First Published: Costa News Group SL, May 2011

SOL PARK WINE TASTING

MAINTAINS HIGH STANDARDS

Fellow tasters and Exhibitors at Sol Park's Annual Wine Tasting

I’m not sure if my friends, Michel and Yvon, owners of Sol Park, Moraira, will think this is a rather late report of their annual April wine tasting, or a very early advance notice of 2011’s event! No matter, I’m sure it will be happily received and I’m pleased to be able to, once again, write up this event in glowing terms.

The Sol Park Spring wine tastings started some eight years ago. My other commitments and the odd illness have prevented me from going to a few but I’ve attended most and now in May 2010 I’m looking forward to next year’s. I’m lucky as I go to many professional wine tastings, in Spain and also abroad. Most are huge affairs where a careful plan has to be conceived before you enter or you’ll simply get swamped as there’s so much to see and, of course, to taste.

Alimentaria in Barcelona is an example – I was there in March and I’m still writing articles about my experiences there, only breaking off now as I’m so embarrassed that I haven’t written about Sol Park’s yet. Small, cosy, charming and almost familial Sol Park is not Alimentaria – however for me it has as large an appeal.

As you would expect such a small local tasting attracts local exhibitors and I’m all in favour of this as we should celebrate that which is good in our own area. However the Sol Park wine tasting is not a village fete. Eleven areas of production from all over Spain were represented, essentially with one bodega from each. Thus the variety of wines for clients to taste was large as well as diverse.

As is often the case, time was pressing for me so I just had the chance to taste white wines on the only day I could visit – a shame as I heard lots of good comments about many of the reds and I have to say that some of them really looked the part. This may appear to be an odd comment, but these days packaging is an integral part of marketing in the wine industry – an attractive bottle sells the wine. The secret of course is to make sure that the quality of the book is reflected in its cover!

I started with cava – it’s the best way to prepare your palate for the tstes to come, whilst at the same time assessing the quality of the fizz. Capdevilla Pujol from Cavas Blancher both had an element of sweetness, despite them being Brut and Brut Nature respectively – an indication of very ripe fruit at harvest. From the same stable Seleccio Blanc was disappointing as I’d anticipated when I saw that it was 2008. I said that I thought it was losing its fruit as it was too old the exhibitor looked surprised defending the wine by telling me that it sells well.

I said it was a pity that he didn’t have the 2009 here for such a tasting and lo and behold he went to his car and produced a label-less bottle which was in fact the latest vintage. After chilling the difference between the two wines, both made with Macabeo and Parellada, underlines all that I have always said about most Spanish white wines – they have to be drunk young. I’d buy the 2009, but wouldn’t touch the 2008 – and I bet it’s this younger wine that stocks the chap’s fridge at home!

DO Rueda called me as it usually does and I tried Bodegas Alberto’s  Verdejo/Viura blend which at on 2·5 Euros was a real bargain; the 100% Verdejo was richer of course with green vegetal notes; the more expensive single varietal Verdejo (but at only 5·50 Euros, still a steal) was richer and longer on the palate; and their Verdejo FB (Fermented in Oak) was rich and deep with layers of green fruit and vegetal aromas and flavours.

The single varietal Airén from La Mancha’s Bodegas Lahoz was as good as I’ve tried of this La Mancha-wide ubiquitous variety with a lovely first hit on the palate. Their Sauvignon 2009 had understated grassy and herby notes on the first taste but secondary flavours of kiwi and gooseberry came though making it a jolly nice wine with their FB Sauvignon adding a touch of grapefruit too.

Normally considered the poor relation of the wine areas it abuts in Galicia, DO Ribeira is known for its light, pleasant but not so thought-provoking flavoursome white wines. So I was surprised to taste a 20 Euro bottle, Lagar Do Merens 2008, from Bodegas Alan  – a very good wine, but I think just a little too old. Their 2009 Godello was a bright and fruity as you would expect from this super variety which is not seen as often as it should be. Their 2006 FB was becoming past it – I’m in favour of using oak with some of these aromatic varieties but it doesn’t mean that the wine suddenly has great longevity. Drink FB whites no more than three years after the vintage, generally. Their Albariño was lovely and their 2007 Lagar Do Merens FB having had 5 months in oak was drinking well.

 I tasted more but space is limited – suffice to say I think that this tasting as always was enjoyed by all who attended over the two days, the more so as it is always free of charge! If you are in the Moraira area I’d contact Sol Park and ask to be placed on their mailing list – see you there next year!

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