First Published Costa News Group December 2012



 I don’t know about you but it’s about this time when my mind starts to consider Christmas presents. In truth that doesn’t always mean that I get around to doing anything about it, but hey, thinking about it is a start, right?!

 It’s therefore the time of year when I think about any wine related items that I can recommend Cork Talk readers to buy as Christmas presents for friends and family, and maybe a well deserved wine-orientated Christmas present for yourselves, just in case others don’t come up with the idea! And why not -after all you’re probably the one who has the year-round responsibility of making sure that there’s wine on the table, and particularly for the Christmas period (for Christmas Wine Recommendations + The Costa News Top Ten Wines of the Year, watch this space).

 When I was in Barcelona for the Alimentaria Wine Fair last March I was impressed with the array of Wine Accessories displayed on the Pulltex stand. It seemed to me that whatever one needs for wine, short of the actual wine itself, was there to see and , if required, to have demonstrated too. I made a mental note to ‘re-visit’ Pulltex (time was pressing as everything was closing early because of the National Strike, which in fact marooned me several kilometres from my hotel – but that’s another story!).

 An e-mail some weeks later resulted in a Press Pack of example accessories for me to road test (must try that with Mercedes sometime!) and a brochure detailing all that this successful international company has to offer the wine enthusiast. Be it happy amateur or dedicated professional – there’s something to offer everyone.

Stylish & Practical - Pulltex Wine Accessories

 The utilitarian name ‘sacarcorcho’ here in Spain is known in the UK as ‘The Waiter’s Friend’ – it’s a simple but indispensable part of any wine lover’s armoury. I have one always in my car, my luggage and not just in the kitchen of our house! I’ve trialled a number over the years, some haven’t passed muster and have been unceremoniously dumped – in the correct recycling bin of course!

 Pulltex has been making “Wine concepts for wine lovers” for over twenty years is the market leader and makes a range of Waiter’s Friends from the simple, functional and reliable to designer-style, elaborate but equally easy to use.

 But that’s not all! In the Press Pack there are bottle stoppers of two different types –  both of which are in full time employment in my house! A simple but amazingly efficient stopper that can keep the bubbles in cava/Champagne et al for days – an excellent idea for those of us who like a glass to fizz to perk us up but who don’t want to drink a whole bottle. This is ideal also for the professional wine-taster as a glass of sparkling wine before the onslaught of several wines that need to be tasted is an ideal start as it freshens the palate perfectly.

 There’s also an excellent oxygen extractor stopper which again allows one to open a bottle of wine for just a glass a day, for example. Extracting the oxygen ensures that the wine doesn’t spoil if kept in the fridge with this most useful stopper.

 There’s a an elegant wine cooler too – which, if kept in the freezer, can be wrapped around a bottle of white wine to keep it cool throughout dinner, but can also be used to quickly chill down a bottle when one isn’t enough and you’ve been caught unawares without a second bottle on the subs bench in the fridge! Etc . . .

 But that’s not all either – Pulltex have a large brochure of wine accessories which includes some lovely decanters (an essential piece of equipment for the wine lover, in my view), elegant glasses, sommelier-style aprons (some in a very stylish denim!) and much more – all of which can be seen by visiting well before Christmas!


Well you might like to try the 100% Chardonnay M&Z 2011 Chardonnay 2011 (no, Madam, that’s not M&S!).

 Readers may remember two articles of a few months ago which lamented the reluctance of Rioja bodegas to take advantage of the newly approved grape varieties for white wines from this honoured zone of production. One bodega (of two that I could find – I know, it’s baffling why are they so slow on the uptake when there is such great potential to improve white Rioja’s flavours, aromas etc and therefore the bodegas’ cash-flow and profit?!), bucks the trend.

 Bodegas Finca Manzanos have a Viura/Chardonnay (25%) blend which elicited the following tasting note in one of those articles:

 “Typical warm climate, southern hemisphere Chardonnay notes of exotic fruit are very understated, if in fact present at all. There’s only 25% Chardonnay in the blend and its presence is more of a subtle French style. There’s an added roundness to the wine, a greater depth and a longer finish. On the nose, perhaps the faintest whiff of banana and butter.”

 However this bodega also has an outpost in nearby DO Navarra, called Bodegas M&Z. Here there are two wines only, a red and the aforementioned Chardonnay. The 2011 is a joven, young, wine without any oak ageing. The winemaker captures the essence of Chardonnay, which can of course work wonderfully with oak, but which doesn’t have to (unlike Viura from Rioja – oops, there I go

Chardonnay from Navarra


 There are some creamy notes (my guess is that the wine has been kept on its lees before bottling), some mild butter aromas and a slight reference to banana – it’s subtle, Old World Chardonnay, rather than blustery, blousy and big, as can be the case with some Aus and Californian wines using the same variety.

 I’m sure Pulltex will cope very well with it, and so will you, if you can find it!


 Sad news for the wine world generally and particularly for that of Spain – recently John Radford, world renowned Spanish wine writer, critic and broadcaster passed away. John was the author of several books and hundreds of articles, many specifically about the wines of Spain. He sat as Co-Chair of the Spanish Panel for Decanter Magazine and has worked for many years promoting wines made in the country he loved and visited frequently.

 I first met John when he was a guest speaker at the Costa Blanca Wine Society and most recently last year when he co-chaired the Decanter Panel on which I too sat when judging the 2007 vintage from La Rioja in November 2011. In the meantime I’ve read many of his missives re innovation and further developments here in Spain and we’ve corresponded over various wine matters, and not always with the same opinion! Most recently through the Comment Page of Decanter’s Internet News Service, where we disagreed about white Rioja, which Cork Talk readers may remember (see above?).

 I didn’t always agree with John’s opinions but I certainly respect the fact that he has been a major luminary regarding the Spanish wine industry. I still use his book ‘The New Spain’ as an excellent reference source and will no doubt continue to quote him, acknowledging all that he has done for Spanish wine.

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