick of liquorice and, even without wood, there is a depth of flavour that suggests a more expensive wine.

 The Gran Colegiata Tinto Roble 2008, as its name suggests, has had some oak ageing (4 months) and you’d expect therefore that such a wine would mature and become more complex, whilst retaining its juicy fruit content. Again this wine, one year on, has developed well with a slightly longer finish.

 Gran Colegiata Crianza 2006 Roble Frances has benefitted from its eleven months in the most subtle of all oaks. The rich Fariña trademark dark colour is enhanced by the concentrated nature of the wine. Dark brambly fruits have a lick of cinnamon and black pepper 12 months later and the finish is richer and longer.

 The Reserva 2001, like most of Fariña’s wines is made from 100% Tinta de Toro grapes (aka Tempranillo) but has had more exposure to oak, American in this case, as well as the obligatory extra ageing in bottle. My notes tell me that I thought the wine will mature a little further and then rest at level for a couple more years before maybe starting to slowly decline. Well it’s drinking very well still.

 Finally a wine that I have loved since I first tasted it, some years ago – their flagship Gran Colegiata Campus. The grapes for this limited production wine were hand-harvested from vines of 50-140 years of age and obviously treated with the greatest respect. I tasted the 2004 vintage a year ago and it just keeps improving!

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