Most wine books and experts agree that wine tasting should be in the order of white to red and dry to sweet. The first wine tasted at La Vinoteca, Calpe recently was Bodegas Sierra Cantabria Crianza 2006, their most economically priced red wine, followed by three further red wines, two of them weighty fellows, but ending with their Organza 2008 white wine. Unusual!

 The crianza was 98% Tempranillo with a tiny amount of Graciano blended in too. I found the wine only palatable at first, largely due to it being a little too chilled – a comment my fellow tasters also made. However as the wine both breathed and warmed there was a slight coconut aroma, coming from the French oak barrels, in which, along with American oak barrels too, it had aged for 14 months.

Sierra Cantabria Cuvee 2005, 22€, is made from vines of more than 30 years old which have been treated in an organic way in as much as no artificial fertilizers have been used in the vineyard. It was bottled without filtration and with only gravity to clarify the wine.

 It has a darker, more intense colour than the crianza, and is just showing some faint browning at the edges, indicating that it is ageing in bottle. On the nose there are earthy, undergrowth notes underpinning the dark fruit quality.

 Colección Privada 2007 retails at 40€. The vines for this wine are over 50 years of age, that’s old in La Rioja where vines are often grubbed up at 40! Harvesting was strictly by hand ensuring good quality bunches which were then subjected to the selection table test where any damaged or below par grapes were discarded. It enjoyed 18 months in oak, followed by further time in bottle in the cellars.

 This wine has the tannin and structure to age and indeed it will be better with more time under its belt, but for me it needed greater fruit content for it to age for much more than 5 -7 years. There are notes of herbs a touch of coffee and some spice as well as some floral perfume, but not a lot of fruit on the nose. A mineral, slatey element complemented the wine which will be super with food.

 El Puntido 2006 is five Euros more expensive. Opaque and very dark coloured this is a big wine made from old vines whose grapes have been examined on two sorting tables. It’s had 16months in French oak from which coffee tones mix with excellent dark and juicy blueberry and blackberry fruits. It was my favourite of the evening with a long finish helping to justify its price-tag and a wine to grace any dining table.

 So to the final wine, a Rioja white! This wine has been both fermented and aged in oak. The medium-high toasted French oak adds significantly, but not unfavourably, to the overall taste. When in barrel the wine was stirred with its lees twice a week adding a creaminess to the final taste. A pleasing fresh acidity cleaned the palate after the onslaught of the big reds.

 However freshening up the palate is not the aim of fine white wine and I’m afraid that in my opinion the reason why the white wine was enjoyed at the end of the tasting rather than at the beginning has more to do with the fact it was the best in terms of readiness to drink than it being the best order to serve it.

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